A fortnight ago, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the names of 35 candidates that would run for governor in Kwara state. In this report, KEHINDE OSASONA identifies the serious contenders and those who are in the game to make up the numbers.
Prince Ayorinde Adedoyin – The Technocrat (AP)
Justifying his foray into the murky water of politics, Prince Ayorinde Adedoyin, son of billionaire business mogul Chief Samuel Adedoyin and the governorship candidate of Accord Party in Kwara state, was quoted to have said the fate of the long-suffering people of Kwara state compelled him to join politics.
Adedoyin, who has since unveiled a policy document that will guide him to transform the political economy of the state, if elected, said time has come for the state to be rebuilt after many years of stunted growth.
According to him, in about 20 years of democratic governance in Nigeria, Kwara state has not brought the much-needed socio-economic transformation to the people.
The Accord Party candidate decried the level of poverty in the state, saying the people were the victims of maladministration and bad leadership.
The critical focus of the party’s policy interventions, according to him, has been designed to respond to critical sectors of the state’s economy like human capital, industrialisation, agriculture and energising small scale businesses.
The Agbamu prince who is the younger brother to the late member of the House of Representatives, Funke Adedoyin, like any other ambitious young men, appears to be basking in the euphoria of the Not Too Young To Run law in actualising his ambition.
Also, he is banking on the influence of the patriarch of the family, Chief Samuel Adedoyin, whose business legacy remains on the lips of many Kwarans.
Accord Party has no strong leanings across the state. Also, it is doubtful if their candidate has the financial muscle to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in the state.
Barrister Manzuma Issa (ADC) – The dark horse
Barrister Manzuma Issa, the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the state, was the immediate past chairman of the Ilorin branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).
He said he would deploy his professional training, leadership skills and experience to reflect positively on development agenda of the state.
Issa has also pledged that his administration would provide a better alternative to governance and execute people-oriented programmes for the progress of the state if elected in this year’s polls.
The Kwara North-born legal practitioner is arguably the dark horse of the impending political battle. Apart from the fact that his party has wider spread across the 16 local government areas, agitation for governorship slot by his Kwara North kith and kin is yet to wane.
The agitation informed President of the Senate Bukola Saraki’s decision to sign an memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the leaders and traditional rulers in the area, promising that power would rotate to their area in 2023. So, it would be suicidal to write him off at this inception.
Issa is not only a new entrant into the Kwara political firmament; he is also contesting for the coveted seat in the state for the first time.
He is not known to possess a fat purse or godfather which has become a tradition in the state, and this might seriously count against him. Not only that, his acceptability in the other two senatorial districts is another factor to contend with.
Abdulrahman Abdulrasak (APC) – The game changer
Abdulrahman, an astute private sector player who is into oil and gas, is one of the elite and a thorough-bred son of Ilorin Emirate.
He had been on the ballot once when Muhammadu Buhari was their presidential candidate. He was the governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) when he contested against the incumbent PDP governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, and lost in 2011.
Nevertheless, it seems that his new quest has prepared him for the task ahead. Today, he is the face of ‘O toge’ which means ‘enough is enough’ movement which has now metamorphosed into a campaign slogan.
Abdulrazak was quoted on several occasions to have decried serial ppression, economic exploitation, arrogant discriminations, deceit, underdevelopment and state-sponsored repression in his home state of Kwara, assuring that every blot on the fortunes of the state would cease in May 29, 2019.
A successful businessman by all standards with enough financial muscle, Abdulrasak would be a hard nut to crack for the Saraki-led PDP in the state.
Also, the elite in Ilorin Emirates and deserters who have scores to settle with the Saraki dynasty appears to have given him full support in his quest to crush the embattled Senate president come 2019.
He is banking on the federal might just like the then Saraki APC did during the 2015 elections to dislodge Saraki and his cohorts.
Many still consider him a political neophyte who is yet to learn the nitty-gritty and the peculiarities associated with Kwara politics. Aside from that some have also alleged that they have been finding it difficult to access to him.
Comrade Isa Aremu (LP) – The reformer Comrade Issa Aremu is a member, National Institute, Kuru, Jos; vice-president, Industrial Global Union and the General Secretary of ational Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN).
Giving reasons for running for governor, Aremu described Kwara as “suffering a huge development deficit,” saying that the state “presently begs for development and salvation from bad governance.”
“I offer to lead our dear state through selflessness, statesmanship, entrepreneurship, compassion, managing diversity, equality, inclusiveness, sense of justice and fairness,” he said.
Lending support for his candidacy, the first democratically-elected governor of Kaduna state in the Second Republic, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said the Labour Party chosen by Aremu to actualise his aspiration is part of progressive families committed to socialist transformation of Nigeria.
Aremu’s strengths lie in his activities over the years as a core labour activist, social reformer and public commentators whose voice and stance on issues of national interest has always been respected.
Not only that, his party, the Labour Party, has made some mileage and covered some places. Also, a handful of supporters in the state had before this time mobilised heavily to make the party a formidable one in 2015.
He is not a strong candidate and not popular politically. Even at that, he still has strong and rooted forces to contend with.
Razak Atunwa (PDP) – The anointed one
Razak Atunwa is a member of the House of Representatives representing Asa/Ilorin West federal constituency. He is presently the chairman, Committee on Justice and currently heads the committee investigating corruption in the award of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245.
Atunwa studied law at the University of East London, and obtained his Master’s Degree (LLM) in International Law from the University of London in 1993. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in October 1994 by the Inner Temple Inns of Court.
After years of practice as barrister-at-law in London, Atunwa returned to Nigeria in 2005 to join politics and was appointed as the Commissioner for Land and Housing in Kwara state in August 2005;
Commissioner for Information and Home Affairs (2006 – 2007); Commissioner for Works and Transport (2007 – 2009) and Commissioner for Finance (2009 – 2010).
It would not be out of place to say that he has immense experience in governance having being a legislator, a Speaker of the Assembly at the inauguration of the 7th legislature and as cabinet member.
Atunwa is running a #Kwara First campaign that focuses on human capacity development for everyday Kwaran, local content development to drive inclusive growth, and massive investment on health and education infrastructure.
Apart from getting the full support of the Saraki dynasty, party stalwarts and his foot soldiers have given him full support. He had run for governor against the incumbent governor in 2011.
Despite the fact that he lost to Governor Ahmed, many believe that this time, the cap fits Atunwa, who has now become the face of ‘O tun ya’, a political slogan which literarily means consolidation in Kwara.
Stiff opposition from the Emirate against his candidacy might be his albatross. As it were, serious campaign is being waged against him as an outsider “who is coming to take the turn of an Ilorin Emirate candidate.”
Another big challenge is the general complaint that the present PDP government in the state has failed to deliver the dividends of democracy to Kwarans. A blight which, according to feelers, might affect his chance and thereby make occupation of Kwara government house a herculean task.
Dr Olajide Adebola (SDP) – The green horn
While interfacing with the people of the state at a recent rally, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate, Dr. Olajide Adebola, stressed the need for youths to drop illicit behaviours, assuring that if elected, his government “will reduce poverty among the people while creating about 200, 000 jobs via a rapid agriculture reform initiative.
He also promised that each of the 16 local government areas would be made to set up a rural agricultural reform initiative which would be owned by the people.
Coming from the private sector with youthful agility and audacity to rule, Adebola can prove his mettle.
In view of this, it would not be out of place to say that his entrance into the race was not a fluke after all.
Kwara South which appears to be the battle ground in 2019 is where Adebola hails from and that may count against him. First, the incumbent governor is from the same zone and his party’s spread outside this zone is doubtful.
Alhaji Abdulahi Bada (YDP) – The pragmatist
After his party, the Young Democratic Party (YDP), recovered from intra-party fractionalisation that almost crippled it, Bada has since been selling the party’s manifestoes to the people.
Bada, a politician that has traversed notable parties as a stakeholder before now, will likely combine his party management skills, public service background and the quest for youth representation being craved by his party to emerge victorious.
Investment in mechanised agriculture, youth empowerment, workers and pensioners’ welfare, affordable housing for all, prompt wages payment, and infrastructure provision are some of the party’s core focus.
The desire for paradigm shift would likely favour his party as the party focuses on the larger youth populace and women as its joker.
The avalanche of candidates and their strengths remains a big headache for a relatively new party.