By Demola Akinyemi
THESE are not the best of times for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Kwara State. Since the November 2017 local government elections when internal wrangling made the party lose some wards, an unprecedented development in the political history of the Saraki dynasty, there have been spirited efforts by Senate President Bukola Saraki, the leader of the party in the state, to recover the lost political track.
Some of Saraki’s henchmen lost in their polling units and even wards, forcing the Senate President to publicly berate them for losing political fame and power. To make amends, Saraki has started taking steps to reach out and reconcile aggrieved stakeholders.
However, it seems the efforts of Dr Bukola Saraki to reclaim the lost political ground are not paying off as no fewer than 800 APC members in the state have reportedly defected to the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Mr. Iyiola Oyedepo, the Chairman of the PDP in the state, received the defectors in Ilorin on Friday during the visit of executive members of the party in the North Central Zone.
Dr Hanafi Alabere, who led the defectors from Alanamu Ward in Ilorin West Local Government Area, said they were fed up with the APC.
Oyedepo, in his remarks, told the visiting zonal executives that no notable member of the party had defected to the APC since 2015. He described the defection of Alabere and his colleagues as a pointer to the popularity of the PDP in Kwara.
The visiting Zonal Chairman, Mr Theophilus Dakas, commended the PDP executives in the state for keeping the party intact in spite of its internal crisis and appealed to members to continue to work for the progress of the party through sustained membership drive.
Dakas, who said the party leadership had directed that power should be devolved to the ward level, commended members over the party’s performance in the November 18, 2017 local government election.
He assured that the era of impunity and imposition of candidates in the PDP was gone, adding that the people would decide who would represent them.
As if that was not enough, angry youths in the ruling party under the aegis of Concerned APC Youths in Ilorin East Local Government, said to be 200 in number, earlier in the week, addressed a press conference on their intention to dump the party over political differences with party leaders which caused the dismal performance in the last local government elections
The angry youths are protesting the composition of members of the state executive council to be announced any time from now by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and monopoly of political appointments by some elders of the party.
They told journalists that the “controversial” appointment lists were allegedly compiled by Dr Saraki’s foot soldiers who lost the last local government elections in their respective wards.
The Concerned APC Youths urged Senate President Saraki to urgently intervene in the political crisis before it is too late.
According to the statement signed by the president and secretary, Abubakar Olarongbe and Abdulkareem Olarewaju, respectively, the youths accused Ilorin East APC chieftains of holding them hostage for over 10 years. Allegations of failure to reach out to majority of the youths who were also stakeholders preparatory to the last local government elections were said to have caused the shocking dismal performance of the APC in that election.
The spokesman noted that after the local government elections, the angry youths were further angered by the names of people announced as members of the boards and parastatals, who they alleged were relations and family members of the poor performing APC elders and chieftains. “We chose to still remain in the party because of the benefits we enjoyed during the lifetime of Dr Olusola Saraki and we are aware that our leader now, Senator Bukola Saraki was being blocked from knowing these things we are talking about, that is why we decided to come to the open. They keep doing this over the years because they are the ones that used to see the senate president, they believe that there was no way the aggrieved members could ever see Dr Bukola Saraki and complain to him. They used to block every opportunity we had to make our grievances known to Senator Bukola Saraki. We thank God that we were able to send that message very strongly during the last local government elections but we are surprised that despite the ongoing efforts of the senate president, these people are still frustrating him, and he doesn’t know.
“We sincerely wish our leader, Senate President Saraki would intervene before its too late, otherwise we won’t have any option other than to leave the party if our collective interests will be forever allowed to be hijacked by these party elders who are selfish and self-centred.”
No APC member defected to PDP – Oganija
Meanwhile, the Spokesman of ABS Mandate office, Alhaji Abdullahi Oganija, has dismissed the PDP’s claims that 800 people left APC for the party and challenged PDP to list the names of the leaders of those who defected.
He added that Dr Hanafi Alabere does not have the political clout to win election in his living room, talk less of taking members to another party.
Oganija, however urged the angry APC Youths to remain calm adding that the leadership of the party was already looking into their grievances.
“Everybody in our party,APC is important. We cannot say that the youths don’t have any say or have no right to complain when they are aggrieved. That is democracy in action. But these are the issues or problems we are still working on. I am talking about the fall out from the local government elections. We will surely get stronger, better and united after our present efforts.”
As keen political watchers await the 2019 elections,time indeed will tell who is telling the truth.