By Femi Ogunshola
Political analysts observe that although governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara has ended, protest against the conduct and the results of the election is worrisome.
Stakeholders in Kwara politics also note that many contenders controvert the official announcement of Abdulrahaman Abdulrasaq by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party as the winner of the primary.
According to them, part of the controversies resulted in a recent protest in Ilorin by the supporters of Alhaji Shuaibu Yaman Abdullahi, one of the governorship aspirants in the state.
The protesters describe the outcome of the primary as a product of injustice by which said agents and collation officers of his principal were threatened and treated unfairly during the primary.
Mr Bode Towoju, Director General of the supporters’ group –Yaman Support Group — alleges: “our agents and collation officers were denied copies of the result sheet at the voting centres.
“This happened even as the collation was done at the various wards and our agent reported the result to our central monitoring and situation centre for proper update of our records’’.
Towoju said that the electoral panel that conducted the gubernatorial primary election discarded zoning and consensus arrangement as advocated by concerned foundation members of the party.
“It is the turn of the Kwara North to produce the next governor of the state in 2019 in the interest of fairness, equality, justice and togetherness,’’ he said.
The aspirants that contested the governorship primary are Prof. Shuaib Abdulraheem, Alhaji Shuaib Yarman, Alhaji Lukman Mustapha, Alhaji Tajudeen Laifiaji, Alhaji Yakub Gobir, Mallam Ishaq Modibo and Alhaji Hakeem Lawal, among others.
By most political analysts’ judgment, the controversies trailing the APC governorship primary in Kwara, is a result of defections from Peoples Democratic Party to APC.
Prior to Abdulrasaq’s defection to APC from PDP in July with Sen. Bukola Saraki, he belonged to the Sunday Fagbemi-led PDP executive, while Mr Iyiola Oyedepo led the other group where Prof. Shuaibu Oba pitched his tent in the same party.
Abdulrasaq and Oba had wanted to contest the governorship seat on the platform of PDP before their defection to APC resulting in factions within PDP in the state.
Oyedepo while leading a group of defectors to Chief Bola Tinubu in July said: “before we came to your house to join the APC, two groups within the PDP are here, but we have to bury our differences since we are all fighting a common enemy’’.
However, during the governorship primary of the party, each camp of Fagbemi and Oyedepo went separate ways, supporting their preferred candidates.
While Oyedepo supported Oba, Fagbemi camp threw their weight behind Abdulrasaq, who was later announced by the party as the winner of the APC governorship primary.
Mr Bode Towoju, Director-General of the Yaman campaign group, while faulting Abdulrasaq emergence as the governorship candidate of the APC, said that contrary to what the party announced, Yarman ought to be the winner of the primary with 30,494 votes.
Towoju argued that since the return of democratic rule in 1999, Kwara North, where Yaman came from, never had its fair share of becoming the governor of the state.
He said that the late former Gov. Ahmed Lawal from Ilorin, Kwara Central, was governor of the state from 1999 to 2003 while Sen. Bukola Saraki from same zone governed the state from 2003 to 2011.
The current Gov. Ahmed Fatai is from Kwara South who took over in 2011 and will be rounding off his tenure in 2019.
Towoju said that the law of natural justice, equity and fairness should cede the governorship slot to Kwara North, stressing that most of the emirs and the youth in the zone were aggrieved with the development.
Towoju noted that the injustice done against the zone “is already causing a lot of backlash in the APC because the feeling among the people of Kwara North is that they do not have a stake in Kwara’’.
In his view, Alhaji Muhammad Mohammad-Kudu, a chieftain of APC, stated that original results from all the wards in the state suggested that Yaman won the election.
Mohammad-Kudu stated that “to assuage the feelings of both parties, Yaman belongs to the mainstream APC, has the support of all the emirs in the northern Kwara should be given the ticket’’.
Meanwhile, the Oyedepo-led group is also threatened because of the emergence of Abdulrasaq, this is because they do not belong to the same group and working with Abdulrasaq will be difficult, according to analysts.
But Mr Isa Ibrahim-Bio, the former Minister of Transport, said that the only way to assuage the feelings of aggrieved members would be for the party to embark on true reconciliation and endeavour to bring all parties to the table.
Ibrahim-Bio, a member of Oyedepo-led PDP faction before their defection to the APC, stated that the party must not take chances in the governorship election, stressing that any gap created by the leadership of APC could count against the party.
He noted that Kwara needed a candidate who had the ears of all the stakeholders in APC and that the leadership of the party must move fast to douse the tension among party loyalists.
In spite of this claim, the Acting National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr Yekini Nabena insisted that Abdulrasaq polled 29,098 votes to defeat other aspirants.
Keen watchers of events, nonetheless, state that for the sake of justice, fairness and equity in Kwara, Yaman should be allowed to flag the flag of the party.
They note that the argument that the Kwara Central will not vote for Yaman if he flags the flag of the party might not hold with the number of votes he got in the zone.
They also call for calm as the leadership of the party addresses the controversy generated from the primary to assuage the feelings and sentiments of all contestants.