Politics is always a game of interest, either individually, as a group or a people. You align yourself based on where your interests would best be protected. For example in the United States of America, Evangelicals supported Trump based on his stand against abortion so the reservations about his morals or character was inconsequential to them as long as he could protect this interest they held sacred. This also explains why the LGBTQ community always supports the Democratic Party irrespective of who is running on the platform because their gay and transgender rights have more chances of being protected by democrats. Hence, I consider it as a lack of understanding when people attack businessmen and industrialists who invest in candidates who can best protect their economic interests. Politics is about interests everywhere so you either ensure your future interest are protected or you watch others protect theirs at your expense.
In Kwara state, what is the most pressing need or area of interest for us as a people that can get us aligned to a candidate? I personally believe it is Restructuring, otherwise called True Federalism or Devolution of powers to the states or sub-regions.
Our biggest challenge in Kwara state today is identity crisis, we are only considered as Northerner or Southerners based on political exigencies.
Over the years, being a Christian from Kwara South, I used to consider my identity as a Southerner non-debatable until the recent travails of the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, a TIV Christian from Benue state in the North Central, whose major antagonists are Southern Governors spread across all the Southern regions; South-South, South – East, South-West.
If anyone does not take time to study the profile of Iyorchia Ayu based on the anti-North campaign against his chairmanship from these Southern governors, you would have been tempted to believe that he is an ideal core Northerner not minding his identity both as being from a minority tribe and a Christian from Benue state, North Central.
Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki from Kwara state in the North Central also suffered this same fate from the Tinubu led Yoruba bloc in APC and the Buhari led core North bloc in APC without paying heed to his identity both as Abubakar and Bukola.
Despite being qualified to become Senate President in a party that has a president from the Northwest and Vice-president from the Southwest, Dr Bukola Saraki was considered not Southern or Northern enough to become Senate president hence he was treated as an orphan from both regions who fought tooth and nail against him.
The experiences of these 2 notable figures from the North Central and the treatment they have gotten from both the North and South should be a rallying point for all of us from the North Central to take a stand on our national identity and chart a way forward for ourselves and that can only happen through Restructuring.
Ironically, the core North has always been seen as being against Restructuring but it is rather interesting that the only candidate who has had restructuring as his major campaign promise is Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party in an election that has 2 Southerners from the Southwest and South East as frontline candidates.
Both Tinubu and Peter Obi are still insistent on running Nigeria the way it is presently structured now that they also have a chance of having control at the centre which is quite against what we used to consider as the priority of the South.
Also, with respect to political positioning because positioning matters in politics same way Buhari in justifying the marginalization of the South-East under his administration used the infamous 97 vs 5% analogy meaning that you can’t offer 5% and expect to get the same treatment as those who offered 97%. In essence, Kwara state is more rightly positioned under PDP than APC, why? The biggest political figure in Kwara state today is unarguably, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki and it is clear that Kwara through him will have a major seat at the table under an Atiku presidency, infact you can’t mention 5 important political players in Atiku’s campaign today without Bukola Saraki topping the list.
In APC on the other hand, the party is so disjointed in the state that you can’t really identify a major personality as the political leader of the party in Kwara. If you go by the governor being the highest political office holder of the APC in the state, the controversy during the APC campaign rally in Kwara state was all the convincing reason to know that Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is not rated by Tinubu or the decision makers around him. If you go by relationship then you will think Alhaji Lai Muhammed but is in an open secret that Lai Muhammed and many other old foot-soldiers of Tinubu have been relegated to the sidelines by the likes of Governor Ganduje hence, Kwara state will have no major stake under an APC presidency.
Conclusively, from observing political trends, if an Atiku Abubakar emerges as President, the North Central will be positioned to hold a principal position at the National Assembly for the sake of political balancing and I see a Senator Rafiu Ibrahim being projected for an important role in the next Senate if Kwarans and particularly Kwara Southerners get their politics right.