By Ayo Abegunde
After the emergence of candidates for the 2019 general elections about this time in 2018, the resonatingmessage from the nooks and crannies of Kwara was the loud and unambiguous clamour for change. Undoubtable, the last four decades before then had witnessed a stranglehold of some sort on the fortunes of Kwara by the same political characters. The patrimony of the whole State had become what wasappropriated and dispensed by the flip of the finger of one man. Simply speaking……..Kwarans had it to their throat and they were not going to let that opportunity pass. The All Progressives Congress (APC) which at that time had just witnessed an amalgamation of like minds was seen as the best platform to escape from the decadence of the past. However, the Party was facing the usual teething problems of setting up its structures and choosing its candidates for the historic 2019general elections ahead. It was a make or mar period. The uncommon and impeccable disposition of it’s State Chairman, Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa ensuredthat the party was able to navigate the turbulence and the looming implosion and came out stronger as a united front, ready to confront the behemoth structure of the powers that be. The apparent discontent rearing its head concerning the emergence of the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Mallam AbdulrahmanAbdulRazaq and candidates at various levels was reined in through the magnanimity and unifying efforts of B.O.B, all the other governorship aspirants and other party leaders who realized the importance of a united platform rather than festering their individual interests.
In the midst of this, the history-changing slogan of Ot’oge emerged and it was indeed a game-changer. It was commonplace to hear motorists, public and private alike honking the slogan…….. change had arrived and the people were willing to embrace it.
On 2nd March 2019, Kwarans through the APC resoundingly brought the old era to an end and supposedly elected a new Otoge government that was going to chart a new direction of Government by the People, of the People and for the people, doing things differently from the inglorious past. The hope of an inclusive government, embracing the true tenets of good governance and being accountable to the people was high in the minds of party members and Kwarans. Almost four years down the line, the (raison d’etre) as the french will say……the reason for living, but in this instance and context, the purpose for Ot’ogehas been irredeemably shattered and Kwarans are back to an unfortunate situation, where those who were ingloriously removed from office now lay claim albeit immorally to an immediate return to the helm of affairs. ( The particular actions and inactions for this degeneration are a discussion for another day). Suffice it to say that charade and superfluous information is the lifestyle of the APC government in Kwara State, L’oriiro.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The general impression after that historic election in 2019 was that the principal actors of the immediate past government had (as they say in gangster parlance) been run out of town. Indeed for a long time time, they went into oblivion. During the military regime of late Military dictator, General Sani Abacha, a very interesting caption on the front page of the NEWS MAGAZINE sometime in 1994 struck a note.”KhalifaBares His Fangs”
When our Khalifa bared his own fangs, he took the fight to his party men and women and farther to his predecessors. Shortly after, those we thought had taken flight and gone on political sabbaticals began to enjoy raves at occasional appearances at the airport and the Yidi praying ground. Such misplaced acceptance was perceived to mean that Kwarans had what the legendary poet and nobel laureate, prof. Wole Soyinka was referred to as a short rehabilitation syndrome, but no, it was a backlash against Khalifa. They have since become emboldened and traversing the landscape of Kwara like genuine contenders, but Kwarans know better……..they have a collective resolve———they will never go back to their vomit or stick with scum.
In the midst of these two unenviable alternatives, emerges the Social Democratic Party(SDP). When the rains ravaged the owners of the house in APC, we couldn’t seek solace in the umbrella, it was already tattered, we choose the horse to take flight from the devil and the deep blue sea. Today, the horse has berthed us in a safe place. Kwarans now have a credible alternative that will take us to the land flowing with the proverbial milk and honey. The state executive committee led by Alhaji Abdulazeez Afolabi is brimming with energy, enthusiasm, and convergence of purpose. The Governorship campaign council has been constituted with a sense of inclusivity, and an array of leadership that is commanding and cerebral. AlhajiKhaleel Bolaji, and Alhaji Kale Belgore hold the forth as CO-DG, while the indefatigable Dr. Bolaji Afolabiheads the secretariat The enviable list of candidates projected by the SDP for the position of Governor to the 24 House of Assembly members is a class act.
The Governorship Candidate is Alhaji Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal, a chip off the old block, cerebral Financial guru, unassuming, yet intelligently alert. He has posited on how he will change the fortunes of the state by expanding revenues conduits, building capacity in education, industrialization and enhancing the welfare of civil servants. He has a capable co-pilot in the retired educationist and cleric, Rev. Joshua Olayinka Olakunle as Deputy Governorship Candidate. The Three senatorial candidates, the world reknownedNeuro-Surgeon and Philanthropist, Prof. Wale Suleiman,( Kwara south) Dr. Ridwan Apaokagi ( Kwara Central), Alhaji Adamu Attahiru Manko ( Kwara North), and the six House of RepresntativesCandidates are poised to give a new lease of life to legislative duties. The twenty-four House of Assembly candidates is similarly endowed to offer qualitative legislative service to our dear state.
Kwarans await D-day to renew their hope by giving their mandate to a new set of leaders, and the day is fast approaching…….Khalifa, beware the ides of march.
Ayo Abegunde, an SDP member writes from Lagos.