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OPINION: Lola Ashiru: A life of service! By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Date: 2017-03-21

 

For Architect Isa Oyelola Ashiru, President and Chief Executive Officer of Capital Projects Development Inc. and, the undisputed political juggernaut of Kwara south, it is truly time to walk the political talk. After more than two decades in the political trenches, it is probably time the businessman cum politician reviewed his political structure and reposition himself for his long-standing mission and ambition to transform lives.

Give it to him: Lola Ashiru has paid his dues and has not displayed any unwillingness to continue. But, in spite of everything, it continues to amaze political observers that this political engineer has continued to remain in political wilderness of sort. To his unsung honest admirers, it is strange that a man who picked and dusted up political abecederians and turned them into political heavyweights has continued to struggle on the fringes of local and national politics!

It is not for fun that the politically sagacious Lola Ashiru has variously been described as the reincarnation of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and for which he is referred to as Awo and Asiwaju of Kwara politics! Indeed, there are those who think the turban of Sardaunan Kwara fits the head of Lola Ashiru in deference to his belief in politics of inclusion and development. For good reasons, Architect Ashiru has been likened to the leaf used in wrapping the soap with both soon finding harmony with each other and becoming inseparable.

If truth be told, it is safe to say Architect Ashiru and the politics of Kwara state have become intertwined to the point they can hardly be separated, at least, not in the near future. There is scant doubt, also, that Lola Ashiru's name will get a place of pre-eminence when the history of contemporary political development of Kwara state gets to be written. This is hardly surprising.

Lola Ashiru was on ground when the defunct Alliance for Democracy, AD, took the state by storm at the beginning of the Fourth Republic. He is not only credited with introducing the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, into the state, but Architect Ashiru also takes the honour of bankrolling and transforming the Kwara state wing of the ACN into a formidable, grassroots political machine in the state.

Political pundits believe 2015 would have been the icing for Architect Ashiru's political cake. As the driving force behind the defunct ACN party in Kwara state, he it was who led the party to talks that led to the fusion of several opposition political parties into the All Progressives Congress, APC. As part of effort to form a truly national political party to confront the then ruling Peoples' Democratic Party, PDP, the newly-registered APC opened its doors to prominent politicians who defected from the then ruling party. The decision did not sit well with Architect Ashiru and the ACN leadership in the state.

In the unfolding political drama, it soon became clear that the loss suffered by the PDP when its leadership joined the APC was to be amply made up for when Arc. Ashiru led other prominent ACN leaders in the state to decamp to the PDP in February, 2014. Was it the right decision, considering the huge investment Architect Ashiru made in transforming the ACN into a formidable political party?

Though the question does not lend itself to a solitary answer, events were soon to prove that Lola Ashiru was, once again, in the right. Few weeks into the merger that sired the APC, the question of who runs the party in some states soon became a source of worry for party chiefs as it rocked the newly-registered party to its shaky foundations. In Kano state, for instance, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau pulled out his loyalists of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, one of the parties that fused into the APC, over irreconcilable differences with then sitting PDP decampee governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

In Sokoto state, irreconcilable differences were at play to pitch another ANPP chieftain and former governor, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, against another PDP decampee governor, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko. It soon became clear that the sitting governors of their respective states would triumph in the ensuing war of nerves. Unwilling to play second fiddle, Attahiru Bafarawa and Ibrahim Shekarau quit the APC to pitch tent with the PDP.

It is to the eternal credit of Architect Ashiru that he foresaw the dangers inherent in the unwieldy arrangement early in the day which could be reason why he led other ACN leaders to quit when they did. Yet, a section of his admirers insist, and with reasonable level of conviction, that Architect Ashiru should have remained in the APC by resisting calls to dump 'a child he nurtured from birth to adulthood'.

Those who hold this view believe Lola Ashiru could have weathered the storm, considering the comparative advantage the ACN enjoyed in the APC. Going by this calculation, chances are Lola Ashiru would have gone ahead to clinch the APC senatorial ticket with relative ease and would have gone ahead to win the election with a comfortable margin! For now, however, Architect Ashiru's loss while flying the PDP flag in the senatorial race must be seen for what it truly is: a wake-up call.

Those who believe it is time Arc. Ashiru took another look at his inner political circle point to the last general election when the negative vote from his home local government of Offa abbreviated his ambition! Taken on its own, the setback must have come as a rude shock to those who believe Offa, like other local governments in the Kwara south, has been a major beneficiary of various empowerment schemes of the octopoid Lola Ashiru Foundation.

With 2019 around the corner, it is not too early to rejig and reposition the Lola Ashiru political family. The repositioning challenge should not be left to people whose sole aim of swarming round the businessman cum politician is anything but honest. Rather, Architect Ashiru should sound out credible, honest and sincere handlers and political associates whose sole responsibility will be to chart the new way forward.

For a man whose life-long ambition has been to set the template for genuine representation, the search should be an effortless one.

Magaji is based in Abuja.


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