The name, Bukola Saraki has been trending in the Nigerian political space for several weeks. Whilst it is no longer news that Bukola Saraki is one of the hottest politicians in Nigeria at the moment, his increased influence is not just at the national level. His influence is also pronounced at the state level.
Since his departure from the All Progressive Congress, Nigeria’s ruling party, Bukola Saraki appears to have become the number one enemy of quite a number of prominent people in the All Progressive Congress. Everyone that is a religious follower of Nigerian politics is aware of the fact that Bukola Saraki is being hugely antagonized by the chairman of the All Progressive Congress Adams OShiomole. However, unknown to a lot of people, OShiomole is not the only member of the All Progressive Congress that is interested in engaging Saraki in a duel. One other person that appears to have taken it upon himself to ensure that Saraki loses relevance in the Nigerian political scene is Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s information minister. While OShiomole contends with Bukola Saraki on a national level, it really appears that Lai Mohammed has taken the fight to Kwara state, a state that is home to both the senate president and himself.
The 2019 elections is approaching very rapidly and the fight for who will rule in Kwara state is getting heated as the days go by. This fight, just as expected is between the All Progressive Congress and the People’s Democratic Party. However, this time, it goes beyond just the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress. It is between politicians that are loyal to Senate President Bukola Saraki and those that are loyal to information minister Lai Mohammed.
While a lot of political enthusiast are of the assumption that there is a fight between Bukola Saraki and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the minister of information Lai Mohammed has come out to say that he is not in any contest of any sort with the senate president Bukola Saraki.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed might have come out to say that he has nothing to contest with senate president Bukola Saraki, in spite of this, a lot of people have traced the battle for the supremacy of Kwara state all the way back to 2003 when Bukola Saraki became the governor of Kwara state.
In 2003, Alhaji Lai Mohammed as well as Bukola Saraki contested for the post of governor of Kwara state. While Lai Mohammed contested on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Bukola Saraki contested on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party. While the build up to the election lasted , Alhaji Lai Mohammed who happens to be from Irepodun Local Government Area in the southern axis of Kwara state focused more on winning in the north. This is perhaps because he was of the idea that he would not have to campaign much in the southern region of the state since it is the region that he is from.
While the campaign lasted, Lai Mohammed made it known that he was going to focus on infrastructure, as well as the building of good road networks in the norther axis of Kwara state.. To further drive his claim home, he ensured that the Baruten/Kiama federal rod was graded. According to Alhaji Lai Mohammed, his reason for grading the Baruten/Kiama road and also focusing on the development of good road networks in Kwara state was; a good road network is one of the pressing need of the Kwara people because of the state is populated by agrarians. He explained that good roads will lead to a hastened development of the state both economically, politically, and socially.
In very much the same way as Lai Mohammed is believed to stand no chance against Bukola Saraki in Kwara state politics today, he also really did not stand a chance of defeating Bukola Saraki 15 years ago. The reasons for this are Saraki was the flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party, he also stood on the shoulders of his father as well as those of the then incumbent governor of Kwara state, Alhaji Mohammed Alabi Lawal.
You do not need to be a guru in politics to know that Saraki emerged victorious in that election.
After his failed bid to become the governor of Kwara state, Alhaji Lai Mohammed went on to become a member of the Alliance Congress (AC). Not too long after he joined the Alliance Congress, Alhaji Lai Mohammed became the publicity secretary of his new party. At the time he became the publicity secretary of his new party, the Alliance Congress had changed its name to the All Progressive Congress.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed might not pull the political weight that Bukola Saraki pulls both in Nigeria and in Kwara state, he however, has some things going for him that can be used as weapons in his political tussle with his long time opponent, Saraki. This weapon which could prove to be very lethal is the yearly Islamic programme which he organizes in his home town. This yearly Islamic programme is called Ramadan Annual Lecture, and it has been a source of attraction to some of the big names in politics that are indigenes of Kwara state.
Although it is an undeniable fact that Lai Mohammed has contributed to the development of Kwara state in lots of ways, he still does not have what it takes to engage Bukola Saraki in a duel both at the level of Kwara state and on the national level. The reason is Lai Mohammed never succeeded in becoming the governor of Kwara state. Unlike him, Bukola Saraki was governor for 8 years and went on to ensure that he was succeeded by his choice candidate, Alhaji Abdulfath Ahmed. As a result of this, Bukola is considered almost a supreme political leader in Kwara state.
Prior to the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki from the All Progressive Congress to the People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed enjoyed the good will of Bukola Saraki and even took shelter in his political umbrella. Together, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Bukola Saraki were a strong force that ensured that Kwara state truly belonged to the All Progressive Congress.
It is common knowledge in Kwara state that the present governor of the state was sponsored by Saraki. That is, however, not the only thing that he did. He also sponsored the elections of senator Rafiu Adebayo, as well as that of Alhaji Sha’aba Lafiagi. He also did the same for the House of Representatives members from Kwara state.
Saraki is an icon in Kwara state politics. When he decamped from the All Progressive Congress to the People’s Democratic Party not too long ago, he was followed by the names that matter in Kwara state politics. Among them are he present governor of the state as well as the members of house of assembly from Kwara state.
In spite of the fact that the move of Saraki from the All Progressive Congress to the People’s Democratic Party was followed by those of important people in Kwara state politics, not everyone was willing to pitch their tent with Bukola Saraki.
Saraki has no doubt lost a couple of his followers as a result of his defection from the All Progressive Congress to the People’s Democratic PARTY. In the same way that he lost some of his followers, he has also gained new followers. A lot of his new followers are those that never left the People’s Democratic Party for the All Progressive Congress.
In Kwara state, it is quite common for lots of people to make it known that they would not be in support of Saraki or any of his candidates. Regardless of this, after elections, the results are usually contrary to these threats of not voting for Bukola Saraki or any of his candidates.
While trying to explain these occurrence, one of Saraki’s loyal followers Alhaji Suleiman Maja Yusuf made it known that;
“those threatening not to vote for us before the election are those that are yet to get their own special benefits of the democracy.
As you are aware the resources are limited hence the need to ration them.
So those who thought they would not get theirs before the election, would eventually get their own before it.
It is not material things alone as being touted in some quarters
Our leader is used to empower people especially those who have the acumen to work and urge them to improve on whatever is given them,
To others, he links them up with people who can give them gainful employment.
He settles hospital bills and gives succor to the orphans, widows and the destitute.
On weekly basis the aged ones are catered for by him.
Besides, unlike many other so called politics in the state, Saraki is always around his people before, during and after the elections. He is truly loved by his people, this is just the conclusion.”
While chatting with the Guardian, Lai Mohammed had this to say;
“Frankly speaking there is nothing like a struggle between Lai Mohammed and Bukola Saraki.
It is purely a battle between Saraki and the people of the state who had vowed to take their destinies into their hands. This is the thinking line of anyone who can gauge well the present political pulse of Kwarans.
They believe that no single person should hold Kwara to ransom, everybody along think thinking line is determined to see an end t the hegemony of the Sarakis in Kwara.
I am just lucky to be the most senior person in government.
We will therefore not fold our hands and allow our party to fail in the state. I foresee this during the congresses of our dear party hence the main reason for forming and organizing our own congress separate from theirs. I am not alone in struggles. Saraki and his party will not win in Kwara in the 2019 elections. I am highly impressed b the level of sincerity being put by all the stakeholders into the struggle. We have all agreed that none should play up any self-ego.
The target is that Bukola should be defeated before we can all be said to have won. That is what is driving the people in Kwara today.
We have heard people telling us not to bother ourselves coming to campaign to them in their areas. They told us that they are tired of Saraki.
In my office today (Monday August 13 this year) I received four delegations of the loyalists of this struggle.
We are really encouraged by the kind of supports people are giving us on the issue”
While addressing the issues of a rivalry between Bukola Saraki and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the factional spokesman of Kwara state’s chapter of the All Progressive Congress Sulyman Tunji Buhari portrayed Alhaji Lai Mohammed as a comedian who has gone into oblivion and is no longer aware of the happenings in the Nigerian political scene.
According to Buhari, one of Saraki’s aides;
Saraki has laid down a political structure that will be almost impossible for any politician in Kwara state to destroy. Who is Lai Mohammed where Saraki is politically?
It is a laughable statement to start comparing Saraki with Lai Mohammed.
Who is Mohammed in Kwaran politics? Can he even win an election in his political polling booth or ward?
So why is the comparison coming from? I am not even sure if he has Kwara permanent voters card.
Lai Mohammed is a paperweight politician. Any attempt to draw a comparison between him and our leader (Saraki) is just too ridiculous.”
It is no longer news that the political battle line has been drawn between the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress in Kwara state. While that remains the big picture, when the smaller picture is viewed, the political battle in Kwara state can be said to be one which exists between Saraki’s influence and Lai Mohammed’s influence. Irrespective of what anyone says or thinks, only the votes of the average Kwara resident can be a deciding factor.