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Between Kwara gov and PDP: A storm in a tea cup

Published by Tribune on Tue, 03 Jun 2014

Indications emerged towards the end of May that an unusual romance could be building between the Kwara State governor, Abdufattah Ahmed and the state chapter of the PDP. The governor promptly denied the rumour. Group Politics Editor, Taiwo Adisa, examines the undercurrents in Kwara politics in the wake of that denial.When reports emanated last month to the effect that the governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdufattah Ahmed, could have kickstarted a strange romance which would facilitate his return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the governor's men vehemently refuted the insinuation. Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Alhaji Wahab Oba, stated that the said political calculation was provocative.Several theories were immediately woven around the indication. There are those who believe that the indication was part of the agenda to cause a rift between the governor and his godfather, Senator Bukola Saraki, who drove the governor and other members of the PDP into the All Progressives Congress (APC) in November last year. Others believe it could be a true and clever way through which the governor had planned to liberate himself from the claws of the Saraki.But as it is in life, there is usually no smoke without fire. Stakeholders in the PDP in Kwara are swearing to high heavens that the deal between the party and Abdufattah was almost struck but for the close observation of some party leaders, who smelt a rat in the whole arrangement. While the governor's spokesman had described the state chapter of PDP as factionalised and lacking a leader, thus making the suggestion of a working arrangement impossible, sources close to the PDP in Abuja said that there was actually some exploratory talks involving the governor and the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu.It was stated that Muazu had, on the strength of his inside knowledge during the presidential unity rally in Kwara, hinted at the possibility of a return to Kwara by PDP bigwigs to welcome errant members who had defected to the APC. The story is however resting on certain possibilities and probabilities. There are indications that Governor Ahmed is as of now not assured of returning to office for a second term. Many had expected him to pull out of the Saraki wagon last year when the latter dragged him into the G7 uprising. The governor is seen as someone who has no axe to grind with the PDP or President Jonathan. He was however said to have stuck to the Saraki train in the belief that his loyalty would earn him a second term ticket.According to insiders in the Saraki/Ahmed politics, the former governor had told the incumbent that he would only run for one term and quit office in 2015. That agreement was said to have been renewed during a recent lesser Hajj. With time ticking away and Senator Bukola Saraki not showing any indication of backing down on that promise, Governor Ahmed is said to have thought of some quiet liberation movement. Sources said that if that had worked, the governor would have emerged the leader of the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate for 2015. According to insiders, even though Abdufattah was aware of Saraki's disposition not to grant him a second term ticket in 2015, the incumbent still embraced the G7 struggle and eventually joined the G5 that defected to the APC.Some sources claimed that the governor's camp appeared badly hit when indications emerged that Senator Saraki was planning to settle for either Alhaji Kawu Baraje or the former Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, as replacement for the incumbent governor in 2015. That was said to have ignited the push for a possible rapprochement with the PDP.The governor's spokesman, Wahab Oba, however fired pointed arrows at the suggestion, describing the PDP as a factionalised party in Kwara. He said: 'Assuming without conceding that Governor Ahmed is going to PDP, which of the factions would he join' Is it that of Oba Abdulraheem, Gbemi Saraki, Simeon Ajibola, Bola Shagaya or that of Dele Belgore' Which one''The fact is that the rumour is being peddled by PDP that is already drowning, going down and down and only wanting somebody to pull down along with it. For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Ahmed has perfect and faultless relationship with Senator Bukola Saraki, who is the leader of APC and who has been giving direction to the party in the state.'When the indications started emerging, however, it was gathered that party leaders in Kwara immediately raised a team to strongly x-ray the possibilities. A report of the team was said to have strongly opposed the planned return of Governor Ahmed to the PDP. Indeed, some PDP leaders were said to have described the plan as a Saraki plan to hijack the party. They believe that the former governor could be planning to plant his successor in their midst so as to ensure he wins the state head or tail. The report was said to have indicted the governor on many fronts. Besides rejecting the bond being sought by the state government, the group was also said to have raised other issues which it claimed would make it difficult for members of the PDP to work with the governor.Some of the points the PDP group raised against Abdufattah Ahmed include alleged inability to follow up and build up on success of a predecessor; getting the state into deeper debt quagmire; alleged growing unpopularity, which they claim would result in APC's defeat in 2015; the waning Saraki influence in Kwara politics and his acclaimed failure to carry party elders along when he was in the PDP. Other allegations include his alleged failure to expand the political space when he served as PDP governor; alleged failure to record any substantial achievements since defecting to the APC and the confirmed unpopularity of his godfather in the state. The group claimed that the PDP would win a free and fair election in the state easily.The source stated that the leadership of PDP in the state under Chief Iyiola Oyedepo is equally criticising the governor for planning to launch a bond of N35 billion less than a year in his tenure. The PDP group also described the bond as slavery for Kwara state and a plot to grind the government between 2015 and 2019. The group submitted in its report: 'The bond of N35 Billion being pursued by Governor Ahmed is generating controversy among kwarans. Many are kicking against such bond for a government that has one year more to go.''The group said that it had information that even commissioners in the government were opposed to the bond and that the government had to put its feet down before they endorsed the bond bid.Will the governor ditch his godfather and return to the PDP' It is difficult to say for now where the pendulum is swinging. As they say, one night is too long in politics. But Nigerian politics has so far exemplified the mantra of no permanent friend and no permanent enemy more than any other political arena. In this clime, no political door can remain permanently shut and none can remain forever open.
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