Kwara 2019: Let’s reset the button!

By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Recent political re-alignments in Kwara State portends should sound sweet to residents of the famed State of Harmony and their friends. The way it is, 2019 has taken final shape and what we see today looks like a battle between agents of democratic and anti-democratic forces. All the democratic forces need to throw a sucker punch is unanimity of purpose. This, indeed, are interesting times for the state.

First sign that the end was nigh was the November, 2017 local government elections which results rattled the anti-democratic forces. Even though the anti-democratic forces claimed a dubious victory, made by the state electoral body, die-hard supporters of the vexatious political arrangement in the state knew that simmering people’s anger, which led to pelting politicians and setting their houses aflame by angry youths, had reached breaking point. The November 18, 2017 council polls exposed the anti-democratic elements in Kwara state and lifted whatever air of invincibility that surrounded their leaders!

This goes to show that had the council elections fallen under the purview of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and not the state electoral body, chances are the anti-democratic forces would have been worsted instead of the dubious victory they claimed. If the trend continues, chances are the anti-democratic forces would suffer their first major setback when Nigerians go to the polls next February. Yes, the odds are stacked against the anti-democratic forces and the effort to dislodge the fumbling puppet government in the state has firmed but, no one should delude themselves that this will be a walkover.

The 2019 general election presents the long-suffering people the golden opportunity to make a clean break with the past. It is either the people vote to retrieve their future and launch the state on the path of greatness or stick with the status quo and sneer by the sidelines for more years to come. The expectation is that the people, having watched while opportunities were frittered for close to two decades, will do things differently in 2019.

The next election is time for noble men and women in the state to speak up if the state must avoid the costly mistakes of the past. Over the past few weeks, the air has been fouled by politics and the klieg lights have shifted to candidates jostling for various elective posts at state and federal levels. The governorship race in Kwara state which has, in recent years generated uncommon interest, is not going to be an exception! The 2019 election is an opportunity that must not be frittered if the state must break the asphyxiating hold of freeloading puppets and their masters.

This time around, Kwara state cannot afford to get it wrong by electing another slavish yes-man as governor. To get it wrong is to elect another caretaker spineless and fumbler who will only be happy to hold the cow for some arrogant masters. The choice before the people of Kwara state in 2019 is to end years of enslavement and, if things do not change and another stooge surfaces at Government House, Ilorin, in 2019, chances are a huge chunk of the resources of the state will continue to go into fuelling the false lifestyle of a few.

If truth be told, installing another puppet in 2019 is a return to the famished, bumpy and anger-inducing road of the past two decades. The only bulwark against this is for the people to identify and elect noble candidates into political offices. Reference here is to individuals who are beyond reproach and who will strive to improve the state and not those who will expect the state to improve them! Without recourse to political affiliations, it is time to elect honest and dedicated individuals that the people of Kwara state can call their own!

Specifically, the next governor of Kwara state must not be the fall guy of another kingmaker or prisoner to a particular group or interest! The candidate must be independent-minded individual with no baggage whatsoever. In other words, the next occupant of Government House, Ilorin, must be someone who belongs to all and yet belongs to none; someone who is not mired in any inter- and intra-political dealings often associated with the so-called big political groupings in the state. In essence, Kwara state seeks a clean and upright governor whose background and orientation are in harmony with the aspirations of the people!

Of the several individuals that fit the bill, none comes close to Comrade Issa Obalowu Aremu, mni, candidate of the Labour Party. Comrade Aremu is a rights activist par excellence and a man for and, of all seasons. If the people of Kwara state seek an untainted, independent-minded governor who will not hold the treasury in trust for others or a governor they can truly call their own, they already have one in Comrade Aremu! In their struggle to redeem their state, the people could not have wished for a more credible leader other than Comrade Aremu! If he succeeds in his aspiration, Kwara state will benefit from the inimitable experience garnered in the struggle to emancipate the people of Nigeria.

It was the frustration with years of plundering of state resources and careless handling of affairs in Kwara state that turned the normally peaceful and peace-loving people of the state into protesters who pelt sinking political leaders! It is good that the people are kicking against the pain-inducing political arrangement of the past two decades that turned them into objects of ridicule and butts of derisive jokes. It will be a tragedy if, in 2019, a state that brims with far-sighted, intelligent and incorruptible people elects another figurehead as governor!

For too long, the people of Kwara state have been portrayed and treated as bats by their leaders! It is time to end that portrayal. It is time the people stopped dancing to the weird drumbeat of a self-serving few who do not have the interest of the state at heart.

It is time for the people to return Kwara state to its halcyon days of yore.

Magaji < [email protected] > is based in Abuja