STEPHEN OLUFEMI ONI reports on the bickering between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State over the deluge of endorsements of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq by some traditional rulers and other interest groups ahead of the general election as well as the burning of PDP campaign caps by transporters and artisans
A s campaigns seeking the electorate’s support by the various political parties and their candidates ahead of the general election hot up across Nigeria, Kwara State political landscape is interestingly witnessing lots of melodrama and intriguing developments, with organised million-man marches for candidates and their endorsements by various interest groups, particularly regarding the coveted governorship position.
It would be recalled that various interest groups and stakeholders in the Kwara project, including traditional rulers, had at varied times thrown their weights behind incumbent Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq by publicly endorsing his second term bid. They hinged their decision on his administration’s sterling performance in the past three and a half years.
According to them, AbdulRazaq deserves a second term to consolidate on the gains recorded during his first term. the Emir of Lafiagi, Alhaji Muhammad Kudu Kawu, who recently celebrated his one year anniversary on the throne of his forefathers, not only turbaned Governor AbdulRazaq as the Sadaukin Lafiagi, but said: “We deemed it fit to confer on the governor, with such title in appreciation of his government’s strides in Lafiagi Emirate.”
The monarch added: “As a matter of fact, our Emirate has witnessed significant progress during the present administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and I promise that the people of Lafiagi Emirate will reward him with our votes in the coming election.
“Those who are honoured today with the conferment of traditional titles have, since my ascension to the throne, have shown uncommon love for our community, especially in initiating and siting various developmental projects in our domain. Leading them is His Excellency, the governor of Kwara State, who has transformed our local market at Gbugbu into an international one.”
The endorsement phenomenon was cor- roborated by the Kwara State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Sunday Fagbemi, in a recent interview with New Telegraph. He noted that the support and endorsements of the governor for a second term are welcome developments but not unexpected.
His words: “The traditional rulers from Kwara North Senatorial District came on a visit to Governor AbdulRazaq, where they confirmed that even when one of our sons was in power, the zone remained alienated from development until the coming of the AbdulRazaq administration that Kwara North has had it so good.
Water, roads, classrooms, hospitals and so on are being done in Kwara North by this administration. We are talking about developmental efforts in Kwara North as well as in other zones.
“So, all over the state, there is no concentration of development in any zone now. It is equal opportunity for all now. And our children in Kwara North have also had better bargains and good things to show for being part of this government.
Recently, Etsu Patigi, the highly revered monarch of Patigi Emirate, said that they are going to vote en mass for Governor Abdul- Razaq because of the things he has done ditto for monarchs from Yashikira, Gwanara and so on. All of them know that what PDP wants to do is government by deceit.
But the peoples’ eyes are already wide open; they know that nothing good can come from PDP stable.”
While the ruling APC in the state and its governorship candidate, as well as other candidates, have continued to savour the endorsements as a recognition of the administration’s superlative performance, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dismissed such endorsements with a wave of hands, saying endorsements do not necessarily translate to victory at the polls for candidates or political parties.
Reacting to the deluge of endorsements, the PDP in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Prince Tunji Moronfoye, said: “We are already in the endorsement season. Recall that we saw a deluge of endorsements of His Excellency, the executive governor of Kwara State, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, for a second term in office by the royal fathers all over Kwara State.
“However, we students of history know that endorsements mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of the political season. It will always come and go like any other season. The executive governor of Kwara State needs to be reminded that the only true endorsement for reelection is quality performance in office, which unfortunately has been lacking in Kwara State for the past three and a half years.
“His Excellency, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, needs to also understand that endorsements do not necessarily lead to qualification to contest for elections, nor do they translate to votes.
We all saw the embarrassing debacle of endorsements and blessings by some royal fathers from the South West for former President Goodluck Johnathan during the 2015 political season and, sadly, we saw how that ended. The PDP hereby puts it to Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq that he needs the endorsement of real social development, not lip service and catch phrases like ‘ISE NLO’ and ‘OTOPE’.
“He needs the true endorsements of great innovative ideas like Kwara State Internal Revenue Services, Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre, Kwara State Medical Insurance, Harmony Holdings, International Aviation College, International Cargo Shed, Kwara State University and other innovative projects put up by the past PDP administration, which are non-existent in his government.”
In a recent related development, however, the reelection bid of Governor AbdulRazaq had received another major boost from hundreds of members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), as well as artisans in the state, who pledged their unalloyed support to his administration and his second term bid, hinging their decision also on the present administration’s unprecedented performance in the last three and a half years.
The transport workers and artisans in their numbers, led by their leaders, on New Year Day, had converged on their various parks and workshops in Ilorin metropolis where they publicly burnt the branded PDP caps given to them by the leadership of the state’s PDP. The red caps of the opposition PDP were branded with their campaign slogan of ‘O su wa’, which means, ‘we are tired’. By ‘O su wa’, the PDP is trying to create the impression that the people of the state are tired of Governor AbdulRazaq’s administration.
The caps had earlier been given to the transporters by the PDP leaders to solicit their support for the party ahead of the 2023 elections, particularly for their governorship candidate.
However, the reverse was the case as the transporters resorted to the burning of the caps instead of adorning them. Intriguingly, the transporters, led by the chairman of the Task Force Committee of the Union in the state, Alhaji Taiye Olose, said: “We are burning the caps to show that the PDP led by the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has been rejected in their bid to reclaim the reins of leadership in Kwara State.
The PDP has nothing new to offer Kwarans after ruling for 16 years with nothing to show for it before they were sent packing in the 2019 polls.” Olose reiterated that, ‘ko su a wa o’, meaning that, as for them, they are not tired of Governor AbdulRazaq’s administration, amid the burning of the ‘O su wa’ caps of the PDP, with cheers from his ecstatic and jubilant comrades at the Post Office area, venue of one of the centres the burning operations were carried out.
The transporters were chanting: “Ko su wa o, Ramoni, ma se lo,” meaning that they are not tired of Governor AbdulRazaq’s administration and that he should be given the second chance to continue with his good works in the state.
Surprisingly, the transporters were seen ecstatically scrambling for the blue caps with the APC logo and adorning them. It would be recalled that the transport
unions in the state had variously lauded the governor for good governance, pledging their support to him.
Checks by New Telegraph revealed that both the transporters and artisans in the state had earlier resolved to reject the PDP and support the APC in the 2023 polls in Kwara State. Interestingly, the transporters had gathered at their different parks on the New Year eve and New Year day to sing in solidarity with incumbent Governor AbdulRazaq. However, the PDP has denied the burning of their ‘Osuwa’ caps, saying those who did such were hired by the state government to hoodwink the unsuspecting members of the public.
According to the PDP, “the okada riders in their hundreds have criticised Governor Abdul- Razaq’s administration for bringing calamity to Kwara with so many unfriendly policies and killing taxation imposed on transporters in the state since 2019.”
The okada riders, the PDP insisted, “unanimously condemned attempts by agents of AbdulRazaq’s government to use their association for political mischief to mislead the public about the evolving #Osuwa slogan, which has organically spread in the minds of average Kwarans.” The opposition party added that those faces in the videos are not known okada riders in the state but skit makers being sponsored by agents of the government to mislead the publi