Oba Abdulraheem: New colossus bestriding Kwara governorship race
Prof. Abdulraheem, Kwara NNPP governorship candidate
By Razak Owolabi
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
His foray into Kwara politics is not fortuitous; the foundation seems to have been laid as an administrator and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Ilorin, which till now has one of the highest, if not the highest, rate of subscription by Nigerian students and applicants through the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
Emeritus Prof. Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem, also the holder of the chieftaincy title, Talba of Ilorin, has brought excitement and vibrancy to the Kwara State governorship race since Tuesday, June 28, 2022, when he became the governorship candidate on the platform of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
Oba is seen as a very formidable candidate whose entry is putting candidates of other political parties on their toes, thus waking them from their deep sleep due to his superior yet intimidating credentials and strategic leadership prowess.
He is popularly referred to in the state as Ọ̀rẹ́ Mẹ̀kúnù or Abokin Talakawa (A friend of the poor masses) due to his close affinity to the people at the grassroots level.
The NNPP governorship candidate was also a former Sole Administrator of the Kwara State College of Education Oro, Chairman of Governing Council of the Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin and the third Executive Chairman of the Federal Character Commission.
He was also the Chairman Governing Council, Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin.
Oba was the Initiator and Coordinator of the Ilorin Aviation College Committee, Chairman Political Transition Committee 2003, Chairman Implementation Committee, Muhammad Kamaldeen University, Ilorin and Member, JAMB Governing Board.
These experiences mostly in the public service are evidence that Oba is a versatile manager of human and capital resources.
As a chieftaincy title holder, the Talba is also a grassroot leader who is always at home with
rural dwellers and the youth population in Kwara State.
His campaign train has been moving steadily from one part of the state to another, communicating the credentials, capabilities and inspiring vision of the illustrious son of the soil to the people that matter most, Nigerians at the grassroots level.
Undoubtedly, Oba has garnered a lot of experience in service to humanity, an attribute a Governor of any Nigerian state should possess.
The Kwara NNPP governorship candidate has been visiting traditional rulers and their subjects at the grassroots level to carry them along and appeal for their support.
Among the rulers so far visited include the Chairman of Kwara State Traditional Rulers Council, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari and the Oloffa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi.
Others are, Olukotun of Ikotun, Oba AbdulRasaq Abioye, Olojoku of Ojoku, Oba AbdulRasaq Afolabi, Onira of Ira, Oba Abdulwahab Oyetoro, Elerin of Erin Ile, Oba Abdulganiyu Ajibola and Olota of Ilota, Alhaji Mohammed Olarewaju.
Owa Lobo of Obbo-Ile, Oba Adebayo Rufus Olusegun and Olosi of Osi, Oba Salihu Abdulkareem Adasofegbe, also hosted the NNPP governorship candidate in their palaces.
Other traditional rulers he visited included, Alofa of Ilofa, Oba Samuel Dada. Olusin of Isanlu Isin, Oba Solomon Oloyede, Emir of Ilesha Baruba, Prof. Halidu Abubakar and Olola of Olla, Prof. Billy Olajide.
His love for the people at the grassroots must have informed his flagging off his gubernatorial campaign at Okuta in Baruten Local government area, very far from Ilorin, the state capital.
As expected, he paid a courtesy call on the traditional ruler, the Emir of Okuta, Alhaji Idris Abubakar.
At the Emir’s palace, Oba reiterated that one of the first things he will do in office is to re-establish local government authority by conducting the local government election immediately, not later than six months after the general elections.
The governorship candidate also promised to provide functional and quality education and invest in agriculture if elected as the governor.
“There is no doubt that Kwara State is in dire need of a change of effective leadership and good governance; my experience in the public service will bring about the needed transformation,” he said.
Oba alleged that the present APC-led administration in the state has performed below the people’s expectations, and he expressed the urgent need to replace it with an NNPP government.
He asserted that an NNPP government would bring the desired change to the people of Kwara, who are still yearning for fresh air regarding socio-economic development, especially at the grassroots level.
In his response, the Emir lauded the NNPP for flagging off its campaign in his local government area.
He wished the gubernatorial candidate and his team well at the elections.
Talking of qualities of a good leader, the NNPP governorship candidate says such a person must separate falsehood from the truth while following the latter.
Oba added that a good leader must always have his ears to the ground to gauge the pulse of the people he governs so that his programmes and policies will always include their inputs.
When asked about his chance of success in his quest to become the next governor of Kwara despite the strong presence of PDP and the ruling APC candidates, the NNPP candidate expressed maximum optimism about winning the election.
Oba also disagreed with the misconception that the NNPP is a new party that may not go far in the country’s political terrain.
“NNPP is not as new as you may want to think. It’s been registered almost the same time as PDP was registered.
“Throughout the years, it’s been contesting elections through various candidates all over Nigeria. In some states, they won; in some, they lost.
“Most importantly, it’s been contesting elections in Nigeria. In Kwara, NNPP may be coming to the scene late, but it doesn’t diminish its potential as a party that will win the governorship in 2023,” he said.
According to Oba, the character and social standing of those contesting elections are factors that matter, not the time a party is formed.
“They, the credible candidates, are the ones to bring recognition to the party as desired,” he said.
While speaking at a debate for governorship candidates in Kwara recently, Oba promised to make the education of Kwara people his priority.
Coming from a background of solid educational achievements, this should not be a surprise to any keen observer.
Oba, who completed his doctorate studies at the University of Kent, UK, has been a teacher and lecturer with many years of experience.
As an accomplished scholar and administrator, he has enjoyed a glorious career in the teaching profession, from the elementary classroom teacher to the professorial chair at the university.
He also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees of Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Sheffield, respectively.
“An uneducated population is a doomed population. So the first people I am going to partner with are the teachers,” he told the audience at the debate organised by the Kwara State council of Nigeria Labour Congress.
“I will leverage technology as I did at the University of Ilorin to make Kwara State the knowledge hub for the world and, in the process, provide employment for the teeming youths,” Oba said.
The NNPP governorship candidate also assured the organised labour unions that he would work with them with honesty and sincerity.
At a town hall meeting with the people of Oyun local government, in Erin Ile, the Talba promised to bring the government down to the grassroots through local government autonomy.
He also urged youths in the area to participate fully in politics, leveraging their energy, passion and technology competence to achieve inclusive, sustainable development through the ballot box.
Oba was given a warm reception at the palace of Elerin of Erin Ile by the chiefs though the traditional ruler himself was not around.
The chiefs prayed for Talba’s victory while giving testimonies of his achievements in their community, Kwara State and Nigeria at large.
On his campaign visit to Offa, another prominent town, the emeritus professor assured the people of Offa Local Government of his support if voted as the next Kwara Governor.
He said that based on his consultation with different groups in the community, if elected, his administration would address many of the challenges facing the ancient town.
The former Vice Chancellor urged his supporters to get their permanent voters’ cards while thanking them for the show of love accorded him.
The State Chairman of NNPP, AbdulRasaq Abdulsalam, described Prof. Oba as an honest man who would deliver on all his promises.
Oba did not just believe in hard work; he is a prayer warrior and religious person who believes in the power of Almighty God.
Towards this end, he led NNPP candidates in Kwara in December 2022 in a prayer session with notable Islamic clerics praying for the candidate’s success in the 2023 general elections.
They also prayed for the success of the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Musa Kwankwaso.
Oba expressed confidence in the party’s victory in the elections, saying the party is ready to take over power in Kwara and Nigeria in general.
“Insha Allah, we are doing everything possible to achieve success. This is because we have confidence in Allah, and when you have confidence in Allah, you will achieve success,” he said.
While assessing the level of preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the elections, the NNPP governorship candidate hailed the commission for “their impartiality” and the introduction of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) in the electoral process.
Oba however, condemned the relentless attacks on INEC facilities across the country.
Speaking on vote buying, he urged Nigerian electorates to resist the vice, saying that it must be stopped as it was not giving credibility and authenticity to the country’s elections.
“Vote buying is another disease we must cure,” the governorship candidate emphasised.
Keen observers of the Kwara political landscape are unanimous that with the emergence of Oba in the race for Government House, a new sheriff is indeed in town to take over affairs in the “State of Harmony”.
With his campaign slogan of “Ìrọ̀rùn dé” (Comfort is here), Oba is seen by many as the genuine bringer of the social, economic and political reliefs the people of Kwara have long been yearning for. (NANFeatures)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)