Kwara 2019: Politics of “recall” takes centre stage


Since the syndrome caught the nation’s polity made popular by the people of Kogi West who initiated moves to kick their charismatic and controversial senator, Dino Melaye out of the upper chamber of the National Assembly, a case that is still subject of legal fireworks, Kwara state has come under the spotlight with three of its top representatives, including the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki having a taste of the ‘politics of recall’ that has become the trend in the state. HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM examines the issue.

Kwara state and its political space has come under some siege of sort with the waves of political recall that had dominated the polity. While it started like a bonfire, the process has caught the state politics like a conflagration with top political figures in the state at the receiving end of what many have described as abuse of a very important constitutional political process ordinarily meant to strengthen the country’s democracy.
Already political pundits have started to question the rationale behind these recalls especially when juxtaposed with the political figures involved.
It was no other person than the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki that first got the bug, when a group of Kwara South youth led by an aide to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Youths and Students Affairs, Charles Olufemi Afolayan, under the auspices of the Kwara Youth Stakeholders Forum (KYSF) called for the recall of Saraki.

As expected, the action attracted many reactions from the Saraki political dynasty and the ruling All Progressives Congress, many of who questioned the propriety and appropriateness of their action.

According to loyalists of the Senate President, Afolayan lacks the locus standi to call for the recall of the Senate President since he was not among those that elected him to the seat in the first place, especially coming from the Kwara South region as opposed to the central where Saraki represents. Furthermore, the allegation of none performance levelled against Saraki by the group will not fly in the face of any standard of judgment, both morally and otherwise, as Saraki today stands tall in the state with unprecedented performances both as a senator and the Senate President that have stood him out. He has used his influence to impact the state in all spheres of human endeavours that cut across appointments, empowerment, projects and interventions, which also include education, provision of water, roads, culverts, drainages and streetlights, among others.
While dissociating themselves from the purported recall, seven youth groups from Oke-Ero Local Government under the Coalition of Oke-Ero Youths Forum, described the recall news first published by Sahara Reporters as a means of misinforming the public and diverting their attention from obvious facts, adding that the report does not represent the opinion of the youths of the local government.
These groups include Liberation Youth Movement, coordinated by Comrade Aina Julius Oluwashola; Kwara South Joint Political Youth Association led by Comrade Bankole Babatunde and National Youth Council of Nigeria, Oke-Ero chapter, headed by Comrade Awoleye Gabriel.
The other youth associations which cut across all youth groups in Oke-Ero included Oke-Ero Youth Joint Political Association, Kwara South Youth Joint Association, OKe-Ero branch, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Oke-Ero chapter; Liberation Youth Movement, Harmony Youth Movement, Grassroots Youths of Oke-Ero and Youth Alliance were represented at the press conference.
While reading the forum address, Comrade Oluwashola condemned Saraki’s critics and added that the council has benefitted from the kind gesture of Senate President despite the fact that they are not from Kwara Central Senatorial district.
“The KYSF statement was baseless and untrue and it (the association) only exists on paper not known in Oke-Ero. The author of the statement has never participated in politics at any level in the state”.
The coalition statement was corroborated by the state party chairman, Hon Ishola Balogun-Fulani and Alhaji Suleiman Bala, the party chairman of Ilorin West Local Government where Saraki hails from, among prominent APC leaders and Saraki loyalists in the state.
Expectedly, the recall of Saraki has suddenly died down without any headway. The initiators and supporters of the move at the early stage have suddenly developed cold feet and unlike the scenario in Kogi state where the constituent initiated the recall process with INEC and forwarded signatures gathered in that regard against Melaye, the scenario in Kwara in the light of recent development seems to be nothing than the urge to make political noise and stir the polity to score cheap political point as we head towards A 2019.
While Saraki’s “recall” is as good as dead, that of others like Senator Rafiu Ibrahim seems to have just started and gaining momentum with the addition of Hon Hassan Oyeleke of Kwara House of Assembly.
While accusing Rafiu Ibrahim of non performance, his supporters described the allegation of kneeling down for the Senate President as “absurd” and  a case of a drowning man looking for straw to cling to, adding that the sponsors of the senator’s  recall felt intimidated by the awesome and unprecedented performance of the senator.
Although this issue had been situated in the realm of high wired politics that centered on 2019, there are further insinuations that the opposition parties’ fingers are not far from the till in a case of giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it. But just like the Saraki scenario, nothing tangible has so far followed the press conference that those who started the recall process have had. The only updates are responses from loyalists and party associates of the Senator.
According to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara South Senatorial District, the recall agitators named “Kwara South Unity Forum”, was unknown, faceless and cannot represent the wishes and expectations ?of the people of Kwara South.
At an emergency press conference at the Zonal APC Secretariat in Ajase-Ipo, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, the Senatorial Chairman of the party, Alhaji Jimoh Balogun, insisted that those seeking recall of the Ojoku-born legislator enjoyed the sponsorship of some forces whom he however did not name.
He said the proponents of the recall were merely dancing to the gallery and acting the script of their paymasters because the Kwara South Senator has endeared himself to the heart of the people he represents through developmental projects.
He added that the agitators were unknown and the performance of Senator Ibrahim had surpassed those achieved by his predecessors within the last two and half years of his representation.
And at a time when the issue seems to be kicking dust, the Majority leader of the State House of Assembly, Dr Hassan Oyeleke issue surfaced from the blues as some members of his constituency, Eesa/Shawo/Igbodun in the Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State, led by Hon. Mufutau Adeyemo, accused him of inadequate representation of his constituency and not doing enough in the areas of agriculture, health and job creation or supported any motion in favour of the area, among others.
In defence, his supporters countered the allegations in a press conference and raised allegation that the move was an abuse of a constitutional process that ordinarily was meant to strengthen the constitution.
“It is therefore irksome that (we) have began to set dangerous precedents by turning the constitution into a mere book of riddles and jokes, actions that is tantamount to inflicting violence on the sanctity of a very far-reaching and sensitive provision of the constitution by seeking to invoke it irresponsibly without any assignable reason.
“We deem it important to use this opportunity to call on lovers of democracy across the nation to find a way of stopping the ugly trend aimed at subjecting the institution of democracy to ridicule. We are of the opinion that members of the public would help in no small measure in getting the dangerous developments discouraged by readily disregarding the ranting of such nature”.
Now after Saraki, Rafiu, Oyeleke, whose “recall” is next?
In the light of the constitution, have those angling for these recalls properly appraised all the scenarios involved and can they achieve that in the light of the timeframe left for another round of elections?
The guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission states that “A petition for recall shall present the signatories arranged according to polling units, ward, local government and constituency.
And “On receipt of a petition by the Chairman of the Commission for the recall of a lawmaker, the Commission shall within 90 days: cross-check that the signatories appear on the authenticated Voters’ Register; and if satisfied, conduct a referendum. It further states that “The Commission shall: (1) Notify the member sought to be recalled, stating the facts of the receipt of the petition for the recall of the member; and (2) Issue a public notice or announcement stating the days, time and location of cross-checking. Thirdly “The cross-checking shall be carried out at such centres as may be designated by the Commission within the constituency and (4) “The power of control and supervision of cross-checking signatories to a petition for recall shall be vested in the Commission and any rule, regulations, circulars, manuals, directives and instructions given by the Commission regarding the cross-checking of petitions for recall shall be binding.
Additionally, INEC shall “(a) if satisfied that more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s Constituency endorsed the petition, conduct a referendum for the recall of the member; or (b) Where the outcome of the cross-checking shows that less than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s Constituency endorsed the petition, decline to conduct a referendum for the recall of the member.
The question then is: Do those angling for these Kwara representatives recall have the demographic strength to do so considering that they need half of the signatures of registered voters in Kwara Central and South, which comprised of a large chunk of the more than one million registered voters in the 2015 election.

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