The Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed yesterday admitted that he might forego his senatorial ticket for Kwara South Senatorial District for the incumbent Sen. Abdulrafiu Ibrahim. He said the talks within the Dr. Bukola Saraki political family for him to step aside had been on for a while. He clarified that forsaking the ticket had nothing to do with the November 17 by-election into Ekiti/ Oke Ero/ Isin/ Irepodun Federal Constituency.
But findings confirmed that Saraki, who is the governor’s godfather, directed Ahmed to forget his ambition after the defeat. Although Saraki had initially favoured Abdulrafiu but Ahmed sent many PDP governors to his godfather to concede the ticket to him. The governor’s first political test after securing the ticket was election into the Federal constituency which was fatal for PDP.
A PDP source said: “Our leader has taken the senatorial ticket away from the governor because he cannot afford to take any risk. The slot is now for the present occupant of the seat, Sen. Abdulrafiu Ibrahim. What we are trying to do is to give the governor a soft landing. We do not want it to appear as if the governor is being humiliated. To get the ticket, the governor sent emissaries to our leader. It has now turned out that the shoe is bigger than him because 2019 poll is really testy for us.
“Our leader has been in the state in the past 48 hours to put things in order since he will serve as the Director-General of the Presidential Campaign Council of PDP. If you leave your pot unwatched, your food will get burnt.”
But Governor Ahmed has denied speculations that the Kwara South Senatorial ticket has been “retrieved from him on account of the last House of Representatives bye-election results in the state.” Ahmed, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, described as “politically motivated mischief the rumours that he has been asked to step down due to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s loss of the Ekiti/ Oke Ero/ Irepodun bye-election.
The statement said: “The Governor said, on the contrary, consultation had been going on before the November 17 elections within the political family to consider the request by the leadership of the Ibolo division of Kwara South, from where the current Senator hails, for a second tenure at the Senate
“Furthermore, he said that the ongoing consultation was based on the view that the Igbomina and Ekiti divisions had successfully served two terms in the Senate as opposed to the Ibolo division whose representative had served only one term in the Senate.
“While describing the last by-election as a farcical exercise marked by voter intimidation, widespread disenfranchisement and the use of security agencies against PDP supporters and members, Ahmed said the result of such a disputed election could, therefore, not have formed the basis of a review of his candidacy for the Kwara South Senatorial elections. He assured that PDP will win the general elections in the state as the people of Kwara have resolved never to allow such harassment by security agents again.”
A separate statement by the State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Tunde Ashaolu, confirmed that the party was weighing options on the demand of Ibolo people to give a second term ticket to the incumbent Sen. Abdulrafiu Ibrahim. The statement said: “The attention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State has been drawn to a misleading media report insinuating that there is panic in the camp of Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki and that Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed is under pressure to withdraw from the Kwara South senatorial race as a result of the aftermath of last Saturday’s by-election in Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin/Irepodun federal constituency.
“This is totally untrue, ridiculous and a deliberate mischief orchestrated by some unscrupulous elements and political jobbers who are bent on causing confusion within the party and among our leaders. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no tension whatsoever within the fold of the PDP in Kwara State and there is no pressure on Governor Ahmed to drop his senatorial ambition because of the outcome of the recently held bye-election in the state.
“The party however, notes that there are ongoing consultations and pleas by leadership of the Ibolo axis of Kwara South, where the current senator representing the senatorial district, Dr Rafiu Ibrahim hails from, for the party’s senatorial ticket to be retained in the axis in the interest of fairness and equity in the distribution political offices within the district.
“It is instructive to note that these consultations and pleas preceded the November 17 by-election and are based on the understanding that the Igbomina and Ekiti divisions of Kwara South had produced senators who served two terms in the Senate as opposed to the Ibolo division whose representative had only served one term.
“This was the sole observation raised by the stakeholders during all their consultative meetings with the national leader of our party and Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and other leaders of the PDP in the State.
“It is, therefore, ridiculous for anybody to think that the outcome of an election that does not reflect the will of the people, as it was marred with widespread irregularities including intimidation of voters, ballot box snatching and illegal arrest of PDP members, could lead to the withdrawal of Governor Ahmed from the senatorial race.
“The party thereby urges members and supporters of the PDP as well as the general public to disregard the fake report which was sponsored and planted in the media by unscrupulous elements and fifth columnists.
“Ahmed is a prominent leader of our party and has always placed the party’s interest above his personal interest. More so, he has provided exemplary leadership since he assumed office in 2011 and has created enduring legacies that have placed Kwara on a path of sustainable development.
“Among the enduring legacies of Governor Ahmed, which are products of foresight and vision, are the establishment of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) and the Kwara Infrastructural Development Fund (IF-K). Without doubt, these initiatives have had great impacts on the development of the State.