By Ibrahim Sheriff
As 2023 elections draw nearer, politicians, both in or outside elective and appointed positions have been showing interests in various elective positions. One of such budding contest for elective positions that is gearing to be intriguing in Kwara state is the Kwara Central Senatorial seat, Ibrahim Sheriff writes.
The chances of re-election of the Senator representing Kwara Central at the National Assembly, Dr. Ibrahim Yahyah Oloriegbe to continue representing the people of Kwara Central Senatorial District at the Red Chamber of the National Assembly is appearing slimmer on a daily basis, with the latest applicant for his job being a former Governorship and National Chairmanship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Saliu Mustapha.
Recall, that Sen. Yahyah Oloriegbe before now have had to wrestle support of the Party with the youngest APC gubernatorial aspirant in the 2019 elections, Amb. AbdulFatah Yahyah Seriki who declared intention to takeover Oloriegbe’s seat few months ago.
However, weeks after giving in to a consensus arrangement which produced Sen. Adamu Abdullahi as the National Chairman of the APC, Mustapha had last week, declared his intention to join the Kwara Central Senatorial race.
The move was reportedly part of the terms of negotiations with Mustapha to step down from the National Chairmanship race. Credible source confided in Fresh Insight that Mustapha was persuaded with a promise of the Kwara Central Senatorial ticket of the Party, in lieu of his withdrawal from the Chairmanship race.
These developments has however reshaped political calculations within the ranks of Kwara state APC, as it is influencing some political alignments that may have strong implications on the outcomes of the APC primaries in Kwara state, especially with respect to Kwara Central.
The Quest for and Against Zoning
While some political interest groups have continued to advocate for a shift of the Kwara Central Senatorial seat from Ilorin West to either of the other three local governments that constitutes Kwara Central Senatorial district (Asa, Ilorin East and South), Islamic cleric and some political elites are also building convergence of opinion towards realizing a Kwara Central Senator away from Ilorin West come 2023.
According to a group under the aegis of Ilorin East and South Constituency Youth Stakeholders via a letter written to the State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq seeking the zoning of Kwara Central Senatorial Seat to Ilorin East and South constituency in 2023, its agitations were borne out of the dominance of Ilorin West members who have occupied the office since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 to date.
Similarly, a renowned Ilorin-based cleric, Sheikh Mustapha Oloka, has also reportedly called on political stakeholders in Kwara to ensure fair distribution of political offices.
Oloka was quoted to have said “A leader should not be selfish when it comes to the distribution of positions. Even Islam preaches equity and fairness. It encourages even distribution among the members of the society.”
“For example, if two Imams were given a cow, and one of them slaughtered it. He was given the part of the neck because he was the person that slaughtered it and the other person takes the whole body including the laps of the cow. Do you think he has been fair to the other Imam?
“If this is related to politics, one region can’t continue to benefit and the others are often cheated. That’s not fair. There should be even distribution as Islam has taught us,” Oloka said.
Right within Sen. Oloriegbe’s Ilorin West local government, a group of Concerned Ilorin West Stakeholders for Kwara Central Senator led by a former TIC Chairman of the local government, Mr. Abdulhamid Oladipupo Alli, popularly known as ‘Mr. Nigeria’ also throw weight behind rotation of Kwara Central Senate.
The group, last week called for power shift from Ilorin West Local Government Area to other marginalized local government areas in the Ilorin Emirate.
In a related development, a former Special Adviser on Special Duties to Gov. AbdulRazaq, Alh. Ahmed Yinka Aluko during an Iftar with Kwara Online Media Practitioners (ASKOMP) lamented the political marginalization of Ilorin South local government, which he said informed his decision to represent the Kwara Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly since 2015.
Although, Aluko did not give an affirmative response to poser on whether or not he would be giving the Senate a shot come 2023, it is however sure he would be aspiring under the APC, if the content of his resignation letter and information at Fresh Insight’s disposal is anything to go by.
An impeccable source confided in Fresh Insight that Aluko has concluded an alliance with Saliu Mustapha, to contest for Representative Member of Ilorin East/South Federal Constituency while Mustapha will run for Kwara Central APC Senatorial ticket. While Aluko hails from Ilorin South, Mustapha hails from Ilorin East local government.
It was reported that the duo of Mustpaha and Aluko had gotten clearance from the National secretariat of the Party in Abuja, before proceeding with cementing and execution of their alliance.
Antagonist of zoning of the Kwara Central Senatorial seat away from Ilorin West, who unequivocally canvased for Sen. Dr. Oloriegbe believes that rotation of the Kwara Central Senate is an undemocratic formula that encourages emergence of weak candidate, poses threat to social harmony and credible leadership.
According to an aide of the Senator, Is’haq Elepo, “As the discourse on which of these local governments, aside from Ilorin West, should produce the next Senator to replace the competent and high performing incumbent Senator, Dr Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe whose excellent record of achievement speaks for itself lingers, I have taken the liberty to author this piece to offer my modest views in this important debate, especially to remind our people on the need to look beyond this primitive and primordial zoning cliche which has over time appeared to be detrimental to collective growth but rather rally round a credible candidate that personifies our common values and enjoys the electoral acceptability to lead the party to victory in the forthcoming election.”
“In the Emirate, we share a common heritage and manifest the spirit of oneness; relate harmoniously with one another, and strengthen cultural connections and relationships built on trust, tolerance and devoid of any vestige of discrimination and prejudice. These sterling attributes with which we are identified place on us the responsibility to neutralize the simpleminded endeavour and divisive inclinations, that if allowed to fester, could sow a seed of polarization among us.”
“The idea of Zoning is an undemocratic formula that despite the well-intentioned motive behind its initiation, poses threat to social harmony, and credible leadership and sometimes weakens the electoral fortune of the party in an election”, he said.
Kwara APC May Dishonor Nat’l Secretariat’s Alleged Negotiation
If the submission of the Kwara state APC Chairman, Prince Sunday Adeniran Fagbemi at a stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, that there won’t be imposition of any candidate is anything to go by, it implies that incumbency or whatever alleged negotiation with National Secretariat anyone may be banking on might not hold water.
Fagbemi reportedly said “There will be level playing ground for all aspirants under APC, there won’t be imposition of an aspirant and there is no automatic tickets to anyone.”
Consequently, Mustapha, a philanthropist and Turaki of Ilorin who is said to enjoy support of the National secretariat of APC may have to prepare for a tough contest with the incumbent Sen. Yahyah Oloriegbe who enjoys support of the Senate President Ahmed Lawan and touted to have done well in discharge of his legislative duties in recent times, on one hand and Amb. Yahyah Seriki, a young successful Miner, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, who maintains close relationship with Gov. AbdulRazaq.
It also means that the political calculations for Kwara Central Senate might be threatening the House of Representatives ambitions of former Commissioner for Education and her Water ruesources counterpart – Hajia Sa’adatu Modibbo and Hajia Fatimah Arinola Lawal, as well as former GM of KWASSIP, Mr. Mohammed Brimah, as they’ll now have Alh. Ahmed Yinka Aluko joining list of their contenders.