The defection of Theophilous Bamigboye, a retired army officer, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, renders opposition in Kwara State impotent
By Akin Makanjuola
With last week's cross carpeting of Col. Theophilous Bamigboye (rtd) to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the opposition in Kwara State has finally capitulated to the supremacy and leadership of Olusola Saraki, former leader of the Senate in the second republic. Saraki has held sway over the political life of the state for over 30 years.
Shortly after the 2007 general elections, the opposition in the state came together to confront what they considered the attempt by the PDP to turn Kwara State to a one-party state and a family affair. The Saraki family alone produced the incumbent governor, Bukola and Senator Gbemisola Saraki, who represents Kwara central senatorial district. He also single handedly nominated Abubakar Baraje as national secretary of PDP. Some other political appointees equally had the imprimatur of the elder Saraki. A source told this magazine that “no one becomes anything (in Kwara State) without Saraki's permission.
The arrowhead of the coalition of opposition political parties in the state opposed to the reign of the Saraki family in a multi-ethnic state before now was Col. Bamigboye. As he “surrendered” last week, the former military governor enjoined his Kwara south people “to stop being in opposition. It is not good. I was there before; I was at the other side before and today, I am back to the main fold.”
Governor Oyinlola Olagunsoye, the governor of Osun State, who is fast assuming the role of “a mediator and peacemaker”, brokered the peace between Saraki and Bamigboye.
A source told this magazine that one of the conditions of accepting Bamigboye back to PDP is for him to renounce all claims or plans now or in the future for the governorship of the state and follow the leader. Spokesman of the Action Congress, AC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is also from Ilorin, described the growing tendency among politicians to cross carpet to PDP as a sign of weakness and crass opportunism. A leading social critic and leader of the Aforija Descendants Union, Olola Kassum in a telephone conversation told Newsworld that, “The action of Bamigboye, amounts to a sell out and smacks of political prostitution. How do you ignite a fire you cannot control?” He queried.
Kwara State was carved out of the old Ilorin province; it has three major components comprising Lafiagi Pategi, Shonga axis and Igbomina, from where Bamigboye hails from. The opposition to Ilorin emirate has a historical angle to it as the people of Igbomina (Omu-Aran) in the past have tried to resist the spread of Islam and by extension Fulani Jihad. This has formed the fulcrum of the current opposition led by people like Olola Kassum of Aforija Descendants Union, Gbenga Olawepo, a businessman, and AC gubernatorial candidate in the 2007 elections, Senator Ajadi Makanjuola, Wole Oke and until recently, Col. Theophilous Bamigboye.
While the influence of political god-fathers has waned in some parts of the country, the case of Kwara State defies all political permutations –it is a situation where, the god-father never sleeps.