Politics

2019: X-ray of Kwara guber aspirants

 

Following the release of timetable for the 2019 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), subtle moves on who succeeds Abdulfatah Ahmed as Governor of Kwara State has begun among   notable and fringe politicians in the state, two years to the next general polls. Known as one of the few states in the country with peculiar political terrain because of the Saraki dynasty factor which has survived decades of political contests, many of the interested aspirants especially from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC)  who are associates of the Senate President have expectedly latched on the clout of the dynasty to pursue their ambitions. The aspirants which cut across ethnic and religious grounds in the state have reportedly begun clandestine recruitment of youths, who are already helping to market their candidacy on the social media.

APC’s HEADACHE

While the guber race continues to gather steam, there is also the issue of the permutation that might crop up in the ruling party’s drive to balance out the situation in respect of zoning. The 2019 governorship contest is expected to be a straight fight between Kwara Central and the northern axis in the state and with the vibes coming from the field and the calibre of people that have signified interest from central, the region seems prepared to match the open agitation of Kwara north for the ticket. In the days ahead the ruling APC will have to deal with the puzzle going forward. In this instance, if the ticket goes to the central, will the north be contented with another eight years expectedly as the deputy governor at a time it believed it is naturally its turn if zoning is maintained? And if on the other hand, the ticket goes to the north, will central be willing to accept another eight years of deputising a northern candidate. In the midst of all these, will all parties involved welcome a compromise  arrangement where the ticket will be rotated between the North and central and in the final analysis, what role will be handed out to the south in the new scheme of things especially on the issue of the senate. Above all, will any of the political parties for the first time consider a woman at least as its deputy governorship candidate. The coast will be clearer in the days ahead.

It is however worthy of note that not all the people mentioned in this piece have indicated interest in the guber race, but they have been considered to be good material given their pedigree, political antecedents and stewardship in their various areas of service.

Moshood Mustpaha: A retired Customs officer, Mustapha is also among those who have been in the limelight of politicking in the state since 2003. He is a former House of Representatives member and chaired the Committee on Petroleum (Upstream). Mustapha was an aide of the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki on Special Duties when he was Governor of Kwara State. He also served as Commissioner of Land and Housing and then Agriculture amidst other appointments in the state and presently a legislative aide of Saraki.

Strengths

Mustapha is reportedly one of the foremost seekers for the Kwara governorship seat come 2019 and can be said to be highly prepared for the contest. According to close sources, he believes he has the wherewithal in both administrative experience and the requisite educational qualification to aspire for the post of the first citizen in the state. He also has the financial war chest to pursue his ambition if interested aspirants are required to individually fund their campaigns. From Alanamu ward in Ilorin West Local Government, a region that is highly favoured for the seat, MM as he is fondly called by supporters and loyalists in the political circle is said to be “throwing everything into the race”. His father is a long- time associate of late Kingpin of Kwara Politics, Olusola Saraki and if able to properly stack his cards, he can leverage on that to influence the leadership of the party to look his direction. His philanthropic activities recently has also attracted quite a number of electorate who were hitherto not in his camp.

Weaknesses

MM is not yet in the categories of those that can deliver his area en bloc and need to mend fences with some notable party stalwarts in his constituency. If he succeeds in getting the ticket, the former lawmaker must “rebrand” to be able to change the narratives of bourgeoisies, lavishness and opulence his critics have woven around him and needs to work even harder to further convince the people that he is not , inaccessible as some of his opponents have alleged.

Ali Babatunde Ahmad: Ali Dodo as he is addressed by loyalists is the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly. An astute scholar and former House of Representatives member for Ilorin South/East Federal Constituency where he served as chairman House Committee on Justice. He is reportedly one of those that are highly interested in the 2019 governorship race but keeping it to his chest because of the possible backlash that might follow if such ambition is unveiled now. He had served as an aide to former governor Bukola Saraki and  Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the state. He made history as a federal lawmaker coming with the highest number of bills and saw to passage of the much needed criminal Justice bill (ACJA).

Strengths

Right from when Ali Dodo served as an aide to former governor Bukola Saraki and entry into national political limelight, his political profile has been described as a “sudden rise” which underscores his impact and influence in previous portfolios. He is close to the hierarchy of the dynasty that influence who gets what in the politics of the state and he is from Ilorin South in the Kwara Central, a region the pendulum might swing. Ali Ahmad has made  considerable contribution in previous positions and “restored people’s confidence in the state legislature hitherto regarded as rubber stamp of the executive because of his resolve to do what is right” according to a source. He is considered an insider and has the age and experience on his side.

Weaknesses

One of the Speaker’s main negatives according to his critics is that he lacked firm home base support and must work very hard to appease all members of his constituency some of whom have allegedly raised allegation of abandonment against him. The contest of the House of Representatives ticket with former SSG, Alhaji AbdulGaniy Cook Olododo reportedly generated bad blood and consequently caused a division in his  constituency.

Aliyu Ahman Patigi: In his early 50s, Ahman Patigi is serving his third straight stint at the House of Representatives representing Edu/Moro/Patigi Federal Constituency having been elected in 2007 and served as chairman of Legislative Budget and Research and also chaired Water Resources Committee. The 1985 graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria hails from Patigi ward III in Kwara North where leaders and elders of the ruling party recently congregated to demand for the governorship seat come 2019. Bahago as he is addressed by supporters is said to have the support base back home.

Strengths

Bahago is from Kwara North region that is in strong reckoning for the race and has age on his side. He still commands the love, goodwill, support and acceptability of his people which was transferred to him after his brother was murdered in 2002; when he was called upon as replacement of that political base. Being a youthful chap with rich legislative experience, Bahago needs to leverage on the grassroots appeal he has in his local government. With his recent giant stride in the education sector where he has singlehandedly embarked on proposed cheapest university in the country, Patigi may enter history as a lawmaker with the most solid impact in the educational development of his constituency and should be able to use that to his advantage.

Weaknesses

When the chips are down, Ahman Patigi is not considered to be in realm of Kwara politicians with the requisite political capacity to pull the strings except he gets endorsement. The lawmaker may also have to grapple with the issue of credibility crisis after the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently remanded him after his wife and erstwhile minster of state, Mrs Yemisi Akinjide allegedly failed to show up to answer for corruption charges levelled against her by the anti- graft commission. Bahago should also try to cement good rapport with the party especially at the state level which some alleged he has frosty relationship with.

Shaaba Lafiagi: Senator Shaaba Lafiagi is a former governor of the state from January 1992 to November 1993 when the military junta kicked the then civilian administration out of office. He is spending his second term in the Senate where he replaced Senator Ahmed Mohammed since 2011 and was also a former Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council in Sola Saraki University, Malete formerly known as Kwara State University, KWASU. As a prince, Shaaba is heir to the traditional stool in Lafiagi and was the General Manager of the defunct Nigeria Sugar company, Bacita before he contested the governorship seat. He was also a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT) member.

Strengths

As one that has operated in the highest political office in the state coupled with his private sector experience, Senator Lafiagi has the requisite administrative and political experiences to pilot affairs at the highest level of governance. As a former state administrator, he is conversant with the nuances of governance and also close to the powers- that- be, which controls the political machinery in state. From Kwara North, a region that is in strong contention for the seat if zoning works in its favour, Lafiagi is expected to be in a familiar terrain if he gets the ticket to consolidate his candidature for the seat that was ironically vacated by him. Soft spoken and gentle, the heir apparent to the Edu traditional stool should be able to influence the traditional institution which has a strong affinity with the people to his advantage. While his 20 months governorship stint lasted, he embarked on people oriented programmes and policies and is expected to pull on that if he gets the ticket. In addition, he has the ears of the structure.

Weaknesses

Age doesn’t seem to be on his side especially with the call for young vibrant leadership sweeping across the political landscape in the state and across the country. Furthermore, his less than two years leadership as the governor of the state have been argued to also be his albatross because it didn’t afford him the opportunity to touch his people back home as he had reportedly intended to do with the last phase of his truncated administration. As at today, Shaaba Lafiagi has reportedly waned in grassroots appeal of his people and need to work hard to reconnect with them. His opponents also argued that he has not impacted his constituency enough since his senatorial sojourn.

Bolaji Abdullah: A University of Lagos graduate of Mass Communication, Abdullahi started his working career as a volunteer and part time worker in civil societies and international agencies before he moved to ThisDay newspapers. He is today the National Spokesperson of APC but had served as Special Assistant, Communication and Strategy to former governor Bukola Saraki. In April 2007, he was appointed Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, a position he held until May 2011. Former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him Minister of Youths and Sports in July same year and later seconded to the sport ministry.

Strengths

At 48, Mallam as he is fondly called by admirers is young and dynamic and can be described as tested and trusted. Bolaji Abdullahi is seen as down -to -earth, focused, loyal and calculated considering his previous positions where he had really added value to his portfolios. He has demonstrated uncommon capability and grasp of contemporary governance in previous assignments within the state and at the national levels to show his competence. With the appellation of “Omoluabi” literarily interpreted as one with high integrity and character, narratives out there consider him a good and sellable candidate if considered. He is very loyal member of the dynasty which cost him his ministerial position with the Jonathan government. Furthermore, as the present national spokesperson of the party, Mallam Abdullahi will have the advantage of leveraging on the influence of national leaders and politicians who no doubt play important roles in state politics across the country. He is considered not “desperate” in seeking position of authority as some of the aspirants have been alleged.

Weaknesses

Abdullahi is seen more as a technocrat than a politician and needs to use his present political position as the APC national spokesman to convince the political family that he can balance the mix of a result oriented technocrat and a political improved chap well when the time comes. Bolaji however must do more in the mobilisation at the grassroots.

Ladi Hassan: From Ori-Okoh in Magajin Geri constituency of Ilorin West Local Government, Ladi Hassan was the former Special Assistant to former Governor Bukola Saraki and also served as one- time Chief of Staff to the Bukola Saraki administration. He has also served as one time commissioner for Health in the state and presently the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEEB) in Kwara. He had also served as a member of the board of National Hospital, Abuja.

Strengths

Hassan had close working relationship with the leader of the APC in the state and has the ears of the dynasty. As a fellow that had served in various capacities in the state, Hassan has the administrative and political exposure and experience to operate as the first citizen of Kwara State. From Ilorin West in Kwara central which is in strong agitation for the seat, Hassan will bring into the picture his accumulated acumen in governance to steer the ship of the state.

Weaknesses

Hassan needs to work more on his grassroots appeal and strike a greater bond with leaders and elders in his constituency.

Zakari Muhammed: Zakari Muhammed hails from Gure in Baruten and represents Baruten/Kaiama Federal Constituency in Kwara North. The former broadcaster with the Radio Kwara and former Chairman of Kwara United Football Club has also served in various capacities as aide to former governor Bukola Saraki before he was appointed Commissioner for sports then. He is a 2001 sociology graduate of University of Ilorin from where he also bagged his masters in criminology. He once served as the former spokesman for the Mandate 2003 campaign.

Strengths

At 47, Zakari is presently the chairman of the Kwara Caucus of House of Representatives member and the youngest among the northern aspirants who are reportedly interested in the race. Young and articulate, the former broadcaster is still in the good books of the political leader of the state which is key to the decision of who finally emerges candidate of the ruling party. Mai Jamma as he is called by admirers meaning man of the people, his youthfulness might be an advantage over some of the other candidates. He has since struck a chord with the leader from the period he served as spokesperson of the Mandate 2003 campaign, which functioned as the political movement Bukola Saraki deployed to win the governorship ticket.  If APC makes decision to pick a candidate from the north, there are strong signals that the lawmaker might be considered for the race.

Weaknesses   

Zakari might have the ears of the political leader but he is said not to be in the good books of elders and some people of his constituency who sees him as proud and inaccessible. Described by some as not submissive enough, some of his kinsmen reportedly worked against him during contest for his second term as House of Representatives member. Pundits believed he needs to work assiduously on his poor human relation and improve on how he relates with the people especially since he got the House ticket, which is even still an issue with his colleagues in the media fraternity in the state. He needs to build some element of acceptability across board among the people which is lacking presently.

Abubakar Kawu Baraje: He is a former teacher and retired permanent secretary in the state, who served as the National Acting Chairman of the PDP. Born in 1951, Baraje hails from Baboko ward in Ilorin West Local Government where he attended Baboko Native Authority Primary School and was elected National Secretary of the PDP in 2008. After his faction broke away from the PDP to form the nPDP, the former chairman of the Board of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) moved on to become one of the national leaders of the ruling APC with many philanthropic activities in the state. During the 2007 presidential election, he worked closely with late president Musa Yar’Adua on the former’s campaign tours round the country as well as presidential rallies then throughout the 36 states of the federation including Abuja.

Strengths

Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje is a trusted member of the dynasty. Politically and administratively he is certified to rule the state. He is on ground and has remained committed to his philanthropic activity despite not occupying any position, to draw huge sympathy from a section of the electorate. A member of the inner caucus of the dynasty, Baraje possessed the necessary and requisite experience to lead the state come 2019. The APC chieftain was among the first to speak on the alleged clamour for 2019 by politicians in the state within the fold of the party, when he advised they tarry a while to give the incumbent governor time to concentrate on governance. Baraje is described as one of the “most matured” among those reportedly gunning for the seat and possess the right temperament to calm things when the need arises. He is said to relate well with the party at the state and local government levels.

Weaknesses

In the era where the electorate are yarning for youthful dynamism to buttress governance, Baraje needs to convince the people that his age which appeared his albatross in this narrative is indeed a plus. He also needs to do more to rubbish the allegation that he is too conservative for the seat.

Abubakar Garuba Amuda-Kannike: The 48- year- old hails from Ilorin East Local Government and is a veterinary surgeon turned politician. He was regarded as the “poster boy” of the first tenure of Governor Abdulfatah administration where he put up “solid performance” as the commissioner for Works before he was considered for the House of Representatives ticket to replace Ali Ahmad for the Ilorin South/East Federal Constituency and won in 2015. Kannike had once served as Special Adviser under former Governor Bukola Saraki where he played a prominent role in the establishment of Malete farms.

Strengths

Kannike is considered to be among the new breed of politicians that can leverage dynamism to the issue of governance in Kwara State. He is regarded as one of the favourites of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and also has some level of acceptability back home in his constituency which can be a plus for him. He is young, articulate and from Kwara Central region which might be favoured for the ticket. He has the requisite educational qualification as an Ahmadu Bello University graduate Zaria and a member of the ruling All Peoples Party (APC) which stands a more acceptable platform.

Weaknesses

Kannike’s political maturity according to some narratives in the polity, need to be stepped up if he is considered for the ticket. Some also believed he need to work more on his grassroots appeal and will have to do more in the area of mobilisation of the electorate.

Rasak Atunwa: Atunwa reportedly started his political career in 2005 when he was appointed Commissioner for Land and Housing in Kwara State after relocating to Nigeria from England. From that post, he was moved to the Information Ministry as Commissioner in August 2006, and in July 2007 he became Commissioner for Works and Transport. He was moved to the Ministry of Finance in November 2009 from where he sought nomination for the governorship position in 2011. Elected into the Kwara State House of Assembly to represent Owode/Onire Constituency of Asa Local Government in April 2011 where he emerged the speaker on June 6, 2011. He is presently the House of Representatives chairman on Judiciary and has appeared in many notable and high profile cases that were reported in various law reports,

Strengths

Approaching 48 years of age, the House of Representatives chairman on Judiciary has the age advantage and popularity with some sizeable number of the electorate on his side. He was placated with the speakership position when he indicated interest in the governorship ticket in 2011 to show he was considered a strong force in the process. Reportedly very generous which has earned him the appellation of “Atunwa 1”, the 7th speaker of the Kwara State assembly is very articulate and a loyal member of the Saraki dynasty who hails from Kwara Central with strong agitation for the seat. He has the ears of the leadership as a member of the inner caucus and said to relate well with the party at all levels.

Weaknesses 

Atunwa according to sources need to work more on his local appeal which a source described as “local challenge” and try to be diplomatic when expressing views on issues he feels very strongly about.

Wahab Issa: He is the Director-General of Mandate Constituency Office of the Senate President and leader of the party in the state, Dr Bukola Saraki. Issa represented Ilorin East/South Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007 where he was the Chairman of the Committee on Federal Character. He had also served as Ilorin South council boss.

Strengths

Sources say he is one of the very “eligibles who can become a surprise joker for the race” especially coming from Kwara Central. With some level of exposure and acceptability especially following his exploit as the chairman of FCC where he reportedly made considerable impact and benefitted his constituency, Issa cannot be said to be a “bad market”. Regarded as down- to -earth, humble and generous and member of the “inner caucus”, the former Ilorin South council boss is believed to possess the political and administrative experience to govern the state come 2019. He is also regarded as an acknowledged grassroots politician who cannot be waved aside in the race.

Weaknesses  

Some of his critics have alleged that Issa needs to properly distinguish between dishing out individual favours and making very solid impact in position of authority and the former House of Representatives member must provide convincing answers to that.

Dele Belgore (SAN): He is born in 1961 and schooled in Kaduna before he went to England for his High school and university education where he read Law at Hull and Bristol Universities for his first and second degrees. He was called to the bar in 1985. An expert in Alternative Dispute Resolution described as the most vibrant trend in legal practice and worked briefly with the prestigious Rotimi Williams chambers before he co-founded Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe and Belgore Law firm in 1989. He joined partisan politics as an opposition figure and strived in 2011 to unseat the PDP government through the ACN platform but lost. Dele Belgore is still one of the few lawyers in the country who bagged the prestigious Senior Advocate title at 40 years of age. A member of the large and influential Belgore family of legal practitioners, the former ACN candidate enjoyed massive support from the emirate when he contested against Ahmed and Gbemisola Saraki in 2011 coming second.

Strengths

Young, popular and considered an intellectual that can bring another dimension to the governance of the state. Soft spoken, Belgore, some argued, will bring the desired independence to the table and be able to stand his ground typical of the Fulani narrative on decisions of governance. If he gets the tickets of the opposition party again this time, the party might want to properly leverage on his popularity to resuscitate another contest reminiscence of the 2011 episode. Furthermore, he might be able to attract necessary funding from the Lagos axis that may want to use him to infiltrate Saraki’s camp and uproot a “common enemy” that is the Senate President.

Weaknesses

Dele Belgore would have been a very sellable candidate considering the show he put up the last time he vied for governorship, but his obstacles this time around has included the issue of integrity arising from the N450m campaign fund which he is presently being tried for by the EFCC and he needs to properly sell the narrative on that to the electorate if the court discharge and acquit him. Also the way he played the “baby sitting” stooge for Hajia Muinat Shagaya at the last PDP primaries which he eventually lost has made some of his critics to question his independent mindedness for an electorate who may want an assertive governor. As a result of his last exploit in the 2015 electoral race, Belgore has further lost some grounds in popularity and acceptability and most of the issues he played up then like ethnicity among others to gain sympathy has become his albatross. Ever since what some of his antagonists described as his electoral disgrace in 2015, it has become difficult for him to reincarnate that solid performance and he needs to seriously work on that. He will need high dose of rebranding to market himself again for acceptability and must jettison the habit of coming home only during election period.

Professor Shuaib AbdulRaheeem (Oba): He is the Talba of Ilorin and former Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin and has served as the Pro Chancellor and Interim Chairman of Board of governing council of Sola Saraki University (KWASU). Oba was one time the chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) and hails from Ajikobi ward in Ilorin West Local Government. He had also served as the former Director-General of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s first term campaign in 2011.

Strengths

The professor will come into the picture with a very rich administrative experience going for him. From the “influential” constituency, Oba has some level of popularity and acceptability especially considering his exploit as the chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) due to his ability to generate federal jobs for indigenes of the emirate. He is considered dogged and not easily cowed to following the bandwagon when he is not convinced about a course as exemplified by the ASUU scenario, a trait that has brought fame and glory to the University of Ilorin as the most sought after in the country because of its stable academic calendar. After effort to secure his party’s ticket in 2011 and 2015 failed, the professor should be able to draw from the political experience and party politicking to consolidate his candidature. His loyalists had kicked start his 2019 campaign with posters of the Nigeria and England schooled professor on the social media without a platform though, which he has not come out to debunk. Considered to be strong willed and charismatic, Oba should be expected to bring all these to bear rightly this time around to attract needed votes and make impact if he gets the ticket.

Weaknesses

Professor Oba is seen by many of his critics as being blinded by his political ambition. Furthermore, he needs to work on his political aura which has dropped considerably in Kwara politics. The former leader of the Freedom Group in the PDP also needs to convince electorate that his age will not be of disadvantage.

Bio Ibrahim: Ibrahim, a former Minister of Transport was born in April 1957 in Baruten Local Government of Kwara State. A pharmacy graduate from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and served as Commissioner for Health from 1990-92. He was elected as Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly during Saraki’s tenure as governor under the PDP. He was appointed minister of Transport in 2008 and then that of Sports under former president Yar’adua and Jonathan respectively.

Strengths

Having served in various capacities and portfolios in the state and national levels, Bio has the requisite experience to govern the state and he is coming from a region where agitation for a northern candidate is high. Bio has been around for some time and quite understands political trends in the state.

Weaknesses

Since he fell out with the Saraki dynasty, the former minister has lost considerable support from his constituency. This may be compounded with the fact that he comes from the same area as Zakari Mohammed who has the ear of the political leader in the state. Age is also not so much on his side and it will be interesting to see how he will be able to convince other political parties to endorse him.

Gbemisola Rukayat Saraki: Born on May 3, 1965, 52 years old Senator Gbemisola Rukayat Saraki had most of her education in the United Kingdom where she excelled as a sound economist, banker and insurance expert. Gbemi served as Kwara Central senator from May 2003 – May 2011 after her stint at the House of Representatives. From a sterling academic foundation which saw her traversing the length and breadth of the world in pursuit of academic laurels to a rich background in the private sector as a banker and expert in insurance brokerage, Gbemi has carved a niche for herself as a technocrat of repute in Nigeria. She is presently the chairman of the governing board of Federal University, Otuoke in Bayelsa State.

Strengths

Popularly addressed as GRS by her loyalists and admirers, Gbemisola is an influential scion of the Saraki dynasty from Ajikobi in Ilorin West Local Government. She is a grassroots mobiliser with extensive political network, clout and experience needed to prosecute such assignment in the state. Although, the adventure did not materialised, she almost made history as the first woman governor in Nigeria during the 2015 governorship election in Kwara State but came third behind Governor Ahmed then of the PDP and Dele Belgore of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Gbemi is popular, charismatic, charming and very influential and can still ride on the dynasty’s reputation if she gets the ticket. Her apologists see her as very generous just like her father with the energy to intensify the electoral process. She is no doubt a material any day for any of the political parties and reportedly has the humility, empathy and tolerance that had endeared her to her constituents and colleagues with deep passion for their political aspirations. She has strong support base in her Kwara Central Constituency with strong tentacles and supporters that cuts across the entire state and beyond and can mop up needed funds to prosecute her cause when the need arises.

Weaknesses

Gbemi’s major setback will definitely be her gender. That is, if the majority Muslim electorate are ready to give female such responsibility in the state. The issue was a big one when she ran in 2011. In the foregoing she will definitely need to convince the traditional leadership of the emirate on the need to support her cause. After the 2015 election when she collapsed her structure in the PDP to join the APC at the eve of the election, she went underground and allegedly abandoned her structure until recently that she started subtle campaign according to source with social and health messages, but she needs to improve that narrative. Gbemi also need to be more consistent to sustain the “tempo” going forward. She will also need to rebuild her hitherto strong structure which has been heavily depleted with most of her core loyalists like Alhaji Toyin Olosaa switching allegiance.

 Alhaji Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal: Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal (HOL) was born to a Navy-officer father and late governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Muhammed Alabi Lawal. He was raised by a palm oil-merchant grandmother. After his stint at the prestigious Barewa College, Zaria, he moved to the International School, Ibadan and later went to the United Kingdom in Royal Russell School for his GCSE and A levels. He proceeded to the Universities of Portsmouth Surrey for his first and second degrees respectively. A qualified Chartered Accountant who has worked with many blue chip companies in the UK such as Amlin PLC and PowerGen, Lawal is a stakeholder in a finance company and runs a real estate development company.

Strengths                

Hakeem is the son and heir of a naval officer who was the late Governor of Kwara State, Muhammed Lawal. Today, he is still riding on his father’s legacies in the political circles in the state. Young and educated and from Idi-Ape, he will no doubt attract electorate from some sections of the populace who may want to play the ethnic card. He is also involved in pockets of philanthropic activities during festive periods and some job providing ventures in partnership with some foreign partners.

Weaknesses

If he is still willing to contest, which is very likely, Akeem must be able to tell and convince the electorate of his political clout outside the ethnicity card and his father’s shadow. He also needs to be more frequent in the state and identify more with his people if he wants to attract people’s votes. Some of the electorate may want to argue that his coming out for the 2019 race might just be a way of testing the waters to prepare himself for future contest.

Lukman Mustapha :  Lukman Mustapha is an Abuja based banker who made a strong statement in the state recently with the establishment of Sobi FM. Mustapha is the younger brother of Moshood Mustapha, the aide of the Senate President from Alanamu in Ilorin West.

Strengths

He is already being touted by the opposition PDP as their governorship candidate according to reports. The young entrepreneur is believed to have the deep pocket needed to finance the campaign and may get additional support and finance of his elder brother if he gets the ticket going by report that they may collapse their support for whoever gets the ticket on any of the available political platforms. He is seen as untainted and fresh and from the Kwara Central which is likely to be where the battle ground is likely to be shifted, come 2019 by both the PDP and APC. He already has his own media platform which can serve as strong political machinery for the race and relatively fresh.

Weaknesses          

Mustapha has not really been tested in the political contest of the state and need to do more of grassroots politicking. He is also considered more of a technocrat and lacks the needed political experience to rule the state. He needs to be more on ground to build his political base away from the support his elder brother is likely to bring.

Mike Omotosho: A trained pharmacist and humanitarian activist per excellence, Mike Omotosho hails from Ekiti in the southern part of Kwara State. He is recipient of the prestigious 2013 Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award and an inductee of the All African Students Union Hall of Fame, Accra Ghana. The Ahmadu Bello University graduate holds the Chieftaincy title – OMEPURU OHA I of Isu Ancient Kingdom from Nwangele LGA of Imo State. As Managing Director of SHI-Logistics Ltd, Dr Omotosho has demonstrated significant expertise in Supply Chain Management and Distribution of Commodities having worked on several Health Programmes. He has notably contributed to the widespread distribution of sustainable healthcare delivery especially in intervention areas as it relates to reversing Malaria, Pneumonia, HIV/AIDS etcetera, which has impacted over 2,500,000 Nigerians.

Strengths

Mike who is known within Rotary circle as “Big Mike,” is popularly referred to in the political arena as Omo to Sure by supporters. As a one- time Governor of Rotary International District 9125 in charge of 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Omotosho has impacted on many communities across the country including his home state and has attracted considerable appeal from the electorate from that venture. He joined politics in 2014 and contested for the position of Governor of Kwara State in the 2015 general elections. Although he lost, he received accolades from diverse groups for redefining campaigns and politicking in an innovative and impactful way, with his team visiting nooks and crannies of the state and designed programmes to meet the multifarious needs in each area. He increased the intensity of that contest because of what his apologists described then as the “fresh” option he represented. Young, educated, scholastic and considered to have a very deep pocket, Omotosho has the financial wherewithal to personally fund his campaign. The joke in the polity the last time he contested was that if advertorials or bill boards can win election; Omotosho would have been in the government house by now following his robust campaign that gulped billions of naira. Although he couldn’t replicate the Belgore phenomenon that exaggerated the 2011 race in the state, Omotosho will still have some pockets of support across the state who may want to change the status quo especially now that more emphasis is being placed on the candidate rather than party as demonstrated in the Osun by election which produced Ademola Adeleke.

Weaknesses

Although Omotosho has reportedly began subtle campaign for 2019 with social messages across the state during festive periods and on voters registration, one of the major and pronounced odds against his candidature is the fact that he is from the southern part of the state which is presently serving the last lap of an 8-year tenure and it would be difficult for the electorate to go south again in the midst of strong agitations from other regions. Also Omo to sure is not sure now about his political platform after his tacit dumping of the Labour Party (LP), his critics believed he lacks the political structure to really galvanize majority of the voting public in the state en bloc. Except he wants to run an independent candidate, he might face the same he was confronted with  the last time when he was accused of coming at the last hour to hijack the gubernatorial candidature of the Labour Party, although he won the appeal of the case. It remained to be seen how he will navigate these challenges to his advantage.

Alhaji AbdulWahab Babatunde Yusuf: Born on March 23, 1959, Yusuf is a graduate of both Ahmadu Bello and University of Ilorin where he obtained his Bachelor and Masters Degrees. He is a successful teacher, banker and entrepreneur with a rich private sector experience before his appointment as the pioneer Group Managing Director/CEO of Harmony Holdings in June 2012. In December same year, Yusuf was appointed the Director-General (DG) Bureau of Lands where he was until May 29,2015 when he was appointed Chief of Staff to in government of Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed   and has been very effective in the creation and management of state resources. From Ajikobi in Ilorin West, the Baboko and Okelele primary schools attendee also graduated from the prestigious Government Secondary School, Ilorin in 1978.

Strengths

Yusuf has been very effective in the creation and management of state resources. From Ajikobi in Ilorin West considered in the political circles as one of the most influential councils, he has the listening ears of the incumbent Governor which will be an added advantage to his cause. A financial resource manager, humble, soft spoken and also relatively young, Wahab is reportedly behind most of the financial plans initiated by the Governor Ahmed administration like the IF-K among others that had seen the state rated among one of the best tax regimes in the country. As a former banker and renowned entrepreneur, the present Chief of Staff has a very rich administrative experience and focus to put many options on the table any time the government is passing through financial crisis just like he has done with the issue of economic recession. He has done pretty okay in service which has earned him retainership in the government making him one of the tested and trusted allies of the governor and also member of his think tank. In terms of ability and capability, he will not be a pushover.

Weaknesses      

Yusuf is seen more as a technocrat than politician and will need to convince the electorate that he has learned enough politically to rule the state.

Barrister Fatimah Shehu Yusuf: She is presently the Chairman, Kwara State Scholarship Board and former commissioner for Women Affairs during the second term administration of former governor Bukola Saraki. A princess from Kaiama, Fatty as she is popularly called has also served as  commissioner II in the Local Government Service Commission from 2007-11 and was at a time being touted to head the ministry because of her performance which attracted accolades. She is also a one-time member of the Kwara State Primary Healthcare who had served as the Kwara North women leader of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN). A lawyer by profession, she is now the President, Kwara North Women in politics.

Strengths

Yusuf is a grassroots mobiliser and close to the wife of the senate President, Barrister Toyin Saraki whose husband and Senate President, Bukola Saraki calls the shot in who gets what in the state. Fatty is from Kaiama in Kwara North said to be agitating for the seat and very close to most of the political office holders from the north who can influence things if the political leadership decides to test the waters with a woman candidate in whatever capacity. She is an experienced politician who had been on ground long enough and will likely have huge support from the female population who ordinarily constitute the largest part of the voting population. She is also been described as a performer especially going by her exploits as the Commissioner for Women Affairs where she hugely impacted on the people. Known as Mama NAKSS because of her effort to ensure the Kwara State students gets their bursary which may be a plus for her.

Weaknesses

Being a woman, it may be difficult for Fatty to break the jinx of women leadership especially in position of governor  in an environment that is religiously and culturally sensitive to issue of female in politics. Also unlike some other candidates who can claim to “stand alone” and personally finance their campaigns, Fatty doesn’t have the financial clout to pull the process and her opponents.

Zahra Muazu Omar:Hajia Zarha Muazu Omar last year rose to the position of the Kwara State Head of Civil Service, the first woman to be so appointed. Born in May 25, 1959 in Wawa Bussa, Hajia Omar attended Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Ilorin for her first and second degrees in teaching related courses. After her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme as a teacher in 1981/1982 at Ilorin Grammar School Ilorin, she has worked as education officer at various times and permanent secretary in different ministries before her appointment as Head of Service on the 29th of May 2015. She was a member of the verification committee on primary school staff of  local governments in Kwara State and secretary committee on state audit of Kwara state Town Planning and Development Authority. She is also a member of the chairman committee of the draft White Paper of the report of staff Audit physical Verification and Biometric Screening of staff of all the sixteen (16) Local Government Areas in the state, among others.

Strengths

Hajia Omar has not declared intention to contest the governorship race in 2019, but she had once alluded to the argument that the state is ripe for a female governor come next election. The spouse of the present Emir of Kaiama from Kwara North will be seen as a very good candidate if the issue of Madam Governor crops up. Omar will no doubt have the support of the traditional institution if the pendulum swings in her favour. She can be said to be productive going by her exploits in present position where she has made waves as a disciplinarian and said to possess requisite boldness. She is very rich in administrative experience and might attract the support of the women folk who might see it as liberation  to their political freedom to aspire for the highest position in the state. Zahra was one of the first women to sound the note of warming to the men folks to watch out for a female governor in the 2019 election which might underscore her preparedness if she is considered.

Weaknesses

Hajia Zarah’s critics have alleged she is too conservative and less flexible for a very complex position of the number one citizen in the state and might need more political clout to preside over a state like Kwara considered politically sensitive to gender issues.

Dr Sarah Jubril: From Nupe tribe in Patigi Local Government of Kwara State, Dr Sarah Nnadzwa Jibril is a politician and psychologist that schooled in Nigeria, the UK and the United States of America. Presently the National Chairman of the Justice Must Prevail Party (JMPP), the former special adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on ethics and moral values had served as Kwara State commissioner for Social Development, Youth and Sports, and has served on various sporting positions including Kaduna State Sports Council. She stands tall as Nigeria’s first female presidential candidate both at the primaries and main elections, having contested to be president on four separate occasions. Born in 1945, her quest for public office began in 1983, when she contested to be senator in Kwara State adding that her name “Sarah”, encompasses her vision for Nigeria. In 1992, she contested to be president under the Social Democratic Party, but was placed fourth in the primary election, although she won the presidential nomination for her state, Kwara. She re-contested to be president in 1998, under the platform of People’s Democratic Party, but lost to Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2003, she defected from PDP to Progressive Action Congress to become the first woman to represent a registered party and be a presidential candidate but lost to Obasanjo again. After losing out in the 2011 presidential elections primaries to eventual president, Goodluck Jonathan, notably getting only a single vote, she was appointed special adviser on ethics and values to the president. She has also served as the deputy chairman of Progressive Liberation Party.

Strengths

She will be coming into the picture with a very rich and wide political experience because of her long participation in political activities in the country. “Madam Ethic”, as her admirers love to call her, is a no nonsense woman with the leadership qualities of sincerity, honesty, hardwork with zero tolerance for laziness. She is an orator and has the political and administrative experience to rule the state. She should also be able to domesticate her strong national connection to influence things in her favour if she decides to enter the race and she is from Kwara North which is in strong agitation for the seat.

Weaknesses

She is not much on ground in the state and lacks the political structure that can really challenge the Saraki dynasty. It will be interesting to see how she will work on that to change the scenario in the state. Age is not on her side and she may not be able to provide the necessary funding for contest of this magnitude which partly accounted for her narrative at the national level. She is likely also to contend with issue of religion and gender in an environment that is very sensitive to both in deciding who mounts podium to rule over it.

 

 

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