By Abdulrasheed Akogun
That the Social Democratic Party (SDP) have continued to receive strength and visibility in Kwara State with mass exodus of Political Bigwigs and their supporters from the All Progressives Congress (APC) since the beginning of the year, isn’t in doubt, what is however proving to be a 21st century wonder is the reality that SDP is not only the fastest growing party in the State, the 10 years old baby is now the cornerstone.
The poor management of intra-party conflict which lead to deregistration/blocking of key stakeholders to revalidate their APC membership. The crisis in the ruling party had earlier resulted to polarization with formation of APC loyal by camp loyal to Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his counterpart now Minister of State for Mining and Steel, Senator Gbemisola Saraki.
For records, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Candidate for 2023 Kwara Governorship election, Alhaji Hakeem Lawal refused to revalidate APC membership at Magaji-Aare Ward in Ilorin East local government area following the antics to deny his supporters and loyalists from take part in the exercise.
The irreconcilable differences between Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and party stakeholders comprising no fewer than 7 Party’s Governorship Aspirants in 2018 like Alhaji Hakeem Lawal as well as leadership led by the Authentic and legally recognized Kwara APC till April 2022, Hon Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa fueled the crisis in the party.
Having said that, the Kwara SDP which was initially positioned as third force ahead of 2023 general elections is fast metamorphosing into a formidable and winning force with its growing acceptability rating across the state.
No doubt, SDP is enjoying statewide support but it is worthy of note that the white horse party has penetrated deep into the heart of Kwara South Senatorial district. The Social Democratic Party is growing to become number one chioce in the district with seven and 16 local government areas in Kwara State.
This is evident with the quality and high turnout of aspirants that participated in the Social Democratic Party primary elections for Kwara South Senatorial district, the 2 Federal House of Representatives seats and 10 State Constituencies. This shows the party is waxing stronger and growing in numerical strength necessary to win general elections.
Therefore, it is not surprising to see best of the best emerging as SDP candidates from the district. The 13 candidates for elective positions from the zone have good character, credible, track record and acceptability among the electorates.
For instance, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Senatorial Candidate in Kwara South is Prof Wale Sulaiman from Ajase-ipo in Irepodun local government. He is a neosurgoen with global recognition. He once served as Special Adviser on Health to Kwara State Governor and recently got National Award as Commander of order Niger (CON). His political activities is giving other candidates including the incumbent from ruling party headache and run for their money. Anywhere you go, you see the impact of SDP Senatorial Candidate for Kwara South, Prof Wale Sulaiman.
The story is also the same with the SDP House of Representatives Candidate for Ifelodun/Offa/Oyun Federal Constituency, Hon Saheed Popoola. Hon Saheed Popoola is a serving member of Kwara State House of Assembly. He became more popular in Kwara politics after emerging as Executive Chairman of Offa local government on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He defeated candidate of ruling PDP to become only elected Chairman from opposition party out 16 local government areas in Kwara State. He later served as Commissioner for Youth and Sports development during tenure of Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed. He is a second term lawmaker representing Ojomu Constituency. He played prominent role during OTOGE revolution that led to emergence of current administration in the State.
While Otunba Ganiyu Zubairu from Irepodun local government is the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate for Irepodun/Isin/Ekiti/Oke-ero Federal Constituency in the 2023 general elections. Otunba Ganiyu Zubairu fondly called Ganzy by his supporters needs no introduction in the federal constituency and Kwara State Politics. He is also one the prominent gladiators in the OTOGE revolution. He is a loyalist of Alhaji Lai Mohammed and a good Ambassador of Kwara South. He has promised to bring meaningful and impactful projects to his Federal Constituency, when elected.
Likewise, all the 10 Kwara State House of Assembly candidates from Kwara South are not pushover or elements seeking to be on ballot to create awareness. They all set out to win and support SDP governorship candidate, Hakeem Lawal to deliver his promises to Kwarans, when elected.
Apart from that, Alhaji Hakeem Lawal who has been visible in Kwara Politics displayed his in-depth understanding of local politics by picking Deputy Governorship Candidate, Rev. Joshua Olakunle from Ora in Ifelodun local government. Rev Olakunle, a former CAN leader and ECWA Pastor is already adding value to the candidacy of Hakeem Lawal.
Furthermore, Director General SDP Campaign Council, Alhaji Khalid Bolaji is also from Kwara South. It’s therefore understandable to see Kwara southerners queuing behind SDP. They are supporting SDP because of their trust in candidacy of Alhaji Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal to lead the new face of Kwara transformation by boosting the economy, addressing errors of the past and giving Kwarans opportunity to excel irrespective of their tribe, creed and religion. KWARA southerners love for SDP will definitely translate to massive votes for Hakeem Lawal judging by heroic welcome received across the seven local government areas during the Party’s Interactive Session with critical stakeholders such as Traditional Rulers, Religious Leaders, Artisans, Opinion Moulders, Students and other groups for one week.
With the growing unpopularity of the incumbent governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party Alh. Shuiab Abdullahi Yaman’s twin inability to galvanize and harmonize the traditional Saraki structure behind his candidature on the one hand and his seeming failure and lackluster attitude to cashing on the Kwara North agenda sentiment, all eyes are now turning to the scion of the Lawal family, Alh. Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal to not only step-in but fill the expectation void.