When Senate President Bukola Saraki, Kwara state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed and almost 95 percent of federal and state lawmakers from Kwara state defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), many had thought all hope was lost for the APC in the state. The general belief in the political circle is that Saraki holds the key to the political direction in the state and his movement to PDP has finally sealed the fate of the APC.
However, recent developments in the state shows that Kwara APC, now under the leadership of Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture is prepared to give Saraki and the PDP a good run for their money in the 2019 elections.
Following the defections from the APC by federal lawmakers including those from Kwara State which was announced on the floor of the National Assembly by Saraki, Alhaji Mohammed , who hails from Oro in Irepodun local government council of the state visited the state to consult with stakeholders on how to strengthen the APC and ensure victory for the party in the state in 2019.
He was received by hundreds of enthusiastic party members and supporters, who followed him all the way from the airport in Ilorin to his hometown of Oro, where the meeting was held.
After the defection of Saraki, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, the Kwara state chairman of the PDP who had always claimed he cannot be in the same party with the Senate President announced his defection alongside scores of PDP members to the APC.
In a statement signed Chief Rex Olawoye, the Publicity Secretary of the party in Ilorin, the erstwhile PDP members who described Saraki as an “anathema,” said PDP members in the state could not work with him.
“I hereby officially announce the exit of our members from PDP to APC,” he said.
Olawoye who said with the defection, all political structures of the PDP at the ward, local government and state levels had moved to the APC appealed to all party members to maintain peace and orderliness in their conduct and behaviour.
“Unity is the primary ingredient that can make those of us coming from the PDP and leftover of APC members to live in harmony,” he added.
He said Oyedepo had met with the leadership of the PDP in Abuja and explained the resolve of party members not to work with Saraki.
Olawoye also said the chairman met with the national leadership of APC, including the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, as well as other chieftains of the APC.
He added that the defecting PDP members were warmly welcomed into the APC by the party’s leadership.
“Saraki and his cronies have been in the saddle of leadership of the state in the past 15 years with nothing to show for it,’’ he said.
Olawoye called on all registered political parties in the state to team up with the APC to ensure the total liberation of the state.
The gains recorded by the APC continued with the defection of Mr Sunday Babalola, a chieftain of the PDP, in Kwara, alongside 20,000 of his supporters to the APC.
Babalola, a governorship aspirant in 2015 on the platform of the PDP announced his defection in statement issued in Ilorin.
He said his perception about politics has been people oriented, and the PDP has deviated from such ideology, hence the need to move to the APC.
“As it is, our dear state needs urgent liberation from the over 45 years of deceit, oppression and primordial politics called ‘stomach infrastructure’
“It is time for our people to be liberated from those that have hold them hostage and have over the years subjected them to abject poverty and underdevelopment,” Babalola said.
He said it is the duty of government to advance the well-being of the citizens through the provision of infrastructure and amenities, human capital development and creating an environment conducive for businesses.
“I believe strongly that my state, Kwara, has been sadly and regrettably bedeviled with unprecedented underdevelopment occasioned by inappropriate policies, programmes and with little or no project executed,” he added.
He alleged that successive governments in the state have mismanaged its resources and said the APC presents better alternative to place the state on the path of development in 2019.
Babalola said that return of the Senate President Bukola Saraki and others to the PDP was one major reason behind his exit, adding that the party lacks integrity.
“I cannot be in the same political party with those I believe have plunged Kwara State into its current abysmal condition.
“So, I have decided to pitch my tent with the APC, where I believe still have some integrity in it,” he said.
Babalola said he has no ambition to contest in 2019, but only joined forces with people of like mind to rescue the state from “the shackles of poverty and oppression.”
He, however, promised to continue to offer his service and resources for the emancipation of the people.
In quick succession, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, another chieftain of the PDP in Kwara state also announced his defection with over 100,000 of his supporters to the APC in the state.
Abdulrahaman, a former governorship candidate of Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) who also contested with Senator Bukola Saraki in the last senatorial election in Kwara central said
“All my supporters have moved from the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC),we are talking in the region of over 100,000 electorates. Already, the national leadership of APC had sent 250,000 cards to kwara state in order to accommodate all of us.”
“Let me give you a clearer example, “In Kaima local government, 90% of the party members did not move to PDP,they remained where they were. Now 80% of Kwara north as a whole also stayed behind, even in Kwara central where I come from most people did not move with them, so there is a change in the horizon”
While reacting in reason for leaving the PDP he said, “Hitherto,we were in CPC and when the CPC merged with the ACN, they decided to bring in what you call the new PDP and we realised that the people coming from the new PDP were the people we could not work with, they were agents of destruction so we opted out of the alliance.
“And we warned them, but they didn’t agree with us, now you have seen the havoc they have done to our party. Now we are back home, where we belong.”
In his reaction, Alhaji Mohammed said the mass defections from the PDP to APC is a clear testimony that Kwarans have resolved to liberate themselves from the Saraki hegemony and dominance in the state.
“The truth of the matter is that the APC in Kwara today can only be stronger, the era of one man dominating the party is over. Kwarans, young and old, male and females are itching to take possession of the party and I am very confident that we are going to route him in the next election” he said.
However, speaking with our correspondent, Dr. Ali Ahmad, Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly said there are no defections from PDP to APC in Kwara saying those who are leaving are former members of the PDP faction loyal to Iyiola Oyedepo.
“There are no major defections from PDP to APC in Kwara. You know the PDP have two factions. One faction is with us, the other faction led by Iyiola Oyedepo left for APC. I think it is that faction that is moving to APC. There is no defection from PDP in Kwara. Not at all” he said.