ILORIN – In the two previous times he has led political parties to presidential election in Kwara state, Bukola Saraki, the incumbent Senate President, succeeded in seeing the parties recording victory. He led the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2011 and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 and won with the parties on both occasions.
Saraki was the governor of the state between 2003 and 2011. However, in 2003 and 2007 when he won as governor on the platform of the PDP, the party was then led to victory in both governorship and presidential election by his father, Olusola Saraki, the then political kingmaker of the state.
But, in 2011, after his father had left the PDP, Saraki led the party successfully in presidential election as President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP candidate enjoyed victory over his main opponent, Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC).
Before the 2015 presidential election was conducted, Saraki had, alongside his supporters, left the PDP to join the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) and was now in the same camp with Buhari whom he had helped Jonathan to defeat in the state in 2011.
His exit from the PDP before the 2015 elections meant that he was no longer in the ruling party at the national level as the APC was an opposition party at the time. This development appeared to make it more difficult a task for him to lead his party to victory at the presidential poll in the state as he had done four years earlier.
However, the politician was not perturbed by the fact that he was leading an opposition party as he was exhuming confidence that his party would win. Before the election, he boasted that the PDP will be defeated in the presidential election in the state and this was what happened. Buhari the APC candidate won the state and eventually the presidential election.
The 2019 election is now coming up with Saraki no longer in the APC but, again, in the PDP. Alongside his supporters, he returned to the PDP after what appeared to be unresolvable disagreement with the leadership of the APC making him to, for the second time, find himself leading an opposition party for a presidential election in the state.
When Saraki led the APC to win the presidential election in Kwara, the APC, though an opposition at the national level was the ruling party in the state. This was because the state governor and majority members of the state House of Assembly were his loyalists and they moved with him to the APC. The same thing is happening now as these his loyalists also returned with him to the PDP. This could mean that the governmental influence at the state level he enjoyed in winning in 2015 is still there for him in 2019.
However, some factors appear to be making the situations in 2015 different from this now. In 2015. While there was not a serious opposition among residents of the state against political leadership of Saraki in the state, there seemed to be a general disenchantment among the people with the then administration of Goodluck Jonathan who was re-contesting for the presidential seat. This time however, There seems to be a great opposition among the residents against Saraki’s leadership and while many appeared to be tired of the administration of President Buhari many other seem to be delighted with the president for what they see as his unfavourable dispositions towards Saraki.
Many of these people who look passionately desirous of an end of Saraki as the political leader of the state are identifying with the APC to see their desire achieved. This make the campaign slogan of the APC “O to ge (enough is enough) appears to be very popular in the state.
Saraki has been at loggerheads with President Buhari and leadership of the APC since the party formed the government and the politician emerged the Senate President in 2015. While this crisis led to his exit of the party, he continues to face opposition from the leaders of the party who appear determined to clip his APC wings and rendered him a inconsequential in the politics of the country.
During the presidential campaign rally of the APC in the state recently, The leaders of the party including Bola Tinubu and Adams Oshiomhole said the party was determined to discipline Saraki for his alleged treachery and to liberate his state from alleged political bondage he makes the state to suffer.
Tinubu who is the National Leader of the APC described Saraki as a traitor and an virtuous-lacking politician and said the party intended to discipline him with a loss at the poll.
The APC leader who clarified that the party was not fighting the political dynasty the Saraki’s father, Olusola, established said the party want to use the election as celebration of freedom of people of the state from alleged anti-people politics of Saraki.
He stated: “It’s been a long time they have been deceiving you. Bukola has been deceiving you. We are not here to fight Baba Saraki’s family because Gbemisola is here and she is his daughter. But today we have come to discipline Bukola. He is a traitor. He is a slave master. This campaign is therefore the celebration of your freedom, it is the celebration of the falling Berlin Wall of the politics of Kwara, it is the end of the oligarchy, the end of the emperor that didn’t exist until recently.”
In his own remarks, Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the party, said he was anxiously waiting for the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections to celebrate the fall of Saraki from the control tower of Kwara politics.
“We have come to celebrate the end of Bukola’s tenure. “When I saw the crowd on the roadside and listened to what they were saying, I concluded that indeed the end has come for him. I cannot wait for Saturday to see Kwara people celebrate their new freedom.
“It will be a day for Kwara people and young poltiicians to realise that the evil a political godson has done to a political godfather will be meted back to him. For 16 years Bukola has overbooked your indebtedness.
“For Bukola politics is all about juicy jobs; that was his complain here in Ilorin the day we showed him the way out of APC. He said out of 200 jobs none was given to him and Dogara. Everything that has a beginning must have an end. The time of the oppressor is over. That is the case of kwara and the case of Bukola.”
At the APC presidential rally held at the Ilorin Metropolitan Square was a massive crowd of people from across all the local government areas of the state. The people not pnly hailed Buhari but also expressed delight as the leaders of the APC castigated Saraki.
The crowd is being argued to be larger than the one witnessed when the campaign rally of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was held at the same venue weeks earlier. Some observers would however not want a reliance of the largeness of the crowds at rallies of both parties in determining what outcome of the election would be. They are saying many a times the size of crowds at rallies do not determine what result of election would be.
The observers noted that while the crowd at Jonathan’s rally in the state in 2015 appeared to be larger than that of Buhari’s, Buhari, with his APC led in the state by Saraki, still won the election with a landslide victory.