On Wednesday 25th July, 2022, it was exactly three months since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State nominated Shuaibu Yaman Abdullah as its gubernatorial candidate for the 2023 general elections.
The former commissioner on the board of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) emerged after defeating two other contestants in the race by 518 votes.
The two other contestants, two-term member of the House of Representatives, Aliyu Ahman Patigi; and former Nigerian Ambassador to Japan, Professor Yisa Gana, scored 31 and 14 votes respectively.
Despite initial rancour within the party over the results of the primaries, Kwara PDP seems to be clawing out of the rubbles , especially with uniting the guber contestants behind the flagbearer. However, there was recently a scar with a gale of the defection of some of their members in Kwara South and Central districts to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Notwithstanding, Yaman Abdullah is widely considered the most visible challenger to the incumbent Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on the account of party structure, financial war chest, etc., in the coming elections in the state.
But according to temperate observers and political analysts, the gubernatorial candidate appears to be struggling to prove his preparedness and capability for the Ahmadu Bello Way. This was said to be evident in his “oft-simplistic, error-riddled” statements on issues and a generally “largely pedestrian” campaign. Believed to be the sentiments of the critical elites and young intelligentsias, Yahman’s candidature with former lawmaker Gbenga Makanjuola is also beleaguered by allegations of corruption, godfatherism, and sectional politics.
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Upon a careful background check, PotPourri brings to you three big gaffes the guber candidacy has reportedly made in the last three months in the course of electioneering.
May: ‘The blind carries the crippled.’
Immediately after the May 25th gubernatorial primary elections, plots for the choice of running mate to Yaman Abdullah began.
Apparently decided to be a slot for the Kwara Southerners, a local online newspaper in Kwara, InsiderNg.net reported June 7 that the party leadership were considering two term federal lawmaker, Hon Gbenga Makanjuola; former adviser on Agriculture & Water support to ex-Governor Ahmed, Hon. Anu Ibiwoye; socialite and former senatorial aspirant Chief Bode Oyedepo, among others.
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The party leadership, which many believed were influenced by its supreme leader, Senator Bukola Saraki eventually settled for Makanjuola, a former aide to the former senate president.
Apart from the fact that factors pointing to the disappointment in the process of selection has made one of the hopefuls, mercurial Chief Bode De-Way to join the ruling APC, local media and young voters also appeared unexcited by the pick.
In the weeks preceding the unveiling, many of the local reports represented Makanjuola’s running case with the EFCC on fraud and embezzlement as banner headlines in apparent protest. A widely read opinion article by a youth leader identified as Ibraheem Abdullateef also described Yaman/Makanjuola ticket as “leprous.”
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While all these are probably not representative of the general mood of the public at the moment, it is undeniable that the people of Kwara state are not favourably disposed to scandals involving corruption, embezzlement of funds, and other act of impunity post – O’toge revolution.
It may well come up that Makanjuola’s tainted image will be a baggage to Yaman’s candidacy.
While craving anonymity, a frontline anti-corruption activist dubbed PDP’s team as “The blind carrying the crippled.’
June: Kwara’s debt acrobatics
While addressing party faithfuls and supporters at an event unveiling Hon. Gbenga Makanjuola as his running mate in the capital city, Ilorin, Yaman attempted to talk about the state’s debt profile with a view to criticise the incumbent on its ” alarming” rise.
However, the June 18 event appeared to be overshadowed by the gaffe he made during the address.
“We are not unaware of the problem the APC has put on us in Kwara State by the astronomical increase in the debt portfolio with over 300%. Kwara from the least indebted state is now one of the most indebted,” Yaman remarked.
According to multiple factchecks, there were major false claims in the above statement.
By March 2022, Kwara was only listed as the 19th most indebted state in Nigeria by the Debt Management Office (DMO).
The available record also vitiated the statement that the debt profile of Kwara has jumped 300% between 2019 and now.
In 2021, the AbdulRazaq-led administration took N27.2bn private bond ” to bridge infrastructural gaps.” Afterwards, it also announced that like 35 other state governments across Nigeria, they accepted a Federal Government’s offer of N18.6bn loan refinancing facility to ease the burden of paying back loans which dated back to 2015.
Combined together, this would only raise the domestic debt profile by 68.3%, well below Yaman’s 300% claim.
Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Rafiu Ajakaye, while reacting, stoically refuted Yaman’s claims.
“Both claims are false. One, at no time in Nigeria’s chequered history was Kwara the least indebted state. In 2019, Kwara had the 10th highest debt profile in Nigeria,” Ajakaye added in his widely referenced rejoinder ‘ Of Yaman’s debt gaffe and PDP’shock-jockss’ in June.
“The first and only time the state’s debt profile rose so high was in 2009 when former Governor Bukola Saraki took N17bn bond, among other facilities he had earlier accessed. That took the debt profile to above 300%, considering the fact that he had inherited a below N5bn domestic debt from the late Mohammed Lawal’s administration.”
That time, it was clear that the figures and data had hooked Yaman’s throat.
July: Yahman digs PDP’s rubbles
Although it was acknowledged by a section of netizens on social media as a good move for the guber candidate to go round assessing the level of basic education in the state, majority has been vociferous in their criticism of Yaman dubbing it as a “show.” As someone who is a serial contestant for the state’s top seat, it appeared there is a standard he is expected to operate regarding governance and economy of the state.
That notwithstanding, Yaman’s attempt to rationalise the efforts of the incumbent government on the state of basic education in the state was not taken to lightly by netizens.
According to background checks, it was confirmed that rots in the basic education was one of the weaknesses of the immediate former administration in Kwara State. Due to non-committal of funds after the diversion of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) funds, the state was blacklisted from 2013 to 2019 when the APC-led government was inaugurated.
Having cleared the arrears and raised the counterpart funds, UBEC unbanned and granted Kwara 14.2 bn to reposition the basic education sector. Aware of its ongoing efforts in renovating classrooms, recruitment and training of teachers in ICT under KWARALEARN, among other things, Yaman’s poser has since been met with disregard, ridicule, and hostility by the government’s spokersperson and the public.
“Today, as part of our fact-finding efforts on the state of education at the basic level, the above pictures were captured at Oke Apomu LGEA in Ilorin West Local Government of the State. So, what has this government done with the N14.2b SUBEB fund?,” Yaman asked while sharing pictures of pupils seated on the bare floor in a rather decrepit classroom in Ilorin.
While some members of his party, PDP, have taken it to be an inadvertent dig at his own party given the history of the ex-governor Abdul Fatah Ahmed administration in the UBEC saga, analysts felt it rather gave an opening for the current government to boast of their strides in the sector. According to an analyst, Opeyemi Quadri on Facebook, “it was unstrategic.”
Never one to miss such an opportunity, the CPS to Governor Rafiu Ajakaye replied that “Truth is that there are still dozens of such facilities across Kwara State, and this speaks to the mess that public education (indeed Kwara) was in 2019.
“In 2019 when this government was inaugurated, there were dilapidated structures across at least 2,064 basic schools in Kwara: 480 at Junior Secondary School level and 1,584 in Primary Schools. That was the Kwara story. It was a fallout of the next-to-zero investments in basic schools for nearly a generation. History: between 2013 and 2019, Kwara was under an official blacklist of the federal government for diverting funds meant for improving school infrastructures, training of teachers, among others,” he explained.
Following the rejoinder, many social media commenters said Yaman and PDP scored an “own-goal.”
“PDP scored own-goal with that pictures. They failed to address the real issue. They allow Ajakaye to capitalise on their weakness,” said a Whatsapp user in one of the Kwara’s regarded online forums.
CPS Rafiu Ajakaye described the decrepit schools as a “legacy of the PDP.”
“The public needs to understand that the 2,064 dilapidated schools and hospitals (including Oke Apomu LGEA school) were a legacy of the same individuals in the PDP who are now sharing pictures of schools in shambles. The new administration is only struggling to rebuild what became horribly bad under PDP’s watch.
“Here are the things to note: next time you see another dilapidated school or hospital structure, please know that it is the fallout of the PDP years. It is to be noted that the new administration is doing its best to fix these rots, while also investing in other critical needs of the people within available resources. What this means is that these rots will take years to go away. No magic will make them disappear. Only consistent investment will. This is the point the Governor made last December about the depth of the rots. The good news is that this administration is doing a lot in this regard.”Gauging the public opinion and sentiment, the Oke-Apomu LGEA saga sits as another error in the comeback campaign of the Yaman/Makanjuola’s ticket for Kwara PDP.”
Seeking external review of the campaign of PDP and Yaman/Makanjuola ticket as an alternative to the incumbent APC, Governor AbdulRazaq/Alabi ticket, a professor in the Department of Political Science University of Ilorin who seek anonymity said he was bothered by the lack of depth, ideals, and initiative in the opposition parties’ activities in the state.
While he remarked that many of them are seemingly contesting in obscurity, he decried PDP’s candidate Yaman Abdullah’s penchant for flunking data and figures for political purposes.
“It is almost one month, one error from him.” The prof. said looking worried.