In this report, ABDULAZEEZ KAOSARAH takes a look at the six aspirants and the battle grounds in the Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency contest ahead of the 2023 elections.
10 months to the National Assembly election in Nigeria, the political stage in the State of Harmony is getting set for what observers have said will be a historic contest, with numbers of political parties running the race. Prominent among the parties are the PDP, APC, SDP and the YPP.
Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body saddled with the responsibility of conducting the election, has published time-table for the elections, however, the real contest is expected to be among two major parties: the APC and the PDP, although on can’t rule out the possibility of a dark horse in the race.
Aspirants under the APC, which is the ruling party are still scheming and consulting, while the PDP is rounding off its selection processes for candidates of each respective positions.
On the battle for the soul of Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency, the PDP had just last week narrowed down the contest for candidacy to six aspirants, as the party screened out twelve of the eighteen jostling for the seat. The remaining six aspirants include: Isiaq Saka Saadu; Dr Giwa Olosasa; Barr. Tunji AbdulHameed; Hon. Abdulkadir Olanrewaju Oba-Aluko; Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim Ajia and Engr Sulaiman Sheu Warah.
For keen observers of the politics of Kwara State, the six remaining aspirants share different fate. Although many of them have pledged earlier that the battle for standard-bearer would not be a do-or-die affair, while some of them said they won’t allow siblings at war; a war that will hamper the unity of the party.
One wonder why Ilorin West alone, when the seat actually belongs to two local governments. Yes, it is so because there is fair share and equity in the party according to reports. The aspirations of the trio of Dr Giwa Olosasa; Barr. Tunji AbdulHameed and Isiaq Saka Saadu may suffer a set back according to available report. Record has it that, since 1999 to date, the House of Representatives position given to Ilorin West so far had always gone in favour of Ajikobi, Alanamu and Oju-ekun Zarumi, the three electoral wards that produced Sen. Gbemisola Saraki (Ajikobi) between 1999 and 2003; Hon. Nimota Sulaiman Wankasi (Oju-ekun Zarumi) between 2007 and 2011; and Hon. Moshood Mustapha (Alanamu) between 2011 and 2015 respectively. Meanwhile, if Kwara Central Senate is zoned to the Constituency as being projected, another beautiful edge-out await them. If fairness and equity truly exist in PDP, then these three aspirants must consider themselves out of the race. Coming to Magaji Ngeri Constituency, the second axis of Ilorin West LG. where we have the likes of Abdulkadir Olanrewaju Oba-Aluko; Mohammed Ibrahim Ajia and Sheu Sulaiman Warah. This particular constituency has never produced a Rep member unlike Asa LG where the two Constituencies of Afon and Owode/Onire have equally produced Hon. Saadudeen Ogundairo (Afon) and Hon. Razak Atunwa (Owode/Onire) respectively. The aspirants from Magaji Ngeri have been the talk of town for two obvious reasons: Affluence and Influence. However, the Constituency also have two districts, namely: Oko-Erin/Wara-Osin and Badara/Baboko/Magaji Ngeri districts. Among the two districts, the State House of Assembly seat of the Constituency has been zoned to Oko Erin Ward which has automatically schemed out Engr Sulaiman Sheu from Warah/Osin/Egbejila ward. The remaining two contenders (Oba-Aluko and Ajia) are from the same district.
So, the battle ahead will not be with the unknown, it will be a smart war. Fierce, tactical but won’t be a fight to finish. Meanwhile, all the aspirants have thrown all darts and fire all salvos in the bid to win the ticket.
Another key factor that will play out between the Aluko and Ajia is the grievance of some of the aspirants and party stakeholders who have been putting the question on the lips on how and when did Ajia rejoins the PDP? Having known his involvement in the birth of “NEW NIGERIA MOVEMENT”, a group he championed to wage revolution against the current political leadership of the country at a press conference held in Ilorin in August, 2021, where he was quoted in a viral video on the social media declaring openly that he was no longer a member of any Political Party.
Relying on survey, his activities towards clinching the ticket of the party started late March, 2022, while others have been around long ago, working day and night to put the party together. Many gladiators believe in a sane clime, he should be scrutinized and properly screened, otherwise the party, out of frivolity might end up giving its ticket to a part-time political player.
As for Abdulkadir Olanrewaju Oba-Aluko, he is no greenhorn. His spirit of sportsmanship, advocacy for party’s progress and unity, grassroot value and human capital development are really working for him. A team player who has been around and never disconnect with the people for any reason whatsoever. His credibility among the youth and women, party elders and stakeholders places him ahead of others.
Though the scenario among the aspirants is different but one thing is common and similar – interest. Oba-Aluko, a former State Youth Leader of the party and former Special Assistant to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, has to credit numbers of employment and empowerment to support the people. He has touched lives positively in every positions held in the past. This has helped him to have his structure cuts across political divides and the fact that he has become a household name, having aspired for Council Chairmanship in 2017, House of Assembly in 2018 and now House of Representatives.
Each of the aspirants are coming into the race with one edge or the other in the area of professionalism, governance experience and party politics. The duo of Oba-Aluko and Ajia boast of composite experience in administration and governance, having both been public officers respectively, as well as serving in government in various capacities.
Oba-Aluko, a Business administration master’s degree holder and Fellow, Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria, cut his teeth in the business and corporate world as a banker working with United Bank for Africa, UBA, before establishing his own company, Oba-Aluko Nigeria Ltd. He is also said to have ventured into General Contracts and real estate business.
Ajia, a Rtd Superintendent of Police, on the other hand, rose to affluence through his career, which many people believe he was just fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. Ajia may have what appears as edge in terms of governance exposure, having served in the in the Office of Secretary to the Government of Federation but he appears to many in the party like a dark horse who believe in moneybag, and throws it to get what he want but may disconnect from the electorates once he gets it.
For some politicians and political merchants who have turned political aspirants to cashcow, Ajia is okay. But those who truly love the party, the development of the people and grassroot value, are throwing their weights behind Oba-Aluko.
A notable Politician, Alhaji Tajudeen Sulu Oloje, said: “Abdulkadir Olanrewaju Oba-Aluko, is the man to beat in that selection. It is Oba-Aluko and others. He has been tested especially when he served as State Youth Leader and Board Member of Kwara State University, Malete. Many in Kwara State will not forget his contributions towards development of their lives. His achievements as a private individual even after the electoral loss our party suffered in 2019 cannot be overemphasized, most especially his timely assistance in facilitating grants and loans to support businesses for low income earners, aside other life-saving supports all over the constituency.”
According to another public analysts, Abdulganiyu Babatunde, “what the people insist that they do not want again is a Kwara indigene who are not familiar with the people and their plights becoming their Representatives. They want elective positions given to those who they can identify with, who can identify with them and know them by their names. The problems we are avoiding is to vote for someone who will abandon us and stay in Abuja. If the PDP is preparing so greatly to take back power and bring it to the people, then we must respect the people’s will in the selection processes.”