The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagged off its gubernatorial campaign in Kwara state yesterday with key party leaders including Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and the party’s gubernatorial candidate Razak Atunwa. The leaders who took their turns to speak at the rally made some remarks that we found interesting.
Why it matters
PDP leaders, particularly SP Saraki and Governor Ahmed appeared to criticise exactly what they seemed to represent. Take a case in point: Saraki. The man who is reputed as a godfather himself made a show of complaining about other godfathers from ‘southwest’ states who are plotting to ‘annex’ Kwara. Saraki stated that the people of Kwara would resist the efforts by Abuja and Lagos politicians (he was most likely referring to the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu) to take over the state.
See the quotes from the rally for yourself
Senate President Saraki: “This election is not about me or our governorship candidate, Razak Atunwa. It’s about this state, our tradition. Time will tell about whatever we do today. We go back to PDP because we need a government that will care for our people, gives jobs to our people. We should not vote a candidate whose DG said ‘he does not care, he does not know.”
Saraki’s statement was his reaction to the APC campaign theme (O to ge – meaning Enough is Enough), a populist rallying cry for resistance to his family’s continued sway and control over the politics of the state. Premium Times reported that this messaging is doing a lot of damage to the Saraki and PDP campaign in the state.
Governor Ahmed: “We are flagging off our campaign to usher in another PDP government. You can all see hunger, poverty in the last three years of APC government. We want to bring in PDP to change the narrative. We shall usher in PDP government in Nigeria and Kwara.”
Ahmed should look into the mirror. He has been governor under the APC for about three years but he seems to have forgotten that. Except he is saying that the Federal Government alone should take the blame for the hardship he described.
Abubakar Sulaiman: “Kwara election is between the real stakeholders and pretenders and those with territorial expansionist ambition. Kwara belongs to the north and we should not allow them to take the state to the south west.”
The PDP campaign DG seemed to give life to the Saraki narrative about the plans to ‘annex’ Kwara by politicians from the South West. The campaign DG resorts to a divisive rhetoric that seeks to pit people from the state against each other.
**The Yoruba speaking part of Kwara (South), led by Offa town has been the main pillar of resistance to Saraki’s reign in the state. Recently the PDP lost its first elections, the House of Reps bye-election, under Saraki’s leadership in the area. This tactic seeks to pit the people on the other side of Kwara (notably Ilorin), who identify with the Fulani tribe against the Yorubas.
The Candidate Atunwa had something to say: “PDP government will provide jobs for our youths. Many people have decamped to PDP because of our leaders’ sincerity and welfarism programmes.”
Bottomline: The PDP campaign seeks to deflect attention from itself but there is no easy way out. Resorting to counter attacks and divisive rhetoric, like it is doing now, appears to be its best bet.