NIGERIA: Ahmed’s Curious Re-election Battle

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The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed may have set off a subtle re-election campaign, writes Hammed Shittu

Although, the incumbent governor of the state, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed has not come out publicly to declare his intention to seek a second term, his alleged body language has since confirmed that he is more than keen about his re-election.

His kinsmen from Kwara South senatorial district have not slept for a while now as they have been consulting and mobilising various pressure groups in the senatorial district to convince the political leader of the APC in the state, Senator Bukola Saraki on the need to offer a second term ticket to their son in next year’s election.

Even at the legislature, some members of the state House of Assembly, who are mainly from Kwara South, have also thrown their weight behind the second term agenda of the governor.

Recently, a group, Kwara South Consultative Forum at a press conference in Ilorin, appealed to Saraki to grant their request for a second term. The group said the present administration has worked enough to sustain the continuity agenda of the Saraki administration and should be allowed to complete the programmes in the overall interest of the Kwara people.

The group also noted that since Kwara Central senatorial district has occupied the slot for two terms during Saraki’s administration, the people of Kwara South should be obliged a second term ticket through the incumbent.

Apart from this, during the just concluded Eid-el-Fitri in Ilorin, the re-election campaign posters of the governor were pasted in strategic locations in the state capital, especially on all the roads leading to the Ilorin Praying Ground. It was obviously the brainchild of the people of Kwara South.

Thus, in the bid to further ensure that the opportunity does not elude Kwara South, political office holders in the state recently formed a committee headed by the Commissioner for Finance. Alhaji Demola Banu to commence intensive enlightenment and mobilisation drive across the length and breadth of seven local government councils making up the Kwara South.
The councils are Isin, Ifelodun, Oyun, Offa, Irepodun, Ekiti and Oke-Ero local governments.

Members of the group include serving commissioners, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistant, Special Assistant, Liaison Officers, Youths coordinators among others that are from Kwara South and currently serving with the Ahmed administration

However, the development, according to THISDAY checks may not be unconnected with the current agitation from certain quarters in the state to return the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Kwara Central because the zone enjoys huge population in the state

It was also gathered that the people of Kwara Central are interested in the governorship position despite having occupied the position for twelve years – four years during the late former governor Muhammed Lawal and eight years of Saraki.

Sources close to Kwara South said the prevailing opinion in the area now especially within the APC circle is that it should be allowed to take a second shot at the office in 2015 by Alhaji Ahmed return. There are also those who believe that in the interest of equity and justice, Kwara South should have a second term at the governorship while the slot should go to the north thereafter.

In demonstration of this commitment, the political office holders from Kwara South who had formed a committee have increased their enlightenment and mobilisation drive in the state.

Though the campaign for Ahmed’s second term bid was hidden under an exercise of sensitisation and mobilisation of the people of the district to come out for voters’ registration exercise when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the collection of voters’ permanent card for the next year’s election, it is obvious now that it is not unconnected with the governor’s ambition. The exercise has since taken the committee around the state including Ajase-Ipo and Offa.

During some of their visits to identified places, the group had told the people to come out and register for them to have permanent voters card and be able to elect the candidates of their choice. The group therefore seized the opportunity to explain away the achievements of the incumbent governor and the need to sustain the current leadership.

Some of the comments made by people in places visited by the group, a source said, were for the leader of the party in the state, Saraki to allow Ahmed seek a second term in office and continue to build on the legacies of the immediate past administration.
But other political office holders in the two other senatorial districts of Kwara Central and North saw the agenda as divisive on the part of their colleagues from the South. Their grouse was that their colleagues from the South should have involved them in such a move since they are members of the same party and working with the same governor.

Against this development, the thinking now is that those political office holders from the South may have difficulties pushing through their agenda because the choice of the candidate of the party for the governorship will depend on the political exigency at the time, since the PDP, the major opposition party in the state is also working round the clock to unseat the APC.

But generally, the choice of who picks the APC governorship ticket rests solely on both the political leader of the party, Saraki and other stakeholders because the election of next year remains a major battle that the Saraki dynasty must win, a situation that makes the choice of the candidate critical.

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