OPINION: Why Bukola Saraki Cannot Lead Kwara APC


Bukola Saraki

Bukola Saraki

20140103-042524.jpgMembers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State may have vowed to resist attempts to cede the party structure to the former state governor, Senator Bukola Saraki whom they described as a new entrant into the party.

They have however, enjoined the John Oyegun led mediation Committee to be wary of federal forces and that of few APC chieftains who have plotted to foist Bukola on the loyal, committed and law-abiding members of this party.

An official statement signed by the Interim State Chairman Kwara APC, Rev Bunmi Olusona and made available to Blank NEWS Online on Friday, January 3, 2014 reads:

Bukola Saraki Cannot Lead Kwara APC, Issues before Gov. John Oyegun led mediation Committee.”


CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE IN KWARA APC

Following the announcement that the then G7 of the PDP had agreed to merge with the APC, then Chairman of the Kwara State Branch of the PDP Ishola Balogun-Fulani announced that APC in Kwara has been handed over to them (implying Senator Bukola Saraki) and that all APC members in the state should henceforth relate/defer to him. He went further to say that APC had no structure in the state prior to their coming. This came as a shock to our members. The lackluster retraction notwithstanding, this statement has created so much disenchantment that the reaction of ordinary members of the party was instantaneous – to leave the APC for Bukola Saraki and his cronies. Of course, good reason prevails and our members are urged to avoid kneejerk reaction.

SENATOR BUKOLA SARAKI

Perhaps, a brief historical background of our grudge with the Sarakis would help here. This background is necessary so that those non-Kwarans who probably had not been following developments here would not rush to call us unaccommodating extremists. Indeed in the past days some faceless persons have been trying to sell a narrative along this line. In order not to allow others to tell our own story, we deem it necessary to give some backgrounds that this space can accommodate.

Between 2003 and 2011, however, Bukola Saraki ruled like an emperor with commissioners prostrating before him even at State Executive Council meetings. How well he managed the treasury is revealed in the police affidavit against him in the case of N21billion loan involving the Intercontinental Bank. That affidavit touched on how Kwara fund was used to run private enterprise. Kwara people await the day police would have the courage to take that case to court. In addition, the State had borrowed massively to fund projects that remain unclear to the people of Kwara. And how Shonga Farm, funded with Kwara State fund, suddenly became ‘private concern’ is a story worthy of the Pulitzer Prize.

Hon Issa Bio Ibrahim, former Speaker and then Minister of Transport, said in a well-circulated newspaper interview in many national dailies that “the present leadership of Bukola Saraki is about the politics of elimination, politics of coercion and politics of ‘me first’ before others, not one of carrying people along.” The dislike for Bukola Saraki by the people of Kwara is borne out of his arrogance and disregard for democratic process and this keeps decent and quality people away from him. Senator Nenadi Usman (Kaduna) aptly captured the mindset of Bukola Saraki during the Senate confirmation for another term of Prof Abdulraheem Oba Shuaib as Federal Character Commission Chairman. The woman said Bukola Saraki’s role, comments and body language while the politics of Oba’s confirmation raged suggest that he wants to be worshipped as a tin-god without whom the destiny of every Kwara is in jeopardy! Senator Nenadi fumed about how Bukola Saraki recorded and sent to his constituency the details of a meeting that was meant to reconcile him and Oba in Abuja. Saraki has denied he made any such recording but anyone who has followed his politics will recall how a photograph of Hon. Salisu Ibrahim of Kwàrà State House of Assembly prostrating before the emperror was published in Saraki’s paper. The fellow had gone to beg him ‘secretly’ following the crisis that attended his (Ibrahim) allegations of highhandedness and corruption against Bukola Saraki’s boy, Razak Atunwa, a rookie (first term) lawmaker who was made Speaker of the Kwara Assembly which has two-term and more experienced lawmakers.

The struggle of the progressives in Kwara all these years has been about the liberation of our people from a clique that sees Kwara as a fief and its people some sorts of serfs to be exploited. The dream of winning this struggle is about to be killed by the action of our great party through the handover of APC structure to Bukola Saraki who is the face of this oppression!

THE MERGER OF nPDP WITH APC THROUGH OUR EYES

The merger of the legacy parties of APC was welcomed by all members of the party across the length and breadth of the state for three reasons:

a. It will engender internal democracy which critics say had eluded the legacy parties
b. It will give the party the national outlook which the legacy parties hardly had, and
c. It will give the party greater credibility and repose confidence in its members that the party can provide the national leadership that our country desperately needs now.
Regrettably, recent events leading to and following the nPDP’s defection had jolted members of the party to begin to worry if indeed APC will be democratized, if APC will not be compromised or if there is sincerity amongst the leadership of the APC that will ensure good governance, bring about an end or a drastic reduction in the corruption in the land and put the masses over and above personal interest.

THE 2011 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION

The impression that APC has no structure in Kwara or is irrelevant is erroneous. Going by the gubernatorial election of 2011, PDP(nPDP) scored 252,803, ACN 154,434, ACPN 75,000 , CPC 10,000, while other parties like ANPP etc got below 1000 votes each. Since the registration of the APC and defection of the new PDP members, over 100,000 members had defected into APC from the PDP. CPC’s poor showing at the 2011 election was because the man given registration documents deliberately refused to register members, preferring to hoard these documents and eventually selling them to opposition parties like the ACPN for an undisclosed sum. Today, if elections were held in Kwara, the APC(without Bukola Saraki and his nPDP) would easily score 400,000 votes.

Things have worsened in the Sarakite camp these days and our consultations across the state reveal that nearly 70% of PDP members in the State have decided not to follow Dr Bukola Saraki to APC. This is more so as the Government of Governor AbdulFattai Ahmed has been so unpopular because of its poor showings. So, it becomes worrisome that it is this same group that enjoys the confidence of the leadership of our party.

ALH LAI MOHAMMED

Between the 8th and 9th of this month, the Interim National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alh Lai Mohammed, held three separate meetings in Ilorin where he literally confirmed the PDP Chairman’s statement. His actions and body language is not helping matters at all. As a National Officer, Alh Lai ought to have called all members of the party to let them know what was going on. Rather than doing that, he called a meeting of his cronies to his residence. This is a carryover from his ACN days.

Alh Lai declared among other things:

– That the sharing of positions in the State Harmonization Committee is skewed heavily in favour of the nPDP. This we believe will provide a fertile ground for mischievous manipulation of everything from registration to local and state congresses. This is the trademark of the Bukola Saraki group
– That the nPDP would provide party chairmen from Ward to state levels
– That we would have to plead with Senator Bukola Saraki to consider our members for party positions such as Women Leaders and Youth Leaders
– That he, Alh lai Mohammed, shall be the National leader of the party for Kwara and our Chief Negotiator
This we view in bad taste and coming from a supposed leader of our party, it amounts to celebrating defeat in the open.

The failure to provide leadership across the board had polarised the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Kwara State chapter, for long and this is carried over to the All Progressive Congress (APC). We strongly aver that Alh Lai Mohammed is not negotiating in the collective interest of all. He has in the past consistently worked with the Sarakis since 2003 as a mole.

Our group, representing over 80% of Kwara APC, consisting of prominent members of the legacy parties namely defunct Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) have been kept in the dark all along and this appears deliberate.

CONCLUSION
We members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of Kwara State wish to state the followings-

-We aver that we do not need Bukola Saraki to win elections in Kwara, in fact the coming of Bukola Saraki is a huge burden on the Kwara APC. We now have a daunting task of convincing Kwarans that we remain a party of their hope for change. Without federal support, Bukola Saraki cannot win any election!
-We WILL NEVER ACCEPT the leadership of Bukola Saraki and WILL NEVER ACCEPT any arrangement that cedes the party structure to any new entrant into the party.
If Bukola Saraki believes that he is very popular, let him test his popularity within the party.
-We are aware that there are some so called Kwara APC chieftains singing the praises of Bukola into high heavens and even some of them alluding that Saraki is the Mandela of their ‘Kwara’, opportunists looking for political appointments and relevance abound everywhere, ‘John Oyegun committe’ should beware of people who have no electoral value but hanging on the carcass of a platform which their 2011 Governorship candidate had officially handed to the PDP before the election. They have no real stake in all of these except what to eat.
– We cannot stop anyone from becoming a member of the party, but we must stress that the process of registering members of the party must be democratic and should apply equally to each and every member
– As loyal, committed and law-abiding members of this party, we want to put it on record that we have no confidence in the person of Alh Lai Mohammed as our Chief Negotiator. He has failed to protect our interest and has deliberately kept us in the dark all these days with the intention of putting our collective interest in jeopardy.
– It is absolutely important that we protect the democratic principles on which APC was founded, failing which nobody will be able to distinguish between the APC leaders who clamour for democratic change and good governance and the very people they (APC leaders) accuse of leading Nigeria down the path of doom.
– We plead that our voice be heard and our opinions respected as foundation members in the processes leading to the determination of the final shape of our party in Kwara and not just a fiat order from above which disregards the sensibility of our loyal members at the grassroots.

God bless Kwara State. God bless Nigeria!

Rev Bunmi Olusona
Interim State Chairman
Kwara APC
.

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