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Kwara Bye Election: How We Tamed Saraki - Kayode Oyin-Zubair


A prominent chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, Kayode Oyin-Zubair, has explained how the opposition party was able to defeat the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency bye-election held last week. He said the loss has shown that Senate President Bukola Saraki has been tamed politically in the state.
Oyin Zubair, who ran for the APC House of Representatives ticket to represent the people of Offa/Oyun/Ifelodun Federal Constituency during the last party primaries, is one of the frontline politicians being touted by the Igbomina race in their struggle to be given the deputy governorship candidate slot of the APC for the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state.
Dare Odufowokan reports that the Igbaja-born politician, while attributing the victory of his party to the commitment of party members and the below par performance of the Saraki-backed PDP administration in the state in the last three and a half years, boasted that the APC will send the ruling party packing from the government house next year. Excerpts

Your party, the APC, defeated the ruling PDP during the last bye-election held in Kwara State. What did your party do differently?

If any election is conducted today, I mean any election, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his party will lose again. This is not the first time he is losing elections. He lost the local government election of 2017 that was supervised, funded and monitored by an agency of Kwara State Government. The difference in this election is that all agencies of government that had hitherto helped him in manipulating elections in the past were not only diligent but professional in discharging their lawful duties.

Saraki can’t win in any free contest; he is conditioned to manipulating people and the system. He has never won any free, fair and credible contest since he joined politics. Recall that the 2003 election that produced him as governor was heavily manipulated in a militarised atmosphere, and a sitting president in 2007 described that year election as characterised with flaws, those were the elections that produced him as a two-term governor.

In 2011, Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe won the Senate in Kwara Central until Dr. Saraki pressed the buttons that gave him victory overnight. Even the BBC Radio had announced Oloriegbe as the winner. He would have been rejected in 2015 but he rode on the back of President Muhammadu Buhari to return to the Senate. As members of the same party then, I heard him using Buhari’s name to market himself on campaign outings.

Are you saying the APC has successfully demystified Saraki in Kwara politics?

I have always maintained that Bukola Saraki is not a spirit, he is not invincible. He is not everywhere on election day but he has an army that helps to disrupt credible election processes everywhere. They are trained to snatch ballot boxes and stuff it as they like. Remove thuggery from our electioneering processes, we have the people. Majority of our people in Kwara State have rejected him and his old manipulative style.

Our people are tired of underperforming governments that have been around in the last 16 years. Governments that have been talking about water reticulation in Ilorin metropolis alone for two decades, yet 70% of the residents survive on alternative sources of water. Life is difficult in our villages – life expectancy is abysmally low in my state.

Owode in Arandun ward, one of the places where the last bye election took place has no light, no road but the inhabitants are real time farmers. The only borehole sunk for them many years ago by a development agency is on the fringe of the village because hydrological geo-survey indicated that water couldn’t be easily accessed anywhere in the village centre.

So, they still trek some metres to access borehole. When their pump was bad for several years, it took the intervention of our water project initiative, which is a collaboration of kind hearted Kwarans here and in diaspora that facilitated my organisation to assist our people all over the state, so that all our people are not sentenced to death through water borne diseases.

Is that initiative of yours still helping the people of the state today?

We have never wavered in our self-imposed responsibility of making life easy for the people of Kwara State. We have worked in 12 local government areas out of 16 local government areas that make up the state. Incidentally, our work started in the four local government areas that make up the federal constituency where bye election was held last week. We launched it on April 19, 2017 at Iloffa, Oke-Ero Local Government.

Thereafter, we worked in Ajasepo, Obbo-Aiyegunle, Osi, Alla, Arandun, Odo-Owa and a host of others. We have covered nearly everywhere in the Southern Senatorial District and most part of the Central. I personally financed the repair of hand pump borehole in Agbaji, the family compound of Saraki in Ilorin. The women were happy and prayed profusely for us after we fixed it.

We moved as far as our support base could carry us. In 2017, when cholera broke out in parts of Ilorin with scores of children from Sobi and other areas dying of the epidemic, it never spread to areas where we intervened. Essentially, cholera is associated with poor hygiene and you can’t achieve good hygiene without safe source of water. I am grateful to God and those he has raised to support us in Nigeria and other lands. We have so much to do because our government is insensitive.

Currently, we are set to step up on our agenda to develop our rural communities having traversed the state in the last few years. Our interactions with all spheres of rural dwellers -women and children in particular, indicated that our people are living under very difficult conditions to eke survival. Our water intervention project has proven to us that the wide gap in water problem in the state is not near remedy at all.

There is nothing concerted on the part of government that is convincing to believe that end to this acute problem is in sight. In view of this, we are pulling together our resources locally to provide home grown and sustainable solution to this self -inflicted problem arising from total neglect and lack of capacity by those who should be in charge. As the dry season approaches, we are concerned on how they will survive this period. May we never be subjected to any emergency again.

Therefore, our organisation in the coming days shall launch a new initiative geared towards improving our personal hygiene, a healthy environment and access to safe water. We will work it out through collaboration with kind hearted individuals and relevant agencies across the globe. Ogele solar system is our pride while Ajisaiye water intervention gives us joy every day.

So how do you combine politics and community service?

I can never be tired of community development service. That is where you will find my heart. I’m passionate about community service. I love the rural dwellers. I enjoyed working with them and giving them new lease of life. If you happened to visit Ajisaiye village in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State, you will shed tears. I am very sure of that. Villagers struggled with cattle to get water from a pond every day.

If they failed to reach the pond by 3am and cattle got there ahead of them; that is the end of show. They will neither bath nor cook that day because there would be no water. That village has no school, no light and no health centre. God used us, through assistance from kind hearted persons – two whites also contributed from US and Canada -we sunk a new borehole for them.

My joy is that our partnership has yielded fruits. A Kwaran in Imperial College London connected us with a company with interest in household solar system with entertainment appliances. We were able to light up a village that her neighbour has been connected to the grid more than 30 years ago. Government gave them a transformer more than 6 years ago but it has not been energised.

The villagers are struggling to contribute to meet up with the cost of energising it. They are happy using our solar system for upward of 15 months now. I’m happy too! As the dry season is approaching, we will resume our water intervention project with new initiatives that can make us source materials locally.

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