Disquiet in Kwara over rumoured Saraki, Ahmed rift
IF the rumour in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital at present that there is a cold war between Governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed and his political godfather, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is real then the political history of the 48 years old state may simply be repeating itself.
The gossip was said to have emanated from a recent forum in Ilorin presided over by Saraki who is also the Senate President when he allegedly advised Ahmed on the need to shun alleged frugal attitude to some of the supporters of his government, especially members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Saraki, while addressing leaders of the party in the state at the exclusive parley with them had allegedly made references to pieces of advice to him by Olusola Saraki his late biological father when he was the Governor, especially the one that stated that “political issue should not involve the usage of a calculator”, urging Ahmed to follow suit.
The development was said to have stirred up an apparent anger in the Governor who managed to control his emotions. However, some fifth columnists were believed to have added more meanings to the statement thus leading to them pitching tents separately with both Saraki and the Governor.
Already, the Kwara Advancement Agenda (KWAA) under the leadership of Mr. Olusola Ademola has cautioned against any rift that could threaten the pervading atmosphere of peace in the state.
Ademola whose KWAA stands for peace and socio-economic advancement of Kwara state and her people said the state could not at this time afford the management of “acrimonious relationship, in fact it is not our culture to fight and we must therefore sustain our peaceful heritage.”
He added: “Our vision and goal for now is to lure more investors into our dear state. We are equally compiling the list of potential locations of mineral resources across the state as the first step aimed at making Kwara an economic hub within the next few years. Therefore we don’t share in any attempt aimed at destabilising this set objective.
“We are therefore appealing to all agents of crisis to quit Kwara state if they are not willing to embrace peace. Besides, people should stop costly politicking at this time because it is too early to start it. Instead, people should join us by giving relevant support to our government at any level so that Kwara can be timely industrialised.”
The modern political history of Kwara state places it among a few other states in Nigeria under the godfatherism political system. The concept makes ruling political machinery to be under the instructions of the godfather, often considered as a legend and most experienced on the political terrain.
This was the situation of Kwara politics under the firm grip of late Olusola Saraki. In fact the same political dynasty produced the Senate President when he emerged as the Governor of Kwara some 12 years ago at the expense of the then incumbent, late Muhammed Lawal.
Alhaji Adamu Attah who was the first Civilian Governor of Kwara (1979-1983) rose to the political stardom through the Saraki’s political dynasty. But Attah’s quests for a second term ticket in office, met a brick wall, giving room for the emergence of Chief Cornelius Adebayo, when he (Attah) turned against his godfather (late Saraki).
In the same vein, Lawal who emerged victorious as the Governor revolted against Saraki. Only Sha’ba Lafiaji (January 1992-November 1993) as the Governor maintained the son/father relationship until the demise of Saraki some three years ago. Even till date Lafiaji remains a colossus within the political dynasty of Sarakis, wielding a lot of influence rated as second only to Saraki.
The Senate President after his emergence as the fifth executive Governor of the state had thought his orientation in the banking industry would equally work as a politician in Kwara. Saraki had told a galaxy of reporters at his Ile-loke’s residence that he would prudently manage the state’s economy to a point that his biological father would realise that a good manager was at the saddle.
No sooner had he made the pronouncement than his father popularly called ‘Oloye’ negated the principle. Oloye had told his audience excluding his son at his popular political hall at Olorunsogo, Ilorin thus: “you can’t rig where you are not popular. And to be popular with your supporters you must be ready to make both yourself and your resources available to them. Take care of my people and you will enjoy their support.”
This philosophy had resonated across the political camp and seemed to have been the adopted slogan for all the political office holders over the year. The Senate leader had not just become a master of it as re-christeined by Ekiti state Governor Ayodele Fayose as “Stomach Infrastructure” but had on several occasions allowed it as a refrain in the ears of all the members of the group.
It was a taboo under Saraki’s administration for his Commissioners or Special Advisers and Special Assistants to shun empowerment programmes for members of their immediate constituencies. Such public office holders were instructed on the need to buy vocational equipment, sink bore holes, renovate schools for such people or award scholarships to their indigent but brilliant students.
For Alhaji Suleiman Yusuf, a die-hard supporter of the Sarakis since 1979, the rumour of a rift between our amiable leader and hardworking Governor must be the handiwork of the evil persons. As far as I am concerned, the Leader had never said you are stupid to anyone before in life. This is one of the legacies he inherited from ‘Oloye.’
“The Sarakis don’t fight people and you should not fight them either because if they fight with you it is bad and if you fight with them, it is dangerous. So the story of a rift between him and Governor Ahmed is a blatant lie. The Governor was with him yesterday, (Monday, December 7) and he spent a sizeable number of hours with the Leader. What many people don’t know is that the level of relationship between them is like that of a political son and a political father.
Governor Ahmed is the most loyal Governor around. If you take any sensible matter before him concerning the state he will simply tell you to let him first discuss it with our leader, Saraki. He, I mean the Governor had on several occasions publicly attributed his greatness in life to the Sarakis. So let rumour mongers shun their evil ways, there is no crisis here.”
Reacting to the development, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ahmed Alhaji Oba Abdulwahab dispelled the rumour of any rift between his principal and the ‘Leader’ (Saraki) as that coming from “distractors and enemies of peace and progress.”
Abdulwahab noted, “you need to know who the Governor is and how he holds the Senate President in a very high esteem. So what would precipitate a crisis between such persons? We need to discard it as soon as possible. There is no crisis and there will not be any at all.”
The global economic recession may however lead to a change of system of the stomach infrastructure ideology because Kwara at present is ranked 33 among the 36 states of the federation in the quantum of the monthly allocation it gets from the government at the centre.
However, one area of significant importance in Ahmed’s policy is its penchant for timely payment of workers’ salaries even at the risk of borrowing. The Governor who was the commissioner for Finance under Saraki’s administration for seven consecutive years once told reporters in Ilorin that, “there is nothing wrong in borrowing for significant usage if you have capacity to repay.” This philosophy may be the driving force behind economic management system.
Already, the Governor through the supports of the State’s House of Assembly had recently slammed a suspension order on eight Councils’ chairmen in the state for daring to employ new workers, “when they don’t have the capacity to pay outstanding salaries of their old workers.”
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications to Ahmed, Dr. Muyideen Akorede said the government of Ahmed has packaged numerous economic policies for the overall benefits of the people of the state but added: “The government is trying hard first to block all the conduit pipes by the time this is done then everybody will see the full benefits of democracy.”
To the opposition party, only time will tell if the two are actually fighting. Chief Iyiola Oyedepo who is the chairman of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has this to say: “Our major concern is good governance. This means, the state should blossom in all spheres of life so if or not the two of them are fighting is a matter of time.
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