By Tunde Akanbi
Not even the Chief Imam of Mecca or the Pope, in his seclusion, would have predicted that AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the incumbent Governor of Kwara State, would emerge the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, during the shadow poll of the party held in Ilorin, the state capital, talk less of crowning it with victory at the 2019 governorship election.
It is perhaps safe to describe this development as a manifestation of divine power over mere mortals.
In spite the fact that America and other developed nations of the world are above two hundred years old in democratic experimentation, the victory of the incumbent American President, Donald Trump, against the then much-touted Hillary Clinton for instance, is still a big surprise and inexplicable to most Americans and other Nationals alike.
However, the difference between us, Nigerians and Africans and the developed nations, is that the latter shove aside politics after elections and prioritize real governance.
Politicians in developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, begin political bickering, hatred and anti-party activities immediately elections are over and even vow never to be part of the success of the party that won or the government of the day.
Now coming to my area of interest, and of great concern and worry is what has gained currency in Kwara State, particularly among the political class.
During the 2019 governorship and other elections held in Kwara state specifically, the electorate rolled out the drums to celebrate the victory of the APC, even surprisingly and particularly that of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
Immediately after his swearing-in as governor, AbdulRazaq swung into action with attendant applause from every nooks and cranny of the 52-year-old state.
One thing that distinguishes the Governor is his modest way of doing things, coupled with his antecedents in the private sector where he cut his teeth and succeeded.
Even on the day he received his Certificate of Return at INEC office in Ilorin, he equally assisted the then Deputy Governor-elect, Mr Kayode Alabi, now Deputy Governor to collect his own Certificate of Return. This alone typifies the Governor’s certain degree of simplicity.
And from the onset, the Governor does not only go solo, he prefers less talks but swift actions. Little wonder that he has been, at various times, reputed for demystifying governance.
The question now is, how has his ideas, qualities or what some politicians would describe as weakness assisted or affected him in governing the state?
With the emerging internal wrangling in the ruling APC, out of which the opposition or those, who lost the contest to AbdulRazaq within the APC in the state could make fortunes of, pundits have become critical of the party as unprepared for governance but only to grab power from the “Saraki Dynasty” and from Senator Bukola Saraki in particular.
It is our hope and prayer that the APC slogan that started with “O to Ge”, which later metamorphosed to “O to Pe”, “Iseya” and “Ise nlo”, will not end up to “Ijaya”, meaning it is time for squabbles.
This is coming less than two hundred days in office of the present administration where all things being equal, the present government still has well over three and half years and even more to administer the state of harmony.
It is still fresh in our minds that the immediate past government spent years in office and were able to manage their differences as it were, probably because the government then had a leader it deferred to.
Is it not too early for the new bride of Kwara State, the APC to be heading for divorce?
I suppose, we have responsible and responsive leaders in the ruling party but it seems they are yet to come to terms with the defeat they have become synonymous to in the past. Apparently, it is now herculean for them managing the ‘unexpected’ success.
The wave at which the crisis in the party spreads, if care is not taken, may transcend the Tsunami that consumed the PDP from the political arena during the last election in Kwara State. I suppose, we still have elders in the APC in the state or is it my wishful thinking?
I was once told that the APC has no political godfather or a rallying figure in the state, hence nobody can lay claim to anybody’s victory at various elective offices.
However, in a situation where some political bigwigs claim they are behind the victory of Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq in the last gubernatorial poll, a rumour mill had gone viral that the Governor shut their mouth with ‘Egunje’. Whether it remains within the realm of speculation, the deal is between the governor and those they claimed he had settled.
But in spite of all the insinuations and presumed blackmail, the APC in the state has not run short of heavyweights and leaders of thought, who can resolve the raging political differences among the cleavages without carrying guns, daggers and machetes.
One is worried that the infighting has reached a stage where law enforcement agencies particularly the police, have to be dragged to the party’s gatherings to avoid bloodshed at different fora.
It is today the suspension of a group loyal to Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information from Igbomina, who some see as the leader of the party in the state and the Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa BOB group, who is the incumbent Chairman of the party in the state from the same ethnic group with the minister while the following day is the suspension of another faction of the Governor from the Ilorin Emirate, who his loyalists see as their leader.
There is a saying that two goats cannot drink water from a bowl simultaneously. But as proverbial as this is, such script is about to be enacted in the political stage of Kwara.
Unfortunately, they are both from two different ethnic blocs in the state that have cat and mouse political history since time immemorial.
Except true, sincere and incorruptible leaders of the same party quickly wade into this ugly and frightening development, Kwara might again suffer from the anticipated development we collectively bargained for.
Again, the bigwigs and money bags that are at the centre of the political logjam have to shift grounds for meaningful achievements and development to be physically seen in the four year tenure of the APC in the state so that they will not turn butts of joke in the eyes of Kwarans with the electorate watching the unfolding scenario.
Apart from the leadership tussle, the recent appointment of commissioners with women taken the lion share is again seen as a slap on the faces of some aggrieved politicians even from the constituency of the Governor, because they claimed they were not consulted nor in the know about the nominations.
Different strokes for different folks. The appointment made by Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq that some people were grumbling over, has received commendations from both within and outside the country. Even the international community applauded it.
This is so because women that were hitherto relegated in the scheme of things and confined to the other room (apologies to President Muhammadu Buhari), have now been brought to the front burner even above the initial recommendation of the Beijing Conference affirmation of 35% of women in political appointments as it were.
Just recently, about 176 different women groups under the umbrella of More Women Campaign Group converged in Abuja and commended AbdulRazaq for the bold initiative of nominating 56.25% women in his cabinet.
Out of the sixteen commissioner-nominees, he allotted nine slots to women.
According to the Group, the quester will be remembered in history as the first of his kind in Nigeria.
The Group, however, implored the concerned women to embrace the culture of inclusion, transparency and above all accountability to demonstrate the importance of women contributions to good governance.
It is not unlikely that Governor Abdulrazaq would soon be invited for international awards for this singular decision.
But did some of these grassroots politicians see it as an achievement? It is now left for the concerned women, who have been given this rare opportunity and responsibilities to rise to the challenge and not disappoint the Governor as all eyes are now on them.
In Kwara politics, there are still many bridges to cross. Apart from those at the grassroots or those at the local government areas and even those at the state levels are said to be aggrieved for lack of being recognized or not given political largess or political patronage while that of the ‘Oga at the top’ cannot be ruled out.
Oga at the top believed that Governor AbdulRazaq has sidelined and marginalized him and therefore he is waiting to get back his own pound of flesh. It is been rumoured that at three different occasions, Governor AbdulRazaq disappointed him, namely, the issue of the deputy governorship candidate, the appointment of the speakership of the state House of Assembly and recently, the nomination of names of ministerial nominees submitted to Presidency from the state.
The body language of AbdulRazaq is that business is no longer as usual in Kwara State, so also politics is no longer as usual in the state.
One thing that will again go down in history in the state, that the present administration did is the retention of the workers of the state that were initially employed at the twilight of the immediate past Abdulfatah Ahmed’s administration after the screening exercise conducted by the present government.
However, the state is presently sitting on a keg of gunpowder and our prayer is that it does not explode because of the poor suffering electorate, who queued under the rain and sun to cast their votes on the day of the election.
Even spiritually, the Muslim Ummah have as their leader, Prophet Muhammad while in Christendom, the leader is Jesus Christ, meaning that any group without a leader can never be focused.
Does it mean that the APC in Kwara State has no acceptable leader that can bring all members under the same umbrella without bias and resolve the crisis that is about tearing the party apart?
This is the time the Elders Forum if any in the state should rise and save the party from total disintegration and imminent breakup.
Our representatives at both chambers of the National Assembly and even the state House of Assembly should also rise and if they have done so, they need to be more proactive in nipping this ugly trend in the bud. The electorate are watching and counting days as the 2023 elections are miles away.
There is no doubt that there is the tendency for some to misconstrue the governor’s position and personality, but we should all show understanding and eschew distrust and hatred because of the common goal that binds us together as Kwarans.
AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq will leave one day as the Kwara State governor to pave way for another person to take the baton, but Kwara State will ever remain just like the saying in our local parlance that ‘soldier goes, barrack remains’.
Let me now make a special plea to all those concerned or involved either overtly or covertly in the present political crisis that whenever disagreements or discontents occur, they must be resolved by critical engagements rather than through petty and puerile methods as to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war.
Tunde Akanbi, a media consultant, writes from Ilorin via email@example.com