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Kwara PDP Congresses - One Party, Two Gubernatorial Candidates
[January 13, 2011]

Kwara PDP Congresses - One Party, Two Gubernatorial Candidates

Ilorin, Jan 13, 2011 (Leadership/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- The state congresses of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State which began on Monday January 3, ended at the early hours of Monday January 10, with controversial emergence of two gubernatorial candidates for the Party.

The congress started from Ward to House of Assembly, House of the representatives, the Senate and lastly the Governorship primary election.

While the ward congress was held at the headquarters of each of the 193 wards in the state, the state House of Assembly primaries were held at designated centers across the state's 24 constituencies.

The House of Representatives primaries were held in six centers across the state, while the Senate primaries were held at Ilorin (Kwara Central), Omu Aran (Kwara South) and Bode Saadu (Kwara North).

Except for the Senate and Governorship primaries, all other primaries were conducted under a peaceful atmosphere across the state.

But indication that the PDP primaries would not be business as usual emerged on Friday, January 7, when the Senate primaries for Kwara South could not hold because of resistance by some senatorial aspirants to a plan for consensus candidate.

The protest by the aspirants- Prince Diekola Oyawoye, Dr Bola Olaosebikan and Mr Sunday Adeyemo, led to the postponement of the Kwara South senatorial primaries till the following day.

Though the leadership of the party in the state kept the outcome of the primaries close to its chest, investigation revealed that Senator Simeon Ajibola won the Kwara South Senate seat, a former Governor of the state Alahji Sha'aba Lafiagi emerged winner in Kwara North, while a former Permanent Secretary in the state, Ahaji Isiaka Gold, was declared winner of Kwara Central zone.

In the House of Representatives cadre, a former Secretary to the state Government, Alhaji Ganiyu Cook Olododo, won in Ilorin East -South constituency, while former Special Adviser on Special Duties, Alhaji Mashood Mustapha, won in Asa-Ilorin West constituency. The Ekiti/Isin/Irepodun,Oke Ero constituency seat was won by Alhaji Basiru Ayiedun.

It was a smooth sail for all the 24 House of Assembly aspirants in the fold of the PDP, as they were all returned unopposed. Those who would have been their opponents at the primaries had few days before primaries defected to the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).

However, the state congress of the party where the gubernatorial candidate of the party for the April governorship contest was elected is threatening the existence of the party and the possibility of it winning the governorship election proper. This is because the PDP witnessed two parallel congresses on Sunday January 9 and Monday January 10 respectively.

The January 9 congress, organized by a faction of the party, produced Honnourable Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa as the party's flag bearer for the April governorship election through affirmation; while the January 10 congress, organized by Governor Bukola Saraki's group, produced Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed a former commissioner for Finance in the state, as the PDP's governorship candidate.

The PDP faction that produced Hon. Bolarinwa as the party's governorship candidate had, on Thursday January 6, addressed a press conference where its leaders announced their plans to hold a parallel state congress. The group, which claimed to be the original and genuine founding members of the party in the state, made good its threats when on Sunday January 9 it held its congress where the delegates unanimously adopted Hon Bashir Bolarinwa as the 2011 governorship candidate of the party in the state.

Chief Samuel Adedayo claimed to be the factional chairman of the group that affirmed Hon Bolarinwa.

Speaking with reporters at the end of the congress, which was held at Olatunde Recreational Park along Ajase Ipo road, Ilorin, Chief Adedayo said, "We have done our own congresses and primary for governorship election and our candidate is Hon Bashir Bolarinwa.

"As far as we are concerned we are the original PDP and the original state executive members. Abuja is aware of this. We have been to them to intimate them of our plan. Since 2004 we have been going to the national secretariat to resolve the matter. Precisely in September last year, the whole state executive members were in Abuja to meet with the leadership at national headquarters; and then they promised to resolve the crisis before the commencement of primaries. When Dr. Ahmadu Ali was the national chairman he wrote to us as regards the matter." He added that the group also intimated security agencies and the national headquarters of INEC in Abuja before conducting the primary.

But barely eight hours after the factional PDP announced its gubernatorial candidate, the familiar PDP, which has its secretariat along Nupe Road GRA, Ilorin, since 1998, held its own state congress at Base Ball Mini Stadium Adewole Area Ilorin.

Before the commencement of the primary, eight of the gubernatorial aspirants had reportedly withdrew from the race.

The aspirants were: Barrister Rasaq Atunwa , Prof. Shuaib Oba Abdualraheem, Alhaji Foloruinsho Ayinla, Senator Suleiman Ajadi, Col.(retd) Theophilus Bamigboye, Engr. Sunday Babalola, former sports Minister Ibarhim Bio and Senator Ahmed Mohammed.

Though sources linked the aspirants' withdrawal from the race to efforts by the party leadership in the state to ensure that the party remains one united family and the purported zoning of the governorship seat to Kwara South senatorial district, LEADERSHIP findings showed that the aspirants were arm-twisted by an influential politician in PDP's fold.

According to sources, "The gubernatorial aspirants that were said to have withdrawn from the state congress were in actual fact arm-twisted by the power that be in the state. They could not resist the development because they know that majority of the delegates to the election will vote in the direction of an anointed official candidate." However at the end of the primary election that took place at Base Ball Mini Stadium, Governor Bukola Saraki's commissioner for Finance, for almost seven years, Abdulfatah Ahmed, was declared winner of the exercise.

At about 2.50 a.m., the leader of the PDP electoral panel, Hon. Musa Sarkin Adar, of the Federal House of Representatives mounted the rostrum to announce the results of the election and declared Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed as the winner of the election and the party's flag bearer for the April, 2011 Gubernatorial poll.

He later presented him to the State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the party's National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, to the admiration of the teeming supporters and delegates who remained glued to the events despite the biting cold whether.

Ahmed polled 695 votes to defeat other contenders like Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa who polled 39 votes and Hon. Yekini Alabi who polled nine votes; while six votes were counted invalid.

Governor Bukola Saraki appealed to all other aspirants who could not make it to close rank and work for the unity and cohesion of the party, in order to achieve success at the forthcoming polls. He lauded the electoral panel members, aspirants and contestants, delegates and members of the party for conducting free, fair and transparent primary election, stressing that the outcome of the congress showed that there was an internal democratic mechanisms working within the party.

Reacting to the declaration of Abdulfatah Ahmed as the winner of the party's governorship ticket, Hon Bashir Bolarinwa, who came a distant second in the primary election, rejected the result, describing the whole exercise as "charade." He made his feelings known at a news conference he addressed in Ilorin, on Monday January 10. The gubernatorial aspirant, was flanked at the news conference by the former minister of state for health, Dr (Mrs.) Amina Ndalolo.

Bolarinwa said that he had forwarded a petition to the national secretariat of PDP over what he termed as "irregularities in the conduct of the governorship primary." He described the exercise as a subversion of the wish of majority of PDP members in the state. According to him, "the guidelines for the primaries were not strictly adhered to by the electoral panel; because the accreditation of delegates, which is the critical issue in the exercise, was done outside the venue of the congress. Worst, still, the accreditation was done on behalf of the electoral panel by some agents of the powers-that-be." He further alleged, "As against the provision of the law guiding the conduct of the primaries, most aspirants came to know the venue of the primary election on Sunday morning, as against the stipulated seven days notice." Fielding questions from journalists, Bolarinwa ruled out the possibility of him defecting to another party, expressing confidence in the ability of the national leadership of the PDP in resolving the issue at hand.

He, however, warned that the PDP may witness exodus of many of its other members into other parties, if the alleged irregularities in all the party primaries in the state were not redressed.

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