Ilorin Conference And The 2023 Permutations In Kwara
The 56th annual conference of the most influential socio-cultural organisation in Kwara State- Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) appeared to be the day the people of Ilorin were waiting for to react and respond to the recent decision of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) to pick its gubernatorial candidate for the 2023 general elections from the northern part of the state.
The PDP had cited fairness and equity as reasons for zoning its gubernatorial ticket for the next election to Kwara north.
The spokesman of the opposition party, Tunde Ashaolu, had in a statement on December 20 explained that the decision was reached after a wider consultation with all the party's stakeholders from the 16 local government areas of the state.
Since the time the PDP announced its decision, there had been no comments from the people of Ilorin emirate, whose kin, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is the incumbent governor of the state and who constitutionally is entitled to a second term of office.
And as it's the practice in Nigeria, communities will always want to take maximum advantage by rooting for a second term for their people holding renewable political positions at any level. This is the reason cited by an All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart in the state, Prince Saheed Popoola while declaring his intention to contest for Kwara south senate seat. He said: "I want to run for Kwara south senate seat because we believe Offa is entitled to a second term". The incumbent occupier of the seat, Senator Lola Ashiru is from Offa like Popoola.
Kwara south is made of seven local government areas with three distinct tribes; the Igbomina with three LGAs, Ekiti with two LGAs and Ibolo, where Popoola belongs with two LGAs. The Igbomina and Ekiti are like siamese twins.
However, the occasion of this year's annual conference of the IEDPU provided the platform for the people of Ilorin to make their position known on the 2023 gubernatorial election in the state.
The mien and body language of virtually all the speakers at the well attended programme point to one thing- Ilorin must retain the governorship seat beyond 2023. The speakers also awarded the incumbent governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq a pass mark, describing his passion for the development of Ilorin, nay Kwara as unprecedented.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Emir of Ilorin and chairman, Kwara State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alh Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, paid glowing tributes to Governor AbdulRazaq, describing him as a true son of Ilorin, a patriot and a silent achiever.
The Emir said:"Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has shown through his uncommon humility that he's a true son of Ilorin. He was the first to arrive at the venue of the IEDPU conference last year. Not only that, he jettisoned all the paraphernalia of his office and joined the organisers in arranging tables and chairs.
"Also, this year, the governor was the first to arrive the venue waiting for the me . When he arrived the venue, he walked straight into the palace to pay us homage just like he did last year. This governor's action is unprecedented; he has proven to be a true son of Ilorin and a patriot who sees himself as an ordinary citizen and one of the subjects of the Emir.
"Because of your respect for the traditional institution and simplicity, we shall continue to support and pray for you. We are proud of you, we are proud of your achievements.
Similarly, the national president of IEDPU ,Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman, commended AbdulRazaq for his diligence and patriotism, saying that the Union absolutely agreed with the Emir of Ilorin who has consistently described the number one citizen of the state as a pride to the entire people of Ilorin Emirate.
Uthman, who could not hid his feelings over the huge successes recorded at the ceremony, said that the union had never had it so good with any administration in the state.
The retired security technocrat said that members of the union from all over the country and beyond were not only excited with the huge financial pledge made by AbdulRazaq to the project currently being executed by the union but also delighted with the fraternity between the Governor and the union before and since he took over the leadership of the state about three years ago.
He particularly commended the Governor for making his personal attendance at the annual function a point of duty, saying that Mallam AbdulRazaq remains the only Chief Executive of Kwara State who not only participated in three consecutive annual conferences but had also cultivated the patriotic habit of turning up before most other guests.
The IEDPU President added that he was impressed beyond imagination when AbdulRazaq publicly testified to the commitment of the current leadership of the IEDPU to the development of Ilorin Emirate, saying that he would never take such a testimony for granted.
Uthman, who also expressed his deepest appreciation to the Emir for his consistent counsel and guidance, assured the Governor and other stakeholders that the union would continue to work for the peace,progress and prosperity of Ilorin Emirate.
Also, the guest lecturer who is also the national missioner of Ansaul Islam Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Hanafi Ayara, hailed what he called the people- oriented programmes and policies of the AbdulRazaq’s administration.
Urging other Ilorin elites to emulate the exemplary conduct of AbdulRazaq in giving back to the community and respect for the traditional institution, the cleric urged the people of Ilorin to continue to show solidarity with one of their own.
Sheikh Ayara expressed delight that Governor AbdulRazaq is toeing the foot steps of his father, the late AGF AbdulRazaq (SAN) who, he described as the forerunner in the development of Ilorin and Kwara state in general.
The chairman of the occasion, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe thanked the governor for making Ilorin proud by implementing people- oriented programmes and policies, some of which he noted has won the state laurels.
Oloriegbe, urged IEDPU to synergise with the state government in its efforts at making the youths of Ilorin emirate computer literate and self- reliant.
He also warned politicians against recruiting youths for political thuggery, saying that the politicians should allow their performance to speak for them rather than trying to foist themselves on the electorate.
Going by the zoning of the gubernatorial ticket to Kwara north by the PDP and the open endorsement of Governor AbdulRazaq for a second term by the people of Ilorin Emirate, the race to Kwara State Government House has commenced in earnest.
While the people of Ilorin will rely on their old allies in Kwara north to return AbdulRazaq in 2023, the PDP may find it difficult to penetrate the zone because of the imprint of the AbdulRazaq's administration in the zone.
It's on record that AbdulRazaq remains the only governor who frequents Kwara north despite the tough terrain of the area. He has implemented a number of road projects in the area and a radio station, first of its kind, that the governor established in the area is about to take- off.
The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Engr Yakubu Danladi- Salihu who is from Kwara north is also complimenting the efforts of the governor in projecting and developing the hitherto abandoned zone.
Political pundits are also of the opinion that the people of Kwara north will prefer to wait till 2027 for their turn, having found the incumbent governor a dependable ally rather than gambling with the PDP's arrangement.
Commenting on the scenario, a renown political scientist, Prof Hassan Salihu described the zoning of the gubernatorial ticket to Kwara north by the PDP as a welcome development, adding that" it shows that anyone from any part of the state can be governor of the state."
He, however, noted that the present situation is different from that of 2019 when the then ruling PDP government lost to the APC.
"In 2019, the incumbent Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed was completing his second term and was not contesting any office, but now, we have a sitting governor who is entitled to a second term. I can assure you it’s not going to be a tea party, moreso when the incumbent governor belongs to the ruling party at the centre.
"The opposition party will measure the governor’s performance in their own way, but their assessment may not be at par with that of the electorate and the generality of the people of the state who will cast votes to elect their preferred candidates during the elections.
"By and large, I will say the opposition must prepare very well if they want to have any appreciable impact in the elections while the ruling party should also prepare very well by continuing meeting the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the state," Salihu added.
The IEDPU's conference was witnessed by unprecedented crowd of people who came from far and near.
Stalwarts and supporters of the ruling APC) in the state, had as earlier as 8.00 am took positions at the forecourt of the palace of the Emir of Ilorin, the venue of the conference, waiting patiently to receive Governor AbdulRazaq who was the special guest of honour at the event.
The governor, in company of the chairman of the occasion, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, commissioners and special advisers, arrived at the venue of the event at 9.55am, five minutes to the commencement of the programme.
The governor and Senator Oloriegbe immediate proceeded to the palace to pay homage to the Emir and later accompanied the monarch to the venue of the event.
The governor was received into the arena with thunderous shout of ‘Sai Ramoni, 'AA for second term' by thousands of his supporters and admirers.