Recently, the former Minister of Youth and Sports Development and former National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bolaji Abdullahi joined the 2019 governorship race in Kwara State. BIOLA AZEEZ captures his grand entry into the race.
Among all other considerations on the table before political leaders in Kwara State is picking a standard bearer from a district, local government or an area that controls majority votes in the state. Political watchers believe this would help the party and the candidate to garner enough home support backed up with votes from other zones, especially, where the party is popular.
Pundits opine that political leaders will consider the district that produces higher vote turnout between Kwara North and Kwara Central senatorial districts to either select or elect their candidates.
It is on record that the bulk of votes in Kwara State, looking back at previous elections in the state, came from Kwara Central senatorial district, particularly, Ilorin West Local Government Area of the state.
Probably thinking along the line expressed above, many of the aspirants for the 2019 governorship contest in Kwara State, even in the two leading political parties, are from Kwara Central senatorial district. This, some political watchers, say may be a pointer to the zone that will produce the next governor.
According to the PDP organising secretary, Alhaji Sulyman Buhari, out of a total number of eight governorship aspirants in the party, only two are from the Kwara North senatorial district of the state. Some of the PDP governorship aspirants include the immediate past national publicity secretary of the APC, Bolaji Abdullahi; speaker of the state House of Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad; former SSG in the state, Saka Isau; former Minister of National Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman and Alhaji Ladi Hassan, all from Kwara Central senatorial district while the two serving members of the House of Representatives, Zakari Mohammed and Ahman Pategi are from Kwara North senatorial district.
In the camp of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, out of a total number of 13 governorship aspirants in the party, only one aspirant is from Kwara North senatorial district, Shuaib Abdullahi Yaman.
Some of the Kwara APC governorship aspirants include former ACN governorship candidate in the state, Dele Belgore; former CPC national deputy chairman, Saliu Mustapha; former vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Professor Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem; Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibo Kawu; Abdulazeez Oniyangi; Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq; Moshood Mustapha; Lukman Mustapha; Yahaya Seriki; son of former governor of Kwara State, Hakeem Lawal, and a son of the late pioneer chairman of the ICPC, Mustapha Akanbi.
Among these leading governorship aspirants from Kwara Central senatorial district, political watchers have said that people should watch out for former Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Bolaji Abdullahi.
Impressive attendance of important dignitaries and government functionaries, led by the current Secretary to the State Government, Sola Gold, when Abdullahi declared his intention to run for the 2019 governorship race in Ilorin, is one of the factors posited by political watchers.
No other declaration of governorship aspirants in the PDP has matched up to the clout, organisation and entertainment presentation as seamlessly dished out when Abdullahi declared his intention to run for governor of Kwara State.
Venue of the declaration, Arca Santa Event Centre, Ilorin, was filled to capacity with PDP members in the state, loyalists of the Saraki political dynasty and admirers of Bolaji Abdullahi, popularly known as Omoluabi.
While many pundits argue that Abdullahi would naturally be reaping fruits of his high level of loyalty to the Saraki political dynasty if eventually picked as the PDP standard bearer for 2019 governorship contest, others opine that the state would be the better for the choice of Abdullahi if elected governor of the state considering his exposure, intelligence and understanding of the state and people.
The governorship aspirant, who resigned his post as the Publicity Secretary of the APC after Saraki left the party for PDP, expressed his loyalty further when he was a minister under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan who eased him out of the cabinet in 2014 when he stood by Saraki, who then had defected from the PDP to APC.
In his goodwill speech at the declaration, a political leader from Kwara South senatorial district, who is also the chairman of Kwara South Elders’ Forum, Kola Yusuf, said that the gathering was all about celebration of loyalty and steadfastness.
“That is what Saraki dynasty rewards almost all the time. Bolaji Abdullahi stands a good chance and he is well grounded in politics. Human beings usually fail when tested with position or money,” Alhaji Yusuf said, recalling the friction between Bukola Saraki and former President Goodluck Jonathan when Abdullahi was Minister for Sports and Youth Development.
“Bolaji Abdullahi had to relinquish his position as minister due to his loyalty to Bukola Saraki, his political leader. Unlike typical African leaders who will rather remain on the seat of power, he left. Now he’s better for it. Again, as national publicity secretary of the APC, he left APC when Bukola Saraki left the APC. How many people can do that, especially among our youths in the country?,” He asked.
Also speaking, the current Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Ayinke Saka, who spoke on behalf of women, said that Abdullahi “is the choice of Kwara women,” pledging their support in the electioneering campaign and the general election.
Abdullahi, who was hailed when he declared his intention to contest the governorship election for his loyalty to the Senate President, also at the programme, defended the political leadership of Saraki in the state as he stated reasons he would remain loyal to Saraki’s leadership.
Abdullahi said he came from a lowly background in Ilorin, but was appointed to government by Saraki who considered that background as no barrier. He said Saraki favoured, with appointments, many others with that background and wondered why people in the opposition always said the state was under slavery.
The politician, who said the larger section of the population of the state was under the age of 35 years with 54 per cent of the population being between 0 and 19 years, added that he would invest in what would aid growth of the youths for development of the state. He said investing in roads and some other infrastructure would not aid development of the state as investing in what could make the youths realise their potentials and an enabling environment to make the best use of their potential.
Abdullahi who said the biggest asset of the state was in the youth, added that the youths did not want a beggarly lifestyle, but only wanted development of their skills to become useful to themselves and the state.
The former minister who detailed his programmes in a book entitled “Kwara 2019: Agenda for Youth Empowerment & Investment in People” said his vision was to make the state a shining example for good governance where the full potential of children are nurtured and where the youths are truly empowered.
.He summarised his goals as: “Youth Empowerment: empower youth for growth, competiveness and economic transformation; Quality education: provide quality education, skills development and support lifelong learning; Health and well-being, ensure good health and improved well-being; Enabling infrastructure: develop infrastructure for economic growth and improved livelihood; Good governance: promote good governance for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”