By Ibraheem Abdullateef
In spite of the recent whitewash, there is no longer a pretence to the reason and way the major opposition party in Kwara, PDP, wants to regain power and rule the state in 2023. It is to continue the bizarre bazaar political system of having Kwara as a ‘chopshop’ to feed the mouths, bellies, and ambitions of careerists in politics rather than building a liberal, inclusive, flourishing state with space and opportunities for all.
The mode and outcome of its primaries and the choice of running mate for its guber candidate were the last dots in the drawing of PDP’s true image. The others are the organization, carriage and unfiltered public statements of the party and its leaders, including their shock-jocks which betray the over-starched regalia of change and rebirth its main PR arm seek desperately to clothe them in.
For the record, out of the 34 available elective positions, PDP has presented only one woman Mrs Ibiyeye Adisa Iyabo and no identified youth (according to national stipulated age) as candidates against APC’s five, which is the highest in history, including a 26-year-old Rukayyah Shittu. The underrepresentation of youths and women are glaring and reflective of the party ideals of leadership in the 21st century.
If you thought the barbaric method of their primary elections, a 40-year-old insignia of dysfunctional politics, and the quality of candidates on offer for elective offices, are not the most revealing of the ultimate desire of this ‘me-and-my-crony’ politics, the choice of its gubernatorial running mate would pour cold water on your steely heart.
There is no logical explanation for the farcical decision of PDP to pick a man who had run alongside Rt. Hon. Razaq Atunwa in their woeful outing in the 2019 polls, again, despite his chequered history with integrity, other than the fact that he was the perfect person to work with for the man behind the throne.
Hon. Gbenga Makanjuola, the ex-deputy chief of staff to Senator Bukola Saraki, a two-term federal lawmaker, is a strong and experienced politician. But as rich as Gbenga’s profile is, he is confoundingly more renowned for alleged corrupt and sharp practices than any public good. I do not wish to be hyperbolic but 7 out of 10 Kwara youth may just not know PDP’s emeritus running mate more than another aide who was remanded in prison by a federal judge over fraud charges totalling N3.5 billion.
If it were a party more concerned with probity and accountability, in line with a post-O’to ge mood for fresh breath, it would have taken a break from fielding an EFCC customer as the Messiah of the people. There is no place in history lepers were credited with building prosperity. It is either PDP no longer brook no love for public acceptance and intermediate societal values or the interest Makanjuola comes in to cover all the time remains first.
In all honesty, one may think there could be better people to select from in the PDP. But there may be no better ticket for Bukola Saraki to achieve his desire to put Kwara back under his whims. While there is no worse guber ticket than this for the Kwara people, there is no better fawning, obsequious people who will do anything they are being told to do. This agenda now rests perfectly on one side on Alhaji Shuaibu Yaman’s legendary desperation for power and flies on on the other side on Makanjuola’s fastidiousness in getting ‘things’ done with little or no trace. I must admit I marvel at the eyes of the godfathers in picking such a formidable duo for securing the brother-sister’s cause to retain Kwara as a family venture. Yaman/Makanjuola ticket has even far more potential of doing the Lord’s work than Abdul Fatah/Kisira ever did.
The ex-governor Abdul Fatah Ahmed was known as a very brilliant banker and accomplished administrator boasting public and private experience before the office and the deputy was a distinctively honest elder. More respected analysts have said over the years that Ahmed was picked by his godfather as his successor because he was convinced he could blend governance with politics. There are decade-long stories that if Ahmed had been given the free reign to govern, he could have been a far more successful person in the office. Now, I am tempted to wonder how someone with a far lesser standing and dignified Yaman/Makanjuola ticket would succeed where Ahmed/Kisira failed for eight years as paperweight leaders of the Kwara people, if they ever won.
Although many have been pontificating about issues around Yaman’s alleged financial insolvency and unravelling details of contract default cases, I would rather be concerned about his rather embarrassing knowledge of issues of governance in the state as a guber candidate. As was laid bare by the now infamous debt gaffe during the unveiling of his running mate over the weekend, there is little to cheer for in his capability to study, analyse, and innovate policies to open the new frontier of socioeconomic development. I am very sure it will not be one-off.
Schoolboy errors such as that one are very much indicative of awareness, capability, and readiness more than billboards and posters hired hands make for one. For instance, while it was very much easy for Hon. Gbenga to say he would partner with the gubernatorial candidate to address “the issue of poverty, insecurity, political decadence, financial misappropriation, lack of respect for rule of law, transparency and dwindling state of economy bedevilling the state when elected in the 2023 generations,” it was by far the most ridiculous thing to say by someone facing arraignment for alleged complicity in financial fraud cases. It could have sounded very much honourable if he was also a former legislator with excellent legislative records.
The people with a flawed knowledge of the state, problematic personal images, and a horrible sense of our socio-cultural development cannot replace the present administration. Other than what they write for them on the pages of paper and billboards, Yaman/Makanjuola inspires no hope, panache, and excellence for no ordinary Kwaran. I have particularly found it funnier than Kiekie’s jokes that the word ‘prosperity’ is becoming their official cliche. This sounds eloquently beautiful other than the fact that the word is bigger than them. Neither Yaman/Makanjuola nor Saraki/PDP can look at themselves in the mirror and pronounce the word either as a public or private person. To create wealth and deepen prosperity, there must be a knack for solving existential problems for the people. There is no trace of such a noble dream for the state in a party that grounded education, arts and sports, health, women and youths engagement and deepened the gap between the haves and have-nots in the Kwara. If they could, they would not have left a disastrous state, in place of a better one they inherited in 2003.
As we journey towards the general elections, I ask Kwarans to be very much observant and alert in accessing and electing those who will lead the state so as to elect credible and true leaders for themselves and not placeholders for a ravenous set of oligarchs.
Abdullateef writes from Ilorin.