By Hauwa Sambo
It was a classic made in Kwara State. About three weeks ago, 15 incumbent local government chairmen and 181 Councillors in a move that should provoke a fresh study in consensus politics voluntarily tendered their resignation ahead of their tenure expiration in solidarity with the political structure and the leadership of the ruling party in the state. Newly elected chairmen and councillors were subsequently sworn in.
What prompted this rare demonstration of commitment by these elected members of the local government was the move by some members of the Peoples Democratic Party, who lost out in the local government election primaries to scuttle the swearing in. These elements readily became the working tools of a faction of the party at the national headquarters in Abuja.
On its part, the opposition political party, the All Progressive Congress, APC did not meet the time mandated by the electoral law to participate in an INEC organized elections. The party made spirited efforts to participate in the LG polls by seeking extension of the election date from the courts. It’s prayers that as a newly formed political party it needs more time to put structure in place to conduct its primaries were dismissed by the state high court on lack of merit.
As the opposition APC was battling to participate in the election, the aggrieved PDP elements were also pulling the strings. They took their grievances to national headquarters of the party alleging irregularity in the conduct of the LG primaries. Unknown to them however, the party in the state had already satisfied all the requirements by the national body and was given the go ahead to conduct the primaries. Realizing they had lost at the party level, the aggrieved elements headed for courts. By this time, the election had been worn by PDP, with the elected Chairmen and councillors waiting to be sworn in on the expiration of the tenure of the incumbents.
However, with the legal moves by the aggrieved elements which sought to truncate the swearing in of the newly elected Chairmen and councillors, the incumbents in rare show of commitment to the state party leadership, voluntarily resigned from their positions, paving way for the swearing in of the newly elected LG office holders. This patriotic move by the outgoing Chairmen and councillors guaranteed the political peace and stability Kwara State is known and reputed for. It also showed the abiding faith the resigning Chairmen and councillors had in the Bukola Saraki-led political structure.
Historic as this development was, it should not come as a big surprise, especially to those conversant with Kwara politics. The emergence of the late Dr Olusola Saraki on the Kwara political scene in the 60s came with a brand of politics which has since become a case study for political scientists.
Late Saraki provided a political leadership. He gave a political direction upon which Kwara thrives till his demise late 2012. His death did not toll the knell of his political philosophy and enduring followership. Kwarans have kept faith with his son and successor, Dr Bukola Saraki who has not only taken the mantle of political leadership to higher heights in Kwara, but has also risen to become a key player in national politics.
Today, the younger Saraki is solidly on ground. He has further strengthened the political structure he inherited from his father and made it more formidable. The plethora of success the ruling party has recorded under Bukola’s leadership underscores his acceptance by majority of Kwarans as the de-facto strong man of Kwara politics.
Hauwa, a freelance journalist writes from Ilorin