The bye-election into the House of Representatives seat for the Irepodun/Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin federal constituency slated for Saturday in Kwara state has been shadowed with allegation of security threat, especially coming from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM writes more on the issue.
Among the four states across the country where bye-election is expected to hold come Saturday 17, 2018, Kwara state has generated the most concern in the country and the reason is understandable.
From the issue of which among the five political parties cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP), Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) and United Peoples Party ((UPP) hold the ace to return its candidates in the state, the narrative over the election has sadly snowballed to the issue of security following alleged redeployment of thugs and massive security operatives by the presidency and APC.
Although the ruling PDP in the state, which is the opposition to the APC at the central level have been in the forefront of parties that have consistently raised the alarm of an alleged impending plan by the presidency to “militarise” the poll and rig the exercise, the silence from the police authorities, especially the force headquarters on the issue has left questions begging for answers.
Some political analysts are of the view that the alarm raised by the PDP and Kwara state government maybe standing on a tripod in respect of recent event in the polity about the action of the presidency as regard the political situation in Kwara state.
There is the view that the bye-election is seen by the presidency in conjunction with some top opposition party leaders in the state and at the national level as an opportunity to get at the Senate President and national leader of PDP, Dr Bukola Saraki, who they believed has caused them serious political troubles and still stands as a threat to their political victories in 2019.
This group of Saraki’s opponents was so fixated on him that it made the Senate President the focus among other PDP presidential aspirants and singled him out for attack. Although, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar later emerged the PDP presidential candidate, the selection of Saraki to lead the PDP campaign council and the development at the Senate that had seen many APC members dump the party, has given the group serious cause for concern, especially with the 2015 incident where an incumbent was toppled is still fresh in their memory.
Again there is the issue of the way the ruling APC at the federal level has handled the last two elections it had conducted in Ekiti and Osun states allegedly using security men and thugs to intimidate voters to win the elections. Although the two elections are now subject of court litigations and have attracted criticisms from even the international community, the perception back home is that of the move to replicate such oddity in Kwara. And lastly, there is the perception by supporters that the presidency is obsessed with the notion that Saraki must be dealt with at home to effectively break him at the national level.
At the last meeting of the APC gubernatorial aspirants and their candidate, AbdurRahman AbdulRazaq with President Muhammadu Buhari which was facilitated by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed, the APC were given “marching orders” to form the next government in Kwara.
Led by the embattled national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole and Lai Muhammed, Buhari charged the party to end the reign of the Saraki dynasty in the state.
The news of the president’s order came through the party’s candidate Abdulrazaq, who boasted that the era of the dominance of Saraki in Kwara politics was over.
According to him, “Kwara has become a battle ground and as you can see, we have come here to see Mr. President having gone through a hectic process of primaries. We had our difficulties but we have come to see the president to tell him that all is well and we are in unison and he has given us marching orders to go and take Kwara. He (perhaps referring to Saraki) is history, we have gone pass him and we are looking at Government House”, he added.
However, with the present vibes emanating from the two parties, it appears the presidency is determined to achieve its target in Kwara State this time around by any means whatsoever which the then President Goodluck Jonathan also boasted but failed to do. How the presidency and Saraki’s opponent will square up with the very formidable dynasty irrespective of the strategy employed in Kwara State remains to be seen in the final days leading to the bye-election come Saturday.
It was the PDP that first cried out over the alleged plan of the presidency regarding the bye-election. That cry has since been echoed by various stakeholders in the ruling party including Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and youths groups from Kwara South.
The PDP through its Publicity Secretary, Tunde Ashaolu told National Pilot that the party is very much aware of plans by the presidency to undermine the bye-election and rig it for the APC because of their unpopularity.
Ashaolu later in a statement noted that “it wishes to alert security agencies and the general public to the sudden invasion of some parts of Kwara South, particularly Oro and Omu-Aran towns by armed political thugs led by Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo.
“We have reliably gathered that the thugs and ammunitions were smuggled into Kwara from Lagos and neighbouring Osun State by the APC with the sole intention to disrupt and manipulate the November 17 Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin/Irepodun federal constituency bye-election.
“The PDP recalls that MC Oluomo, shortly after the September governorship election in Osun State via a trending video posted online, threatened that the APC will invade Kwara and hijack the State from the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki. This notorious thug ought to have been arrested and interrogated by the police for making such unguarded statement but for his allegiance and loyalty to the ruling APC. This is also an indication that the APC as a party breeds political thugs and use them to perpetuate violence during elections like they did in Osun”, it added.
Similarly, Govenror Abdulafatah Ahmed on Tuesday, while condemning the “unusual redeployment of Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in the Kwara South Senatorial District by the Inspector General of Police (IGP)” (and thugs by APC) as a grand plan and calculated attempt to manipulate the election” adding that the state is under siege.
“Credible information reaching us proves that the police are conniving with the opposition to cause mayhem and intimidate our people to get them disenfranchised in the bye-election”, the governor added.
Among analyses of the bye-election that have been circulating online, this appears succinct that “more than anything else, the November 17 bye-election is a litmus test for the APC and the people of Kwara. The significance of this election is legion. The results from such exercise are usually different from the results of any general election.
“It can influence and affect the fortunes of future elections. While bye-election upset can have a psychological impact on the voters, it can also create a sense of momentum for one party or a sense of impending defeat for another. Moving on from losing an election is hard. Losing also is not a form of experience. How you behave after you lost can have huge implications on whether or not you should trust your party any more. Above all, post election clean up is never a fun for voters especially the losers. Once the winner is announced, voters quickly lose interest”.
While the above lines have added to the intensity of the situation, stakeholders in the PDP have continued to expressed confidence about the victory of the party whatever the antics of the presidency.
Speaking on the issue, Kwara State Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Demola Banu expressed confidence that the PDP will record a landslide victory against the opposition APC during the election.
He said the PDP, ably led by the Senate President and national leader of the party, has the relevant structure, people and goodwill to deliver party’s candidate to fill the Irepodun/Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin federal constituency seat.
While appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari and the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow for a free, fair and transparent election that will be seen to be credible in the eyes of the world, Banu said anything that will undermine the credibility of the poll will led the country into anarchy.
“Some people said the bye-election is going to be a test case for the PDP and the APC in 2019. I do not want to believe that. Well, may be for the APC to show their level of acceptance in the state. We believe that it is just a requirement that must be met to fill the vacuum created because of the demise of our late sister, late Princess Funke Adedoyin.
“Clearly, it is just going to be a walkover. I want to implore the Federal Government to allow a free and fair election. If you see what happened today, you will realise that the PDP is on the ground
“Do you even see APC campaigning in spite of the fact that the election is a week away… because they know they are not on ground. There is nothing like federal might, the world is now a global village. I want to believe that the president will not be a party to such an oddity and you can only rig where you are popular”, he added.