excerpts of the interview
There is believe from some quarter, ruling party (APC) in particular, that zoning of 2023 guber ticket to Kwara North by PDP, was idea of Senator Bukola Saraki’s in order for him to recapture political power in the state. As a passionate advocator for power shift to Kwara North. What can you say about this?
I appreciate the fact that you clearly clarified your statement about the zoning of Governorship Ticket to Kwara North by the People’s Democratic Party in 2023. Truly, it is those in the ruling party (APC) that see this development as a strategy to recapture power in the State. It is obviously a political thinking, and politicians would always think that way. We may as well consider those against Kwara North’s agitation in APC as also a strategy to hold on to power, sustain political relevance and patronage. But for people like us, and consciencious Kwarans that are very familiar with our over 54years history as a State; conversant with political dynamics, governance and development of our dear State, would no doubt, have contrary views to above assertion.
As a passionate advocator, as you rightly put it, I see the political developments in my dear State from complex other variables which would definitely be presented crystal-clear, without any political faux or adulteration. The area referred as Kwara North consist of Baruten, Edu, Kaiama, Moro and Patigi LGAs. According to the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) 2013, Kwara Central has the largest demography of 38.13%, Kwara North 31.90% (second largest) and Kwara South 30.00%. Also, a look at the 34,467.5km² landmass of the State shows that Kwara Central has a landmass of 6.06% (the least), Kwara North 75.34% (the largest), and Kwara South 18.60% (the second largest). A painstaking analysis of the Federal Allocations of the 16 LGAs of Kwara by the RMAFC from 2003-2019 shows that out of over #330 Billion earned by the LGAs; Kwara Central got 29.25%, Kwara North 38.57% (the highest), and Kwara South 32.18%. It would interest you to know that Baruten for instance, consistently ranked no. 1 in the hierachy of this allocation, while Kaiama, Edu, Moro and Patigi ranked 4, 5, 8 and 9 respectively, this shows the extent of value these LGAs add to our dear State. Likewise, between 2015-2016, Kwara North contributed the most IGR to the State according to KWAREVE, a monthly publication of the Kwara Internal Revenue Service, making up 49.38% (highest), while Central had 39.32% and South 21.37%.
Furthermore, if we inquire about the food / cash crops production; fisheries / forestry resources; grazing reserves / livestock resources etc, you would agree no less that Kwara North is the umbilical cord of our dear State, and also has the only international border community in Kwara State, along the Baruten axis. The essence of all these background information is to establish that Kwara North is not a minority, and contributes the most in terms of resources, and holds the largest stake in the State of Harmony.
But then, we have never enjoyed any sense of political belonging. Since the creation of the State as it currently stands, no Kwara Northerner has ever governed the State for a complete single term of 4 years, despite our stake in Kwara. The one and only time we had a Kwara Northerner was between January 1992- November, 1993. In 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic rule, late Gov. Muhammad Alabi Lawal (of blessed memory) was the Governor from then till 2003; Gov. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, also from Kwara Central, took over from 2003-2011, all making 12 years from the same zone. In 2011, Gov. AbdulFattah Ahmed from Kwara South took over till 2019 (8years), in all this history, Kwara North has played crucial role and sacrifice in not only upholding this tenet of rotation, but also sustaining our harmonious long togetherness. Therefore, there is no wrong time for Kwara North to demand its genuine political right in the affairs of Kwara State. In fact, every Kwara Northerner agrees with power shift to the zone, the only difference is the timing. While some see it in the perspective of 2023, others see it in 2027.
In 2019, we blamed, condemned and were angered by the PDP’s pace setting of non zoning of its gubernatorial ticket to Kwara North. The All Progressives Congress (APC) emulated the PDP, justifying unofficially that it could only win elections by also picking its flagbearer from same zone as the PDP, and the rest is history today. This means that APC based its flagbearer’s choice on PDP’s decision and emulated same. I therefore wonder how and why anyone would in 2023 consider the PDP’s decision on zoning to Kwara North a fallacious strategy by PDP or Saraki to recapture power? We all saw how the Kwara Central and Kwara North’s respective blocs in PDP democratically struggled, and debated before the PDP’s final decision ended in favour of Kwara North on the principles of equity, fairness and justice. We haven’t seen such democratic debates, and struggle in the APC, but a blanket support for the Gov. AA’s re-election which is obviously unnatural, fake and not in tandem with the altruistic aspirations of our people, both death and alive to have the best of Kwara North as a Governor of Kwara State. HE Bukola Saraki is the first former two term governor of the State, and also a former President of the Senate, this makes him not only very influencial, but also a factor in both Kwara and Nigeria politics. However, the zoning to Kwara North is about a moral obligation and accomplishment of the fair, equitable and just demand of our people. That is my own perspective about this development.
No doubt, you have many political gladiators in the zone, just like other zones, how are your going to ensure that sellable aspirant clinch guber ticket of a major political parties?
God in his great Knowledge and Wisdom created us into nations, tribes, regions and even Senatorial Districts, not because we are better than one another, but to appreciate our diversity and turn it to strength in love and unity. Kwara North like other Senatorial Districts has all it takes to make Kwara better by far. This is one of the objectives of this power shift struggle. We want the best of Kwara North to emerge as the next Governor of the State in 2023 through a touchstone that is established by Kwarans. This would ensure we have not just a Governor, but a leader that would perform extraordinarily in sustainable good governance and quality service delivery. To achieve this, we had done the needful already. We engaged Kwarans across board to know the kind of Governor they want from us (Kwara North), the response has been very impressive and that would guide and determine who we fly and support as our candidate in the forthcoming election to lead us to victory. We know Kwara State, have full grasp of our problems as a people and of course; have the solutions as well. So, our business is the good people of Kwara State, who will buy our product through decision with their votes. We would mobilize only for that political party that honour us with the best Kwara Northerner for Kwara in the coming elections, in shaa Allah.
I want to believe that you are aware that some people from the zone, are already saying they can not trade development the zone is enjoying under this government with parochial interest of some politicians alleged to be championing power shift, what is your view of this?
Firstly, Kwara Northerners are unanimous that it is equitable, fair and just to have one among us as the Executive Governor of Kwara State. We all know and agree that we are politically excluded, systemically marginalized and that having Executive Governor of the State from the best amongst our people would bridge the gap. Some are of the opinion that His Excellency Governor AA has constitutional backing for a second term, and that he is doing his best, therefore should be supported for another term, with feeble expectation that it would be our turn in 2027. I deem it feeble because; it is a wishful thinking with no concrete arrangement or effort in that direction. Something can never be built on nothing.
Secondly, another school of thought (which I share) holds that constitutional allowance for a second term is not mandatory, and that equity, fairness and justice which is a superseding fundamental principle of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, compared to a second term ambition of the Governor, ordinarily ought to be enough ground for Kwara North which has never had a complete single term as a Governor in a State that belongs to us all. In fact, I think Governor AA should not only be magnanimous enough to sacrifice his second term ambition for our people who overwhelmingly supported him to win in 2019, but also considerate and selfless to support a Kwara Northerner in his political party to emerge in 2023. Doing that would earn him a special place in the history of not only Kwara, but also our dear country; Nigeria. I urge him to be the Nelson Mandela of the State of Harmony, and a friend in need to the people of Kwara North, by supporting that zone to actualize her gubernatorial aspiration.
Thirdly, there is no administration that would ever be useless, just like none can ever be perfect. This is to say that every administration would have its gains (areas of success) and pains (inadequacies). The present administration recorded gains in the payment of Kwara’s accumulated counterpart funds, which provided a good leverage to embark on reconstruction of schools across the State. The administration also recruited teachers for SUBEB and TESCOM in a very outstanding and a largely transparent manner, renovated hospitals, constructed 1 kilometre roads in each LGAs and recently implemented consequential adjusted monthly minimum wage of civil servants, among other things.
On the other hand, this administration deoxygenated the third tier of government in the State, through truncation of the tenure of democratically elected Councils, and substitution of same with a “TIC” that has been at different time pronounced “illegal” and “Executive rascality” by various Courts of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria. This government also maintains the Kwara State JAAC Law 2012 that allows unjust, inequitable and unfair utilization of funds of LGAs with huge monthly allocations for others, leaving them to suffer amidst abundance. Does one donate blood while in anemic condition? Freedom of Information (FOI), adjudged to be a sine qua non for good governance has been a mirage. The Bill widely promoted by Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD) is in coma as we speak. Painstaking scrutiny of history of appointments both political, Chief Executive, Heads of Agencies, Parastatals, and constitution of Boards has been crassly lopsided and not conforming to antecedence, equity, fairness, and justice. In some cases, one sees deliberate disregard of the extant laws establishing such bodies, thereby portraying unhealthy impressions. Otherwise, how does one explain the non appointment of two other Permanent Members, and substantive Executive Secretary of SUBEB (against the extant laws), more than thirteen and half months after the appointment of the Executive Chairman, and one other Permanent Member, while the Board operates in full capacity? Who then represents the interest of those areas without Permanent Members in the Board? I think the Kwara House of Assembly should look into these laws and amend them to avoid this kind of injustice. The amendment should ensure Boards are properly constituted even before some functions can be performed by the Boards. Likewise, distribution of projects, opportunities and new institutions since 2019 have not been aligning with the concept of utmost need and areas of comparative advantages.
With above comprehensive explanations therefore, the power shift demand by us cannot be rationally deemed “parochial”, but critical issues based. Of course, the adjudged “development” being used to justify a second term is not extraordinary (anybody can do this as well), it is unsustainable, and not in tandem with the truest sustainable developmental need of Kwara North. Baruten my LGA (and many others in Kwara) can construct more than one kilometre roads, construct boreholes, and even do other better things with appropriate political will of the government. We therefore cannot suffocate the LGAs as the third arm of government, and think we are doing the right thing, performing their functions. It is just like prescribing acetaminophen for headache resulting from chronic typhoid infection. Most importantly, governance is continuum, this means every goverment would do its best and leave the rest for others to complete, build-on or rebuild as the prevailing circumstances demand. Power shift demand is therefore about equity, fairness and justice for the politically excluded people of Kwara North on one side, and then issues of good governance, sustainable developments, quality service delivery that is utmost need inclined; equitable, fair and just wealth distribution of the State for all.
If it happen that it is only PDP that eventually pick its guber candidate from the zone, are you saying that all vote from entire kwara North will go to PDP?
The People’s Democratic Party’s choice of honouring Kwara North with its platform for gubernatorial elections in the 2023 is laudable. It is a right, just, fair and equitable decision. I want to review your statement that; “if PDP eventually pick its guber candidate…”; it is no longer conditional, my Brother. It is certain that PDP would pick its candidate from Kwara North. I implore other political parties in the State to also emulate the Kwara PDP in this just course. It would be fallacious for me to say; “all vote from entire Kwara North will go to PDP” or any other party that picks its candidate from our zone. Refer to my earlier responses that some Kwara Northerners, especially in the ruling party (APC) believe in the Governor’s second term. I said some, because there is division even within that party on this subject matter. There were initial doubts in Kwara North that PDP would never zone its guber ticket to us, but that is a past now. Because those who doubted this initially are now ready to queue-in to the struggle. The greatest determinant of people’s votes to PDP would now be the candidate flown by the party. Our people don’t just want a Kwara Northerner as a governor to occupy space, but one who would be a leader for Kwarans, serve with fear of God and then take the State to sustainable greater heights. Don’t misunderstand me, the zoning of Governorship seat to Kwara North by PDP is already a huge factor in Kwara North votes, but above is needed to consolidate that gain to greater level in the coming elections. We have been engaging Kwarans, especially our people on the kind of candidate they want to be presented by the PDP or any political party that wishes to fly a candidate from our area. As for me, and many others I know, we would support only political party(ies) that not just honours Kwara North with its platform, but also a candidate with qualities that aligns with what Kwarans want and quality service delivery prerequisite of the State.
Lastly, I urge Kwara North youths to imbibe decorum in their advocacy for or against their own community’s fair, just and equitable power shift demand. They must tread softly, and be cautious of what they write or say in public. I also advise our youths to maintain political discourse, not political extremism. The most important thing is the selfless and altruistic postures of our political orientation, hence very needless to fight or create enmity. We must respect one another’s views and political orientation. God bless the State of Harmony.