April 1, 2023

Kwara: What aided AbdulRazaq’s re-election; how late alliances failed 

Kwara spends over N4bn on salaries, pensions monthly — Gov AbdulRazaq

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq

By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin

The reelection of the soft spoken Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara state after four years in office has opened another vista in the history of Kwara politics.

Four years down the line after his emergence through “O to ge “political movement which terminated the over four decades of political rule of the Saraki dynasty in the state, Gov AbdulRazaq introduced an entirely different political system that interestingly brought him at loggerheads with many in his own political family.

To underscore his keen interest in giving women and the youth leadership opportunities in the political space, Governor AbdulRazaq encouraged women to participate in the electoral process and was rewarded with the recent election of three female members of the State House of Assembly unlike the current legislature that has no single woman as member.

He also fashioned out his own development plan and established a social investment scheme through which the elderly ones and the very poor were being catered for every month. He further supported the artisans, transporters, revolutionised the education and health sectors while also improving on the infrastructure he met on ground.

His overall leadership style in office attracted not a few enemies for him such that many of those who were with him during the “O to ge” political movement left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)for other political parties.

The faction of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed left for Social Democratic Party (SDP), that of Waziri Yakubu Gobir found solace in Young Progressives Party (YPP), while that of Professor Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem eventually settled in New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

Each of these political tendencies with their candidates in all the elective posts, plotted to take over the governance from Gov AbdulRazaq. The political battle in the state was therefore very tough in the last four years.

However, the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections which clearly placed Governor AbdulRazaq on a comfortable lead for his re-election thwarted the plans of the PDP and other opposition parties to unseat the governor.

Governor AbdulRazaq then decided to consolidate, instead of folding his hands like others would expect and reached out to members of other political parties such as PDP, NNPP, YPP and even SDP, particularly those who contested and lost in the national assembly election, to collapse their political structures for him to enable him emerge victorious in the gubernatorial poll.

Gov AbdulRazaq’s reelection bid therefore yielded results as YPP Guber Candidate, Waziri Yakubu Gobir with his political structure stepped down for him.

Similarly, Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ilorin East/Ilorin South federal constituency and one of the strong supporters of Saraki’s political dynasty, who came second in the last election, Hon Wahab Issa also joined Governor AbdulRazaq in APC during the week. Another political warlord in Sarakis political family, Engr Yisa Yeketi also left Saraki’s political family fold to work for the governor.

Other leading defectors included Gbenga Oyekunle, Federal House of Representatives, ADC candidate for Offa/Oyun/Ifelodun, Senator Makanjuola Ajadi who contested for Kwara South Senatorial ticket also on the platform of ADC who both lost in the last election, a member of PDP, and former commissioner for Sports Kale Ayo; another member of PDP and former Commissioner Hajia Aisha Ahman Patigi; PDP’s Haruna Likpata; former council chairman and senior legislative aide to Saraki, Wasiu Bamidele; among several others.

Earlier, Ope Saraki cousin of former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki who contested on the platform of NNPP in Asa/Ilorin-West federal constituency but lost also joined Governor AbdulRazaq with his supporters for his re-election.

The YPP governorship candidate, Yakubu Gobir, on why he stepped down for Governor AbdulRazaq said, “it has been my utmost joy initiating an issue-based campaign that has brought immense hope and promises of a better future to our beloved state, particularly to young people.

“It has become apparent that the best way to achieve the goal we have before us is to forge alliances and combine ideologies. To this end, the Young Progressives Party hereby adopts the incumbent Governor and gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, in the upcoming gubernatorial election.”

He assured that, “this decision is not one that was made lightly. It was made after weeks of deliberation and a final concession that the incumbent Governor considered some of the policies outlined in my manifesto (the State of Kwara) alongside his equally well-intentioned 10-year Sustainable Development Plan (2021-2030).

“This ensures that, although I will be conceding my place in the gubernatorial race, the action plan that I feel addresses the peculiar needs of some 2,764 communities, 193 wards and 16 Local Government Areas in Kwara get fused into the implementation of the Governor’s Development Plan. Further to this agreement, it is understood that the Governor, upon winning the election, will form a government that further accommodates allies, including members of our own party.”

Meanwhile, gubernatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alh Yaman Abdullahi and that of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) Prof Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem still slugged it out with Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of APC but lost.

After his victory however, Governor AbdulRazaq has been visiting stakeholders in the state, including his political rivals in the election such as Prof Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem, gubernatorial candidate of NNPP, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo and several others.

Meanwhile, it was observed that the total votes which the governor garnered during the governorship poll were less than what obtained during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

According to an insider in APC who craved anonymity in an interview  in Ilorin, “some of those who promised to collapse their political structures after meeting with the governor never did, while others were even discovered to be working against him.

“The governor is just lucky. His work earned him victory, not his late alliances with other parties and politicians.

“He would have scored the same figure that was recorded during the presidential election or even more if he didn’t reach out because his reaching out didn’t really make any political impact.”

One hopes that this political development and succession plan of Gov AbdulRazaq will not stir up another political crisis soon in the State of Harmony.