The battle for the zone to produce the next governor between the North and Central districts will has intensified lately with many of the interested players and actors in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) already bracing up with clandestine moves, intrigues and argument to convince the leadership on why theirs should be the anointed district. HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM writes on the issue.
As countdown to the 2019 gubernatorial race gradually reached its crucial stage, one of the biggest political puzzles that needed to be resolved within the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the issue of which zone is in line to produce the next governorship candidate.
The matter for the ruling party is said to have become “a bit complicated” from the strong feelers already making the rounds that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is planning to zone its governorship seat to the Kwara Central that is if it has not done so already.
According to political watchers, the issue has started generating ripples within the political circles in the state and had allegedly left top members of the very influential structure of the dynasty trading words (drums of war) as to the propriety or otherwise of the ticket to be zoned to their district.
Some of the gladiators allegedly interested in the race within the affected regions are prepared to ‘rock the boat’ this time around to demonstrate how serious they are over the issue and the Senate President and leader of the party in the state, Dr Bukola Saraki, who holds the ace have to be circumspect in arriving at any decision with the leadership of the party over the matter. According to a source close to the Senate President, “it is only God that can guide the Leader right on this issue for it not to boomerang in whatever decision he takes in collaboration with the leadership of the party”.
For some pundits, the race for the ticket is already generating tension and may make or mar the political aspirations of some of the gladiators if caution, decorum and what a source described as “political maturity” are not observed.
Many of the permutations that may lead to the contest have started embracing historical antecedents of the governorship race in the state and have questioned the patterns in the past in comparism with what appears to be the emerging trend this time around.
Since the return to democracy in 1999, the central, south and northern regions of Kwara State have had its fair share of leadership in the democratic space in the state. However, the balance of the power has had its cumulative effect on the political narrative in the state.
But now that the D-Day is gradually drawing near with the release of the INEC time table, the gladiators in the arena from the two divides within the ruling party have started “fireworks”. Among the narrative from the north is that the current tenure of the south was ordinarily its turn but for the gentleman’s agreement between all the stakeholders for the north “wait”.
At a recent get-together held at GRA, Ilorin, meant to be for a discussion on the political situation in the state going into 2019 among gladiators in the ruling All Progressives Congress, it turned out to be another window to ventilate what a source described as “bottled agitation” by one of those said to be highly interested in the race from Kwara North.
The fellow, who accused the central of not magnanimous enough to support a northern candidate, argued that his region, whether morally and otherwise, deserves the top seat after playing the supporting role all these years.
According to the gubernatorial hopeful, “It is the turn of the north to produce the next governor of the state by arrangement and we have many of our indigenes that can fill the office.
“It is surprising to see that many of our counterparts from Kwara Central have openly or clandestinely been scheming to come on board stating that it is their turn. After the single term of former Governor Muhammed Shabba Lafiagi (which lasted for a year and three months), the Kwara Central has ruled twelve years consecutively before the emergence of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed from the Kwara South. Although, the “gentleman agreement” was for him to rule for just one term, but the circumstances and political exigencies of that time which led to the pull out of about seven governors then granted him an extension. So naturally, it should be the turn of the North and that is why we are surprised about this agitation from the central”, the party man noted.
But since then, some party stalwarts from the Kwara Central region who spoke on the issue based on anonymity “for now, until the coast becomes clearer”, described the vibes and argument coming from the north as a relevant but misplaced “rant” especially in the light of the current political situation in the state.
A top party leader and a strong voice from the Kwara Central who spoke with National Pilot on Wednesday on the issue in confidence, said although the reason for the agitation from their brothers in the north are justified, this is not the best of times to take such a “politically dangerous and suicidal decision” especially in the light of the purported plan of the opposition to fly the kite of the central candidate this time around.
He said “By (our) understating, the issue of zoning is not a written agreement between the leadership of the APC but just a kind of informal arrangement. And secondly in politics, when it comes to election, the best criterion is to look at the present situation which in this regards calls for the fact that the central should produce the governorship in view of the voting strength of the district. I also want to believe that the central cannot fold their hands for another eight years to distance themselves from the seat of power in the state because they have been very sensitive… and they want somebody from their midst to be the governor”.
He noted that “if the APC decides to pick a candidate from the north and the PDP expectedly goes to the central, then it is going to be a serious issue for the ruling party and I only pray God to guide our leader and the leadership of the party aright in the decision they would finally adopt.
The “rant” of the north, he added “can be said to be justified if we want to look at equity and fairness from the position of the 12 years of leadership of the central, eight for the south and only one year and three months of the north for the party to ask them to produce a candidate. But the current situation might not be favourable to the party at this point in time and it is going to be a suicidal attempt picking candidate from the north leaving the central with almost fifty-six per cent of the vote”, the source submitted.
He added that the party should not based its permutation on the recent local government election because “the permutation is likely to change when it comes to the general election in 2019 and going by what the leader of the party is doing across the state, particularly in Kwara Central, people are ready to give him maximum support than before”.
Already, there are many candidates that have reportedly signified interest in the race for the top from the two regions and some have even engaged in “spiritual and diabolical means” aimed at hoodwinking the party, the leader and its leadership, but how potent their charisma and spiritual sophistication can be in addition to high wire politicking against the party’s leadership will be clearer in the days to come. But for now, the fireworks continue