By Ishola Dawodu
With less than 30 days to the 2023 gubernatorial elections, the political climate in Kwara State is charged with anticipation as Kwarans side with their preferred candidates.
According to US-based Nigerian Decides polls — surveying a representative sample of registered voters in the state, only three candidates from the pool of 14 hopefuls have emerged as front-runners in the race.
Running under parties with distinct ideologies — the All Progressive Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s front runners, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and Abdullahi Yaman are from the two prominent parties in the state, but the candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Waziri Yakubu Gobir has proven to be a dark horse.
The APC candidate, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, is the incumbent Governor of Kwara State who rose to prominence following the 2019 Ó Tó Gẹ́ political revolution.
A former commissioner at the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RAMFC), Abdullahi Yaman holds the PDP ticket in the upcoming elections.
Yakubu Gobir, a philanthropist par excellence and the face of YPP is the dynamic candidate that has captured the imagination of Kwara youths — he has fast become the voice for the young demographic — a key voting bloc and representation of almost half of the state’s population. With a welfare-led campaign, Aláànú Ti Dé (Help Is Here) — from his moniker, Aláànú Mẹ̀kúnnù (Helper of the poor), Gobir has become the voice of hope for many Kwarans and injected a breath of hope to citizens who have continually gotten the short end of the stick from decades of maladministration and lopsided government programmes.
Drawing from his experience running an effective non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Gobir Foundation — the businessman and politician first embarked on a NEEDS assessment with a tier-1 civil society group, ENetSuD to access all 193 wards and over 3,000 communities In the state. This assessment was geared to understand first-hand the real issues plaguing the people of Kwara – from lack of access to clean water and non-functional water works, poor road networks, the problems of erosion and flooding, and insufficient classrooms and teachers, to name a few.
Gobir has revealed plans for ensuring transparency and due process when in office. According to him, improving the plight of the average Kwaran is his mission.
Gobir has declared that he will implement fresh ideas and a new approach to the state’s governance, improving the state’s economy, creating more job opportunities for residents, and improving access to education, amongst other things.
He has the support of several prominent businessmen and organisations, and with the recent results from the Nigeria Decides polls, might spring a surprise win in the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Kwara. With the current results going neck and-neck, the upcoming election is bound to be a tight race that will depend heavily on the vote of every supporter.
The governorship race is critical for the state as the next governor will steer Kwara through challenging times toward a prosperous or bleak future.