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•Olusola Saraki
Gubernatorial aspirant of the Democratic Peoples' Party (DPP) Mr. Gbenga Olawepo, has said that the greatest gift anybody could give the people of Kwara State is to ensure that the 2011 elections are free and fair.

Speaking in an interview in Jos, Plateau State, he said Kwarans have endured a lot of insults due to the atrocities allegedly committed by people like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who foisted on them the so-called Saraki dynasty. He insisted that a free and fair election would demystify the so-called dynasty and allow the people of the state breathe some fresh air. Excerpts:

Why has one family continued to determine who becomes what in Kwara State?

It is not true that (Olusola) Saraki has been controlling the politics of the state since its creation. He contested for House of Representatives the same time Chief Solomon Lar did in 1964 and he lost the election to Alhaji Babatunde Alanamu. The grandson of Alanamu is one of our supporters and youth leaders in Ilorin today.

Saraki's party or whatever party he belongs to, never won election in Kwara before 1979. Saraki is the creation of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1979. Obasanjo created Saraki.

He was a nominee of the military government to the Constituent Assembly established by Obasanjo/Murtala regime. He used to be a medical doctor. Adamu Attah was Saraki's benefactor. Attah was secretary of NEPA and Saraki was a medical doctor on the retainership of NEPA. When they decided in 1979 that they were going to hand over power at all cost to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which was formed in the Constituent Assembly, Obasanjo decided to use somebody who had never won election before. Someone who had no support.

He gave Saraki police, gave him FEDECO, then under Ovie-Whisky. Together, they went into Kwara for the election and declared the result in Borgu Local Government. The votes were far in excess of registered voters. At the end of the day, they declared NPN winner against the late Chief J. S. Olawoyin. This was done because Obasanjo wanted to humiliate Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Before 1979, Action Group (AG) controlled the South of Kwara and Talaka Kparapo (meaning the masses unite like Aminu Kano's NEPU) led by Alhaji Sule Manto controlled Ilorin. Obasanjo hated Awolowo's legacy so much because he did not want to have any rival in the South-West and wanted to go down as the kingmaker in South-West. He was desperate to rubbish every legacy of Awolowo. So, he brought Saraki, armed him and they took Kwara by force. Since that time, any government that came whether military or civilian, always used Saraki and his family to control Kwara through electoral manipulations.

They ask Saraki to nominate the INEC man he wants to work with. They tell him to give them ministerial nominee and the commissioner of police he wants to work with. If I give you INEC commissioner, police commissioner, and minister. Even if you do not have 10 people in your state, won't you control the politics of the state? That is what had been happening in Kwara. In the last election, what happened in Kwara never happened anywhere else in the country. In the first place, Kwara's electoral register was inflated by 200%. I wrote a petition to Maurice Iwu INEC Chairman regarding that inflation even before the election.

On election day, they brought 40% of the ballot papers to the polling stations, and kept 60% in a place. They thumbprinted these hidden ones massively. In the 40 per cent ballot papers that were brought out, the DPP won. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not win even 20 percent of them. By the time they brought out the ones they went to thumbprint in a secret place, of course, the total figures ballooned. Three days after the election, they were still trying to perfect the result.

Kwara is not a riverine area but then, Kwara result was not announced until about three days later. When the state INEC man, Adakeja, came on television, to announce the result, he said I now declare Dr. Bukola Saraki of Democratic People's Party as the winner. That is DPP, our party, we have it on tape. That was the result of the 40 per cent that was brought to the polling booths. We have it on tape. When we went to the tribunal, they were hiding papers.

I called 135 witnesses.
We brought out documents which they were hiding. At the end of the election, INEC called for the return of its materials used. When they brought in the materials, the Kwara's total vote in the last election was 2.34million about 40,000 more than the population of the state and this result was accepted in INEC. In that result, we had 1.5 million voided votes. We had more voided votes than the majority votes. The Constitution says that you can only be governor if you have won majority of total vote.

In the last election in Kwara, the majority of total votes cast were voided votes; it constituted 67% of total vote cast. They could not perfect that. The election was a total mess. This was what has been happening in Kwara since

1979. The Kwara people are not fools, they are progressive people, anywhere they go on assignment, they follow justice. They bring people from all over Nigeria to come and cause havoc in Kwara. Then they will be laughing at us and say Kwara people, it can only happen in your state that a dynasty will be ruling you. The man that declared the result Adakeja is an Ekiti man is not from Kwara.

Justice Salami that is giving progressive judgment in the Appeal Court today is a Kwaran. When Justice Alfa Belgore was in Supreme Court, all the progressive judgments from that court came from him. When we meet reporters the first thing they do is to embarrass us with 'what are you doing about this Saraki's matter?'

The people of Kwara did not vote for Saraki, they have always rejected him. It was Obasanjo that came to use Ovie -Whisky to do the havoc they did. Is the man from Kwara? Was the result imposed on us by a Kwara man? I lost three agents on lection day. They were shot by MOPOL brought by the Federal Government in Kaiama. The youths were protesting the injustice perpetrated. Soldiers were brought in from New Bussa to shoot at them. Kwarans are a people whose will and resistance has been broken by a federally subsidized oppression. That is the problem we have in Kwara.

But it was said that Saraki has hold on Kwara because he has been spending money for the masses

What money was Saraki spending? Was it the N5, N5 he was giving the women that time that is money? All these are just exaggerated by outsiders. Moreover, that generation of women is gone. How many of them are alive to

vote? How many industries has Saraki established in Kwara State and how many people are working there? That is what you should ask and not that he is giving people money. How many people has he empowered?

Why are you people allowing them to get away with all these?

In Nigeria, we have not developed a culture of solidarity with people who are under oppression. You tend to even blame the victims for their oppression. You harass them by saying 'you people are not doing anything.' It is those of us that are in it that know what we went through. I was in the tribunal for two years and know how much I spent to get justice. Did anybody give me one Naira? Fayemi and others had other people to support them. I had nobody and I was spending my own money.

How do you bring a stop to this?
The only hope for Kwara is that we have been promised free and fair election. Now there is a reasonable shift in the federal attitude to election generally which is the culmination of the struggles of the people over the massively rigged 2007 election. I have a lot of confidence in Attahiru Jaga. I have known him for a longtime as an activist. I believe he is a first class patriot.

I believe that we will have a reasonably better election than we had in 2007. I also want to believe that the police is more disposed this time around to provide a level play ground for all political groups. Once the votes of the people count it will be impossible for the Sarakis to win. The people of Kwara are human beings and not animals. They who do not like justice forced Saraki on us.

Kwarans have great traditions, but are being diminished by the political system forced down on them since 1979. The first Nigerian local artist that produced celluloid film, Ade-love, (Adeyemi Afolayan) was a Kwaran. He is now late. We are from the same village. Rev. Ayo Babalola who staarted CAC, Sheikh Kamaldeen, Bishop Oyedepo are all from Kwara .We are not just a state of nonentities. People have done greatly from that state. Justice Belgore did very well at the Supreme Court.

In 2001, when they were out again Lawal finished the Sarakis in ANPP and he did not have any party. It was Obasanjo again who rescued them using the federal might and the PDP platform. That is how they have been wining and is that a dynastic? This is a federally subsidised oppression. Once the federally subsidized oppression is removed, our people will be free. It is just as simple as that.

Can you comment on the role of Zimbabwean farmers in Kwara State?

There is nothing to comment about that. In the first place they said they are private investors and Bukola started using state money to guarantee loan for them. How can state government guarantee so-called foreign investors? If you are a foreign investor, it is assumed that you are bringing in capital when you are being given free land. That farm is a front for Bukola. There is nothing called Zimbabwean farmers.

Mechanized agriculture does not create jobs. He brings machines to replace human beings. He collected several hectares of land from peasant farmers and handed them over to mechanized farmers and he said he created jobs. He can only be talking to idiots to assume that he is making sense. There is no way mechanized farming can create job. You can talk about food productivity in terms of yield per hectare of land.

You cannot bring statistics about creating job through mechanized farming is simple. One machine will replace about one hundred people. That is not a job creating scheme. If Kwara does not own a farm and Kwara has invested so much money in the farm, what is the return of Kwara's investment? What is the percentage of share that Kwara has in a business that it has guaranteed and it does not have a single share?

How does that contribute to the economy of the state? Any kind of program that does not improve the productivity of the indigenous people, that does not increase their income or contribute anything to the local economy is negative to the economy. Whatever profit that is made there is going to be exported outside-They are going to be needing foreign exchange to pay for export of their profit. That it is pure nonsense.