The gubernatorial election which has been scheduled to hold in 2019 by the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) may be few years away but the Kwara political space seems to be increasingly shrinking by the day with only the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominating in ‘hostilities’ and raising question of merger. Head Politics, Mumini AbdulKareem in this piece examines the issue.
The political space in the state since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) proclaimed the time table for the commencement of the 2019 election has presented very interesting fortunes with many political analysts postulating on the possibility of whether the state opposition parties can challenge for honours alone.
Although INEC announced registration of about fifty political parties, the state was only able to have the presence of about thirty parties. The announcement by INEC however has a kind of ripple effect in the political firmament in the state because of it coinciding with the proclamation of the state chapter of the Kwara State Independent National Electoral Commission (KWSIEC) that it would conduct the council election in November.
The pronouncement increased tempo of political activities which had hitherto witnessed a lull prior the decision of the state government to conduct the council poll. Thereafter most of the parties commenced “preparation” in readiness to take part in the council election to make a statement of their intentions. However towards the eve of the poll, it turned out that it was only about nine of the numbers that scaled the KWSIEC hurdle excluding the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition (PDP).
While the opposition parties initially begged for extension of the deadline for registration for the council poll, a plea analysts argued might have increased the numbers, KWSIEC rejected the appeal citing constitutional constraints.
According to the commission, through its chairman, Alhaji Uthman AbdurRahman Ajidagba in a response to the letter on the issue then, KWASIEC was constrained because of the extant laws and guidelines that regulate the activities of the Kwara state local government electoral body which has taken over powers to entertain such requests. The letter further referred political parties to section 21(1), 2013 as amended of the state electoral law, its guidelines and scheduled of activities among others.
Of the forty-six registered political parties in the state, only eleven where able to collect the nomination forms to participate in the chairmanship and councillorship election for the last exercise.
The parties include the APC, PDP, AA, Accord, PPA. APGA, ADP, LP, UPD, APA and ACD while the APC, PDP, AA, PPA and APGA took part in both councilorship and chairmanship contest among others, the ACD, Accord, UPP, ADP and APA among others contested only for the councilorship seats.
Only the APC fielded councilors for the 193 wards in the state with the PDP coming second with 136. But at the end of the exercise, it was a disastrous outing for most of the fringe parties, except the PDP, which won eight councillorship seats and said it will contest some chairmanship seats like Ilorin West among others, the party said it won. The fortunes of some of the opposition parties were so plummeted during the local government election that some of them recorded only one votes and nil in some instances.
The performances of some of these parties has raised issues of how they intend to prosecute the 2019 election and the likelihood of merging with particularly the PDP to become relevant in the politics of 2019 in the state. After their disastrous defeat, there seem not to be any conscious efforts by some of these parties to get the groove on and bubble the political space leading to 2019.
Apart from these parties, others that didn’t have the opportunity to contest like KOWA and SDP and before the last exercise, most of the political parties had consistently complained of lack of fund to prosecute their activities and the last council election was not different. But how they will pick up the pieces henceforth remains a puzzle that has not been unravelled.
Apart from some few of them, where majority seem to be in existence is through their umbrella bodies like Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and Congress of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), which themselves have suffered issue of polarisation. The CNPP and IPAC is divided among ideological lines that has seen the twp bodes firing on all cylinders in opposing faction on political issues of interest in the polity.
While commenting on why the party birthed in the state, the Advance Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) said the “absence of an alternative political party called for an all-embracing political platform for the unity and progress of this country.
According to its state chairman, Engr, Yunus Alabi, APDA was born out of the need to reawaken the consciousness of our great nation by introducing and pursing the singular agenda of inclusive governance and citizens participation in the democratic process. It said within the short period it came on board, it already has structures across the state. “We had been deprived of this opportunity. Long before now, there was no platform to contest election once you are deprived or marginalised by any government in power. This is the time that people have been waiting for and they now have the opportunity to participate fully in the 2019 governorship and presidential elections… Today in Kwara, when you are talking of APC and PDP, you will definitely talk of APDA. In fact, we remain the best alternative to both the APC and PDP in Kwara State”, it added.
In a recent interview with this medium on its seeming silence, its chairman, Hon Lekan Alabi said “I would not say that we are not vibrant. As a young party, it took part in the local government election that was conducted towards the end of 2013 in the state. However, we have gone back to the drawing table to use our not so good experience to plan for the future and when we want to do that we don’t make noise. Silently, we are working to get some new people into our fold and all the anomalies in the past will not be allowed to rear their ugly heads again”, he added.
With the look of things in the political circles in the state, the belief is rife among political enthusiasts that some of the parties, especially those that align with the opposition will likely “gang up:” to fight the 2019 cause, especially as things have started shaping out for the PDP at the states and national level. While there appears the need for the opposition parties to be active and deepen the political process to provide robust opposition which will ultimately advance the cause of the electorate, how they do that remains to be seen because of how their national bodies may handle the issue.