Pressure mounts on Presidency to resolve Kwara APC infighting
About a year after the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State rode on the pedestal of the Otoge Movement to dislodge the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the firm grip of the former Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, the party is now divided against itself and the historic movement appears to have collapsed. Stakeholders believe urgent intervention of the Presidency and the leadership of the party in Abuja is needed to save the party from imploding.
The gladiators in the Otoge movement now see one another as foes to be avoided and ostracised. APC crisis delays constitution of Kwara cabinet APC has uprooted Saraki and his cronies in Kwara, Oshiomhole boasts Undoubtedly, the 100 percent success recorded against the then ruling party by the rampaging Otoge Movement came as a surprise to many political watchers.
Very few people believed the Saraki's hegemony could be so simply truncated. Alas, it happened. The former Senate President was not only defeated in Kwara Central, but all his appointees were also roundly beaten in the poll. This paved way for the emergence of Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq who became the face of the movement.
But few weeks after the inauguration of the government, the energy, unity of purpose and inclusiveness which propelled the party to victory seemed to have evaporated and the party itself is now in tatters due to infighting, mutual suspicion and the propensity by some chieftains to lord it over others.
Incontrovertibly the role of the party in the emergence of candidates cannot be wished away. In fact, as the country's governance system dictates, a candidate does not exist in isolation of the party which provides the platform. But in Kwara APC, the party is said to have been relegated to the background. One of the causes of the current turmoil in Kwara APC is the appointment of the governor's appointees which did not favour some group of people said to be part and parcel of the Otoge struggle. Also, there is the factor of those referred to as "Abuja and Lagos politicians" who are said to have been rendered irrelevant in the scheme of things. The two ministers representing the state in the federal cabinet – Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki – no doubt remain critical stakeholders in the governance of the state but sources close to them say there was never a time their input was sought in the scheme of things in the state.
The constitution of the cabinet in December last year further deepened the division in the party. While Governor AbdulRazaq has been praised for appointing more women and youth into his cabinet, this did not go down well with many APC stalwarts who felt they were not consulted by the governor. Some of the chieftains who spoke with Daily Trust accused the governor of abandoning those who staked their necks in the Otoge struggle and contributed to the success recorded by the party in the last election. One of the APC chieftains, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said out of the 16 commissioners appointed by the governor, only five were politicians. "Since he became governor, he didn't carry the party along. He does things his own way without seeking anybody's input. He said he is building his own structure and that is what he has occupied himself with. "Already, he has created the AA Group which he is using across the 16 local governments just to spite the party and he is ready to crush anyone who stands in his way. To be sincere with you, the party has failed in the state," the party chieftain said, pleading to remain anonymous. Worried by the deep-seated crisis that has rocked the state, stakeholders have called for urgent intervention by the Presidency to save the party from the precipice.
A group, Kwara State APC Integrity Vanguard (KWIV), in a well-publicised letter to the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole which was copied to President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila decried what it called "the disgusting development in Kwara State APC. The group in the letter, signed by Alhaji Abdullahi Yinka Onimasa, National Coordinator and Comrade Kayode Aliyu Bamidele, Secretary-General, further alleged several attempts by the governor to usurp the party’s structures. But some aggrieved members of the state executive council of the APC loyal to the governor have dismissed the allegations against him saying, rather it was the party chairman, Hon. Bashir Bolarinwa, that was working for the Minister of Information to subvert the party's constitution. The aggrieved exco members, including Abdullahi Samari Abubakar (Deputy State Chairman, APC), Salman Mustapha lsowo (State Secretary), Hon. Olabanji Olayemi (Kwara South Senatorial chairman), Tajudeen Folaranmi Aro, (State Publicity Secretary) and Hon. Oyinloye Oyelere (State Youth Leader) said the party had been enmeshed in internal crisis occasioned by dissatisfaction expressed by a bloc of the state executive committee against the state chairman of the party, Alhaji Bolarinwa.
A chieftain of the party and one of the Otoge champions, Chief Rex Olawoye, while talking to Daily Trust said he was "seriously worried" about the future of the party in the state if nothing was done to mend the existing cracks. "Definitely we need some intervention from our elders outside Kwara to bring the aggrieved groups together. They should be able to call a spade a spade," he said.