From one familiar foe in 2019, Governor Abdulrazaq has somehow increased his political enemies (including within his party) in under four years. Learning from the recent Osun elections, how likely is he to weather the storm being provoked by the Saraki political structure and other foes ahead of the March 11, 2023, polls?
For anyone who is a keen observer of politics in Nigeria, Kwara State definitely ranks high as one of the states of interest, given its peculiarities. Geographically, the State of Harmony is located in North Central Nigeria, but the people are, to a large extent, culturally affiliated with the South-west geo-political zone.
Additionally, following the O’toge revolution that swept across the State in 2019, leading to the enthronement of a new political structure different from that which the state had known since 2003, many would be eager to see how it all plays out in the 2023 elections. It is given that. due to the array of personalities that are directly involved in the game and who also need to prove a point, the 2023 election will undoubtedly be another interesting contest.
Without mincing words, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq will take on forces against his re-election from within and outside his party in the earthshaking contest. While it is an open secret that the immediate past Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who was the major victim of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ride to power in 2019, will be seeking to get even with Governor Abdulrazaq and his party, close watchers of Kwara Politics are well aware that the state’s chief executive has an axe to grind with the outgoing Information minister, Lai Mohammed.
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Not too long ago, the former APC Spokesman, who was in a political bromance with the governor at the time, successfully led the political onslaught using the O’toge mantra that demystified the Saraki dynasty that had hitherto determined who gets ‘what’ and ‘how’ in Kwara’s political landscape since 1999.
Shortly after the 2019 elections, however, the centre could no longer hold, as the camaraderie that existed between the two allies headed for the rocks with Governor Abdulrazaq moving against the Bashir Bolarinwa-led State Executive Committee of the party who are said to be loyalists of the Information Minister. The development led to a division in the party into factions despite entreaties and reconciliation moves by the party’s national leadership.
Ironically, the same set of party executives produced him as a governorship candidate in the run-up to the 2019 elections. In a clear case of refusing to pay someone back for his good deeds, the governor is said to have completely jettisoned this set of individuals in the areas of appointments despite their labour for the party during its trying days.
Despite what has been described as ‘his political missteps,’ supporters of the soft-speaking governor are quick to say that he has redefined the course of governance in the state with his laudable and people-centred programmes and initiatives. They say as a prudent manager of men and resources, he has refused to open up the vault of the state to service the obscene and lavish lifestyle of some politicians who do not see governance as being about service but an opportunity to amass wealth to the detriment of the public.
These analysts are also quick to remind the people about where the state is coming from, referring to the era where Kwara was largely perceived as a fiefdom of a family who would sit and preside over the collective patrimony of the people without recourse to laid down statutory procedures and good governance practices. They conclude that, rather than condemn the governor for his political choices or decisions, he should be commended for freeing the state from the vestiges of cow milkers and running it with transparency and accountability. They add that he has given the people some sense of belonging.
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The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), on the other hand, has as its Governorship Candidate the stupendously wealthy Shuaibu Yaman Abdullahi. A former acolyte of the current helmsman at the State Government House, he tells all who care to listen that he is on a mission to salvage the state and redirect it to good governance.
A former Federal Commissioner at the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is reported to be a meticulous gentleman who has the resources at his disposal to give Governor Abdulrazaq a run for his money. Unlike Governor Abdulrazaq, who is running in his own name without the support of any political overlord, Yaman has the backing of Senator Bukola Saraki, a dye-in-the-wool politician whose image still looms large on the Kwara political horizon.
He will also be cashing on the unpleasant atmosphere existing within the APC in the state as party leaders like Lai Mohammed and Senator Gbemisola Saraki, both members of the Federal Executive Council, as well as members of their camps some of whom have flown to other parties will find it difficult to work for the governor whom they see as a traitor.
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Yaman, will also hammer more on the alleged below-average performance of the governor. According to analysts, he lacks the educational capacity and the leadership panache to steer Kwara’s ship to the promised land. They add that he is a product of political exigency that must not be allowed to preside over the affairs of the state in 2023.
A major flaw on the part of Yaman is the tag of being Saraki’s anointed, they say his victory will return the State of Harmony back to Egypt, thus making him answerable to a godfather rather than the people who elected him to office. Those who hold this view believe that residents of the state are tired of being tagged as the conquered territory of a particular family.
With barely few months to the general elections, it will be up to Kwarans to decide whether to swim and sink with the current status quo or rush to board Yaman’s Ark.