By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin
Contrary to expectations of keen political watchers of Kwara politics because of the internal crisis rocking the ruling party, the wards Congress last weekend across the 193 wards of the 16 local governments went without a hitch and any parallel congress by the aggrieved members.
Expectedly, there was a huge turnout of party members who came out to actively participate in the exercise while various security officers were strategically positioned across the wards to avoid a possible breakdown of law and order.
Also, representatives of the national caretaker committee of APC witnessed the exercise in various centres in line with the law, just as party loyalists, INEC officials, among others.
The aggrieved members had few days to the Ward congress also obtained forms to vie for various elective posts and also threatened to exit the party over what they described as the shoddy way and manner Buni-led national Chairmanship Caretaker committee is handling the crisis in the state.
Though in order to stave off crisis, the leadership of the party had last Friday after a long meeting with a cross-section of the members in government house Banquet Hall, Ilorin pushed for a consensus option for the ward leaders to emerge, but two of the wards insisted on elections which also went peacefully.
For instance, the election was adopted at Baboko ward in Ilorin West local government area of the state while a similar process was used to elect Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi who emerged as the chairman in Badari ward of Ilorin West local government area.
Attempts by APC coordinator, Tunde Aluko at the venue of the Congress to convince the people for a consensus arrangement met with brick walls.
Also, the intervention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officers at the Oja-Iya ECWA Primary School, the venue of the exercise saved the situation from degenerating into rancour. and made the people settle for election, as the people queued behind their chosen candidate for the ward chairman
Ibrahim Abdullahi who emerged as the chairman said that “people in the party mounted pressure on me to step down, but I told them that decision would come from the majority of the ward members. However, over 95 per cent of the electorates want me to continue. Any attempt not to accede to their clarion call would amount to arrogance.”
Also at Alapa/Onire/Ode Giwa ward in the Asa local government area to Alanamu and Ajikobi in Ilorin West to Ifelodun in Kwara South and Kaiama in Kwara North, it was gathered that the exercise was also peaceful.
The Independent National Electoral Commission’s Electoral Officer, Mr Danlami Zakari, also hailed the peaceful and seamless conduct of the Ward Congress in Gwanara Ward of Baruten Local Government of Kwara State.
Mr Zakari while reacting to the Ward Congress described the process as peaceful and rancour-free, commended members of the APC for the display of maturity and decorum during the exercise.
“This is a good Ward Congress, the Chairman and other party executives were unanimously elected without protest or complaint from any quarter, this is indeed commendable because it was a free and fair exercise”
In the same token, the Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Engr Yakubu Danladi-Salihu who also witnessed what is now being described as a free and fair and peaceful Congress charged the newly elected Ward Executives to see their new assignment as trust and make sure the interest of the party and its members is given utmost priority.
Engr. Danladi-Salihu reiterated that the APC Government of Mallam Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq in the state would ensure completion of all ongoing projects in Baruten, Kwara North and the State in general, stressing that it becomes imperative for everyone to support the Governor and his administration in his quest to make Kwara work for all.
“We are very pleased with the way the congress went, congratulations to the newly elected APC Gwanara Ward Chairman and other Executive members.
This new task is a call to service, I call on you all to work assiduously for the unity and progress of our party under the leadership of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to juxtapose the confidence reposed in you all.
“I want to assure you all that completion of all the ongoing projects in Kwara North and the entire state in general as well as initiation of new ones is a top priority of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, work would soon resume on all our road projects as soon as the rainy season is over among other laudable infrastructures and amenities lined up for our people in this government.
“We are in a safe hand and we are confident that Governor AbdulRazaq would continue to fulfil his electoral promises, hence the need to continue to support and cooperate with him”, the Speaker added.
The APC chairman in the state, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari, in an interview with journalists said that all the executives across the 193 wards emerged through a consensus arrangement, in accordance with the wise counsel of Governor AbdulRazaq.
Samari also expressed delight that there were no parallel congresses by the APC members throughout the state.
Samari said, “though there might be one or two wards where the election was adopted to select the executive but generally, majority of the executive emerged through consensus.
“We are also grateful that it has been peaceful and I believe all these are achieved because of the posture of the leader of the party in the state, His Excellency, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
“He is a man of the people, he is a man who believes in democracy, he allows party officials to express our views, and runs party affairs accordingly.
“That is why we have 100% perfection in the Ward Congress across 193 Wards in the state. The leader of the party, Governor said it categorically that as a family, it would be better for us to have a kind of consensus in Ward congresses and when the national representative came here, that was also the resolution of the party stakeholders during the meeting with National Representative.
“Yes, it may be impossible to have it all through in the sense that some people may want to show strength may be because of a little misunderstanding. I am sure, we don’t have more than one or two Wards in that case.”
When asked about the aggrieved members loyal to the suspended Chairman, Hon Bashir Bolarinwa, he said, “I am sure by today, if we do something properly, we do not have cause to refer to BOB as factional chairman.
What are those factors that made somebody a factional leader? I don’t think he has any with all respect. I served under him as vice-chairman. I know the circumstances that brought me to where I am today.
Moreover, as of yesterday, our party came out categorically to say anybody organizing parallel Congress or operating parallel office would be dealt with, constitutionally, the party said they are going to sanction such people irrespective of status or position occupied. “
Also speaking with journalists on the exercise, Special Adviser to the governor on Political Communications Hon Bashir Adigun, said that the state chapter of the APC in line with the directive of the national caretaker committee and that of the state governor adopted consensus arrangements for all the candidates in 193 wards in the exercise after stakeholders forum on Friday.
He also said that the large turnout was in appreciation of the governor’s exemplary performance and acceptability by the teaming members.
He said, “It went peacefully all over the state despite the earlier misconception that it would not hold.
Also, the turnout was massive and the Ward executives emerged based on the consensus agreement arrived at during the stakeholders meeting we had on Friday.
The massive turnout and peaceful conduct is also a clear indication to all that APC members are in support of the governor.
The congress had taken place without any hitch or disagreement. We’re unanimous in our support.
Special Adviser on Strategy to Governor AbdulRazaq, Alh Saadu Salahu who also spoke with newsmen at his Ibagun ward in Okelele area of Ilorin East local government area, attributed the success of the exercise to the outstanding performance of the governor.
“In line with the directive of the national caretaker committee and the state governor, we adopted consensus arrangements for all the candidates in the 193 wards at a stakeholders forum meeting on Friday.
The large turnout of our party’s members for this all-important exercise was in appreciation of Governor’ AbdulRazaq’s exceptional performance in the past two years,” Salahu added.
“If this development is anything to go by, the crisis rocking the APC in the state has abated. The restraint exercised by the aggrieved party’s members in not holding parallel congress is an indication of their preparedness to embrace peace and return to the party’s mainstream.”