As the race for the 2019 general elections garners momentum, many politicians across the country have been engaging in political scheming to achieve their ambitions without serious challenge from other contenders. The scenario is not different in Kwara State, where there has been silent political battles for party tickets, especially in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Some of the aspirants cannot even come out to express their intent because of the so-called political structure and system that many APC stakeholders believe has been working for them. Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the incumbent governor of Kwara State, Dr Abdulfattah Ahmed, who is serving his second term, believed to be interested in becoming a Senator by 2019, may have to slug it out with Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, the current occupier of the seat in the senate. Pundits say that the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who is the political leader as well as the "alpha and omega" of the politics in Kwara State, still determines who becomes what. They say that Saraki is Governor Ahmed's political mentor because he made him what he is today both in local and national politics. This view can be traced back to the tenure of Saraki as governor of Kwara State. He served two terms of eight years and appointed the incumbent governor as his commissioner for finance. Ahmed served in the same capacity for eight years, while the tenure of Saraki lasted. Ahmed also succeeded his mentor as the governor of the state for two terms which will end after eight years by 2019. But will Ahmed be allowed to run for the Senate seat after his tenure as governor or not? That is the "million naira question" that can only be answered by the Senate president who determines that. But political analysts believe that, from the look of things in the state, many factors may work against the incumbent governor in 2019. Firstly, Governor Ahmed and Senator Ibrahim are both from Offa, Oyun, Ifelodun federal constituency. Although Ahmed is from Ifelodun Local Government, while Rafiu is from Oyun Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, the two LGAs fall under Kwara South senatorial district. Under the Kwara South senatorial district, there are two federal constituencies. The first is Offa, Oyun, Ifelodun federal constituency, while the second is Irepodun, Isin, Ekiti, Oke Ero federal constituency. Unfortunately, both Ahmed and Rafiu come from the same constituency. The implication of this is that the two personalities may not get the ticket if the rotational rule is applied so that the other constituency will also benefit. Another factor, which observers feel, might work against Ahmed from getting the Senate seat come 2019 is the fact that the Ifelodun local government, where Ahmed hails from, produced the senator representing the constituency at the upper chamber of the National Assembly between 1999 and 2003. The senator's tenure even ran up to 2005 when his second term election was nullified. The incumbent Senator Rafiu, according to findings, is the first senator to be produced from the Oyun Local Government under the Offa, Oyun, Ifelodun federal constituency. So, Oyun has just produced a senator for the first time since the inception of this democratic dispensation. The local government of the incumbent governor has not only produced a commissioner for finance but also the governor whose second tenure ends in 2019. The incumbent Senator Rafiu is said to be closer to Senate President by virtue of their togetherness in Abuja. He is said to be a loyal and obedient servant to Saraki, their 'godfather'. There have also been insinuations and rumours around the state that the governor has been having a series of misunderstandings with the Senate President and that his loyalty to Saraki is now in doubt. Many people have attributed this to the inability of the governor to function freely as the chief executive of the state despite the challenges, facing the state, particularly the inability of the governor to pay salaries of local government workers, pensioners and some state-owned tertiary institutions, especially colleges of education. Ahmed, to many Kwarans, has failed to deliver as they claim that no tangible projects can be attributed to him in the last six and a half years of his administration in the state. But many pundits, however, disagree with this viewpoint. Also, the governor seems not to be enjoying the blessing of his people in becoming senator representing them in the National Assembly because of his little contribution to their life in the local government. To the people of his constituency, Rafiu is still a better candidate for them because he has contributed in no small ways to the wellbeing of his people in the constituency through empowerment programmes, he has been embarking on ceaselessly. The people of Offa, Oyun, Ifelodun federal constituency feel the impact of Senator Rafiu who is in Abuja more than Governor Ahmed who has been in the government of the state in the last 14 years. Governor Ahmed is also said not to have a solid political structure like Rafiu because he has not, in the past, worked seriously to get the positions he has occupied. Analysts believe that he has always been getting the help and support of his godfather. Some pundits even say that the governor is really ambitious in getting the senate ticket, judging from the rate at which some musicians have been showering praises on him as the best man to represent the constituency at the upper chamber come 2019. The recently concluded local government elections in the state, where Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed to have won majority of the LG chairmanship and councillorship seats is another pointer that Ahmed may not get the seat. Daily Trust learnt that the political leader of Kwara State is not happy with the governor, following the turn of events. Saraki, analysts say, seems unhappy over the performance of the governor which, he feels, has not represented him well in the state. So, the lost love between Ahmed and his boss may hinder his purported ambition despite the praise-singing at any outing attended by the governor. Political observers feel that for Ahmed to get the senate seat, he may have to work extra hard even against his 'godfather'. With the good records of Rafiu, presented before their boss and his little contribution to his constituency, it may be difficult for Ahmed to get the Senate seat come 2019. No doubt, the 2019 elections in Kwara State, especially the contest for the senate seat from Offa, Oyun, Ifelodun federal constituency between the incumbent governor and Senator Rafiu may be a tough fight. Special loyalty to the political leader may, therefore, greatly work to determine the eventual candidate of the APC.
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