By Ademola Akinyemi, Ilorin
Suspense can best capture the political situation in Kwara State as the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is eagerly awaiting the candidate of the opposition PDP in the state that would challenge the party in the 2015 gubernatorial election that is fast approaching.
The leader of the APC in the state,Senator Bukola Saraki, last week, said he believed in a tested and trusted candidate in the person of the incumbent, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, and dared the opposition PDP to also cross that same hurdle. The PDP gubernatorial aspirants include Alhaji Jani Ibrahim,Engineer Sunday Adebayo Babalola,Senator Gbemisola Ruqqayat Saraki and Professor Shuaib Oba Abdulrahim.
Others are Muahammed Dele Belgore, SAN,Senator Makanjuola Ajadi,Senator Suleiman Ajibola and Alhaji Isa Bio Ibrahim. For the PDP, going by the developments in the party, it looks like a very tall ambition getting a candidate that will be widely accepted by other aspirants and the stakeholders like the APC has done in the state. The reason is because there has been acrimonious battle within the stakeholders and particularly some gubernatorial aspirants that the delegates list in the state was doctored by the powers-that-be in the Presidency to favour a particular candidate.
Towards this end,the situation went out of hand as the aggrieved members of the PDP in the Ilorin West local government area of the state, last Sunday, staged a peaceful protest over the alleged manipulation of the delegates list by some top leaders of the party in Abuja. The aggrieved members who stormed the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ) Ilorin, to express their feelings, urged the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, to intervene before the Abuja politicians from the state destroy the Kwara PDP. Armed with placards with all sorts of inscriptions such as: ‘Mr. President, stop the Abuja politicians from destroying Kwara PDP’, ‘No to injustice, this conspiracy cannot work’. ‘Bring back our real delegate list’, among others.
The spokesperson of the aggrieved PDP members: Alhaji Toyin Olosasa, Prince Aliyu Ibrahim, Ibrahim and Mallam Hassan Jaji, condemned the purported manipulation of the delegates list in the state.
“Results have been seen in other 15 local government areas of the state while that of Ilorin West is still inconclusive”, they said.
“We want to categorically state here that the antics of those trying to manipulate the process are known to us and we shall resist the manipulation in its entirety in the interest of the good and committed people of our great party. If truly Mr. President is interested in winning election in Kwara, let him intervene and put a
meaningful end to this injustice and politics of self interest.” The group, however, warned members not to take the laws into their hands, urging them to continue to explore legal means for the actualization of their interests. Meantime, penultimate Monday,some aspirants of the Kwara PDP raised the alarm over alleged imposition of delegates and manipulation of delegates’ list by the leadership of the party in the state.
The protesters, who are made up of six governorship out of the 12 in the race and five House of Representatives aspirants in the state, threatened a showdown, saying the development could lead to break down of law and order, if not properly handled by the party leadership. Speaking with journalists, the Director of Campaign Organisation of one of the governorship aspirants, Mr. Remi Martins, and one of party delegates, whose name was allegedly substituted, Barrister Salman Jawondo, accused a chieftain of PDP in the state of using her influence in the Presidency to manipulate the list of delegates for House of Assembly and House of Representatives congress in seven local governments of the state.
Martins also said the aggrieved aspirants had written a protest letter to the National Working Committee of the PDP on the activities of a chieftain of the party over the allegations. Also speaking on the development, a gubernatorial aspirant, Babalola, urged the leadership of the PDP and other stakeholders not to allow the delegates list in Kwara to be tampered with by anybody no matter how highly placed. The gubernatorial hopeful in a statement in Ilorin said this became necessary in order to create a level-playing ground that would enable the party win the state in the 2015 general elections. Speaking on the development, the Chairman of the Kwara PDP, Iyiola Oyedepo, confirmed the protests by some party members, describing them as part of democratic experiment. The party Chairman, however, absolved the party leadership of partisanship, assuring all aspirants of level-playing field in the contest.