Last week, the challenge by the former Kwara Commissioner for Special Duties, Hajia Aisha Ahman-Pategi for the state government to publish the finances of the local government signposted the cold relationship between her and Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the government under which she served. ACTING EDITOR, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM in this piece writes on the development and how it has affected the polity.
For many Kwarans and Nigerians who have been following the trend of governance and happenings in the state, the latest challenge by the former Commissioner for Special Duties, Hajia Ahman-Pategi only goes to signal the unfinished narrative of her resignation saga with the government and goes a long way to show she may be spoiling for a fight with her former employer.
For Hajia Aisha, her trajectory in the government of Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq was best captured by a top insider while speaking with National Pilot during the height of her resignation story.
According to the official, “The former commissioner for Special Duties tendered her resignation because she believed that she was not being protected enough by the Governor over her dispute with the commissioner for Finance. She still harbours grudges that the governor is taking sides with her counterpart Florence Oyeyemi Olasumbo”.
Speaking further, the source said “But what she (Aisha) failed to realise is that His Excellency, the Governor knows what he is doing. The Governor believed that there is a way the issue could be handled better. You know she has been addressing and parading herself as a “Super Commissioner” to people and there are a lot of things which people have insinuated and are still insinuating about her with the governor. The Governor will be confirming such narrative if he is not careful in handling the issue. The Governor is trying to give her a soft landing but that has been difficult for her to understand”, the source added.
Although some of the people who are around the former commissioner described her as a nice young woman, that description was graduated to the fact that Aisha who is highly educated in the US has been very temperamental and emotional over this issue. All the efforts that were reportedly made by the Governor to make her rescind her decision was said to have fallen on deaf ears as she rejected passionate pleas from Abdulrazaq not to dump the cabinet after the alleged fight with her counterpart.
Like play like play to borrow the cliché in our local Pidgin English parlance, when the issue of the alleged embezzlement of the local government started, very few Kwarans thought it will degenerate to this level. But the matter has not only surpassed people’s expectation in its roforofo fight, it has gone wild to throw the government in a serious credibility crisis over its handling of the state’s finances. For Aisha, nothing can be farther from the truth for those who believed the position of the government that no money was missing and the Governor is running a transparent administration.
From the beginning of her tale which has been a steady narrative all through, Aisha raised the dust over an alleged missing N300 million monthly from the local government account of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs which she initially headed without her authorisation. The former commissioner, unarguably one of the most powerful since the creation of Kwara State, was said to have been highly enraged over the incident and confronted her counterpart on why such staggering deduction from her ministry could have been approved monthly without her knowledge, albeit after arming herself with relevant bank documents from her own investigation.
But despite her exasperation, she appeared to have lost out in the battle which reportedly prompted her initial decision to throw in the towel over alleged betrayal of trust from the Governor before her final resignation.
To properly understand the chemistry between the Governor and his estranged commissioner, there may be the need to properly dissect or better still understand the conversation between her and the Governor prior to her initial appointment. Although some of her top clansmen have alleged that Aisha’s appointment was the sole decision of the Governor without consultation with stakeholders in the district, support for Aisha despite being a private candidate of Governor Abdulrazaq has transcended tribe, gender and age among other demographics in Kwara North.
It was from Aisha’s constituency that the first salvo was fired when ironically some APC women from Kwara North tackled the Governor on the issue and vowed that nothing must happen to their daughter otherwise they would hold the Governor responsible.
In a statement signed by its Zonal Coordinator, Hajia Hadiza Abubakar, the APC women extolled the courage of the former commissioner adding that her action to voluntarily resign from the cabinet of a government which seems to be losing goodwill of Kwara people particularly amongst the women constituency in the state indicated her exceptional courage.
“Regrettably, the same government under which Aisha served meticulously and refused to compromise her integrity until her resignation have suddenly began to propagate series of toxic propaganda and character assassination targeted at denigrating her reputation and bring her to public ridicule.
“If despite Aisha’s selfless services and contributions to the government within the short space of time , the only way Governor Abdulrazaq could repay her is to instruct press officers to launch image laundering actions against her, then we are forced to conclude that the Governor’s actions suggest his lack of respect for women constituency and flagrant ingratitude is soaring.
“We want to warn strongly that the people of Pategi and entire Kwara north women have been betrayed by Governor Abdulrazaq and would not accept further media attacks on the person of our daughter.
“For daring to challenge the rot in our political settings and even at the expense of her political fortune, Aisha deserved to be commended for standing as a woman of valour where many would have compromise their integrity. What she has displayed in all these reflected she’s a noble Pategi and Kwara north woman and as a group, we are ready to protect her with our last drop of blood”, part of the statement added.
Now, it is unclear whether the statement by the Kwara APC women acted as one of the ingredients that toughened Aisha to engage the government the way she has done in her recent diatribes, what is easily discernible is that Aisha maybe already spoiling for a showdown with the governor and government and has deployed every available opportunity to make her voice heard on her conviction about the alleged secretive nature the government is being operated like a cult.
Daring the boss
There was no better time for her to demonstrate this resolve than recently when the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, Architect Aliyu Muhammad Saifudeen, a ministry that stood at the genesis of the whole affair initially headed by Aisha went on air to mouth the supposed transparency of Governor Abdulrazaq on the transparency with which he has operated the local government account since his assumption of office.
According to a statement from the spokesperson of the Ministry, Azeez Bolaji, the state government restated the independence of all local government councils in the running of their affairs without interference from any quarters.
“The Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, Architect Aliyu Mohammad Saifuddeen emphasized this while featuring on a live programme tagged “GOOD MORNING KWARANS” at the Kwara Television Service during the weekend.
“Saifuddeen said as the Commissioner saddled with the cabinet responsibility of supervising and monitoring the activities of the Third Tier of Government, he can emphatically say that since the inception of the present administration in the state, no single kobo of the Local Government’s money was missing or diverted by anyone,” Mr Bolaji stated.
However, that statement had hardly dropped when Aisha fired back querying the authenticity of that submission in her first public statement since her resignation which was a tweet.
“Absolutely not true… publish all LGA accounts from May 2019 to date” and accompany the tweet with hashtag #freekwaraLGAmoney in response to claims that the local government councils are autonomous.
While Aisha statement has further rubbed off on the credibility of the submitted report of the Justice Mathew Adewara led committee set up by the government to investigate the matter which vindicated Governor Abdulrazaq and his administration, the investigation and subsequent findings of the EFCC, if it has already started at all, will have a lot to say concerning the disputation between Aisha and her former Boss.