Politics

2023: Scrambling for soul of Kwara APC

 

The leadership crisis rocking the Kwara State chapter of the All
Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to defy solution among
aggrieved stakeholders as the latest trend of events within the party
has shown. In this report, HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM examines
the development vis-à-vis how it has pitched gladiators in the
government, legislature and party executives against one another in
the fight for the soul of the party in the state.

It initially began like hearsay when shortly after the party’s victory
in the last gubernatorial election, words filtered in from insiders
within the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that
all is no longer well with the major players of the O to ge struggle
and the centre could no longer hold.
While the issue then was discussed in hush tones among some
stakeholders, it however gained momentum as the new government
progressed without any headway yet to the consternation of even some
members of the opposition in the state.
At the centre of the crisis, it was gathered, are three major issues
highlighted by three distinct groups in the party along with their
supporters who are embittered about how the spoils of the party’s
victory in the 2019 gubernatorial election have been assembled and
distributed.
For the first group comprising Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq who is
the major beneficiary of the party’s electoral victory and his
lieutenants, the governor who is considered the leader of the party
should not be kowtowed by aggrieved stakeholders and gladiators most
of whom contested the governorship ticket with Abdulrazaq on issues of
policies and especially appointments.
Within this crowd are also sympathisers and recruits led by leaders
like Senator Suleiman Ajadi and former factional chairman of the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Sunday Fagbemi among others who
are believed to have the listening ears of the Governor. The talk out
there around this cluster is that the Governor has already started
building his own team through the aforementioned people in readiness
for the next rounds of election in the state. The reason for this was
because of the alleged disagreement with some of the party chieftains
who are said to have decided to get back their pound of flesh from
Governor Abdulrazaq for allegedly abandoning them after they
collectively work to ensure his victory.
Although, there is the narrative that Abdulrazaq was not initially
interested in occupying the office of governor and was not even
fascinated by the protocol and bureaucracy of the office, his actions
lately has however given a pointer to the assumption that things might
be changing from that early thought if it has not changed already. And
any doubt about this narrative evaporated weekend when one of the
staunch APC apologists of the governor and Coordinator of Kwara Youth
Centre (KYC), “an advisor body to the state government”, Kayode
Oyin-Zubair, opened up on the issue in an interview with a national
daily.
Asked if he foresee the people of Kwara remaining with APC beyond 2023
with the way things are going in the APC, Oyin-Zubair noted that, “The
bulk stops on the desk of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. He needs to
choose between satisfying the vast majority of Kwarans that voted him
into office or aligning with a few… With the governor on the driver’s
seat delivering on the fundamental needs of our people, HE WILL DRIVE
THE VEHICLE BEYOND 2023 (emphasis mine). Those of us who led the party
to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) when it was gasping for air will shut
the mortuary gate against all undertakers at the appropriate time”.
Insiders said one of the major issues of disagreement with the
aggrieved party chieftains is the appointments that have been made so
far. Despite the serious complaints from the affected party leaders
that the Governor has excluded them and rejected their candidates
submitted for consideration, Abdulrazaq action appeared to have
exacerbated the issue.
According to party insiders, the Governor appeared to have decided to
carry his cross sensing that some of the aggrieved leaders may decide
to gang-up against him in the months ahead. It was reliably gathered
that most of the appointees so far made by the Governor are majorly
based on inputs from his family members, lieutenants and those the
Governor himself identified and recruited to form his own structure
ahead of political hostilities not minding their political affiliation
in the state.
For instance, it was gathered that some opposition members especially
of the PDP stalk have already found their way into the cabinet among
the commissioners-designate that have so far been appointed. Some of
them were reported to have worked against the APC and its candidates
as recent as the last gubernatorial election.
A party source who spoke on the issue said some of the
commissioners-designate are known PDP members and were very visible
against the APC in the last gubernatorial election adding that
Governor’s decision to pick them may have given weight to the
assumption that he has decided to build his structure outside the
aggrieved party leaders.
Now, for the aggrieved party leaders who sources within the party said
are further divided into blocs, the camp of the Minister for
Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed appeared to be
closing ranks with the leaders like Prof Shuaib Abdulraheem Oba,
Iyiola Oyedepo, Chief Rex Olawoye and former National Assembly member
for Ilorin West/Asa federal constituency, Moshood Mustapha among
others. Already, there are feelers that the leadership of the party at
the national level has already decided to work with the aggrieved
members for 2019 politics led by Tinubu over fears that the Governor
will not be a reliable and dependable ally come 2023 if his actions so
far are anything to go by. This fact was underscored by the recent
visit of Minister for Interior and former governor of Osun State,
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who was reportedly deployed to Kwara by Tinubu
to recruit aggrieved leaders against Governor Abdulrazaq.
Already, bruises from the crisis have not spared the party’s
executives in the state. While the chairman, Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa
is reportedly leading the charge against the Governor, the party’s
Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Tajudeen Folaranmi Aro, is said to be
keeping watch for Governor Abdulrazaq in the struggle for the soul of
the party in the state by the contending and polarising forces.
Presently, the roforofo is already taking its toll on the party
structure across the 16 local government areas leading to suspension
and counter suspension between the warring groups. Recently, following
the tactical endorsement by the Deputy Governor, Mr Kayode Alabi, of a
branch of the party from Ifelodun, the party State Chairman, Bolarinwa
countered the action and issued a statement denouncing it.
Alabi had while receiving new executives and members of the party from
Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state charged members of the APC
to be loyal to the party and the government of Abdulrazaq to succeed
in office.
The Deputy Governor called on the new executives to extend hand of
love and friendship to other members to build a strong and united
party and urged them to support Governor Abdulrazaq who is the leader
of the party in the state to achieve the required success.
He further assured that the present administration would not relent in
its desire to improve the state and make life better for the people.
The Local Government chairman of the party, Hon Abdullateef Quadir
pledged their support for the APC and the present administration and
explained that the party would run an open door policy which would be
all inclusive.
But hours later, Bolarinwa issued a counter statement denouncing that
tactical endorsement by Alabi.
According to the statement which was personally signed by Bolarinwa
and circulated in many social media platforms, the party denounced any
factional exco of the party in Ifelodun Local Government Area.
Bolarinwa further affirmed that Hon. Mohammed Shillo Awobimpe remained
the undisputed and duly recognised Chairman of APC in Ifelodun local
government. He also emphasised that all the local government party
officers who took oath of office on 15th September, 2018 remain the
authentic officers of the party at their local governments and are so
recognised.
He therefore called on party members to eschew mischief and abide by
the  party guidelines at all times.
Nevertheless, the “war” appeared to have escalated to the media space
on radio as the party chairman recently wrote to the management of a
government-owned radio station in the state complaining about some
negative reports against the party especially on the suspension of
some local government party chairmen. Political observers were however
quick to link the response to a form of attack against the radio
programme his “foe” and fellow member of the APC executives, Tajudeen
Aro is handling considered as being used to further the agenda of the
Governor to have a firm grip on the party.
Similarly another version of the radio muscle flexing is the one being
handled by Hon Saheed Popoola in a federal radio station in the state.
Although the programme usually highlight the importance of party
supremacy, many political observers see it as another version of the
war against the Governor by some blocs of the aggrieved leaders, a
case of the hands of Esau but voice of Jacob.
So from the initial plot to reportedly remove the party chairman, it
appeared the gladiators in the arena are not leaving anything to
chance in the survival series and have even increased the tempo of the
strategy against opponents. What is however glaring is that the fight
for soul of party has slowed down governance in the state and
polarised the APC along political divides with the Governor at the
head of the inverted pyramid. But how quickly and deeply it will be
handled will say whether Abdulrazaq and the aggrieved lieutenants have
learnt anything from the situation that brought them to power in the
first place or not.

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