Kwara 2015: PDP And Its Many Gubernatorial Aspirants

Date: 2014-09-14

s the 2015 general elections draw nearer, Kwara State is parading political heavy weights. Abdullahi Olesin writes that the roll call of the candidates vying for the governorship position in the state under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP may be its albatross. Many are watching to see how the party will escape internal crisis

Since the defection of the immediate past governor of Kwara State, Dr Bukola Saraki, his successor and godson, Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed and their supporters to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in November 2013, the Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been jumping from one crisis to another.

Both the ward and local congresses of the party were marred by bloody clashes due to the supremacy battle among top echelons of the party in the state.

Though the state congress of the party, which produced the Iyiola Oyedepo-led executives was orderly and peaceful, its outcome was rejected by a group within the party – the Liberation Movement Group.

The party, however, survived the wrangling associated with the election of its state executive members through the timely intervention of its national leadership.

But another crisis is brewing in the party. This has to do with the desperation with which the PDP’s gubernatorial aspirants in the state are pursuing their ambitions.

From all indications, none of the aspirants will be ready to subsume his or her ambition in the larger interest of the party; therefore, there is every tendency that those that may lose out in the party’s primaries coming up in October will jettison the interest of the party. This, they will do, by either dumping their party for another one or stay back to play a spoiler’s role.

As at the time of this report, the PDP boasts of five gubernatorial aspirants: the chairman of the Federal Character Commission, Prof Shuaib AbdulRaheem; a former governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mohammed Dele Belgore (SAN); a business mogul and chairman/Technical adviser, Lubcon Group of Companies, Alh Jani Ibrahim; Sen Simeon Ajibola and Arch Kale Belgore.

The former governorship candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) Senator Gbemisola Saraki; renown oil merchant, Alh AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq and a former sports minister, Hon Ibrahim Bio are also said to be eyeing the plumb position.

The problem associated with the lack of a unified leader and the desperation of its gubernatorial aspirants are the twin-factor threatening the chances of PDP in the next year’s gubernatorial election in the state. The party is likely to go into the race in shreds because of the non-existence of a common leader that can call all the aspirants and their supporters to order.

Just like LEADERSHIP Sunday’s publication on the eve of President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Kwara State in February 2014, the state chapter of PDP remains an assemblage of political sworn enemies who can rarely work together as a team. At the bottom of the enmity among the PDP’s chieftains is personal ambition. For instance, it will be difficult for Architect Lola Ashiru to work with Dele Belgore. Ashiru, the sole financier of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state, was forced out of the party when the national leaders of the then ACN gave the gubernatorial ticket of the party to Dele Belgore in 2011.

Princess Bilikisu Gambari, a kind hearted and grass root politician also dumped ACN for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) because of her conviction that there existed a relationship between Dele Belgore and Senator Saraki. Also, the governorship ambition of Prof Shuaib AbdulRaheem, chairman, Federal Character Commission (FCC), Hon Ibrahim Bio, former sports minister and Senator Sulyman Ajadi is constituting a clog in the wheel of progress of the PDP.

Although, Prof AbdulRaheem is said not to be desperate, but his supporters are desperately desirous of having him as the next governor of the state.

And that Senator Gbemisola Saraki may have a re-think over her membership of PDP is a matter of time. This is because all the speakers at a unity rally organized by the PDP in Ilorin shortly before the president’s visit to the state in February 2014, roundly decried all that her father, the late strongman of Kwara politics, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, (Olooye) stood for during his life time. The two-term senator also lost out in the contest for the ministerial appointment as a result of alleged conspiracy against her by some chieftains of the party in Abuja. Also, her bid to take firm control of the party’s structure in Ilorin West local government area, crumbled penultimate Wednesday as the state chairman of PDP, Iyiola Oyedepo sworn in the Yusuf Olugbon-led executives. Olugbon who now oversees the affairs of the party as chairman, at the council level, is a loyalist of Prof AbdulRaheem.

Also, the age-long battle of supremacy between the Ogunsolas and Ajadis of Babanloma will be an impediment to a cordial working relationship between Dr Femi Ogunslo and Senator Sulyman Ajadi.

Though, PDP parades an array of gubernatorial aspirants, political analysts are, however, of the opinion that the race is going to be a straight fight between aspirants from Kwara Central and South districts. These include:

Prof AbdulRaheem, an academic per-excellence and grassroots mobilizer was a one-time vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin. The journey to the PDP governorship ticket may be a smooth sail for him having been instrumental to the emergence of Ilorin West local government PDP executives.

It is held among political pundits that he stands a better chance among other aspirants seeking the ticket from Kwara Central Senatorial district. Its on record that he assisted a lot of Kwara State indigenes to gain admission into Bayero University in Kano when he worked as a lecturer there and also as vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin. He has also used his present position as the chairman of FCC to assist some youths to secure gainful employments.

Dele Belgore is believed to have a brighter prospect considering his good show in the last governorship election in the state when he contested on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (now part of the APC). He emerged as the runner up in the 2011 poll even as a green horn in politics then. Considering his political clout and admiration by former supporters of the ACN, Belgore is said to be lubricating his hitherto political machinery towards picking the PDP’s ticket when the primary election is eventually conducted.

Though Belgore still have a lot to contend with in the PDP having joined the party sometimes this year after he left the APC. For him to be ripe for any elective office in the PDP, his membership must have spanned few years.

Jani Ibrahim, the chairman of Lubcon group of companies is an old member of the PDP and is said to be receiving unalloyed support of power brokers in the state’s chapter of the party. Jani is also said to be enjoying the support of the de facto leader of PDP in the state, Hajia Muina Sagaya.

Jani, though an Offa indigene in Kwara south senatorial district, has endeared himself to the people of Ilorin Emirate through his philanthropic activities. The people of Ilorin, especially the Islamic scholars appear to have soft spot for him because of his contribution to propagation of Islam. The late grand mufti of Ilorin, Sheikh Sofihullahi Kamaldeen was among the guests that graced Jani’s 55th birthday recently.



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