Former governor of Kwara State, Senator Shaaba Lafiagi last week met with prominent members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State to address certain concerns within the party in the state.
Lafiagi flanked by Alhaji Jimoh Adesina, Alhaji Isiaka Oniwa and Alhaji S.O Yusuf, the PDP chairmen in Kwara Central, North and South respectively at the end of the meeting addressed journalists in the state where they debunked speculations that the Presidency is plotting to hijack the PDP in the state.
There have been speculations that the Presidency is using the current chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) Prof. Shuaib Abulraheem to take over the PDP in Kwara which is in the firm grip of the Senator Saraki.
Besides denying the rumor which he said has no scintilla of truth, the Senator similarly said the chairman of Federal Character Commission, Professor Abdulraheem is not using the presidency in its bid to hijack the state party structure. Saraki emerged leader of the party in the state after the demise of his father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki.
Lafiagi, whose position was backed by the three PDP chieftains said, “I do not believe that Professor Shuaib AbdulRaheem, the Federal Character Commission (FCC) chairman can be part of any plot to either hijack or polarize the PDP’s structure in the state. I do not believe also that the PDP at the national level can do anything negative against its own in the state.”
Member of the House of Representatives, Hon Zakari Mohammed who spoke on the issue also denied there’s crisis in the Kwara PDP. He said members of PDP in Kwara are pleased with the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki and that any attempt by anyone to either hijack or polarize the party would collapse like a pack of cards.
Kwara has been widely described as very peculiar given the manner elected officials have emerged for over four decades. Unlike in other states where there are crises, those who became what in Kwara politics had in one way or the other received the blessings of the late Saraki thus preventing such squabbles
Rep. Mohammed who spoke with our correspondent explained why politics in Kwara has largely been saved from rancor.
He said, “I want to make it abundantly clear that Kwara is different from every other state of the federation, because the state has a political structure that predates even some of us who are actors in the political scene. It is being handed from one generation to the other. Majority of people who is what in Kwara key in into that family structure and it has been paying off.
“In Kwara I don’t think we have any fears and we have a leader in the person of Senator Bukola Saraki in whom we are pleased with, in charge of our political structure. We have no cause to doubt his ability and capability.”
But the cold war between Saraki and the FCC chairman is said to be responsible for the recent suspicion among party members. This has been further aggravated by the recent re-appointment of Abdulraheem by President Goodluck Jonathan against the wish of Saraki. It was gathered that Saraki was not disposed to the re-appointment of the FCC chairman because he wants the appointment zoned to another senatorial district of the state in line with the internal zoning arrangement in the party.
Daily Trust further gathered that the Secretary to the Government of Federation, Chief Pius Anyim who announced the re-appointment of Abdulraheem in a letter had intimated him of the need to reappear before the Senate Committee on Federal Characters and Inter-governmental Affairs for fresh screening in consonance with Part C, Third Schedule of the 1999 constitution which empowers the President to appoint Chairman and members of the commission subject to Senate confirmation.
But our correspondent further gathered that a petition would soon be forwarded to the Senate Committee to the effect that the people of Kwara State are not in support of FCC chairman’s return.
The Ilorin Emirate Council in a bid to stave off the heat that might result form the development is said to have intervened in the cold war between the two politicians. Sources told Daily Trust that the intervention of some elders of the community was aimed at getting a smooth sail for the former Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin when he eventually appears before the committee for screening especially against the backdrop of reports that two Senators from the state are against his re-appointment.
It was gathered that some emirate members met Saraki on Saturday June 15 at his Iloffa residence to broker truce between him and Abdulraheem to give the latter a soft landing before the Senate committee.
As a fall-out of the meeting, Saraki had reportedly paid a visit to the council just as Professor Abdulraheem has equally been invited to give his own side of the issue. A source privy to the matter, said, “Following separate meetings the council comprising of emirate traditional chiefs held with the two, they have decided to invite them together to absolutely resolve the lingering dispute. Though, some see Saraki/Abdulraheem standoff as a normal political disagreement, the emirate stakeholders are looking beyond politics especially when they are mostly apolitical. Their concern is only on sustaining the unity of all emirate sons and daughters which is what the Emir has ceaselessly emphasized because without unity of purpose, peace and harmony there cannot be development”.
PDP chairman in Kwara Central, Alhaji Jimoh Adesina, however said there is no friction between Saraki and Abdulraheem maintaining that the said wrangling was speculative.
A group, PDP Patriotic Movement for a United Nigeria, a pressure group in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on its part warned that any attempt to block the re-appointment of Professor Shuaib Abdulraheem as Chairman of Federal Character Commission (FCC) “is contrary to the wishes of our people”.
The group informed the National Leadership of PDP and the Senate that Abdulraheem’s appointment received the blessings of the people of Kwara state, adding any attempt to block his re-appointment is tantamount to acting against the people’s wish.
Over the years, Kwara is known as a politically stable state with a clear-cut leadership track laid by Saraki even though the opposition had vowed to dismember the dynasty in the 2015 election. Analysts say the infighting in the state PDP, if not handled properly could germinate into bigger crisis to the benefit of the opposition. Only time will tell how the party will fix the crack.