By AbdulRahman Abdulkadir Tunde
Arguably for the first time ever, a candidate in a senatorial election in Kwara Central is visiting the whole of the 54 wards, one after another. No doubt, this would go down in history as one of the most grassroot-focused campaign ever, with the objective of engaging directly with the people at the hinterland and to experience their situation firsthand.
Notwithstanding the popular perception that the election of Saliu Mustapha as a senator is almost a done deal, the politician has continued to do everything that is necessary in the belief that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. Not willing to give room for complacency, he has continued to work as though he is the underdog in an election that is already regarded as a fait accompli in his favour by many within the senatorial district.
By and large, with the creative engagement adopted by Saliu Mustapha in his campaign, Kwara Central people must be looking forward to having a senator that approaches his tasks from a unique angle. Already, the public must have taken note of the fact that the ward tour embarked upon by Turaki has resulted in a deep conversation directly with the people; one that gives a chance for the exchange of ideas and also provides the people the privilege to ask questions from their would-be representative, while equally sharing with him their needs, aspirations and challenges. This is quite unprecedented.
Nonetheless, beyond the issue of direct engagement with the potential voters, the ward tour again reaffirmed the reputation of Turaki as a compassionate politician who seeks to understand people’s situation firsthand.
Beginning with the 17 wards of Asa LGA, then from Asa to Ilorin West, Ilorin West to Ilorin South and ending in Ilorin East according to a schedule of visit yours sincerely sighted, his visit to the 52 wards have offered a compelling story of a man who shares in the pains of the people and seeks to understand their needs beyond media reports.
By the way, Asa LGA, some parts of Ilorin South (Akanbi I, II and III) and the hinterlands of Ilorin East are made up of communities that have literally been cut off from civilization. They are typically located inside forests, and to get there, you have to climb hills and mountains and endure a great amount of inconveniences. Only a deeply committed politician would subject himself to what is doubtless a tiring journey.
But Turaki did. And in undertaking the journey, he was able to experience firsthand what the people experience everyday. He was able to endure the inconvenience of visiting the people at the rural communities with all of the rough terrain, which explains why no politician would probably fancy going to the grassroots to have the real conversation that bothers about their needs and welfare.
Certainly, when the story of this election is written, the public would most certainly remember Saliu Mustapha as the politician who took the inconvenient and the unattractive path. They would remember him as someone who chose to talk to the people at the grassroots, listen to them and speak back in the language they understand. They would remember him as someone who chose to travel to where the voters live in order to experience their everyday challenges. They would remember him as someone who refused to follow in the ways of some of his major opponents who have become radio politicians who sleep and wake in radio studios dishing out empty rhetoric.