BY ABDULWAHAB OBA
So many questions. Too many enquiries. But I’m not ready to respond to any, at least for the moment. Elections in Kwara have always been peaceful, devoid of any unmanageable acrimonies. Why the massive security deployment from surrounding states? Is it that the over ten thousand security personnel in the state were not capable or competent of handling the situation? Why the intimidation and arrest of PDP stalwarts? Shamsudeen Bada, a candidate for Kwara State House of Assembly and Anu Ibiwoye, Special Assistant on Agriculture? They were both arrested without any verifiable reasons or warrants of arrest or caught in any illegality. Hon Seyi Edunfunke was also arrested while a host of PDP top mobilisers were chased out of their towns in Oro, Omu-Aran, Ajase, Oke Onigbin and others. But I’m not ready to discuss the election now. It’s not time for me to comment.
Out of the 168,000 registered voters in the four local government areas of Ekiti, Irepodun, Isin and Oke-Ero, only a little above 41,000 voted. What happened to the over 120,000 deficit? Disenfranchised, harassed, intimidated or chased away? Or could it be that there were no adequate mobilisation or there were disenchantment? At the appreciate time, I’ll interrogate how we reached this level of decadence and desperation in our body politics. I’ll investigate party internal democracy and collectivity in decision making process. But the time is not ripe to query how candidates emerged and who the candidates were. It’s not time for me to interrogate the integrity of our mobilisers and organisers. But one thing is as clear as crystal, this victory that has been awarded to the APC is fraught with inadequacies.
When the time comes, we shall do more questionings. For now, two significant events that were significant in the interpretation about the state of affairs in Kwara, particularly about the coming elections and the determination of the Peoples Democratic Party to ensure that the key to the Government House remains firmly in the hands of its members, caught my attention. If properly managed, these events might yet be the required turning points to checkmate external intrusions into Kwara politics.
The first was a meeting between Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed and his personal aides. And the second was another meeting immediately after the first, between the outgoing governor and the PDP Gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji Razaq Atunwa at Ahmed’s office in Government House.
During the meeting with his aides, the governor specifically reiterated the fact that the Atunwa Project is the collective project of every member of his cabinet, including the aides who may not sit in the Cabinet Council. According to the governor, he fully subscribed to the structure that presented Atunwa as the PDP candidate, himself having been a beneficiary of the same structure.
While making reference to his own emergence in 2011 among a horde of star of aspirants, the governor emphasised that the emergence of the PDP candidate was not because he is the richest or most competent among his colleagues but that it is the manifestation of the decision of the Almighty, who gives power to whomever He wills. Governor Ahmed said candidate Atunwa is resourceful, astute and dedicated to collective good.
As such, the governor reiterated again, he cannot be against Atunwa or anyone in a system from which he himself has become a major beneficiary of a position he would never have tasted if wealth and influence were the determining factors as it is being done in the other party. “You must all work for the success of Atunwa project”, he ordered.
The meeting with Atunwa took place after this dialogue. When he met the Governor, although it was only a formality as both have been meeting regularly prior to the public event, the PDP candidate himself was full of praises for Governor Ahmed. Incidentally, Atunwa was the Director General of the Ahmed Mandate Campaign in 2015. Incidentally, Ahmed handed over to Atunwa as Commissioner of Finance when he was moved to Planning and Economic Development ministry. And we believe the Almighty for another ‘incidentally’, come 2019 that Ahmed will hand over to Atunwa again!
Atunwa, humorous but factual wasted no time in acknowledging his friendship with Ahmed, even beyond official engagements. He commended the governor for having demonstrated hard work and ability to think out of the box, and hailed him for being a sincerely detribalised Nigerian. He recalled how in 2011 the system threw Ahmed up as the gubernatorial candidate and how everyone rose to support him. “People of myopic mind may say whatever they like but we both know that we need to make this project work” was the words Ahmed used in responding to his guest, hinting that they both know the various stories being planted by the opposition about their relationship all in a desperate bid to weaken the Atunwa Team.
The Governor also used the occasion to appeal to his aides as well as those of Atunwa not to create unnecessary gap between the two principal actors, stating that Atunwa is a PDP project that must succeed with all hands on deck. The PDP, according to the Governor, is a structured party with a respected and trusted leadership that has continually delivered in the state and even elsewhere. “It is a structure that rewards resourcefulness, dedication and loyalty”, he said. These two meetings have come to establish the cordiality between the outgoing governor and the man we all believe the Almighty to succeed him. You see, those of us close to the two know that there is nothing negative between them but the meeting will go a long way in assuring skeptics daily bombarded with fake stories about Ahmed not wanting Atunwa. For where? If you know, you know but since they don’t know we need to tell them. That is the spirit of the meeting.
The PDP is well structured in Kwara and has a clear leadership. Members don’t need to run to Abuja or Lagos to lobby in order to be picked for a position in Ilorin. The leadership is owned by us; the leadership knows us all, it has been with us, indeed it’s always with us and can understand our challenges far better than someone whose only understanding of what happens in Kwara is dependent on what he is told. Little wonder, despite application of coerciveness by their so-called federal might, people are daily trooping into the PDP; people who have seen the deception on the other side; people who have come to realise that our destiny must not be put in the hands of strangers who will turn our land into another estate; an extension of their political landscape. Truth be told, like I have said elsewhere, this is the time for Kwarans to face reality and rise to support our own. It’s a shame that we who have been declared freed will once again put ourselves under the bondage of another man all because someone wants to become governor.
Buyers, beware; the stock from the other side is toxic. The Ahmed-Atunwa parley is an indication of genuine commitment to the progress of our state and we all ought to support it.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail: