That APC Wrangling in Kwara
By Aliyu Shuaib Agaka
Despite its groundbreaking victory at the last general elections, the Kwara state chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has been embroiled with several internal crises and if not handled carefully could have adverse effects on the party’s nascent popularity in the state.
An insight into the ongoing crisis dates back to the historical formation of the party in the state. Different groups played significant roles to the solid formation of the party towards success in elections in 2019.
The major elements were the Akogun team, the Lai Mohammed camp, the Gbemisola Saraki Forum and the Sunday Fagbemi group.
Rather than managing their successes at the polls by pursuing common goals as a united front, the groups maintain their separate identities and ideologies.
The main winner of the process, Governor Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman seems to be overwhelmed by his victory as he could not lead the process of reconciliation and unity within the party.
Rather than carry the political gladiators along in some decision making processes in giving sense of belonging, Governor Abdulrazaq withdrew to his cocoon.
As it is currently, Akogun, Lai and Saraki groups in a camp with Chief Iyiola Oyedepo as their spokesperson while one Iliasu Ibrahim is a spokesperson of governor’s faction.
The situation has led to provocative and sometimes toxic media statements from the two camps.
After the recent dissolution of APC state executives nationwide by the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led National Caretaker Committee, the Akogun led faction accused Governor Abdulrazaq of plotting to prevent the swearing-in of the chairman of the dissolved executive, Bolarinwa, as the Caretaker Committee chairman.
Spokesperson of the faction, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo said information at their disposal was that Governor Abdulrazaq had gone to the national headquarters of the party in Abuja to urge the National Caretaker Committee to exempt Bolarinwa from being sworn-in on the grounds that the Kwara executive of 2018 that he led was not a product of a congress.
The camp argued that the state executive committee of the party established in 2018 under Bolarinwa’s chairmanship was duly constituted by members of the party including the governor.
They therefore, contended that the efficiency of the structure and high tolerance of party members accounted for the APC’s landslide victory in the general elections of 2019.
However, the loyal faction to the governor which is led by former member of the state House of Assembly Iliasu Ibrahim, has countered the above allegations.
Ibrahim said: “For the record, until the recent dissolution of the APC executives at state, local government and ward levels, it is the position of the majority of party stakeholders in Kwara State that the Caretaker Committee led by Bolarinwa had overstayed its welcome and a new one was required in the interest of fairness and justice. The Caretaker Committee, constituted over two years ago in 2018, was a special purpose vehicle which had since outlived its purpose. It was therefore welcome and just when the NEC of our party dissolved it along with others across the state.”
The governor’s camp pointed out that there were a couple of misrepresentations of facts in the statement of Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo. They noted that the sole reason the party opted out of delegates’ election for the primaries of 2019 general elections was because the party caretaker officials could not serve as valid delegates, hence the resort to direct primary election.
They also claimed that the direct primary election, supervised by the Caretaker Committee was upheld by the Supreme Court.
They further urged National Caretaker Committee not to inaugurate Bolarinwa as an interim person whose tenure had elapsed.
Meanwhile, while other states had validly elected state executive committees, Kwara had none, and still having problems.
In most cases, Caretaker Committees are political arrangements put in place to address specific peculiarities in some states. It is debated on whether a caretaker committee can succeed another caretaker committee.
The recent sack of Bolarinwa by national body which appointed his erstwhile deputy, Hon. Abdullahi Samari in his stead gave another dimension to the crisis as the faction led by Akogun stormed the national secretariat of the party to voice their rejection on the verdict.
In a prepared speech signed by 19 stakeholders, leader of the delegation, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo warned the Governor against stoking crisis in the party, saying if the group could dethrone former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, a “political Iroko”, it would not take anything to unseat the governor, a “political shrub.”
He said “We fought the war of O’toge and he played the least role and we have told him that if we could remove an Iroko tree, it will not take us anything to remove a shrub. Gbemi Saraki and Lai Mohammed are with us. They are fully with us. They are not with the governor and we are telling the whole world openly”.
The following day, a faction loyal to the Governor also stormed the national secretariat in their numbers and threw their weight behind the decision of the national leadership of the party to appoint Alhaji Abdullahi Samari as the Acting state Chairman of the party.
They specifically accused the former chairman, Bashir Bolarinwa of launching a campaign of calumny against the governor.
They said that: “This indeed is a lifesaving decision for the party that had been in the vice grip of power drunk and self-conceited individuals whose only loyalists are garrulous and selfish few whose only anger with the Governor is that he did not make himself a yes-man or stooge through whom the public vault is thrown open.
“It is on record that these gangs dedicated a weekly programme to denigrate the Governor, his administration, and the House of Assembly. They never missed any opportunity to denigrate the office of the Governor. Certainly, no system, much less an organised political party, can survive the level of indiscipline, arrogance and unbridled ambitions of these lousy few. The intervention of the national headquarters of the party is therefore timely and necessary to save the party from these oppressive, self-centred gang.”
With the foregoing, the political rivalry within the APC as a party in the state of not tamed timely could snowball into major crisis beyond the party as a partisan platform for electoral process.
It is therefore necessary to call on Governor Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman and other leaders of the party in the state to find a common ground towards ironing out their differences.
As one of the elder caucus rightly said, the Governor should forget the ego, come down from the tower and be persuasive to all the party members and embrace peace. He should as a matter of urgency sit down with the so called elder caucus and deliberate on how to administer the party and move it forward.
The reality of the nation’s politics is that it is not enough to serve only the masses as a governor or a political office holder but also to carry party’s elders and stakeholders along because they are the backbone of the party whose efforts can never be overemphasized. And I’m sure the governor is smart enough to learn this from several antecedents around.
Aliyu shuaib Agaka
write from Mandates Estate, Ilorin Kwara State and can be reached via [email protected]