On Saturday, November 14, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, returned to Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara State, for the primary time since the 2019 political losses he and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), suffered within the hands of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The former governor was actually in town to be a part of the memorial prayer for his father, Senator Olusola Saraki. Bukola Saraki wasn’t alone thereon visit as he arrived just each day after his sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State for Transport, arrived in Ilorin, for an equivalent purpose.
In 2019, Saraki, who had lorded it over the state politically since 2003 when he rode on his father’s political strength to emerge because the governor, suffered a terrible blow to his political jaw as he not only lost hold of the state’s administrative structure within the Oto’ge revolution but also lost his senate seat to the rampaging APC. Worst still, not one candidate supported by him and his group won any seat. While the winners were still rejoicing and therefore the losers sulking, the previous Senate President sneaked out of town. And he wasn’t to return till November 14, last year.
On arrival, Saraki received a heroic welcome from associates and supporters. A mammoth crowd of supporters and well-wishers besieged Ilorin International Airport to welcome Senator Bukola Saraki back home after the long break. the gang moved with him into town as he rode during a motorcade to his family house. The political rally led observers to mention there was more to Bukola Saraki’s homecoming than merely his father’s memorial. Today, stronger indications have emerged to verify that the Saraki political family is preparing to launch a comeback in 2023.
“They are testing the waters. The opposition in Kwara remains formidable. what’s needed may be a leader to rally the varied forces together. No doubt, Saraki is that the groomsman to try to do that. His absence of these while left the stage for the APC to run riot politically. Now that he has re-entered the political space, be rest assured that the competition for 2023 has started in earnest. The grand entry he made following the large mobilization done by his allies and aides is supposed to send the signals out that he’s prepared to once more lead the charge against APC,” an analyst said.
Not one to go away anybody unsure of his political intentions, Saraki, shortly after the visit to Ilorin, promised to woo political stakeholders, youths, businessmen, among others, to the fold of the PDP, in its push for a return to power in 2023. He was speaking in Abuja, at the inauguration of the PDP National Reconciliation and Strategic Committee which he chairs. But the message wasn’t lost on the powers that be in Kwara as Oloye didn’t spare any anecdote in letting Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and his party, the APC, know that he’s back and prepared.
“We will go all bent reach our members who have one grievance or the opposite and seek to reconcile all folks. we’ll reach bent numerous key politicians who have left our fold and have indicated an interest in returning to the PDP. we’ll reach bent all the youths trying to find a celebration on whose platform they will contribute to the event of our country. we’ll reach bent those that create jobs in our country and need to support a celebration with clear and realistic economic policies.
“We will hold discussions with many other political leaders in other parties who have expressed the will to hitch PDP but have held back until we put our house so as. Since political parties are vehicles for mobilizing the citizenry around national goals, objectives, and ideas; it’s important for the passengers within the vehicle to be consonant, stick together in peace, and be focused on their destination and therefore the absolute best route to urge there,” he said.
Apparently, Saraki’s return from his self-imposed political exile is reawakening his allies and party chieftains. More and more chieftains of the opposition party are finding their voices. Speaking recently, the state Chairman of the party, Engr. Kola Shittu said the PDP is now stronger and better than it had been in 2019, and intrinsically, is poised to return to government in 2023. consistent with him, the people also, having tasted both the PDP and therefore the APC, are no wiser than they were in 2019. “With the way APC is handling things, we’ll return to power in 2023,” he said.
“APC came to power through propaganda and lies. They deceived the people. Now the citizens have seen the difference between our governors and their governor. So, come 2023, we’ll be back. we have got the proper plans. we have got the needed strategies and our leader, Senator Saraki, is an intelligent man who knows what to try to do and what to mention. the present governor may be a businessman and therefore the people have seen that the incompetence of the present government affects the state, he added.
Not a threat
But the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State says Saraki’s recent grandstanding shouldn’t be taken as anything serious by political pundits. consistent with the ruling party, the age of intimidating the voters with rented crowds is over. The APC boasted that Saraki won’t in any way affect the probabilities of APC in 2023. “APC will floor other political parties in any election that’s held within the state,” Chairman of APC in Kwara State, Bashir Bolarinwa said, insisting that Saraki’s domination of Kwara politics was gone permanently.
“Let me say this for all to hear; we aren’t disallowing anybody from entering the state. Saraki’s recent grandstanding isn’t anything serious. we all know that Saraki can not pose any threat to APC within the state. God that was with us yesterday is forever with us. Our members haven’t any reason to entertain any fear. Saraki’s domination of the Kwara political landscape is gone permanently. His coming to the state or staying away won’t in any way affect the probabilities of APC in 2023. APC will floor any opposition in Kwara come 2023,” he said.
Similarly, 74-year-old veteran politician, Kunle Sulyman, said neither Saraki nor the PDP can stop the re-election of APC’s Governor Abdulrasaq in 2023. Sulyman, one of the founding fathers of PDP in Kwara State, said together with his performance, the governor will retain his seat for the APC. “If Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq performs alright and that I believe he’s already performing alright and he will still do more, nobody can stop him. We are old within the game. The strategy for 2023 is already on, allow them to plan their own, we’ll plan our own.
“When you’re watching the performance, you want to examine how it directly affects the lives of the people. Within one year, there’s no government that the governor has not touched. Oro town, the road had not been motorable for several years. The governor has done it. he’s already inviting investors to varied tourist centers within the state where he had made the roads to those centers passable. attend Offa, Kwara North, and even in Kwara Central, our people aren’t blind, they’re grateful.
“Tell me, for 16 years, when did we have got that? I sleep in the Adewole area of Ilorin for 10 years, there was no water but today, I can drink government water in my house, courtesy of AA, and somebody will come and tell me he hasn’t performed once I knew a government which spent billions of Naira on water reticulation and that I didn’t get water for 10 years. What about education; there’s no school across the three senatorial districts that he has not rehabilitated; of these schools are now conducive for the pupils and therefore the teachers and somebody will now say he hasn’t performed, are they blind? Somewhere in Yashikira in Kwara North, they wont to have the sunshine except for about seven years, they didn’t have light and therefore the governor provided solar power for them,” he recalled.
The race is on
While addressing the gang during his November homecoming, Saraki announced that the 2023 political game is now open within the state as he matter-of-factly declared that his homecoming should be likened to the commencement of the premier league. consistent with close aides of the previous Senate President, he has his eyes on getting the PDP back to the Government House. “Bukola may be a man who loves the people of Kwara and he cannot fold his arms while they suffer. the present administration has failed and that we are coming to vary things,’ an aide said.
But some analysts believe the chances against the previous Senate President are enormous. Abdulrazak Alabi, an Ilorin based political researcher, wonders what role the previous governor is going to be playing come 2023. “The question many would ask is: what role does Bukola Saraki want to play in 2023 within the state’s politics? A godfather? Does he want to return to the Senate? Does he want to contest for president? No option looks good for him. Who wants another godfather to style their future? Not in today’s Kwara. People have moved on. If he wants to return to the Senate; it’s his legitimate right. But he would be asked if there’s nobody else outside his family that’s qualified for the office,’ he said.
However, some chieftains of the APC are perturbed by the continued moves by the PDP to position itself as an alternate to the ruling party before the 2023 election. Consequently, they’re urging the APC to place its house so as before the election. Chief Rex Olawoye, former chairman of Ifelodun government Area and immediate past Publicity Secretary of APC in Kwara, is worried that the crisis within the party, if left unresolved, would cause disaster during elections. Today, Kwara APC is torn between loyalists of Governor AbdulRahaman Abdul Razak and people of the party chairman, Bashir Bolarinwa.
“I am of the view that only the national executive of the APC could resolve the conflict within the party within the state. Every attempt at resolving it at the local level had been fruitless. The headquarters of the party should timely found out a reconciliatory committee so that we’ll not run a tattered party in Kwara. The governor has sufficient arsenal in his armory to place the party together in Kwara. I’m not talking about money alone, but recognition for all the members of the party. the shortage of recognition made a number of us defect from the political group of Dr. Bukoka Saraki,” he pleaded.