What is the current political situation in Kwara State now?
Kwara State remains politically stable for many reasons. First, Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed has achieved high standards in governance. However, the main factor is that we continue to maintain the unique political structure which is headed by Senator Bukola Saraki. It is a structure which was founded by the late Dr Olusola Saraki and has survived till this day.
It is a misconception to say that Senator Bukola Saraki ‘inherited’ the structure in a narrow sense. As a matter of fact, he emerged as a leader of Kwara politics by virtue of his overwhelming acceptance by the people. So, he inherited the structure not as a son, but as any worthy successor would have.
But recently, the former Minister for Sports, Hon. Isa Ibrahim Bio, said that he cannot follow Senator Bukola Saraki. Isn’t that a blow to the structure?
Far from it. On the contrary, Isa Bio is a political lightweight in Kwara. All the offices he has held are on account of the Sarakis. So, Bio should come off his proverbial high horse. It is his loss if he chooses to now stop accepting the leadership of Bukola Saraki. He cannot make so much as a dent to the structure. He does not even command any popularity in his own local government, Baruten. To be sure, I’m sure you have noticed that not a single person from Baruten has spoken out in support of him.
So, why do you think he is now reacting in this way?
What the former minister has succeeded in doing is to show the world that he is disloyal. The purported basis of his discontent with Senator Saraki is wholly unfounded.
His main problem seems to be that Senator Saraki did not support him for the governorship slot in 2011. He then narrated an account of the events leading up to the primaries. That account was nothing short of a tissue of concocted half-truths.
I can speak authoritatively on the matter because I was a governorship aspirant myself in the 2011 elections. At the time when we were still trying to paper out the political cracks between Senator Saraki and his father, Bio was the first person to go and obtain the governorship form. Dr Olusola Saraki was still in PDP when Bio obtained the form. The rest of us obtained forms after the elderly Saraki had left PDP for ACPN. But he claims to have been an ardent follower of Oloye. I was in Abuja sometime in late 2010 with Gov. Bukola Saraki, as he then was, when Bio came to the Kwara Lodge to see him.
At that time he had gone ahead to obtain the governorship form. He then informed the governor that he intended to contest for the position. He didn’t come to ask for advice or permission or endorsement. He simply came to notify the governor. As any reasonable person would have done, Governor Saraki simply acknowledged the notification. To suggest that Bukola Saraki asked him to obtain the form is disingenuous.
For the avoidance of doubt, Senator Saraki, as governor, never anointed any of the aspirants at the early stages. Nor did he promise anyone the ticket. Ask the present Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed. Even he didn’t know he would be the candidate until the last minute. There were five of us from the same stable, namely myself, Bio, Senator Ahmed, Professor Oba AbdulRaheem and AbdulFatah Ahmed.
We all had a meeting where we agreed that Senator Saraki should pick a candidate among us. We agreed that once he picked anyone we would withdraw from the race and support the candidacy of that person. This agreement was in writing, I drafted it myself and we all signed it and it was delivered to Bukola Saraki.
So, it is quite baffling that Bio is now suggesting that Saraki had promised him the ticket. If he had such an assurance, why would he be part of such an agreement?
Why did you consider him as being disloyal?
The fact that he now turns round to peddle falsehood against the very man, Bukola Saraki, who supported and nurtured him throughout his political career, is an act of gross disloyalty.
Bio had been a commissioner, then became a member of the House of Representatives in 1999. In 2003, he became Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly. He was re-elected as Speaker in 2007. In December 2008, he became Minister for Transport and later Minister of Sports.
Firstly, this shows that he has been a prime beneficiary of top political positions through the Sarakis. Second, it shows that Bukola Saraki stood by him. If Bukola Saraki didn’t want him return as Speaker, he would not have made it. It was Bukola Saraki who nominated him to become minister and ensured that he got a Grade-A Ministry.
When the cabinet was dissolved in March 2007, he was one of the very few, if not the only minister, who was returned to the federal cabinet. I was aware; as Bio was that another name had been submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan from other quarters to replace Bio. But Bukola Saraki stood by him and persuaded the president to reappoint him in April 2010. You will recall that at that time the directive of the president was for the governors to submit three names out of which he would choose one. But Bukola Saraki insisted that Bio was his sole nominee.
Seemingly, Bio has conveniently forgotten this very recent history. How ungrateful man can be.
But the former minister is also saying that Senator Saraki abandoned him?
This is part of the ingratitude that Bio suffers from. Bio cannot deny that Senator Saraki offset the expenses he incurred at that period. Bukola Saraki never abandoned any one of us. For example, Prof Oba AbdulRaheem was made the Director-General of the Governorship.
Campaign Organisation after which Senator Saraki worked his return to the Federal Character Commission. I was given the ticket to become member of the State Assembly and emerged as Speaker. Even, the person who was DG of my governorship campaign, Bolaji Abdullah became Minister for Youth Development and today he is the best Minister of Sports this country has ever had. Under him, we’ve won the African Cup of Nations, Under 17 World Cup, and now the
first African country to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
What do you think will happen to Kwara PDP?
All is well in Kwara. The people of Kwara remain staunchly behind the leadership of Bukola Saraki. We believe in the cause he’s fighting. He is simply agitating for inclusiveness and internal democracy in the party. A party must have regard for the yearnings of its members and articulate the views of the masses. This is what we practice here in Kwara. The leadership considers opinions from all quarters and every level. Bukola Saraki regularly meets everyone from ward
level to district, to constituency, to state level. That is the inclusiveness that he’s agitating for at the centre and we whole-heartedly support him.