In continuation of their visit to some strategic states in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan and the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alh Adamu Muazu are billed to visit Ilorin, Kwara State tomorrow.
Though the agenda of the duo’s visit to the state has not been made public, one thing is very sure – the fact that the PDP leaders will be coming to the state of harmony to assess the level of support for their troubled party in the state. The PDP’s strength has been seriously affected by the defection of Senator Bukola Saraki and Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But President Jonathan and the PDP chairman should be prepared for the shockers of their lives as they may at the end of the visit to the state, discover that PDP is not really in existence in the state.
At present, what we have as PDP in the state are cluster groups, championing and pursuing the various agendas of the leaders of such groups.
The visitors may also discover that the people of the state, especially those from Ilorin Emirate do not necessarily belong to a particular political party but are avowed supporters of the Saraki political dynasty. The recent declaration of support for Senator Bukola Saraki’s political leadership of the state by over 350 traditional rulers in Ilorin Emirate attested to this.
The open declaration of support for Saraki by the monarchs took place right at the expansive frontage of the palace of the Emir of Ilorin, Alh. Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari.
The programme was also anchored by one of the most trusted chiefs of the Emir, Alh Salihu Woru Mohammed, the Magaji Nda of Ilorin and Emir’s spokesman.
Ilorin Emirate accounts for 48 per cent of the state’s population and the votes from the area had always been the deciding factors of electoral contest in the state.
The traditional chiefs said their declaration of open support for the scion of the famous Saraki political dynasty became necessary in view of the unfolding political development in the country.
Addressing a crowded news conference in Ilorin, the state capital, the monarchs said Saraki’s unmatched contributions to the development of the state in the past one decade eminently qualified him to be the state’s political leader.
The chiefs that addressed the news conference came under the aegis of Ilorin Emirate Magajis and Alanguas forum.
The statement read, “We, the undersigned traditional chiefs appointed by His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin, from the various districts, wards,towns and villages of Ilorin Emirate in Ilorin West, East, South, Asa and Moro local government areas in Kwara state, having painstakingly and extensively deliberated on the new political development in Nigeria, particularly as it concerns the general wellbeing of our people, progress and development of Kwara State in future and having held necessary consultations with our large people, we have unanimously resolved to support the political leadership of Senator (Dr) Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.
“Our decision is purely based on their unequal track records of unprecedented achievements in the state and beyond.
“We therefore pledge our continued unalloyed support and loyalty for their present political mission,which we considered justifiable.” The dust over the Ilorin Emirate chiefs’ declaration of support for Saraki had hardly settled when their counterparts from Kwara South made similar declaration.
The forum who spoke through its vice chairman who is also the Magaji Nda of Ilorin, Alh Woru Mohammed said, “We the Alagua and Magajis from Ilorin Emirate which consists of five local government areas, namely, Ilorin west, Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Asa and Moro under the leadership of His Royal Highness, Emir of Ilorin, Alh (Dr) Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari (CFR) wish to state publicly that we and all our people have embraced APC as our party and we have registered along with our people’’.
The traditional rulers from Kwara South are also said to be solidly behind the leadership of Saraki. The decision of the Kwara South’s monarchs to continue to support Saraki was born out of the fact that one of their sons is today the governor of the state – courtesy of the magnanimity of Senator Saraki. The monarchs and their subjects have realised, seen and enjoyed the benefits associated with the group having one of its own on the driver’s seat in the administration of the state.
Most of the traditional rulers are also bracing up for the upgrading of their stool by a committee the state government has put in place to effect this. Hence, chieftaincy issues are treated with all seriousness in that part of the state.
And going back to the 2011 zoning formula that paved the way for the emergence of Alh AbdulFatah Ahmed as the governor of the state, the Kwara North is warming up to produce Ahmed’s successor when the time is ripe for that. Governor Ahmed is from Kwara South. The desire to produce Ahmed’s successor will automatically pin down the people of Kwara South in the All Progressives Congress (APC). The last time the zone produced the state’s chief executive was in 1992 and it was also through the benevolence of the Saraki political dynasty.
On the situation of the PDP in the state, Jonathan and Muazu will find out that the party is an assemblage of political sworn enemies who can rarely work together as a team. At the bottom of the enmity among the PDP chieftains is personal ambition.
For instance, it will be difficult for Architect Lola Ashiru to work with Dele Belgore. Ashiru, the sole financier of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state was forced out of the party when the national leaders of the then ACN gave the gubernatorial ticket of the party to Dele Belgore in 2011.
Princess Bilikisu Gambari, a kindhearted and grassroot politician also dumped ACN for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) because of her conviction that there ‘existed’ a relationship between Dele Belgore and Senator Saraki. She concluded that whoever between Ahmed and Belgore that won the election will still have to work with Senator Saraki. The relationship between the Princess of Ilorin and Senator Gbemisola Saraki was not also so cordial.
Also, the governorship ambition of Prof Shuaib AbdulRaheem, chairman, Federal Character Commission (FCC), Hon Bio Ibrahim, former sports minister and Senator Sulyman Ajadi, special adviser, National Assembly Matters will constitute a clog in the wheel of progress of the PDP.
Though, Prof AbdulRaheem is said not to be desperate, but his supporters – mainly youths in Ilorin Emirate are desperately desirous of having him as the next governor of the state.
A decision to the contrary will make him to lose his supporters to other political parties. A competent source confided in LEADERSHIP Sunday that AbdulRaheem is contented with his present office which has afforded him the opportunity of providing employment opportunities for the youths and “will not want to leave certainty for uncertainty”.
And that Senator Gbemisola Saraki may have a re-think over her membership of PDP is a matter of time. This is because all the speakers at a unity rally organized by the PDP in Ilorin last Sunday roundly decried all that her father, Dr. Olusola Saraki stood for during his life time.
Instead of the shout of ‘Olooye’ which usually rented the air wherever any of the Baba Saraki’s children is present, speaker after speaker at the event churned out unprintable songs, condemning the Saraki dynasty’s leadership style. This development may not go down well with Senator Gbemisola Saraki who was physically present at the event.
Also, the age-long battle of supremacy between the Ogunsolas and Ajadis of Babanloma will be an impediment to a cordial working relationship between Dr. Femi Ogunslo and Senator Sulyman Ajadi.
The Ogunsolas will be wary of anything that could further consolidate Ajadi’s leadership position in that axis of Kwara South and thereby putting him at advantage over them.
In line with the situation on the ground, President Jonathan and Muazu, may at the end of their visit to Ilorin come to term with the reality that the PDP needs more than bill boards erection to win elections in Kwara state.
They will be faced with the reality of the urgent need to counsel the various ‘commanders’ in the party’s fold to jettison personal ambitions in the collective interest of the party. Above all, the august visitors will realize the need to evolve a common leader for the party in the state.
It’s a truism that the greatest advantage that APC has over the PDP in the state is cohesion. The APC enjoys the privilege of having one person, Senator Bukola Saraki as its leader. And all the other chieftains of the party including the interim national publicity secretary of APC, Alh. Lai Mohammed have not only publicly acknowledged but endorsed Saraki’s political leadership of not only the APC but Kwara state.