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Kwara 2023: How PDP's Abdullahi Yaman Lead The Pack By Hassan Oladimeji

The Kwara state gubernatorial race is a fever pitch now with three parties slugging it together, the incumbent APC Governor, Abdulraman Abdulrazak, the PDP’s Abdulahi Shuaibu Yaman and the SDP’s Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal are the front runners in next month’s election. It promises to be a tough fight to the finish, but some factors will determine the ultimate winner of the election. 

The incumbent APC Governor came on board off the Otoge movement in 2019 and was voted into office alongside other APC candidates, the Governor has now spent 4 years in office and the consensus in the state is that the inexperience of the Governor and his cabinet has set the state further back without tangible achievements to show for the min revolution of 2019. It got so bad that the traditional Otoge politicians created another faction and then defected to the Social Democratic Party, SDP to contest against the same Abdulrahman Abdulrazak they all supported four years ago. 

The SDP’s Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal is the son of the late Governor of Kwara state, Mohammed Lawal and he is leveraging the family’s name coupled with the general disillusionment with Governor Abdulrahman to propel his campaign. Hakeem Lawal is from Ilorin Central in the capital, and he is splitting the APC votes in Ilorin where the Governor also hails from. 

PDP’s Abdulahi Yaman, a businessman from Shonga, Kwara North, he had contested the APC primaries against Governor Abdulrahman in 2019 before moving to the PDP, Yaman defeated three time house of Representatives member Ahman Pategi at the PDP Gubernatorial primaries, and has since chosen Hon. Gbenga Makanjuola, a former two term house of representatives member as his running mate. 

As the elections approach it is now evident that the PDP’s decision to pick its candidate from Kwara North is a masterstroke as the party has now grown in popularity across the Northern part of the state. The incumbent APC candidate and his SDP counterpart are both from Ilorin and the bickering between them is currently splitting Ilorin votes, coupled with the fact that the dark horses in the race, YPP’s Gobir and the NNPP are also Ilorin indigenes, making the splintering of Kwara Central votes apparent to political watchers in the state. The PDP will also be gathering massive votes in the Capital with the influence of the former Senate President and strong man of Kwara Politics, Dr, Abubakar Bukola Saraki. Dr Saraki has embarked on a statewide campaign for PDP candidates that has garnered a lot of buzz in the state for the return of PDP. 

Kwara North residents have long complained about political marginalization in the state, as they have been constantly sidelined by Politician from the Capital and the South for the highest office in the state, and they have now rallied behind the PDP’s Yaman to make the long elusive dream come through. The masterstroke of picking Gbenga Makanjuola has also endeared him to the Yoruba voters and other voters In Kwara South. 

Asides Geography and ethnic balance, Abdulahi Yaman has presented himself as the best candidate in the race by pushing his plans to take Kwara to greater hights, fight poverty, invest in human capital development and infrastructure and he has also promised to complete Projects from the PDP administration abandoned by Gov Abdulrazak because of bitter politicking that has now marred his tenure in office. Abdulahi Yaman’s unassuming nature and calm pose has endeared him to voters in the largely conservative state. 

There is a growing consensus in the state about the incumbent’s failure and both the PDP and SDP hope to gain from this, but the SDP candidate and party itself is largely seen as 6 and half a dozen by the voters as they were mostly APC members that decamped and are also being backed by Federal Minister, Lai Muhammed of the APC. Hakeem Lawal’s lack of experience is a sore point for the party as the election day approaches. 

Kwara 2023 promises to be a very exciting race and the momentum is now firmly behind PDP’s Abdulahi Yaman few weeks to the polls, the state is yearning for change and a breath of fresh air. 

Hassan Oladimeji writes from Ilorin

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