2023: Has the bubble burst for Kwara APC?


The crisis rocking the Kwara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appeared to have reached its zenith with the open confrontation by factional members of the party’s executive. HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM writes on the issue.
Is the Kwara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) heading for the precipice or will the party find a way to wriggle out of the protracted leadership crisis threatening to tear it apart, if it has not already done so?
The latest trend of events in the party is being perceived by pundits in two extremes situated within the realm of the politics of 2023 and attempt by Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to consolidate his hold on the party at the expense of strong opposition by leaders and supporters who felt highly disappointed with the leadership style of the Governor and the near secrecy of his decisions and appointments.
With the accusation of a sole administratorship against the Governor already flying in the camp of his opponents, actions by the Governor in the last few months have only reinforced the narrative within the camp of his opposition
Hence for many, it was only expected that the gladiators through their proxies and foot soldiers were only bidding their time before they let all hell loose especially as the centre has refused to hold since the last election despite spirited attempts to halt the ugly situation. However, regardless of the public outbursts between the Governor and party chairman, Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa, not many expected the issue to assume the violent dimension it attained last week when Bolarinwa’s entourage that was ironically on a reconciliation tour across the state was attacked by hoodlum said to be sympathetic to the Governor in Moro Local Government leaving their cars and buses shattered in the process.
While the Governor had since condemned the incident and called on the security agencies to fish out those responsible for the attack to face the law adding that such action could heat up the polity, his allege refusal to rein in some party leaders being accused of behind the attack have triggered various interpretations.
According to political observers, that the said attack took place in Moro Local Government in Kwara North is very instructive coming from the town of Hon Ibrahim Iliasu, a staunch loyalist of the Governor and a self acclaimed kingmaker (Afobaje) in this government who is reportedly behind the formation of AA Group and whose son is the Commissioner for Works. Although many party leaders have dismissed Ilaisu’s braggadocio as the rant of a confused lackey, the Governor’s reported silence to his tirade against party leaders like Prof Oba Shuaib Abdulraheem (Oba), Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his counterparts for Works and Transport (State) Gbemisola Saraki has been interpreted in some quarters within the party as a kind of subtle support.
Expectedly, after the Moro episode, both camps have gone ahead to reveal some undercurrent bottled up for long about the cause of their grievances.
It was the “Governor’s Men” that fired the first salvo through a press conference that was addressed by one of his point men within the party’s state executive and the APC Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Folaranmi Tajudeen Aro.
According to the group which was surprisingly silent over the Moro attack that occurred few days before the press conference, the party’s chairman and Lai Mohammed were fingered and accused of fraud and failure to render proper account of the party’s finances since the last elections.
The group, which christened itself as “aggrieved members” said “There is no evidence of a properly documented record of the party’s financial transactions since Bolarinwa has presided over the party. The chairman has made sustained efforts to frustrate the audit process in clear breach of the extant provisions of the party’s constitution he swore to uphold. No records of inflow and outflow of funds, no evidence of compliance with the principle of internal control.
“Besides, the party hierarchy is constantly embarrassed by the failure or refusal of a leader of the party from the state, indeed a Minister, who received hundreds of millions of naira from Governors, captains of industry, and other stakeholders on behalf of the state chapter of the party ahead of the 2019 general elections but never gave a kobo to the party or accounted for same. This failure to declare the good gestures of these donors, it noted, made it difficult for the party to officially send appreciation letters to them, especially following the huge success the party recorded. Sadly, this has been the trademark of this individual throughout the political struggle in the state.”
“Regrettably today, we (as a Party) are housed in a wing of an apartment used for personal and Political purpose by one of our respected Party chieftains. How does asking for the whereabouts of the money meant for the office accommodation become a crime in a Party like ours? All that is requested is accountability and nothing more. The State Executive as constituted today is a fusion of varying interest groups arising from the various consensus and compromises necessitated by the need to temper all personal interests for the general goal of achieving the much desired victory envisioned as the end result of the O TO GE mantra.
“To think therefore that the State Chairman still runs the Party like a sole administrator without recourse to any level of a properly conveyed Executive Committee in a Party that prides itself as the champion of anti-corruption, transparency and accountability offends our sensibility. This certainly betrays the fundamental principle upon which our Party was built and should not be allowed to continue”, the statement added.
But in a swift response, Bolarinwa and the Minister fired back through their proxies in the state executive led by the party’s Vice Chairman (North), Chief T.A.S. Oyebiyi, describing the Governor’s group as fantasisers who are trying to gain relevance through mischief and party destruct agenda.
According to him, “Any allusion to Hon. Bolarinwa’s leadership not being accountable, transparent and fair is a disservice and a diversion from the main antics of the so called aggrieved group… The hues and cries from these aggrieved and indeed disgruntled elements within our fold is a result of them not being able to have the Chairman buy into their politics of “money for hand, back for ground”.
“After almost a near warlike lobby for inclusion into the state exco, at what point did they become aggrieved? What are the real issues that turned them to be aggrieved members other than for the selfish interest and prodding of their sponsors? It is very clear and open that they are doing all they are doing for money and for political patronage? On the issue of accountability, it beats one as to what claims they have to seek accountability.
“…The system of financial operations of the Party requires not less than 3 party officials to sign cheques. How will Mustapha Ishowo (aggrieved secretary) claim ignorance of how the party monies, especially donations from aspirants was spent as one of the signatories? In addition to being a signatory, he (Ishowo) is the only receiver of the account transaction notifications… The party conducted primaries which were fully sponsored by the State Chapter of the APC. No money was received from the national headquarters of the party for the purpose. All the party’s record of financial transaction are in the statement of accounts to which Mustapha Ishowo is privy. They should come up with verifiable evidence and prove if there was a diversion of any party money that went to private accounts.
“It is stated clearly that the party’s account will be audited annually by the State Auditor with the External Auditor to be appointed by the State Working Committee. Rather than abide by the party constitution, our own aggrieved State Auditor (Oladokun) has been doing the hatchet job of his paymasters for sweet lucre. This is a man without any iota of honour. The same man who was dismissed with ignominy as PTA Chairman of FGGC, Omu–Aran for financial impropriety”, it added.
On the issue of the accommodation, the group said “All the aggrieved members participated in the party secretariat handing over ceremony donated by Alhaji Yakubu Gobir. Indeed Alhaji Samari Abubakar, the aggrieved Deputy Chairman was the chairman of the committee for the handing over ceremony and a few of his aggrieved co-travellers served on that committee. If they are sincere about their request for accounts of the donations after more than a year then the Secretary, who is their ring leader and receives bank alert should provide it, unless there is substantiated evidence that the Chairman directly collected any of the donations.
“Rather, their sponsor is funding despicable characters to distort facts and peddle all sorts of lies on social media, using the aggrieved Party Publicity Secretary, who had abdicated his role and has a carte blanche to run down the party for a plate of porridge. No genuine party member will frown at the present visitation exercise being embarked on by the state exco. Why should visitation aimed at strengthening the party be a problem to them? Instead, they attacked us and attempt to cause us bodily harm.
For anybody who may be having trouble reading between the lines especially on the role of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq in all of these, the group accused the Governor of not only being behind the party’s crisis but also funding and fuelling it from tax payers’ money.
“We need to reiterate that contrary to the norm, there is a gaping disconnect between the Governor and the party and between the Governor and revered party elders. This scenario has been in place since after the party primaries, during and indeed after the elections. Severally, party elders had tried to wade into the matter by meeting with the State Party Chairman, the Hon. Minister of Information and the Governor himself. However, a follow up meeting with the Governor to resolve the areas of differences has not been possible because the Governor has refused to grant audience to the elders.
“Suffice to say that while we blame the aggrieved executive members for taking the party for granted, it is however a case of the proverbial ‘hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob’. All indications point to the Governor being behind the rebellion of these groups. Their activities presuppose a parallel structure to the party structure and they have bandied the name of the Governor as giving approval to their activities. Not once has the Governor or his representatives come out to denounce them, rather they are financed from Government House. The turn coat Publicity Secretary has revealed that much in his garrulous radio programmes”, the statement added.
But with the way things are going now in the state chapter of the APC, the state might witness more violent attacks which could endanger the lives of the citizens who are neither politicians nor members of the party except the security agencies act proactively and pragmatically to nip it in the bud. But what is apparent now is that there seem to be a bubble burst for the Kwara State chapter of the party, what is hidden for now is how far the ripples will go and the impact on the politics and governance of the state bearing in mind commencement of hostilities for 2023 election which is just be around the corner.

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