In this interview with HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, one-time member of the National Assembly and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State, Hon Abraham Ashaolu reflected on actions of the new All Progressives Congress (APC) government, the last general election and allegations against the last government and dynasty among other issues in the polity. Excerpts.

As a member of the 7th Kwara State House of Assembly, what is your take on how lawmakers fared on the government’s suspension of Local Government chairmen?

Everybody knows that it is an illegality to have suspended the council chairmen. The constitutional provisions are there and happenings in places where such actions have been taken place and the court nullifying them are there. I am sure for political reasons, the authorities just  decided to go the illegal way. If there is a petition before the House, the next thing is to table and refer it to the appropriate committee which will look at it and feed the plenary back. It is after such action has been taken and the issue debated upon before suspension can come in and that is even after the committee has completed its job. The job will never be complete unless the allegations raised are investigated. All these were not done. Somebody allegedly brought a petition, it was presented same day and they decided to make a pronouncement passing judgment in their own case for that matter. It’s illegal and I am sure they themselves are aware of it. The House erred on this matter and the Governor followed suit fuel insinuation that the legislature was acting the script of the executive which was why it was easy to pass the suspension in a matter of hours without investigation and sending it to the Governor who also approved it in a matter of hours. The legislature and executive are acting hand in gloves.

But some people have given the Governor kudos for suspending rather than sacking the affected chairmen as it has happened in even PDP controlled states, what do you have say to about this?

In the first place, we talk of elected council chairmen and not the so called caretakers which the highest court in the land pronounced as illegal. If anybody took action against caretaker administrations, it is a different story from that of those elected. The latter are products of due process and cannot be sacked or suspended. In Ekiti, we already have a case where it was done but reversed by the Supreme Court and at the end of the day, all the cost of the wrong action including salaries, entitlements and allowances of the affected chairmen were shouldered by the government with tax payers’ money. That I believe should be enough for us to learn. In this instance, sacking chairmen will suffer the same fate and the totality of the action will amount to illegality.

What is your advice on this? 

There are very strong suspicion which is difficult to resist that both the government and the legislature are operating together in this crime and that is one of the reasons people advised the House not to be mere rubber stamp of the executive. The present legislators may be one of the least experienced in the state will be having in a long while with 23 greenhorns. Personally, I feel their inexperience might have accounted for their action which is unfortunate.

The Governor recently lamented the peculiarity of the state’s financial situation, he only had about N1bn for projects after using N2.3bn for salary from monthly allocation. How do you compare this lamentation with that of the last government?

Well, there are those who feel that the current administration is a one chance and it is difficult to resist such notion. During their time in opposition, they used to say the inflow to the state was more than enough to pay salaries and turn Kwara to an Eldorado but for embezzlement. Now that they are on the chair, they are talking of inadequacy. This is contradictory. They even said the money is enough to pay the new minimum wage and with enough to make everybody happy. What the government is saying now is not in tandem with their campaign statement and allegation against those in government then. The unfortunate thing is that because of our level of education, most people fell for it. It’s all deception. I think Kwarans are watching and hearing especially during a period we got some bolster in the tax refund. This period (June) is one of the most buoyant months for the state in recent times but unfortunately the government’s narrative is not commensurate with the reality on ground.

Immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki was once accused of owning most of the state companies whose boards were recently dissolved, what is your take on this?

This is another area of contradiction. If you say those companies belonged to Dr Bukola Saraki, how come the boards are being dissolved and engaging in some immediate intervention in their activities. It’s just an admission that they were lying before and now the truth has dawned on them. It will amount to a lie if they say these things were owned by Bukola but now admitting by their action that such is no longer the case.

As an opposition party, how do you think PDP should conduct its activities?

A new government has been sworn-in and we are now watching. But from day one, we are seeing that some of the accusations they rode on to get to power are incorrect and the truth is now coming out. For Kwarans, not just PDP, this is the time to see the difference in the activities of government under tenures of Dr Bukola Saraki, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. It will enable them to discern what is correct, wrong and the way forward. The generality of Kwarans voted out the last system, it will take that same people opportunity to compare and contrast to make better decision in future.

But the incumbent government has accused PDP of undue comparism saying it has just spent a little over a month in power compared to your party’s long period of governance. Don’t you think this is unfair?

That is why I say we should watch. Every government has its beginning and four years will soon elapse. We should be able to say in the first three months of the new government, this is what they did, same for that of Dr Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed, the records are there. The comparisons are possible even from day one.

What is your advice for the new government on the approach to governance as an opposition member?

First, I will advice the APC to reconcile themselves because it was not APC that won the last election but the people which include PDP, APC and others that have no party. There was a blackmail of this O to ge thing that even if they are angels, the last administration must go. We hear the party has been split into about five factions comprising the Lai Mohammed group and others to the extent that some of them have started shunning functions of the party, confirming the suspicion they are not together. A house divided against itself will not stand according to what we have read in the holy books. Secondly, let’s hope this idea of nepotism being insinuated is not true, although some of them have been denied. Again it is not right that anything former Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki has touched or influenced must be thrown away even if it is good when Saraki was the Senate President, the number three citizen we have never held. Let’s hope these people will be able to influence a tenth of what Saraki has done. When I was in the University of Ife, late Agbazika Innih, the then Governor was planning to build a world class stadium complex in Kwara with a budget of about N34m. Some of our envious neighbours who unfortunately has the control of the media started to attack that lofty project and the southwest media descended heavily on us that we are poor people who want to have a stadium better than their own Surulere National Stadium. That noise was so much just as it was much during Saraki’s phoney CCT trial. At the end of the day, being a military regime, the Head of State felt the noise coming from the issue was too much and prevailed on Ini who later built the mini stadium complex we now have, far less than the original plans. Today many international matches involving the National teams would have been taking place in Kwara. But we lost it because it was brought down by this same people from the same place that the criticism and shoot him down activities against Saraki was launched. Unfortunately, we have some educated Kwarans who went along with these our detractors. When I was the state secretary of PDP under the leadership of AB Kazum around late nineties, Innih came to Kwara as one of the elders of the party then and was asking Kwara where is your stadium which could have been promoting your state but people who are not Kwarans shut down the project. This is what is happening. See what Bukola went through in the hands of his traducers at the CCT, at the end of the day, after spending so much energy and money, they lost against him and justice prevailed and not even a word of apology to him. If Saraki had less resources  to pursue his rights, he would have been brought down and removed. It is the same method that was used in this O to ge, they were orchestrating it from everywhere. Some of the O to ge groups that won don’t even exist in some wards. For instance, Oke-Ero where I came from, we  were the only Local Government that delivered for PDP in the Presidential and NASS election in Kwara but the following election, this O to ge people went around our traditional rulers and the people that Saraki had lost in Ilorin West, so what is our own. And the people who are not party people started making u turn in the governorship election. So it was not the party that won otherwise they would have won in the first instance. This election is not the victory of APC but of blackmail. However, spiritually, some of us believe that God wants to teach a particular lesson with what happened and that is what we are waiting for. In the next four years, we would see what they would do and I know all the lies would have been put to naught.

As a member of the 7th Kwara State House of Assembly, what is your take on how lawmakers fared on the government’s suspension of Local Government chairmen?

Everybody knows that it is an illegality to have suspended the council chairmen. The constitutional provisions are there and happenings in places where such actions have been taken place and the court nullifying them are there. I am sure for political reasons, the authorities just  decided to go the illegal way. If there is a petition before the House, the next thing is to table and refer it to the appropriate committee which will look at it and feed the plenary back. It is after such action has been taken and the issue debated upon before suspension can come in and that is even after the committee has completed its job. The job will never be complete unless the allegations raised are investigated. All these were not done. Somebody allegedly brought a petition, it was presented same day and they decided to make a pronouncement passing judgment in their own case for that matter. It’s illegal and I am sure they themselves are aware of it. The House erred on this matter and the Governor followed suit fuel insinuation that the legislature was acting the script of the executive which was why it was easy to pass the suspension in a matter of hours without investigation and sending it to the Governor who also approved it in a matter of hours. The legislature and executive are acting hand in gloves.

But some people have given the Governor kudos for suspending rather than sacking the affected chairmen as it has happened in even PDP controlled states, what do you have say to about this?

In the first place, we talk of elected council chairmen and not the so called caretakers which the highest court in the land pronounced as illegal. If anybody took action against caretaker administrations, it is a different story from that of those elected. The latter are products of due process and cannot be sacked or suspended. In Ekiti, we already have a case where it was done but reversed by the Supreme Court and at the end of the day, all the cost of the wrong action including salaries, entitlements and allowances of the affected chairmen were shouldered by the government with tax payers’ money. That I believe should be enough for us to learn. In this instance, sacking chairmen will suffer the same fate and the totality of the action will amount to illegality.

What is your advice on this? 

There are very strong suspicion which is difficult to resist that both the government and the legislature are operating together in this crime and that is one of the reasons people advised the House not to be mere rubber stamp of the executive. The present legislators may be one of the least experienced in the state will be having in a long while with 23 greenhorns. Personally, I feel their inexperience might have accounted for their action which is unfortunate.

The Governor recently lamented the peculiarity of the state’s financial situation, he only had about N1bn for projects after using N2.3bn for salary from monthly allocation. How do you compare this lamentation with that of the last government?

Well, there are those who feel that the current administration is a one chance and it is difficult to resist such notion. During their time in opposition, they used to say the inflow to the state was more than enough to pay salaries and turn Kwara to an Eldorado but for embezzlement. Now that they are on the chair, they are talking of inadequacy. This is contradictory. They even said the money is enough to pay the new minimum wage and with enough to make everybody happy. What the government is saying now is not in tandem with their campaign statement and allegation against those in government then. The unfortunate thing is that because of our level of education, most people fell for it. It’s all deception. I think Kwarans are watching and hearing especially during a period we got some bolster in the tax refund. This period (June) is one of the most buoyant months for the state in recent times but unfortunately the government’s narrative is not commensurate with the reality on ground.

Immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki was once accused of owning most of the state companies whose boards were recently dissolved, what is your take on this?

This is another area of contradiction. If you say those companies belonged to Dr Bukola Saraki, how come the boards are being dissolved and engaging in some immediate intervention in their activities. It’s just an admission that they were lying before and now the truth has dawned on them. It will amount to a lie if they say these things were owned by Bukola but now admitting by their action that such is no longer the case.

As an opposition party, how do you think PDP should conduct its activities?

A new government has been sworn-in and we are now watching. But from day one, we are seeing that some of the accusations they rode on to get to power are incorrect and the truth is now coming out. For Kwarans, not just PDP, this is the time to see the difference in the activities of government under tenures of Dr Bukola Saraki, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. It will enable them to discern what is correct, wrong and the way forward. The generality of Kwarans voted out the last system, it will take that same people opportunity to compare and contrast to make better decision in future.

But the incumbent government has accused PDP of undue comparism saying it has just spent a little over a month in power compared to your party’s long period of governance. Don’t you think this is unfair?

That is why I say we should watch. Every government has its beginning and four years will soon elapse. We should be able to say in the first three months of the new government, this is what they did, same for that of Dr Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed, the records are there. The comparisons are possible even from day one.

What is your advice for the new government on the approach to governance as an opposition member?

First, I will advice the APC to reconcile themselves because it was not APC that won the last election but the people which include PDP, APC and others that have no party. There was a blackmail of this O to ge thing that even if they are angels, the last administration must go. We hear the party has been split into about five factions comprising the Lai Mohammed group and others to the extent that some of them have started shunning functions of the party, confirming the suspicion they are not together. A house divided against itself will not stand according to what we have read in the holy books. Secondly, let’s hope this idea of nepotism being insinuated is not true, although some of them have been denied. Again it is not right that anything former Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki has touched or influenced must be thrown away even if it is good when Saraki was the Senate President, the number three citizen we have never held. Let’s hope these people will be able to influence a tenth of what Saraki has done. When I was in the University of Ife, late Agbazika Innih, the then Governor was planning to build a world class stadium complex in Kwara with a budget of about N34m. Some of our envious neighbours who unfortunately has the control of the media started to attack that lofty project and the southwest media descended heavily on us that we are poor people who want to have a stadium better than their own Surulere National Stadium. That noise was so much just as it was much during Saraki’s phoney CCT trial. At the end of the day, being a military regime, the Head of State felt the noise coming from the issue was too much and prevailed on Ini who later built the mini stadium complex we now have, far less than the original plans. Today many international matches involving the National teams would have been taking place in Kwara. But we lost it because it was brought down by this same people from the same place that the criticism and shoot him down activities against Saraki was launched. Unfortunately, we have some educated Kwarans who went along with these our detractors. When I was the state secretary of PDP under the leadership of AB Kazum around late nineties, Innih came to Kwara as one of the elders of the party then and was asking Kwara where is your stadium which could have been promoting your state but people who are not Kwarans shut down the project. This is what is happening. See what Bukola went through in the hands of his traducers at the CCT, at the end of the day, after spending so much energy and money, they lost against him and justice prevailed and not even a word of apology to him. If Saraki had less resources  to pursue his rights, he would have been brought down and removed. It is the same method that was used in this O to ge, they were orchestrating it from everywhere. Some of the O to ge groups that won don’t even exist in some wards. For instance, Oke-Ero where I came from, we  were the only Local Government that delivered for PDP in the Presidential and NASS election in Kwara but the following election, this O to ge people went around our traditional rulers and the people that Saraki had lost in Ilorin West, so what is our own. And the people who are not party people started making u turn in the governorship election. So it was not the party that won otherwise they would have won in the first instance. This election is not the victory of APC but of blackmail. However, spiritually, some of us believe that God wants to teach a particular lesson with what happened and that is what we are waiting for. In the next four years, we would see what they would do and I know all the lies would have been put to naught.