The past few months have witnessed the emergence of candidates of political parties in the country for the 2019 general elections. As such, different individuals and groups have been pitching tents with their respective candidates of choice – this is no doubt borne out of interest(s), which could be objective or subjective.
Political permutations and calculations are ongoing at various levels – from local to state and to the national scene. Candidates and parties are busy oiling their political machines in readiness for the 2019 polls.
In 2019, Kwara will be one of the few states to watch out for because of the current unique political situation of the State. Factors that have upped the state’s political atmosphere and that will shape the 2019 elections in the state are the agitation for liberation from one camp and the hope and determination of the other camp to hold on to power, interest of some powerful politicians in the APC in the politics of the state, choice of candidates of the two leading political parties, among other variables.
At the beginning of this year, I put up a write-up where I discussed the two governorship aspirants, who I felt represent the ideal governor Kwara needs considering the current status of the State – in terms of human and infrastructural development.
T h e e c o n o m i c p r o b l e m , infrastructural development and indeed moral bankruptcy among our teeming youths are the major problems plaguing the state. To solve these problems, I think the state needs in personality a governor with 21st century exposure as well as an insight into our cultural status as a State. Hence my suggestion of Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi and Lukman Olayiwola Mustapha as the kind of governorship materials Kwara so need.
But unfortunately, the two lost out to superior political permutations in the camps they both belong to. After all, all is fair in a war which has a semblance with politics. Kwarans are then left with the choice of Abdulrahman AbdulRazak and Abdulrasaq Atunwa of APC and PDP respectively. In making a choice between the duo of AA, as he is fondly called and Atunwa, Kwarans must look at the current situation of the state, vis-a-vis the personality, competence, compassion and passion, antecedents and indeed political will of each of the two aspirants we have been presented with by the two leading political parties.
In fidelity to observable facts, governance isn’t a function of neither magic nor rocket science. The developmental indices of the State have been on the declination path, hence the need for a chief executive that fulfills the entire requirement needed to lead the State to the promise land. Indeed, Kwara at this moment needs a leader with the manipulative prowess to think out of the box in a bid to increase the level at which the pace of our dear State moves development wise.
Bearing in mind that the days of going cap in hand to Abuja for revenue to run the state are over as federal allocation surely can’t meet up with the financial obligations of the state, harnessing both human and natural endowments of the state becomes highly imperative, hence the need for a chief executive with the prowess of managing human as well as the other resources in a sincere and purposeful manner with the sole aim of getting the state to the path of development.
Against this background, this piece attempts to analyze the strength and weakness of the two leading gubernatorial aspirants in the state.
The choice of Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq: His strengths
Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is the son of the Wali of Ilorin and first lawyer in the whole of Northern Nigeria. AA is an oil magnate and founder of First Fuels Nigeria limited. He is considered an homeboy due to his family background, hence seen as a core kwaran despite his obvious disconnection to the culture and ways of life of an average kwaran.
Abdulrahman has to his advantage a family that is very popular in the Emirate city. But does this translate to his connection cum acceptance to people at the grassroots? The answer is left to the general populace to give.
As a business mogul, better still a technocrat as many will like to call him, it is believed that his candidature will breathe new ideas into our polity and initiate new ways of doing things in a more productive way.
It is the hope of many that his experience in the business sector will help build the economy of the state through strategies and policies capable of wooing private investors to the state, who will in turn through corporate social responsibility and taxes, contribute to the economic development of the state. He has been likening to Donald Trump in many quarters. However, he has been viewed by some from the prism of a capitalist.
Considering the recent growing disenchantment with the ruling oligarchy in the State, coming on the platform of the opposition further proves to be an advantage to emergence as the chief executive. If this is indeed true, it signifies employment opportunities for the people and major economic development booster for the State.
Evidently, Abdulrahman has the right business and private sector exposure which will possibly manifest in the economic policies of his government. The APC guber candidate is not new to the political terrain of Kwara. It will therefore, be erroneous for anyone to call him a novice politician. A man who has been on the ballot as the governorship candidate of the then Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011 and later emerged as the Kwara Central senatorial candidate of the PDP in 2015 cannot be anyway regarded as a novice.
Abdulrahman has as weakness, his perceived disconnection from the grassroots. He is perceived in some quarters as not having done enough for his community and the State in general despite his wealth and riches. Some also see him as a capitalist and there are fears he may be feeding on the resources of the State if elected as governor, as those currently in the helms of affair are perceived to be doing.
In addition, questions have been raised on his intellectual ability, academic background and knowledge of governance. As we gradually move to the electioneering period, Abdulrahman must be ready to erase some of these doubts and provide answers to some questions that have been raised concerning his personality.
Amidst all these, one actual thing his candidacy promises is a taste of new leadership, a new way of governance and an anticipated economic development of the State.
Abdulrahman’s candidature. To some Kwarans, it is time to taste a new wine from another manufacturer. Thus, they want any alternative to end the current hegemony in the State.
Bringing further to the table as a governorship candidate is his influence. As a successful businessman, Abdulrahman wields a very high influence in the comity of Nigeria’s top businessmen as well as international big investors. After his announcement as the candidate of the APC, it was rumoured that some foremost Nigeria businessmen and women were in Kwara for a survey on the possible investments they can embark on in the state, in anticipation of his
The Choice of Atunwa
Atunwa, as fondly called among his political admirers, hails from Asa local government area of the state. Asa forms part of the four local governments that make up the Emirate.
Relatively, his family was brought to stardom by this man of the moment. They have a family house, Ile Elewuetu at Abemi in Ilorin. Atunwa had his first degree in Law and a master’s degree in International Law from the University of London. Before his sojourn into politics, he was a practicing lawyer having been called to the England and Wales bar in 1994, specializing in criminal and international law.
He joined the services of Kwara State during the tenure of his political leader and mentor, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki when was the governor of the State. In 2005, Saraki appointed Atunwa as the Commissioner for Land and Housing. He later served as commissioner in the Ministries of Information, Works and Power and Finance between 2006 and 2010.
Atunwa was elected honourable member representing Owode/Onire Constituency at the Kwara State House of Assembly in 2011 where he was unanimously elected the speaker of the House. Atunwa was later in 2015 elected as a member of the Federal House of Representative, representing Asa/Ilorin West federal constituency. On October 2, 2018 he emerged as the governorship candidate of the PDP for the 2019 general election.
Atunwa is a man that has been described as an intelligent entity with an eye for excellence; diligent and always outstanding according to the record of his services, though seen as an elitist by some of his staff. His eye for the best is equally seen as a quality the state needs most especially on education and infrastructure.
He is eloquent, analytical, savvy, experienced and exposed but with a questionable human relation, as some people see him as an arrogant person. His greatest asset according to reports is his eye for human development. No wonder the leader of the camp he belongs to says his choice was informed as a result of the members request for a human developer.
Atunwa, has to his advantage his experience in public service, having traversed all the three arms of government in his career, as a lawyer, a legislator and as a commissioner.
Just like AA, Atunwa is equally seen as having disconnected himself from the grassroots, particularly since his election into the House of Representatives. He has however tried to cover that through his recent community intervention projects. The Saraki camp he belongs to could also be a weakness and affect his chances in the coming election. This is because there is an increasing call among the populace for an end to the Saraki hegemony in the State.
Though he has an impressive performance in the House of Representatives, he performed exceedingly as Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly 2011-2015 and recorded great feats as Commissioner for Finance in 2010 and other previous offices held, there is a great concern among Kwarans that Atunwa may become another Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, whom they consider as a puppet to Saraki.
In 2019, Kwarans will definitely have to make a choice between Abdulrahman and Atunwa. But in making that choice, we must bear in mind that Kwara needs a governor that will place the interest and welfare of the masses first. Kwara needs a governor that will be committed to the overall development of our State.
We need a governor who understands our challenges and is armed with the pertinent solutions. Kwara needs a no-nonsense governor who has the political will to effect changes where necessary and not minding the interests of the elites and power brokers in the state. As 2019 draws nearer, I sincerely wish Kwarans all the best at the poll and pray that may the best candidate emerge.