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Kwara 2019: APC, PDP In Battle For The South
« on: December 18, 2017, 06:00:25 AM »
The people of Kwara South senatorial district are daily being bombarded by aspirants seeking to represent them at the senate come 2019. Already, discussions are rife about ongoing subtle struggle for the senatorial tickets of the two leading parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this report, Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan, examines the various contending forces in the zone ahead of the 2019 elections.

AHEAD of the 2019 general election, the people of the southern senatorial district in Kwara state have been discussing ways of ensuring that the area fares better socio-economically and politically in the forthcoming dispensation. The need for the said discussion, according to sources who spoke with The Nation, may not be unconnected with the widespread belief among the people that Kwara South has little or nothing to lay claim to as dividends of democracy.

Stakeholders from the zone, at the end of a recent convergence in Esie town, Irepodun local government area of the State, collectively agreed that the zone needs to do more politically if it is to catch up with other areas in the state socio-economically. Speakers at the parley were unanimous in blaming what they described as age-long bad representation of the district at the national assembly, for the backwardness they noticed in Kwara South.

Vowing to continue to work for the emancipation of the zone after the meeting, many dignitaries at the event lamented the political and infrastructural under-development of the district. They also attributed the problems to disunity among the indigenes, citing the many irreconcilable political differences among the elites of the senatorial district as one of the major problems confronting the area.

Explaining why the people of the area are agitated ahead of the 2019 general election, Comrade Ishaq Adegboye, a former Organising Secretary of the Action Alliance (AA), said there is a widespread desire for a change in the political fortune of the zone among the people. According to him, the forthcoming 2019 senatorial election in the district will be a very interesting one as the people are now determined to take their own destiny in their own hands.

“Kwara south have been very unlucky when you consider the slow pace of development here. For a people who are know to have championed community development efforts long before other areas in the state and even the country, it is not a good testimony. There are seven local government areas in the district namely, Ekiti, Offa and Oke-Ero, Oyun, Ifelodun, Irepodun and Isin.

“Our people are known to be industrious and enterprising. We are famous for our age-long self -help initiatives. Developmental projects have been carried out through self help here long before the creation of states. So, haven’t done so much for ourself, we expect more from government. But we have been unlucky. Not even the fact that we produced the Governor of the state have changed anything.

“It is for this reason, and for the purpose of changing our current situation, that we are mobilizing our people to show more than passing interest in politics. We are telling the people to change the game by changing the people they vote for. Our people ordinarily are more interested in the businesses, leaving politics to a few. But in 2019, when it will be time to elect the next senator, all that will change,” he said.

All eye on the senate seat

The senatorial district is currently being represented in the upper chamber of the national assembly by Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim, who before now, was a member of the lower chamber of the national assembly. He contested on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), candidate, Lola Asiru, counterpart with 53,102 votes to 37, 496 to win the seat.

Severely accused of underperforming by many of his constituents, Ibrahim has consistently argued otherwise, claiming to be doing his best to improve the fortune of Kwara south. But Adegboye, while asking the Senator to mention specific efforts made in the last three years, said the current senator scores very low among the people in terms of attracting dividends democracy to the zone.

“I don’t think it is fair on his part to be doing his best. He should mention specific things he has done or he is doing in the past three years. The people are wiser and they know those representing their interest. At the appropriate time, the people will show all of us that they are no fools. Let those who are playing pranks with the mandate of the people continue. 2019 is soon here,” he said.

Another constituent of the district and former State coordinator of Buhari Support Movement (BSM), Cornelius Oyedepo, told The Nation that the people of Kwara south have been disappointed by their current representatives in government. He lamented that the euphoria that followed the clamor for change in 2015 was greeted with disappointment following the failure of government to extend dividends of democracy to the area.

“The current governor is from our senatorial district. But what do we have to show for that? The people have always been loyal to the progressive parties. It is unfortunate that we have not been well represented. That is why we are going round and building a formidable platform to ensure that our next senator is someone who will really put our interest over and above any other interest or loyalty,” he said.

With the above scenario playing out in the zone, little wonder then that the struggle for the senate seat is fast gathering momentum with a good number of aspirants already throwing their hats into the ring to compete for the position. Aside the aspirants currently putting structures up across the senatorial district in preparation for the contest, the leading political parties too are warming up to clinch the seat in 2019.

 

The race begins

The race for the senate seat in Kwara south is tense. Expectedly, the contenders for the prized slot are heavyweights in their own rights. Political analysts say right from the primary elections of the leading parties, the ruling APC and the opposition PDP, the people of Kwara south will have an array of aspirants to select from in line with the determination to choose rightly this time around.

According to Oyedepo, more people are still expected to join the race as the election draw nearer. He explained that beyond the APC and the PDP, some other political parties will also field candidates in the forthcoming election hoping to reap from the new resolve of the people to look beyond the frontline political parties in making the choice of who goes to the senate for Kwara south in 2019.

“Whoever will emerge victorious this time around will have the people to thank for his victory. The new resolve is such that we will not be swayed by the size of a political party nor the family name of a candidate. The pope know what they want and this time, they are ready to ask for it with their votes. It is only the man who fits their bill that will emerge as the next Senator,” he said.

Among the names currently being touted to be eyeing the Kwara south senatorial seat is that of the incumbent Governor of the state, AbdulFatah Ahmed. Though he is yet to publicly declare interest in the job, party sources say it is common knowledge within the ruling APC that the Governor will run for the senate seat of his home district during the next general election.

“The governor will run for the senate. He is going to the senate after leaving office as governor. That is know to us in the APC and I think he deserves it. He has been governor for eight years and he is from Kwara south. Tell me who else should represent the people at the national assembly apart form him. Even the current senator knows that he will not be getting a second term,” a party chieftain said

And as the name of the Governor continue to crop up as a potential APC senatorial candidate in 2019, political cloud gathers over the fate of incumbent Senator Ibrahim. However, some sources close to him says he has not said he will not be seeking a return to the senate in 2019. According to one of his allies in the senatorial district, the political future of the Senator depends on the party.

“It is wrong for anybody to say Ibrahim is automatically not running for a second term. He is the current occupier of the seat and he has done very well for the people. He is a loyal party man and the party is very proud of him. So, it is only the party that can decide his political future as far as 2019 is concerned. No one else can. For now, it is better to say he will follow the directive of the party come 2019,” he said.

Also on the platform of the ruling APC, another possible candidate is Hon. Saheed Popoola, a member of Kwara State House of Assembly. A grassroots politician of note, he was the only Local Government Chairman elected on the platform of the then opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2007. His political camp are of the opinion that with his popularity across the district, he stand a good chance of wrestling the APC ticket from both Governor Ahmed and the incumbent Senator.

 

A straight fight?

And within the opposition PDP, the struggle for the senatorial ticket will not be less fiery. While talks about the desire of Senator Suleiman Ajadi to seek a return to the red chamber in 2019 on the platform of the PDP are now very rife, he is yet to make a categorical statement on his rumored ambition. But The Nation learnt the two-term Senator may actually be considering running again in 2019.

“He is a good material. His record as our senator is yet to be surpassed but the party will need more than what he has in stock to defeat the ruling APC in 2019. We need a more vibrant front to go out with. His supporters within the party are already selling the idea of his candidacy but he is yet to officially declare his intention to vie for the senatorial ticket in 2019,” a party source said.

Similarly, Lola Asiru, the party’s candidate at the last election is said to be warming up to take another shot at the seat. If he does, it would be his first attempt since the return to democracy in 1999. A politician with a wide network of supporters across the zone, his ambition, like that of Ajadi, is still in the realm of speculations. But reliabel sources say he is already working underground to achieve his aim.

Looming larger than others in the race towards the the ticket of the PDP is Nurudeen Adeyemi Balogun, an America-based aeronautic Engineer who unlike his fellow party men, has openly declared his interest in the job. Though not a known politician before now, his philanthropic gestures across the towns and villages in the district had already endeared him to the people long before his foray into partisan politics.

And since he showed interest in the race, his political group, the Engineer Nurudeen  Adeyemi Contact Team (ENACT), has left no one in doubt of his determination to grab the ticket of the PDP and go ahead to win the election for the opposition party. This is just as pundits say Adeyemi’s entrance into the race may have redefined the chances of the PDP in the senatorial contest.

“Before now, the fear of the people who feels the current representation is not good enough has been that PDP may not offer any better alternative. But with Adeyemi coming to say he is interested, there is something new on the horizon already and that will make the coming election really competitive. They may be correct to say he is new in politics, but he is not new to the people. We know him through the many selfless contributions he has been making all over the district,” a source added.

So prominent is the aspiration of Adeyemi, who is the President Igbomina Community in North America (ICNA), that some pundits are already predicting a two-horse race fight between him and Governor Ahmed of the APC come 2019.

“I see Adeyemi picking the ticket of the PDP in the long run. Currently, he is the man to beat. The majority of the members of the PDP in Kwara south will rather have him fly the banner of the party. And if you consider the fact that with Senator Bukola Saraki’s support, Governor Ahmed will easily muscle others to claim the APC ticket, the final race may just be between the two of them,” Oyedepo predicted.

Thus, as the race towards the 2019 senatorial contest in Kwara south gathers momentum, the questions on many lips is “who will go to the senate to represent the people of the district? And while political parties and politicians continue to scheme and plan in their quest to clinch the coveted seat, observers of the politics of the state insist the contest will be keenly contested because “this time around, the people are determined to take make their votes count.”

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Kwara 2019: APC, PDP In Battle For The South
« on: December 18, 2017, 06:00:25 AM »

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