Gbemi’s ‘Anointment’ No Threat To Me


Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa is a grassroots politician and serving member, House  of Representatives. Today, he is among the strongest contenders for the governorship  of Kwara State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this  interview,  he  reveals his agenda for the state. Excerpts:

You just declared your interest to run for the governorship election in Kwara State;  how do you intend to go about it?
Well, it will be just like I did in previous elections in which I had participated  and won. And since I arrived in Kwara, I have been contacting people; I have visited  the 16 local government areas in the state and I can tell you that people actually  want me as their governor come 2011 and by the grace of God, I will emerge as the  PDP’s candidate, and eventually governor of the state.

But you are new in Kwara politics and besides, you know it is a peculiar terrain  because of the Saraki factor…
Well, I think we should talk less about the issue of Saraki or godfatherism because  there is nowhere without a godfather in politics and there is nothing bad in that  with regards to Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. He is my leader, but he is not the  ultimate factor in winning an election in Kwara politics. However, I respect him.  His anointment of his daughter as the next governor doesn’t bother me because as a  Moslem; I believe in Allah above any man and I can say it boldly that I am not a  pushover in politics. I had my secondary and university education in Kwara. So, I am  very familiar with Kwara politics and by the grace of God, I am not going to be  disappointed.

Why did you join the PDP and why did you decide to shift your political base to  Kwara to contest for the governorship?
I believe that politics or getting to a position in a place like Lagos is more  difficult than in Kwara simply because they play communal politics. You get the  blessing of Dr. Olusola Saraki, you are there, but I can boldly tell you that it  will no longer be business as usual. The reason is simply because I was drafted into  the race by my people, some of whom are based in Lagos, while some are in Kwara.  They have been following my political journey with keen interest and they are happy  with my progress in politics; so, they called me and requested me to come to Kwara  because of what I have done in Lagos — a non-Lagosian for that matter, to be a  two-term councillor, three-term council chairman and so on.
This made them happy and they so decided that I would be useful for proper  transformation of Kwara State. Those are the reasons behind my coming to Kwara and  they also suggested that the platform we can use to achieve the goal is PDP, so I  had no choice and that was why I left AC, now ACN.

But some people are saying that you are being planted in PDP by the former governor  of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu…
What is the sense in that? How can Asiwaju plant me in PDP? I don’t think it is  reasonable because if Asiwaju planted me in PDP, it will be a minus for him because  he wants his party, the ACN to continue growing and spread across the country and  mind you, ACN will also have a candidate for the election in Kwara.

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You said some people drafted you into the race; how will you make a difference then,  given your preparedness for the job?
We must say the truth; how many governors can equate themselves with Governor  Babatunde Fashola in terms of performance? That is what I am saying. It was my  performance in my previous offices in Lagos that prompted the people of Kwara State  to invite me to make Kwara better. BOB is a name synonymous with performance and  delivery. People of Lagos supported me during my stay in Lagos, not because I am  most educated, not because I am the richest, but because they know that I am a man  that attaches importance to service.
And for them to ask me to serve in a higher capacity is a big challenge for me to do  more. The likes  of Okonjo Iweala was invited by the then President Olusegun  Obasanjo from the World Bank because of her performance. So the intention of those  who invited me is to showcase me as one of those God blessed Kwara with. And I am  also happy and prepared for the challenge and Allah will see me through the  elections into victory.

To what extent have you reached out to the 16 local governments in preaching your  gospel of better Kwara and solicit support for your political ambition?
I am glad to inform you that I have representatives in all the 193 wards in the  state. My network is solid and you will discover that fact during the primary  elections by the grace of God.

With endorsement of Senator Gbemisola Saraki by her father, do you think that Kwara  PDP executive can provide a level-playing ground for the aspirants during the  primary?
So far, the party executive committee is still playing an open card, more so when  they have come out openly to distance the party from the endorsement of Senator  Gbemisola Saraki. I have confidence in the party exco and I believe they will be  fair to all. However, recently when I declared my intention at my Agunji Ward, the  party exco decided to punish some party elders who attended the event, and I see no  reason for such action because we belong to the same political party.
Why should they punish a party member simply because he attended a political event  organised by his political associate? To me personally, it is wrong. But my message  to Kwarans is that they should rise up because we have no other state than Kwara. We  should learn from what is happening in other states. Kwara has been in existence  since 1967 and sadly, we cannot show anything to justify the age. We must ensure  that come 2011, we install a government that will bring total transformation to the  state so that we can move with others of our age group.

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