How Kwara Central senatorial seat was won and lost
By Taiwo Amodu
Last Saturday, both the presidential and National Assembly elections conducted, simultaneously, have produced winners and losers and narratives for political analysts to discuss, ceaselessly. In Kwara State, the outcome of the election that the people were anxious to hear from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was the Kwara Central senatorial election. What stimulated the frenzy was the status of the contenders and the attendant glamour they invested in their campaigns.
The contests between former Information Commissioner, former Minister of Sports and Youth Development and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Bolaji Abdullahi; former APC national chairmanship aspirant and Turaki Adamawa, Saliu Mustapha and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, DrRidwanApaokagi, however turned out to be an anti-climax. The businessman and philanthropist, Saliu Mustapha emerged as Senator elect, pummeling his main rivals.
In the results announced by the Collation/ Returning Officer for Kwara Central, Professor Salih Abubakar of the English Department, University of Ilorin, Mustapha scored 109,823 to defeat his closest opponent Abdullahi, who scored 69,202 votes. The SDP’s candidate, Akpaokagi came a distant third with 13,193.
In Ilorin West, perceived stronghold of the PDP senatorial candidate, APC scored the highest votes of 47,819 votes to defeat the former minister, who scored 32,130 votes. In Ilorin South, the story was not different as the Senator-elect scored 22, 277 votes which translated to over 55 percent of the total votes from the local government area. The PDP candidate polled 12, 389 while Akpaokagi of SDP scored 3, 725 votes. In Asa, Mustapha maintained the lead scoring 14,911, as against Abdullahi’s 10, 890. Ilorin East, the story was also not different as the APC candidate won by a landslide, garnering 24,816 votes.
Why the Turaki won:
Many factors have been advanced for the victory of the APC in both the presidential and National Assembly elections. One of them, according to analysts, is the ability to mitigate internal feud and intra- party crisis thrown up by the state congresses and primaries. In Kwara Central, Saliu Mustapha ensured that he secured the cooperation of the sitting Senator, Ibrahim Oloriegbe. Another opponent in the primary, Ambassador Yahaya Seriki, led the campaign of the Turaki across all the 52 wards that make up the district.
Mustapha’s investment in social capital also came handy for him. For a philanthropist who has invested in the populace in the entire state, the National Assembly elections held last Saturday was payback period for him. Aside his investment in human capital, the Senator elect, being a title holder, the Turakin Ilorin, gave him a social leverage as he was perceived as the candidate of the Emirate.
After the election, Kwara State governor, AbdulrahmanAbdulrazaq, led the senator elect and certain others who won election as federal lawmakers to the palace of the Emir of Ilorin, Dr Ibrahim Sulu- Gambari. On the governor’s delegation were Mustapha; House of Representatives members-elect: Ahmad Yinka Aluko and Mukhtar Shagaya, as well as cabinet members and other party chieftains. The delegation also commiserated with the Emir on the death of his cousin, Alhaja Maryam Alarape Belgore, a princess of Ilorin Emirate.
The cry of marginalisation:
Aside working as a united political family and leveraging on his goodwill with the people of his senatorial district, the senator elect also rose on the crest of crusade against marginalisation. Before the APC primary, agitation for zoning of the senatorial ticket to Ilorin South and Ilorin East had been on the front burner. “This is because the office has been perennially occupied by politicians from the Ilorin West Local Government Area, thus fuelling the fear of marginalisation from the remaining local government areas,” a party source noted.
A lecturer in the University of Ilorin, Adekunle Abdullahi, also corroborated this as he noted that aside the fact that Mustapha’s aspiration enjoyed the blessing of the royal institution, it was also an affirmation of rejection of age long perceived marginalisation.He said: “Beyond the fact that he is the people’s man and enjoys the support of traditional institutions, the campaign for zoning played a huge role. Many people from those marginalised areas felt it was time for equity to prevail.”
An overwhelmed Mustapha in his acceptance speech after his announcement as winner pledged not to disappoint his constituents. He told newsmen that the mandate given to him was an expression of confidence in his plan for the continued progress of his senatorial district, specifically in his capacity to deliver on his campaign promises.
Mallam Mustapha submitted that a moment of victory does not call for jubilation, rather it is a moment to plead for Allah’s guidance and the support of all and sundry for the task ahead towards giving his best to justify that confidence the electorates have placed in him as their elected senator.He sought for the cooperation of all stakeholders: party leaders, religious leaders, traditional rulers in Kwara Central to achieve the desired results. He added: “I call on all the former aspirants who contested the same position with me, to give me their support, having maintained the spirit of brotherhood throughout the campaigns prior to the elections.”
Mallam Mustapha lauded the Emir of Ilorin, Dr. Ibrahim Zulu Gambari, and all ward chiefs across Kwara Central for their fatherly support and promised not to let them down in delivering dividends of democracy to the people.
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