Changing narratives on Gov. Ahmed’s relinquished senatorial seat

The ceding of kwara South senatorial ticket to Senator Rafiu Ibrahim by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, following fall out of recent House of Representatives bye-election conducted in the state, has continued to generate ripples in Kwara state, UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB writes on the changing narratives.
 
Different tales
Ibrahim is the incumbent senator representing kwara South senatorial district from Ibolo extraction of Kwara south. But Governor Ahmed, an Igbomina man on the other hand will be completing his two term tenure as governor of Kwara state by 2019.
Like many other ex- governors, Ahmed had wished to retire to the senate after his tenure as governor. He expressed his interest and emerged unopposed as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), candidate at a primary conducted in the state recently.
But following the outcome of November 17, 2018 House of Representatives bye-election, for Ekiti /Oke-Ero/ /Irepodun/ Isin constituency, Ahmed last week ceded the Kwara south senatorial ticket, which he had won to Senator Rafiu Ibrahim of Ibolo axis of the zone.
The election, which was keenly contested for by the APC and PDP, was won by the APC candidate. The election was a litmus test for the two major political parties ahead of the 2019 general elections in the state.
Prior to the bye-election, the PDP and APC had engaged one another in war of words with key players and big wigs within the two parties adopting different political gimmicks to outsmart each another. But at the end, it was victory for opposition APC.
Fall out 
For the PDP, it was a very bad outing for the party at the bye-election which saw the APC’s candidate emerged victorious. The results of the election apparently jolted the camp of the PDP in the state as a result of which key players in the party returned to drawing board to assess the poor performance of the party.
Consequently, the state governor, perhaps in an apparent realisation that the party might not receive the desired support should he chose to fly its flag opted to allow someone rooted in the grassroots politics of the area and the necessary unencumbered clout within the senatorial district to take up the battle. In all ramifications, the incumbent Senator by virtue of being serving senator has what its to take a go at the opponents and come out without bloody nose.
The many excuses
There have been series of arguments on why the governor actually ceded the seat to Senator Ibrahim. Some of the arguments being advanced were that the governor relinquished the ticket following the defeat suffered by the PDP in the recently conducted by-election to fill the vacant post in the Irepodun/Isin/Oke ero/Ekiti federal Constituency.
It was gathered that the Senate President and national leader of the PDP, Dr Bukola Saraki, who is also the political leader in Kwara state told the governor and other candidates contesting under the PDP to work hard and make sure that their party wins the by-election which he said would be the determinant of 2019 outlook, failure of which will affect the governor’s ambition, a claim punctured by the PDP.
The party also deny a media report that there is a panic in the party over the decision of Saraki to substitute Ahmed with another candidate over the fallout of the by-election.
 The PDP also debunked reports that Ahmed is under pressure to withdraw from the Kwara South senatorial race as a result of the aftermath of last Saturday’s by-election in Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin/Irepodun federal constituency.
Also Ahmed’s Personal Assistant on Political Matters, Lekan Alabi, had in a statement explained that his boss decided to cede the senatorial ticket to Ibolo in response to request by Kwara South leaders and in the interest of fairness and equity.
Putting the record straight
Reacting to the development, Senator Ibrahim, who is the beneficiary of the change in the PDP’s candidate for the zone, described as highly commendable the decision of the state Governor to cede the senatorial ticket following the pleas by Ibolo elders. 
This, he said has further affirmed Ahmed’s reputation as an advocate of fairness, equity and inclusion. Ibrahim, in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Ilorin, said the governor’s ceding of the ticket has nothing to do with recent bye-election.
He added: “The decision of Governor Ahmed to cede the senatorial ticket following the pleas by Ibolo elders is highly commendable and this has further affirmed his reputation as an advocate of fairness, equity and inclusion. This is indeed leadership by example.
“I think it is also important I clarify that Governor Ahmed’s decision to relinquish the ticket has nothing to do with the November 17 bye-election in Ekiti/Oke Ero/Isin/Irepodun Federal Constituency. The outcome of an election that was characterized by rigging, harassment and intimidation of voters could not have led the governor to withdraw from the senatorial race.
“You will recall that last week, on the floor of the Senate, I raised concerns about the conduct of the poll and the use of security operatives by the Federal Government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to intimidate voters as well as harass members of the PDP.
“It was on this basis the Senate directed its Committee on Police and National Intelligence to investigate the matter. I have no doubt that the PDP would have won the election if it was conducted in a free, fair and credible manner.
“Let me also use this opportunity to thank all the leaders of our party in my senatorial district and the state at large for demonstrating quality leadership and for their efforts in upholding the unity of the party. I hereby reiterate my unflinching loyalty and commitment to the entire structure of the party.
“I also would like to thank the good people of Kwara state for their continued support and belief in our great party, PDP despite all the calumnious campaign launched against our leaders and the party by desperate politicians in the state.
“I am confident that with the support of Kwarans, our party will triumph in the 2019 general elections.”
The new twist 
But on Sunday, a fresh reason was given for the governor’s ceding of the ticket to Senator Ibrahim.
It was at the monthly PDP stakeholders meeting held at the ‘charity home’ in Ilorin, the state capital on Saturday which was attended by the national leader of the party ,Dr. Bukola Saraki, Governor Ahmed ,and the party’ s governorship flag bearer, Razaq Atunwa, amongst others.
The real reason, according to the chairman of the PDP in Kwara Central, Alhaji Jimoh Adesina is that Governor Ahmed actually begged the Senate President Bukola Saraki to allow him relinquished the Kwara south senatorial ticket.
He said Governor Ahmed decided to relinquish the senatorial ticket in order to give the Ibolo axis of Kwara south senatorial district equal opportunity like the other two sections of the district; Igbomina and Ekiti.
Adesina, therefore, commended Governor Ahmed for his loyalty and commitment to the ideals of the Saraki dynasty.
Ahmed in high spirit
At the meeting, Governor Ahmed who was in high spirit, intermittently consulted with Saraki, while various speakers including women leaders, party elders and representatives of the youths made their contributions.
The governor equally nodded his head in affirmation of the revelations by Alhaji Jimoh Adesina. It seems though that there is larger political reason for the ceding which is in the larger interest of the party come 2019. The party interest therefore supersedes any individual ambition and Gov Ahmed played the role of a ‘good party man’ in this regard.
In his remarks, Governor Ahmed said God has” guided our political leader, Dr Bukola Saraki aright “.
Whether the ceding of the governorship ticket to Senator Ibrahim will placate the highly enlightened kwara electorate ahead of the 2019 general election is another topic of debate amongst analysts and observers of the unfolding political events in the state.
While some analysts are of the views that the strategy adopted by the PDP is a welcome development, other argued that it might be counterproductive.
What does the future holds for Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who had wished to retire into the senate like other former governors. These, among other issues, will be decided as the 2019 general elections draws nearer.

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