By Mumini AbdulKareem
The extension of the suspension of the 16 Local Governments chairmen in Kwara State by Gov Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman penultimate week was an anti-climax to the quest of the embattled council bosses to return to office, National Pilot has learnt.
The Governor’s action, it was gathered, came as a huge blow and devastated the council bosses who had hoped for a soft landing by the governor especially after their defection to AA group, a faction in the Kwara State chapter of the party believed to be sponsored by Abdulrazaq.
Announcing the extension of their suspension for additional six months, the Governor in a statement based his decision on the “Kwara State Local Government Councils’ (Suspension) Order 2020 which extends the subsisting suspension of the executive and legislative committees by six months”.
Although the chairmen through its umbrella body, Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), described the “hue and cry” that trailed the exercise as needless adding that they had no regret jumping ship, several sources close to the leadership of the organisation told National Pilot that it was political chess game that ended in anti-climax for them.
According to a member of ALGON who preferred not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, the latest six months suspension by the governor, the third in the series, which is expected to run till December, further left the embattled chairmen in the dark over the Governor’s next move regarding the issue.
According to the source, there is presently anxiety among members of the ALGON regarding the next move of the governor.
“All what is happening is politics, but we failed as politicians to understand the reality of the situation. Importantly, the aim was to get the support of the governor to get a clean bill following the case with the EFCC after the House of Assembly recommended their suspicion. Even if it was for a month, it will be on record that we were later exonerated.
“During investigation, the main issue with the EFCC was on the alleged transfer of certain percentage to the personal account by the revenue agency and the N4billion loan that they were requested to account for. The anti-grant agency saw that as a caveat and capitalised on it.
“Ordinarily, they ought to have gone to their respective councils to get their legislators to enact law to institutionalise the agreement they had with the revenue agency which they did not do. The refund was one of those things that were considered which also necessitated the swift withdrawal of the court case to initially challenge the issue and decamped to APC to have the ears of the governor.
“That was the understanding we had that propelled all the action that trailed the defection despite our former party’s disagreement”, the official submitted.
On their expectation after the latest suspension, the official said none of the suspension council chairman can say exactly what the governor may do next.
“Most of the meetings had been with the Chief of Staff and some of other government officials. So we can’t really say what might happen next after the expiration of this suspension especially with the EFCC case still present”.
Efforts to reach the suspended chairmen publicity secretary, Mumini Lah on the issue proved abortive last night as his phone was constantly busy. Text message sent to him was yet to be replied before the paper went to bed.
Following the backlash received by the suspended chairmen after the Governor’s extension, the Kwara ALGON chairman, Hon. Joshua Omokanye Jalala, had said that despite the extension of suspension of the local government council by the state government, owing to the ongoing investigation by the anti-grant agency, they are not in any way discouraged on their new political marriage.
He explained that contrary to the insinuation that they left PDP to gain a soft landing from the APC and actualise their reinstatement back to the office, they joined APC to work for the overall interest and progress of Kwara.
Jalala said: “In my political history, I have never seen a decision that is so controversial and popular with the people. We are here in APC to strengthen democracy and to make sure that it works in this state.
“Right from the time they started talking with us, they have shown respect. They welcomed us like a family. We know what it used to be when situation like this arises, we thank the Governor and the leadership of the party for embracing us and stretching hand of love and support to us.
“We are not afraid. We don’t see any decision we have taken in recent time that we so strongly believe in like this APC. We believe that it is a step in the right direction that will help this state.
“On the suspicion that local government chairmen decamped to APC to actualise personal bid, there was no truth in it. I don’t know where such speculations and insinuations are coming from. I am a progressive minded person, and the love of my state, to me, supercedes every other things. Myself and my colleagues have no regret joining APC…We have made a unanimous agreement within ourselves to support the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq’s led administration with heart and might to actualize a greater Kwara,” he added.
By Mumini AbdulKareem