The supremacy battle between the Kwara State Governor, Mr. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, has spread like a wildfire, brightening the political future of the former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki
Four political camps within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State had joined forces during the 2019 general election to design a popular slogan called “O To Ge” (Enough is Enough), and wrestle power from the Saraki dynasty that had been in control of the state for over 40 years.
The four camps were led by Chief Iyiola Oyedepo; the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki; Chief Sunday Fagbemi and Mr. Lai Mohammed.
With their collaboration and gang-up against the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the APC won all the state and federal legislative elections.
APC had also crowned its victory with the election of the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as the 12th executive governor of the state.
But instead of managing their success at the polls, the stakeholders have been embroiled in crisis, which led to the factionalisation of the party into two camps.
The crisis has enhanced a greater acceptability of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader and former Senate President, Saraki in the political calculations of the state in view of the love and commitment showed to him by the youths, women and other stakeholders during the recent Eid-el-Kabir celebrations in Ilorin and other towns of Lafiagi and Patigi in the Kwara North senatorial district of the state.
The Kwara APC crisis got to a peak shortly before the recent ward congresses with three of the four camps now under one group called ‘APC Loyal’ with separate party state secretariat located at Flower Garden area, GRA, Ilorin.
This faction has Hon. Bashr Omolaja Bolarinwa as the state chairman of the party after he was allegedly removed from the office by the governor while the second group backed by the governor and called “AA Group,” has its state secretariat located at Commissioner’s Lodge Area, GRA, Ilorin.
This faction is being headed by the former state deputy chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari.
The recent registration and revalidation exercise further polarised the APC members as accusations and counter accusations of alleged marginalisation and manipulations trailed the exercise.
Though the Mohammed-led group wrote a letter to the national secretariat of the APC to allege marginalisation of their group from in the exercise and the party leadership ordered the registration of the group, the directive is yet to see the light of the day .
Also, the recent comment by the governor at a book launch of “O To Ge,” written by Oro- born publisher, Mr. Tony Oyeyiola, has worsened the crisis.
At the event in Ilorin, the governor, represented by his deputy, Mr. Kayode Alabi, traced the genesis of the crisis to his refusal to fund a campaign structure that was formed without his prior knowledge or input as the governorship candidate of the party in 2019.
The governor also said that some cabals within the party who received hundreds of millions of naira as campaign donations, did not deliver a kobo to him.
He had also alleged that party officials were equally barred from campaigning with him until the presidential election had been won and the pendulum was clearly swinging in his favour.
“Party officials got the instruction not to attend my campaign. A few of them can testify to this. I went round the whole of Kwara North without the party. However, they stylishly joined the campaign after the presidential election when it was clear Kwarans that had decided in our favour. I am not aware of any decent democracy where a candidate would not be given the privilege of shaping the direction of his own campaign. It is even worse that my campaign was boycotted because I refused to be led by the nose,” he had reportedly explained.
However, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed, who was also the leader of the party when the election was conducted, had responded to the governor’s allegations.
Mohammed, who spoke at the official inauguration of a new state secretariat of the party in the state located at Flower Garden area, GRA, Ilorin, had claimed that he single-handedly, through family and friends, raised all the funds for the prosecution of the elections in the state, including the House of Representatives by-election for Irepodun/Ekiti/Oke-Ero Constituency, which preceded the 2019 general election.
“I never diverted APC 2019 general election campaign funds for my personal use as alleged by Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. I singlehandedly with the support of friends and family raised all the monies for the Oke-Ero/Isin/Ekiti/Irepodun Federal Constituency by-election of November 2019 that brought Hon. Tunji Olawuyi to the House of Representatives.
“I challenge anybody here to say he gave the party one penny apart from what I gave them. I challenge anybody here to say he gave logistics support to the party. I did that by the grace of God. I distributed 500 motorcycles and 20 vehicles. And many of the beneficiaries are here today,” he had reportedly said.
“I want them to explain to Nigerians about what happened to the N70 million that Hon. Olawuyi kept that the governor refused to give us during the by-election. When we raised money to prosecute that November 2018 by-election and gave them but, to our biggest surprise, like two days to the election, we could not reach them through their phones again to release funds we raised,” he had added.
However, the minister was not kept waiting for long before he was challenged as a member of the House of Representatives, representing Ekiti, Irepodun, Isin, Oke-ero Federal Constituency, Hon. Abdulraheem Tunji Olawuyi Ajuloopin, swiftly described his allegation as frivolous.
Giving the details of what transpired, Ajuloopin stated that a North Central governor reached out to him on personal grounds to donate for the 2018 by-election, “and when the minister got wind of the donation, he immediately reached out to him (House member), asking him to bring the money.
“However, I immediately contacted a few of our trusted party elders to intimate them of the development, but they counselled me against sending the money to the minister based on his antecedence with money.
“Also, on my own, I personally gave Alhaji Lai Mohammed the sum of N32.5million, with the full knowledge of the former party chairman, Bashir Bolarinwa, for election purposes; the minister and Bashir Bolarinwa cannot deny this”.
Also, the members of the state House of Assembly faulted a claim by Mohammed, that he single-handedly raised fund to execute the election of members of the ninth legislature in the state.
The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, in reaction to allegations raised by the minister, said the only individual who could claim to have offered the members massive support during the election was Governor AbdulRazaq, who was the APC governorship candidate at the time.
The Speaker, who spoke through the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Raphael Olanrewaju Adetiba, explained that Mohammed was not in the campaigns and elections that produced the ninth legislature, and should not claim to have personally raised fund for their election.
However, the state APC Caretaker Committee
Treasurer, Mr. Dantala Yaro, and the Financial Secretary, Mr. Mohammed Tajudeen, had insisted that Mohammed actually provided funds and logistics for the election campaigns of all the APC House of Assembly candidates in the 2019 elections.
Addressing reporters in IIorin, Tajudeen, had reportedly said that the lawmakers in their statement confirmed the receipt of the sum of N500,000, but mischievously claimed that the money was from the national secretariat.
Yaro also corroborated the position of the financial secretary.
“As custodians of the party accounts, we want to restate that the said money was released to them by Alhaji Lai Mohammed and transferred to them through the party account,” Yaro had said.
The recent ward congresses in the state finally confirmed the full blown crisis in the party as each of the two groups organised separate ward congresses where separate ward executives emerged for the 193 wards in the state.
Meanwhile, as the Kwara APC crisis worsens, the major opposition party, PDP, led by the former Senate President, Saraki has been enjoying a renewed support of the people of the state, a signal that the voters in the state still have trust in PDP and its leadership ahead of 2023 polls in the state.
During the recent Eid-el-Kabir celebrations, Saraki was treated with a heroic welcome at the Eid praying ground, Ilorin, as the shouts of ‘Oloye,’ ‘Sai Bukky’, ‘Sai Saraki,’ by the jubilant crowds, rented the air at the praying ground.
He came into Ilorin, the state capital for the first time after the 2019 elections to celebrate Sallah with his people.
As the Waziri Ngeri of Ilorin Emirate, he had joined the Emir of Ilorin and the Emirate Council at Eid to observe the two rakah nafilah at Ilorin Eid praying ground.
In the usual tradition for which his family is known, Saraki distributed Sallah rams, cows, foodstuffs and money to his political structure, traditional and spiritual leaders, youth and women groups, and the less-privileged families.
Saraki went peacefully to Eid with fewer numbers of his political family members in a very short convoy.
But when he was about walking out of the praying ground, after the prayers, the jubilant residents, in their numbers, cheered him to show love and their apparent regrets for their actions in the 2019 elections.
Saraki also paid a condolence visit to Lafiagi in Edu Local Government Area of the state to sympathise with the Lafiagi Emirate Council over the death of their monarch and he was cheered by a mammoth crowd in the town.
Also at Patigi Town in Patigi LGA of the state, the people of the town showed him love and pledged to join his train so as to bring new governance to the State of Harmony come 2023.
With the current crisis in APC in the state, the present rise in the political image of Saraki and his massive acceptance by the youths, women and other stakeholders may assist the PDP to re-clinch power come 2023.
Culled from: ThisDay