Between old and new players in Kwara politics
ONE area that will definitely require tact while forming the next cabinet of Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara state is making a choice between the “old” and “new” order politicians in a state which type of politics revolves around the influence of a leader figure who calls the shots on almost everything.
The peculiar Kwara politics is operated under a seemingly welfare system which is simply the leader dishing out influences, financial and political, to the teeming followers which was sustained and made popular by the late political stalwart, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki is however opposed by pockets of educated elites in the state
During his hey days, the late Saraki, except in a few cases, would retain all his old allies in the party structure, allowing successive governors he helped to enthrone to use their discretionary power picking their cabinet members.
Thus old politicians like Oba Wankasi, Alhaji Alege, Alhaji Dantoro, Oba Bolanta, Alhaja Sobalaje Eleran, Alahaji Oniwa, Yusuf Ayedun, Professor Albert Ogunsola, M.K Ijaya, Chief Tunji Arosanyin, Babatunde Alanamu, Babatunde Kasum, Lasisi Jimoh, Shittu Ajiroba among others, were dutifully used as foot soldiers by Saraki to represent his interests across various constituencies in the state.
But after Saraki’s demise, his biological son, Bukola Saraki, took over the mantle of leadership and expectedly retained some of his father’s aides, just as he built up his own crop of followers within the same political structure.
Sources told The Guardian in Ilorin that some members of the political dynasty are allegedly complaining of being sidelined under the new dispensation, arguing against the retention of same old faces in successive governments of the former Governor Bukola Saraki and his successor, who is the incumbent, Alhaji Abdulfattah Ahmed.
To worsen the situation, lobbying under the dynasty is considered an aberration as only “the Leader” wields the exclusive power to appoint those who will either go for elected or appointed posts.
The Governor, had few weeks ago announced the appointments of the Secretary to the Government (SSG), Head of Service, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications and the Chief Press Secretary (CPS). These are the people piloting the affairs of the government since the commencement of the second term in office of the Governor.
A source who craved anonymity said, “What the Leader does is not autocratic. It is what we call guided democracy. He will ask members of each constituency to nominate persons considered as competent for the political slots allotted them. The Leader will then advise the members before eventually picking among the nominees.”
Already, many of the members of the “old order” have kicked against the alleged plans to sideline them. But the “new order” group said they were yet to benefit from the political dynasty, through either political patronage or appointment.
According to sources from the old order camp, “if what people are saying is what our leaders want to do, then the political structure of the great dynasty of Saraki may be threatened. We are the ones serving as the pivot of the dynasty, so why would somebody want to remove the pillars?”
This seeming logjam over political appointment by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled government may be responsible for the late constitution of the cabinet of Ahmed, an experienced Governor, who had few days ago started the journey of his second term in office.
Even when the Governor eventually announces members of his cabinet, a government house source told The Guardian that the number of Commissioners may be pruned to mere eight just as the Special Advisers and Assistants may not be more than 10 under a proposed composition aimed at reacting to the present national economic recession.
He added, “so whether old or new order as being speculated, the Governor will only consider the number he wants as members of his cabinet. There are many other ways of compensating faithful party members, so we should believe that the Governor will explore the other options.”
Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Media and Communications, Femi Akorede described the development as strange to him, adding, ”I think you should direct your questions to the officials of the party because I don’t have answers to them.”
In the same vein, the CPS, Alhaji Oba Abdulwahab believed that the issues raised were too sensitive for a non-party member to comment on, noting, “whatever I say now will be too sensitive an issue and could be interpreted in many ways. Therefore only the APC officials can comment.”
The state’s Publicity Secretary of the APC, Tunji Sulyman, said, “no single member of the APC can make any policy statement on the issue of cabinet members. If we are consulted, we will certainly take a collective decision on it. But for now, we are in the dark.”
A chieftain of the APC in the state, Alhaji Kayode Yusuf told The Guardian of the supremacy of the structure of the Saraki’s political dynasty above any other thing in the state’s politics.
Yusuf said, “the Leader” (Saraki the incumbent Senate President) would not allow any other consideration to outweigh the structure of the political dynasty of “our father” Saraki, adding, “so whether old or new order, everybody will get the fruits of his labour when it is time.”
At present, it may look as if there is a crack within the cemented age long political dynasty of the Sarakis, but the ancient magic wand of Saraki when fully at work will definitely resolve the imbroglio if its relevance will be sustained.