By Dapo Akinrefon
THE struggle for the occupation of the Ahmadu Bello way Kwara State Government House is already gaining momentum.
Already, several gladiators of different political weights have been speculated to be interested to take over the plum job of the outgoing governor, AbdulFatah Ahmed.
They have already thrown their hats into the ring as subtle meetings have been going underground to emerge as the preferred aspirant and candidate.
While some of the gladiators are considered politically lightweight champions, others are just waiting to go into an alliance.
Also, there are aspirants who are considered mere attention seekers because of their naivety and relative newness to the political environment.
But, political pundits posit that the contest is not for the lily-livered. Interestingly, it would take more than ambition, political party/camp or godfatherism for any of the interested gladiators to emerge next governor of Kwara State.
This is owing to the fact that it has become obvious even to the blind that the political landscape of the state has rapidly changed in recent years.
It is, however, expected that the gladiator, who would occupy the Government House, in the present dispensation, is expected to be extremely courageous.
Aside from this, pundits argue that the candidate must have the ability to galvanise supports and network across all political, traditional and religious divides of the state.
Already, speculations are rife that more than 15 aspirants have been scheming to succeed Dr. Ahmed, whose second and final tenure terminates on May 29, 2019.
Those who have thrown their hats in the rings are Hon. Moshood Mustapha, a former member of the House of Representatives, who currently serves as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s Special Adviser on Inter-Parliamentary Matters and Special Duties; the current National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi; Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, who is also a one-time member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Ali Ahmad, and a former acting national chairman of the PDP, Alh. Kawu Baraje.
Others eyeing the Kwara Government House and determined to clinch the governorship ticket on the platform of the APC include Senator Shaaba Lafiagi, who governed the state between 1991 and 1993. A three-time House of Representatives member, Hon. Ahman Patigi; Hon. Zakari Muhammed, a two-time House of Representatives member; Hon. Amuda Kannike, representing Ilorin South/East at the green chambers; the incumbent Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alh. Babatunde Abdulwahab, and Special Adviser on Political Matters to Saraki, Alh. Toyin Sanusi.
Without mincing words, of all the known and even undisclosed lookers of the coveted seat, one of the aspirants stands out of the lot. It no longer news that the odds seem to be in favour of Hon Mustapha.
Pundits hold the view that Mustapha surely possesses the requisite qualification for the job given the peculiarity of the present time.
Factors that will work in favour of Moshood are his association and friendship across all major political camps and parties, where he enjoys enormous respect.
Observers are quick to point out that the situation is, perhaps, strictly a reflection of his unequalled ability to galvanise support across the board.
Given this singular attribute, analysts suggest that if such an aspirant is given the opportunity, he will unite all key opinion leaders in order to face whatever monster is holding back the progress of the state.
Another factor likely to increase his fortunes is his ability to confront odds and make pronouncements, while others are still groping in the dark.
Aside from his experience and exposure in governance, another major index speaking seriously about his aspiration is his readiness to deplore necessary financial and material resources towards the job at hand, while others are perhaps waiting on a supposed godfather or associates for sponsorship.
His admirers maintain that Moshood has courted a reputation of independence for himself when he contested the National Assembly elections in 2011.
History has it that he was the only PDP candidate, who operated a parallel campaign for himself without waiting to be told where to go and what to say. Such independence would count for any serious contender in 2019. Considering the above, it is imperative for the people of Kwara State to commence an assessment of aspirants to the governorship seat with a sensible aim of separating pretenders from the real contenders. For his admirers and critics, it is believed that Moshood Mustapha remains a serious contender for the Ahmadu Bello way Government House.