Ahead of the 2019 general elections, is the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress(APC) unwittingly undermining the efforts of the state chapter as the party strives to crush the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state?
This is the poser being unravelled as APC stakeholders in Kwara are expressing concerns over the issue.
Investigations carried out by The Nigerian Expression (TNE) in both Abuja and Ilorin revealed that Gbemisola Saraki, the younger sister of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, may be working surreptitiously with the ruling PDP in the state to undermine the APC.
Multiple sources in Abuja and Ilorin told TNE that the younger Saraki had succeeded in worming her way into the heart of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who now consults her before taking any decision on issues concerning the state.
TNE learnt that many of the party’s leaders in the state are furious at the seeming sidelining of the National Leader of the party in the state, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, warning that they may be compelled to take on the national leadership over the development.
The sources recall that in the build-up to the last parallel congress in the state which produced Bashir Bolarinwa as the authentic executive, Gbemisola had engaged in anti-party activities by attempting to foist the Bunmi Olusona factional executive on the national leadership of the party.
“In the build-up to the last primaries of the party, we had about four different groups in the state chapter of the party.
“All of us, however, came together to hold the parallel congress at an event centre in Ilorin and this produced the Bolarinwa executive recognised by the national leadership.
“Gbemisola and members of her Bunmi Olusona faction had never been happy about this development and consistently demonstrated a lukewarm attitude towards the affairs of the party ever since.
“For instance, Gbemisola had been away from the state since 2015 and only returned about a month ago to take photographs with some women, and which they posted on the social media in order to give the impression of political influence.
“But she played no role in the campaigns that led to the victory of APC in the Ekiti, Oke-Ero, Isin and Irepodun bye election,” a top party stalwart told TNE.
The source, who craved anonymity, also said no national officer of the party came in to support the campaigns.
He further said Lanre Onilu , the new National Public Secretary of the party and close ally of Gbemisola and indigene of Kwara, also stayed away during the campaigns in what ought to be his first assignment on assumption of office.
“The only rallying figure available for us in those trying times was the Minister of Information and Culture who is also the National Leader of the party.
“Yet, attempts are being made to relegate him to the background because Gbemisola is peddling false stories of her influence in the politics of the state, a fable that will soon fizzle out with the crushing of the Saraki dynasty in the state,” the source added.
Another source also raised the spectre of Gbemisola working with her elder brother and senate president to undermine the party in the forthcoming elections.
The source, a former ally of the senate president, said the perceived face-off between the two siblings was a ruse to hoodwink the people of the state.
“In 2011, we had the same scenario where Baba Saraki and Gbemisola were ranged against Bukola and the then the governor’s protégé, Abdulfatah Ahmed, emerged governor.
“The duo of Bukola and Gbemi benefitted as one became senator and another later became the Chairman of Council of Federal University, Otuoke.
“For heaven’s sake, these are siblings committed to protecting the hegemony of their Saraki dynasty at the expense of ordinary Kwarans. We must ‘shine our eyes’ and not be deceived a second time.
“There are no differences between Bukola and Gbemi politically and they still relate well as siblings,” the source said.
Recalling another instance of filial loyalty by Gbemisola to the family name, a former PDP chieftain told TNE that the younger Saraki had on the eve of the 2015 House of Assembly election in the state directed four candidates of the party to withdraw from the race, paving the way for the then emergent APC coalition and betraying the Jonathan Goodluck administration to which she had pledged loyalty.
TNE reports that Bukola Saraki and his loyalists had already defected in 2014 from the ruling PDP to the new PDP, one of the legacy parties that was to coalesce into the emergent APC that sacked the Jonathan administration.
The source said among Gbemisola’s loyalists who withdrew from the state House of Assembly race then were the then secretary of the party and a women leader in the state.
“Gbemisola cannot be trusted when it comes to the uprooting of the last vestiges of her family tree and that is why the national leadership of the party must be careful in the way they fraternise with her.
“If she can betray the Jonathan administration that gave her a university council appointment as chairman, she could as well do the same to the current administration to achieve her political interest.
“We were in the same ruling party and she shocked everybody by that single incident. Indeed, blood is thicker than water,” the source said.
He, however, said the victory of the APC in the recent bye election in the state had demystified Gbemisola and her once vaunted political influence based on the family name.
“Here was somebody who since 2015 never attended any ward, local government, senatorial or state party meeting.
“She never attended any stakeholders meeting and never participated in the campaigns that preceded the bye election, yet the party recorded a resounding victory in the bye election which is a pointer to the 2019 general elections.
“Let me assure you that the signals are becoming clearer by the day. The Saraki era and its mythical narratives based on rigging of elections is over as the people of the state are fed up with hearing that name. Go and carry out your findings,” the source demanded.
But asked why the state chapter of the party had not taken on its national leadership on the development with the elections closing in, another party chieftain based in Abuja said: “ You know we are in an election year and the drowning PDP in the state would capitalise on any internal crisis within our camp.
“What you do is to try and manage the crisis at home as the elections approach. But make no mistake, the ordinary party members know that Gbemisola is a thorn in the flesh of the party, a lone ranger that is not on ground in the state.
“Curiously, Adams Oshiomhole is helping to give her a larger than life image in the state. Listen to any phone-in programme that involves the politics of the state, Gbemi Saraki is always being viewed with suspicion by the people because they are fed up with her family’s antecedents.
“They do not even believe she is at loggerheads with her elder Bukola, because they always benefit from such so-called quarrels at the end of the day.
“Yet this is the same woman Oshiomhole has nominated into a reconciliation committee for the state, somebody who is always outside the state. I wonder who she will reconcile.
“We are tired of these Abuja tigers, let them retain their constituency in Abuja and allow us to face the task of effecting freedom for our people.”
Reacting to these developments, however, Onilu, the APC’s new image maker, in a terse text to TNE’s enquiries, simply stated: “You obviously have a lot of idle time on your hand.”