President Goodluck Jonathan’s recent visit to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, is part of a greater plan by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to reverse the gains made by the opposition in the state, reports SUCCESS NWOGU
The recent visit of President Goodluck Jonathan and other leading figures in the Peoples Democratic Party to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, will remain indelible in the annals of political development in the ‘State of Harmony’.
Jonathan’s visit to the state attracted a crowd never before assembled by an opposition political party seeking to displace a party in power.
The battle for political space between the opposition PDP and Kwara’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, promises to be an interesting one come 2015.
Kwara State, which until a few months ago, was a PDP-controlled state, lost that status when the state Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, his political godfather, Senator Bukola Saraki as well as most members of the state House of Assembly, defected to the APC.
Jonathan left no one in doubt about his determination to return Kwara to the PDP umbrella. To underscore the level of seriousness he attached to the project, he came to Ilorin with the party’s first eleven.
Some of them included Vice-President Namadi Sambo; the Senate President, David Mark; PDP Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu; and Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih.
Others include, Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, Godswill Akpabio; Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke; Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Yomi Awoniyi; two former National Chairmen of the party – Banabas Gemade and Ali Ahmad – PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, and Kema Chikwe among others.
In order to ensure that the gathering was made more profound, the party leadership formally welcomed prominent politicians in the state, who were either returning to the PDP fold or were defecting from the APC.
Those in this category included the governorship candidate for the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria in 2011, Dele Belgore (SAN); Bunmi Olusona; Gbemi Saraki; former Kwara State governorship candidate for the Congress for Progressives Change, AbdulRahman Abdulrazaak; son of the late former governor of the state, Hakeem Lawal; Bilkisu Gambari among others.
An obviously elated Jonathan appeared impressed by this and what some observers described as a show of unity among the hitherto opposing PDP camps. He said he was in Kwara to liberate and unite the various interests in the overall interest of the party.
In a veiled reference to the APC, the President said the PDP was a democratic party which did not encourage godfathers nor dictatorship, which he noted, were detrimental to service delivery and the true spirit of democracy.
Jonathan said, “Today, we are here for this unity rally. We are to declare freedom to Kwara people. We have brought men and women who have made it possible for us to be here and who we are also receiving to our fold.
“These are great men and women of Kwara State. The crowd we have seen here is greater than the crowd we met in 2011. That shows that if you are not here, then you are not playing politics.”
In his remarks, Sambo recalled how Kwara State played prominent role in Nigeria’s agricultural advancement and expressed the party’s determination to return the state back to its glorious era.
Earlier, when it was the turn of the National Chairman of the party, Mu’azu to speak, he did not mince words about the party’s desire to have those who left the party’s fold to return.
Not everyone in the crowd agreed with him on this score, as there were loud shouts of disapproval from the mammoth crowd.
The PDP chairman however pleaded with the restive crowd, “Please, forgive them.” Mua’zu also said it was unfortunate for those who had gone because the people of Kwara have decided “that today is their day of freedom.”
However, the leader of the APC in the state, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had told all those who cared to listen that neither he, the state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, nor members of the APC were bothered about what the PDP was doing.
Saraki said, “PDP came first with 255, 000 votes in 2011 governorship election; the next party that came second was ACN. Majority of PDP is now in APC.
“Also, majority of Action Congress of Nigeria is now in APC. When you now combine them, you will know we are formidable.”
The time for the people to decide which party rules the state come 2015, may be 12 months away, the people of the state are not likely to forget the day that the President visited Ilorin.
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