How APC upset political calculations in Kwara

BIOLA AZEEZ writes on the upset created by the all-around victory recorded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general elections in Kwara State.


Rumour remains a veritable tool in politics, especially in the Nigerian politics. Various political camps have used it to win supporters and sympathisers alike to their sides over time in political contests or to buttress their stance on issues. Rumour had played a significant role in the political affairs of many states in the country and Kwara is not an exception as it is a tool used by all leading political gladiators in the state to outwit each other.

How would you describe rumour mill on educational certificate, historical background of family, financial acquisition, accruable finances of an administration and so on? These, among other aspects of socioeconomic lives in the state, had been touched by rumour peddlers to achieve one aim or the other, especially in events leading up to the last general election in the state.

However, after the ‘O to ge’ and ‘O tun ya’ political campaign sloganeering of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), respectively, what is not contestable is the fact that there a governor-elect, in the person of Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of APC, emerged in the state from the governorship contest in the election conducted by the Independent National electoral Commission (INEC).

The general opinion among residents of Kwara State is that 2019 elections have shown that votes do count and would continue to count in the nation’s electoral system. Most people in the state, through orchestrated ‘O to ge’ (enough is enough) political campaign of the APC, put a stop to about the 40 year-reign of the Saraki political dynasty, leading to defeat of the PDP.

The anger of the people of the state against the Saraki political dynasty, with the purported protest vote in the elections, removed the dynasty fom the political scene for some time to come, as posited by the losing force. The opinion is that since it is established that votes do count, irrespective of inconclusive outcome of some of the elections by the electoral umpire, every party which is in the  good book of the people would find it easy to hold onto power, using people’s might, while the non- performing or under-performing one would be voted out.

Reacting to some factors that probably led to the defeat suffered by the hitherto ruling political dynasty in the last general elections, many political observers in the state attributed it to the long run antagonising politicking between the incumbent and the opposition, garnished with rumour, speculation and the popular clamour for change in the political leadership and control in the state.

It is recalled that APC won the six House of Representatives’ seats and the three senatorial slots in the state before capping it all with victory in the governorship poll. Political pundits, who described the battle waged by the opposition as fierce and quite unlike previous attempts to wrestle power from the incumbent, said the scenario became quite herculean for the Saraki political structure to tame.

Sheu Bashir, a legal practitioner and APC member in the state, said the defeat was ascribed to perceived arrogance of leaders of the Saraki political structure. “When arrogance is your wings, no matter how high you fly, your end would always be a crash landing. Ó tó gé has defeated their ‘O tun ya’ and the whole state is now singing, ‘Ó tó ope’ (worthy of gratitude),” he said.

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Also speaking, one of the elders of the APC in the state, Alhaji Adebayo Azeez, said character of political actors in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, who are indigenes of the state, contributed to the success of the party in the last elections. It was also gathered that some members of the Saraki political family, who had left the fold, ascribed their reason for leaving to an alleged absence of democracy in the fold. These people argued that consensus arrangement, usually employed by the Saraki political dynasty to select candidates during primary elections, had denied strong aspirants in the fold from getting the desired victory that would have come from normal primaries.

However, pro-consensus arrangement of the Saraki political structure had always explained that it had helped conserved funds, given power to constituents to select their representatives and accord the leadership power to organise and reward loyal members of the fold.

Another factor adduced by political watchers for the defeat was the antics of some former members of the Saraki fold who were said to have been empowered by the age-long structure in the state. It was said that these former members defected to the APC and worked for the opposition party to cause upset in the elections.

However, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is also the leader of the age-long political dynasty in the state, had said that all the winners in the elections were not his enemies, saying that his defeat was due to an alleged collaboration of the APC and the INEC. He also leveled allegations of militarisation of the election processes against the APC government at the federal level, with security operatives deployed for the elections, saying the development was a sad feature of the polls.

However, many voters in the state said there was poor delivery of government programmes and projects by the incumbent PDP administration in the state, even as some others described accused the government of abuse of trust.

It was also said that political differences, which started in 2015 with the struggle for National Assembly leadership positions, especially with the Senate President and the then APC leadership, reverberated in the latest political development in the state. Analysts were of the view that Saraki was too preoccupied with the fight and its sustenance that he neglected the people at home, at least, until when the elections were approaching. Attempts to redress the matter were described as coming too late as the uprising of the opposition had gained much ground.

Meanwhile, the APC in Kwara State had not ascribed the failure of the Saraki political dynasty to its victory in the last general elections. Rather, it described it as the power of God and that of the people.

The governor-elect, Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq, has said he would run an all-inclusive government. Speaking at a ceremony to receive his certificate of return as the governor-elect in Ilorin, he said, “This state belongs to all. We don’t see anybody as opposition. It is Kwara for all. All hands must be on deck (to rebuild the state). This is a poor state and a lot of work has to be done. We will embrace everybody.

“When you record a winning margin of 75 per cent as we did, it means that even those on the side of PDP voted for us. So we are going to ensure that we all work together. We are not going to label anybody. There are good people on the other side too. Our members will also be taken care of and our priority will be to rebuild our state. We need to get everyone together for the task ahead and move our state forward….”

Also speaking at the event, a national commissioner of INEC, Mohammed Haruna who commended peaceful nature of the election,  said the governor-elect should not see members of the opposition as his enemies, even as he also called on the opposition to criticise the in-coming administration constructively, saying “you should criticise the speech, but respect the speaker.”

Indeed, the APC has, through the last general elections, altered the political calculations in Kwara State, as the age-long political hold of the Saraki dynasty on the state has been dislodged, even if only temporarily.