There is panic in the camp of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, following the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) loss of last Saturday’s House of Representatives by-election in Ekiti/ Oke-Ero/ Isin/ Irepodun Federal Constituency to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The defeat has forced Saraki to return to the drawing board to plot how to win the senatorial election in Kwara South Senatorial District.
One of the options being weighed by Saraki is to prevail on Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed to drop his senatorial aspiration for the incumbent Senator Abdulrafiu Ibrahim, who is believed to have more clout in the area than the governor.
It was not clear last night whether the governor would accept the decision of his godfather (Saraki).
An investigation conducted by our correspondent revealed that Saraki was disturbed by the defeat of PDP in some of his strongholds, especially in Ekiti and Oke-Ero local government areas.
According to findings, a post-mortem conducted by party leaders attributed the loss to alleged “waning influence of the governor among the electorate in the area.”
It was learnt that party leaders were devastated that the governor could not mobilise his fellow Igbomina/Ekiti people to vote for PDP.
One of the recommendations made by party leaders was that the governor should forsake his senatorial aspiration in the larger interest of the party.
The PDP leaders resolved to take a cue from a similar political scenario in Lagos State.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “There is still unease in Saraki’s camp over the defeat of PDP in last Saturday’s poll in Kwara State. The opposition party was caught unawares by the victory of APC.
“The PDP has been meeting on how to avert more defeats in 2019. A major step being taken by Saraki is how to keep its political family intact.
“The outcome of the by-election also showed that the PDP needs to do more homework to retain the State in 2019.
“There are more aggrieved PDP leaders and members than Saraki had thought.
“If he concentrates on his assignment as the DG of the Presidential Campaign Council of PDP, he might lose the state which is already slipping off his hands.
“The choice of the governorship candidate of PDP has polarised the party and protest vote and intra-party sabotage are looming.
“To add the loss of Kwara South Senatorial District to these challenges will put PDP be in dire straits.
“It is really tight for Saraki and his team now unless he reunites with members of his political family.”
At press time, it was gathered that the Senate President made a shuttle to Ilorin to take charge of the situation.
Another source added: “Saraki has opened up discussions with the governor on why his candidacy cannot fly with the loss of Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin/Irepodun Federal Constituency.
“The results of the by-election have proven that Ahmed is unpopular and PDP might lose Kwara South Senatorial District to APC.
“Some voters claimed to have cast protest votes against the governor over salary arrears.
“The party has the choice of risking Ahmed as the candidate and losing the district. With the way the ruling APC is waxing stronger in the state, PDP cannot afford such a luxury.
“If the governor lets off the senatorial ticket, it will now be conceded to the incumbent senator, Abdulrafiu Ibrahim, who is regarded as a better electoral asset in the district than the governor.
“With the choice of Senator Ibrahim, the calculation is that he can match the APC candidate, Arc. Lola Ashiru who is rated as “formidable and a game changer.”
“Ashiru’s threat to PDP is real.
“Saraki has returned to Ilorin to re-strategise, reconcile with all those aggrieved over the outcome of governorship primaries and plan for the battle ahead.
“A big task at hand is how to clear the backlog of salaries of local government workers and lecturers in-state colleges of education and other institutions.
“Except workers and pensioners are appeased, APC will win the state.”
Asked what Saraki might offer the governor in place of his senatorial ticket, the source added: “A likely ministerial slot if PDP wins the presidency. This is a safe deal.”
At press time, it was confirmed that Senator Ibrahim, who was in Lagos for the weekend, had been summoned to Ilorin for a meeting with Saraki today.”
But a PDP source said: “I think it is the governor who is trying to voluntarily forego his senatorial ticket, based on some political realities.
“Ahmed has been a financial expert all his life. He has little or no exposure to politics. The only viable alternative is for him to step aside.”
When contacted, the State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr Tunde Ashaolu, said: “There is nothing like that. It is a sheer rumour.”