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What will deliver Kwara to APC 'Ex-commissionerA former Commissioner for Works and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, Alhaji Abubakar Kannike, bares his mind on the Saraki dynasty in the state politics and other iss

Published by Tribune on Thu, 12 Mar 2015

A former Commissioner for Works and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, Alhaji Abubakar Kannike, bares his mind on the Saraki dynasty in the state politics and other issues pertaining to coming elections. BIOLA AZEEZ brings the excepts:To what extent does the APC leader in the state, Senator Bukola Saraki, tries to teleguide Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed in discharging of his statutory functions'To answer your question directly, it is very untrue. In Kwara, we have a perfect model of what is needed to deliver democracy dividends to the people. We are not going to shy away from the fact that Senator Saraki is the leader of our political party. We reiterate it; we acknowledge it and we accept it. And in Kwara, we have been able to separate politics from governance. Saraki has the experience and prerequisite to hold the political structure of the Saraki dynasty, which is the platform that provided the current governor the opportunity to rule the state. We respect that and we are part of it. We are not denying it. This arrangement is so perfect that it's separated from governance.Governor Ahmed, first and foremost, chose the people he wanted to work with. For instance, he gave me the opportunity to work with him as the commissioner for Works and Transport. It was his pick like that of other commissioners. The only consideration, which is normal in political appointment in politics, is 'how do I spread, based on support base I had, which constituency, which local government, who are the people that voted for me'' All those parameters are normal factors that anybody considers in appointment. Putting all these in perspective, he chose his team. That's first. He might not know some people, and the community might be the one recommending the person saying, 'Ok, you gave us the slot, this is the person we are presenting.' But, he still gives the community seeding that appointment to the community. And when we worked with him, he created a viable team that worked with him. When they now said Bukola Saraki did not allow him to work, was he part of the state Executive Council or presiding over Council meetings'Such meetings are serious meetings, where serious issues of state are discussed and decided upon. And they are all documented by civil servants that would be there when we politicians leave. They were there before we- the politicians- came. I was in the Ministry of Works and in the last three and half years, most of the jobs in the government was in infrastructure which the ministry took a major bite because we needed to do road for the people. And I can tell you that we were open in our process of getting people to do our job. Nobody was breathing down our neck. You see, it's just in the imagination of the opposition, because they wonder how we have been able to make these things happen. They are things they envy ordinarily. But now because the things are working for us, they want to castigate and call a dog a bad name so that they can hang it. Sincerely, we seamlessly operate in governance and the political structure and leadership also operate on its own without any interference. So, I re-emphasise the fact that that the opinion exists in the imagination of the opposition. It's not true at all.There's a political arrangement in the Kwara APC called a consensus arrangement in the choice of candidates for elective offices. How democratic is it'Consensus is internal democracy in the first instance. It's still a democratic process. It's not autocracy. What consensus means is that we are doing our own pre-primaries. We might not go through the rigours of the acrimonies and strain of actually competing. We discuss. There's no consensus without due consultation, without putting the opinions of all stakeholders in perspective. It's when you have a majority acceptance at the consultation level that you now present it as a consensus. So, it's actually internal democracy for people who do not know. So, it's still a democratic process. And what has that done for us' We are all witnesses to the primaries of the opposition PDP in Kwara in this election. We know that lives were lost. It's on record. And we had the APC primaries. Lives were not lost. Voices were not raised. And at the end of the day, do we have a third party that is dissenting or saying we don't agree' No, because it was popular opinion and decision. It means the opinions of majority carried the day and the minority opinions accepted the majority opinion. That's what consensus is all about. How democratic can it be' It's what we inherited from the political icon of Kwara and our late father, may Allah bless his soul, Dr. Olusola Saraki. And we have seen that it has worked and we are rolling with it. It works for us and gives us the unity of purpose and intention and we achieve our aims through a non-violent process. So, it's our own style of democracy and it has worked for us. We have domesticated it and it has worked for us.What's your take on the 'freedom from bondage' chant or slogan of the opposition PDP in the state'Is it the same bondage they benefited from' How free can it be' We have the current governorship candidate of the PDP, Senator S.S. Ajibola. I am a living witness to how at least he emerged candidate in minimum of the last two elections. If there was no freedom, how could he have emerged candidate' If there was no freedom, how could someone like his deputy governorship candidate, Alhaji Aluko have had the opportunity of holding political appointment under the same Saraki's political system' Freedom from what' Who's forcing who on who' I think it's not too late for them to actually look for another political phrase for campaign. You do not ask for freedom when you are free. Democracy itself is a free process. It ensures the liberty of choice because everybody that's a registered voter has got his freedom by having a voter's card. That's freedom of choice. So, how do you sell freedom in a situation or a process that's already driven by the freedom of choice' I think it's just for lack of a good political catchy phrase that they are selling freedom. I don't think anybody is in bondage. The governor himself says he's a typical example of how free the political system in Kwara can be. He says the son of an ordinary police officer comes to rule Kwara state. What freedom are talking about. How free can a society or process of emerging as leaders can be beyond that' And there are so many stories. The former minister for Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, also proudly presents himself as a son of a tailor. He also got to that peak though Saraki political dynasty. How free can it be' we have former principal of a secondary school becoming ambassador. How free can it be' Are they part of Saraki's dynasty' Is it some kind of oligarchy that we are talking about here' Not at all! It is freedom that has driven this system. Everybody who even knows Baba Saraki himself would know he's somebody that his major political agenda was to create a voice for the voiceless. To create a platform for the powerless to be able to express themselves and be part of a high-level decision making. So, there's nobody that is in bondage here. So, they should probably get another catchy phrase to sell their candidature or political party.What are the chances of the APC in the fast-approaching elections'Between you and I, our chances are very bright. I agree with the Director General of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the state, John Dara who says continuity can either work for you or against you. Although, he claims that is an albatross for us; that is in his imagination. My opinion is that the campaign for this election started when Governor Ahmed took over the reign of government in 2011 and he has been able to demonstrate the fact that we have continuity that has worked. By virtue of all the delivered dividends of democracy that are visible for people to see. Infrastructure projects that were inherited were not abandoned; they were completed.We have seen something that is strange in Kwara politics, which is violence during campaigns. From your own point of view, who is at fault'The real culprits in this matter are the people who don't have the interest of the youths at heart. They are the people who see youths as tools for destruction, rather than for construction. They are the people sponsoring cultists; using other people's children to do jobs that their own children will not do. You can see that even within the PDP internal democratic process, there was violence and death. There was wielding and free use of guns. Look at the major parties that are in the race, where have we witnessed violence' The PDP believes in the methodology of violence. If they could use gun freely during their own party primaries then what do you expect when it comes to the issue of opposition. All this desperation comes when you know you are not popular with the people who are the voters. The next thing is to use instrument of intimidation and violence to coerce and scare the people into voting for you. Or to disrupt a peaceful process; we are comfortable as we know we are loved by the people. The people have experienced good governance through the structure our party has provided. We are not desperate. We don't want violence; we want peaceful elections so that the wish of the people will prevail.
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