In this interview with Head Politics, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Prince Sunday Fagbemi talks about agitation for appointment, ministerial issue in the party and some actions of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq so far among other sundry issues. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the situation after the election?
First and foremost, I think we have to thank the Almighty God for the sustaining grace and victory and we have to be grateful to Kwarans for voting the Governor. What is on ground or involved is beyond politics. Putting together all the politicians in Kwara will not make up to 30 percent of the vote we got and we are eternally grateful to God and Kwarans for this. Going forward, even a deaf and blind can see and hear that there is already a lot of relief and things are getting gradually better. We have already attained new height in Kwara and the civil servants, local government workers and pensioners can attest to this. With a lot of hope that is given by the governor in going around all the local government areas in the state to get first hand information from the people and seeing it himself and assessing the level of the situation, is already putting hope in Kwara and we are sure by the grace of God, we will attain all the promises made during the electioneering period.
Could the governor have done better?
Even the skeptics are already accepting that this change is for real and he is bringing to bear in governance the achievement he made in business. I have never seen such a hardworking person. When he gets to office in the morning, he may not leave until 1am. You can see when he had to go to Sobi specialist hospital in the midnight because of the exigency there and he has been all over the place. Look at the number of days he used to ensure that water flows in Ilorin by just giving them directive. Rome was not built in a day and people should give it to him that he is not a magician but he is working some miracles that people think can never be possible. The sceptics have already accepted him and even the hardened ones are now saying that he is on the right track. I challenge even the journalists to go out and assess things for themselves so that we will not be the one saying it.
After the victory, agitation for positions seems to be threatening the unity of the party going forward, what can you say about this?
I think you will have to accept with me that there are some outrageous non conformists and people who have already fixated their minds on some things. There are also some people that will never see any good in what we do. This is issue of party and I am not one of the party executives. The chairman and other executive members of the party will be able to speak on that. But talking generally, we all know that what is most difficult is how to manage success. How many positions have been fixed, the SSG, CoS and CPS which have all gone to each of the senatorial districts, same thing for the Governor, his Deputy and Speaker, so what is there to complain about for God’s sake. There can be no better equity, justice and fairness than what we have done so far. There are those who are not happy with the situation who may have perhaps been dreaming in seeing themselves in some privilege positions but by providence, are not there and started looking for faults.
Some APC groups came out recently to openly warn the governor not to consider you for any appointive position in the state? What can you say to this?
This is one of the things that are normal in politics and it never surprised me. I read their release which has no substance, they never adduce any reason. Why should somebody say another person should not be appointed? I don’t think there is even any need to glorify them with any response. It is just some group of people who are afraid of the level of success we have achieved in putting the Governor there. It was not a joke, we worked hard for the governor to get the party’s ticket and subsequently win the election. We know many of those people sponsoring this type of narrative who never turned up during our campaign, not even for a single one. It was only on the day the President came that most of them surfaced. Those who felt they will just come and dictate to the Governor who to appoint or not but are meeting with brick walls are now picking on those of us who are close associates to the Governor. This does not bother me a bit and I know it has nothing to do with the sense of judgment of the Governor.
There is allegation from the camp of the Governor’s co-contestants during the APC primaries accusing him of buying the governorship ticket as he was not the winner of the direct primaries. How do you react to this?
Firstly, one should ask who sold the ticket and how much did they sell it. Don’t the other contestants also have money to buy? All that is balderdash and there is no ticket sale anywhere. We won the elections free and fair. The basic thing that would make any one know that he could have won the primaries was that there were groupings then and Governor Abdulrazaq was the only candidate of his group. About ten others were contesting under another group. We had our structures in the 193 wards across the state, so how could anyone have won the election apart from him. It is a simple logic, this is just calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it and the chairman of the party even swore in the presence of all stakeholders in Abuja that he did not do anything to alter the result of that primaries. If I may ask you, who won the election…
(Cuts in) There was the belief in the camp of people like Prof Oba…
Prof Oba said he won the election, same thing, Yammah Abdullahi and so many others have alleged that. The primary was not even supervised by local party men. People were sent in from the national headquarters and results were collated. Everyone one of the contestant did all they could do in areas of their demonstrable strength… the President invited all the stakeholders and we went there, he introduced the person that won the election to the whole house and nobody contested the result of the election with him.
Agitations for ministerial appointment seem to have raised some smoke and it is believed that you are one of the candidates of the Governor also from Kwara South like Lai Mohammed. Why can’t there be a consensus for this?
I am not in any race for anything and I am pleased with whatever God does for me. I am one of the people that can beat their chest of wanting the state not to be in the grip of anybody and we have started it since 2002 before this O to ge mantra. In 2002 as the state secretary when my chairman, late Ahman Saduana Patigi was murdered, the mantle of the leadership of the party fell on me and others… from then on we have remained like that maintaining our ideology. People are misconstruing some things about ministerial positions. The President has prerogative of choosing who he wants. What concerns Governor with ministerial positions, I think this is just to give a dog a bad name to hang it. There was a time former President Obasanjo chose two ministers from Kwara South and heaven did not fall and there was also no issue when it hovered in Kwara Central consistently. Also north has also been beneficiary and no issue was made. Anybody that is so inquisitive should go and ask the President.
How do you think the APC can avoid some of the mistakes of the past to advance Kwara State?
I think we will do that and this “enough is enough” thing also applies to ourselves, enough of fighting for this and that, the goal should be how to better the lot of Kwarans and thank God, the people that are in the party executive are part of the ‘O to ge’ mantra and that is why the party has called for names from each local government. I want to believe it is those names that will be put in a data pool from where they will be selecting from, but the party chairman will be in a better position to talk on this. We are seriously prepared to take Kwara to the next level.
There are accusations that the group divisions which existed in the party then is still present in the new dispensation?
What happened as to the group they were talking about was when we were to come into the party and each of the group coming into APC then was to have a representative in the executive. The national leadership then devised a means for each of the four major groups coming in and called it the “four tendencies”. After the primaries, the President invited all stakeholders where he lectured on loyalty to the party using Kwara as an example through late Tunde Idiagbon who came to the country despite learning of his arrest then. I think that lesson sank because when we came, except those that still felt that if it not them, nobody is good enough…
…(cut in) Who are they?
They know themselves, and nobody is even taking about that now, on the democracy day, some of the people that contested with the governor came. I think this contraption about grouping is not for the APC…
What do you have to say to accusation from some party men that the Gov takes unilateral decisions?
If some people felt they need to be consulted and he has not consulted them and counts that to be a unilateral decision, that is wrong and a blanket accusation. He consults with the people he feels he can get the best of advice from and not those that will want to mislead him. There is no appointment for which I believe we did not duly consult widely with the leadership of the party and opinion moulders of all the senatorial districts that include traditional rulers who are not even politicians.
Where are we on the issue of commissionership and other appointments as one of the elders of the party?
I think the Governor himself or his spokesperson may be in position to answer that but I know that action is ongoing and also know that he has to work with the House of Assembly on this. The Federal Government whose election came earlier than our own has not yet done anything, I don’t think there should be undue agitation for that. The Governor I believe must take his time to put together a team that will be able to synergise with him and push the state forward. The people should be a little bit patient.
Coming from the governor that he will run an all inclusive government, do you support calls to include opposition members in the cabinet?
The transition committee that he put up was a clear indication to the fact that the Governor is large hearted and very liberal and a goal getter who is going to put together the best of hands and brains that will put Kwara on the right track. The TC included technocrats, bureaucrats, men and women including the youth. What could be more inclusive than that? I believe that will be the criteria he will also use in putting his team together and nobody will be able to fault it.
People should just exercise a little bit of patience… it is only magicians that do something suddenly. It takes a little longer for miracle to happen. It is going to be a gradual process and everybody will see that the governor has started well, they should keep on praying that he should go on and end well. To the governor, I will advise that nobody has monopoly of knowledge, wisdom and understanding and that is why he appointed advisers. He should remain focus, he already has a conceived pregnancy of what he wants to do for Kwarans, he should pay attention to distractions because there are people who will never see anything good in what he is doing and he should fulfil his promises to Kwarans.