By Abdulmalik Azeez.
I just finished reading an article entitled, “Abdulrahman’s Cabinet List And The Clear Signal to PDP Defectors” written by one Kolere Ayeola. While the subject of the piece in question reflects the growing tendency of the majority of the PDP remnants in Kwara to continually taunt and mock their former members who defected to the APC, this rejoinder is only necessary because of one reason: the need to remind the Kwara PDP stakeholders of where their problem actually lies. I’ll endeavor to make this intervention very brief so that the message is not lost.
Ayeola’s article is merely a ‘feel-good’ writeup in which the writer reviewed the list of AA’s Commissioners and pointed out how none of the former PDP members who defected to APC, or any of their children, got nominated. He concluded that the defectors must have been abandoned by Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq who, having used them to secure reelection, felt he could not trust them as political allies because, in Ayeola’s reasoning, “he (the governor) has seen through them that if they can betray the Saraki structure that has given them so much, then it is a matter of time before they turn against him.”
If Ayeola’s view reflects the position of most PDP or Saraki followers in the State, then no one should be surprised that they followed the massive defeat of 2019 with even a more woeful defeat in 2023. And they will continue to lose as long as they continue to assess everybody in terms of loyalty to one man, even if this same man has led them to back-to-back defeat.
How earth a politically experienced politician like Bukola Saraki failed to realize that people are not leaving his party because they are in search of appointments, but because they are tired of his overbearing and “I, me and myself” style of leadership, beats me. For someone who has led his party and its members to two consecutive defeats in two critical elections, isn’t it time for Bukola Saraki to sit back and review his strategy, acknowledge that his style of leadership is not working and is not likely to; and then change pattern. Why allow people like Ayeola who obviously still live in the old days of ‘Baba S’ope’ to continue to deceive him that he’s PDP and PDP is him in Kwara.
Certainly, an intelligent politician like Bukola Saraki cannot claim ignorance of the simple rule that absolute control breeds resistance, while participation encourages cooperation. Unless he is ready and willing to open up the space and allow everyone to fully and actively participate in decision making in the party, there is no way he can secure the necessary commitments that he needs to win any election in Kwara.
By the way, an indication that Bukola Saraki hasn’t learnt anything from the PDP defeats in 2019 and 2023 emerged recently with the appointment of two young people as Secretary and Publicity Secretary of the party in Kwara. I learnt on good authority that LEADER, as Bukola Saraki’s followers love to call him, said that AA is becoming more popular only because he gives opportunity to young people to serve in government. Hence, Saraki also took the copycat decision to unilaterally impose GreatKay and Sholyments on the party in executive capacity in order to cut the figure of being youth-friendly. How quickly the times have changed, that a once highly rated political strategist like Saraki now copies AA’s template of leadership recruitment.
Yet, in all this, Saraki did not realize that the situation before him and AA are not the same. While AA can afford to appoint anyone without any recourse to anybody, simply because he has no structure to service, Saraki on the other hand has a traditional political structure that he ought to be answerable to, if only he intends to win any future election. But with the unilateral decision he took with the appointment of the two young people into leadership positions in the party; even the older politicians that have always been ‘Sarakites’ are now left wondering whether they have any stake in Saraki’s house.
When a leader makes everything about himself like Saraki is doing in Kwara PDP, taking decision without recourse to anyone and forcing his wishes through, what happens is that even those he thinks are with him are not actually with him. And this is the case with Bukola Saraki today. At the moment, even those who took the initiative and courage to defect to the APC are better than the so-called key allies who stayed back but secretly and deeply hate a system and the person, in this case Saraki, that have continued to stifle their voices. You now have in Kwara PDP today many people who, although are still in the party, have actually left Saraki long ago.
However, it is still not too late, and that is why I am making this intervention because I believe Kwara PDP has the potential to better organize and deliver the kind of quality leadership that Kwara desperately needs. But it cannot be done with this “one-man” approach currently in practice, and anyone telling Saraki otherwise is definitely not his well-wisher. As it is, the only good fortune Saraki and PDP have, and which is probably even making people like Ayeola find the strength to taunt defectors, is that AA lacks the social capacity to effectively organize people. Otherwise, the Kwara PDP would have been empty long ago, and no one would then have the balls to mock anyone.