In this piece, ABDULLAHI OLESIN gives insight into the accusations and counter accusations by critical stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State over an alleged diversion of the 2019 general elections campaign funds.
T he last may not have been heard about the disbursement of campaign funds for the prosecution of the 2019 general elections in Kwara State by the leadership of the state’s chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Since Saturday June 26, 2021 when the state governor, AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq started the debate on the alleged diversion of hundred of million naira campaign funds by some cabals within the APC in the state, other stakeholders including the Information and Culture minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, a factional chairman of the party, Alh Bashiru Bolarinwa, a House of Representatives member, Hon. Olawuyi Ajuloopin, a former member of the green chamber, Hon. Mashood Mustapha and 21 members of the state House of Assembly led by Speaker Yakubu Danladi-Salihu have engaged in accusations and counter accusations.
Following Governor AbdulRazaq’s allegation that campaign funds never got to him, Minister Mohammed on Saturday July 3, 2021 denied the alleged diversion of the funds.
Speaking at the launch of a book titled ‘Otoge’ in Ilorin, the state capital, AbdulRazaq represented by his deputy, Mr Kayode Alabi, said :”Some cabals within the party who received hundreds of millions of naira as donations for the Kwara struggle from far and wide did not deliver a kobo to him.”
The governor, however, deepened the context of the unfolding saga when he said party officials were barred from campaigning with him until the presidential election had been won and the pendulum was clearly swinging in his favour.
He also traced the crisis in the party to his refusal to fund a campaign structure that was formed without his knowledge or input as the governorship candidate of the party.
“Since this book is about history, I feel it is important to set the record straight on a few things. First, the ‘Otoge’ is the struggle of our people and it did not necessarily start in 2019. Every Kwaran of good conscience owned and worked for that struggle in various ways. We were only positioned by providence to lead the final lap of the breaking of the jinx that dated back many decades.”
The minister didn’t take the allegation lightly.
Speaking on the alleged diversion of the campaign funds by some cabals, Mohammed, insisted that he singlehandedly, 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.
The minister who spoke during the commissioning of the new secretariat of the Bashir Bolarinwa’s faction of the APC in the state, added that the last membership registration and revalidation in the state was a charade, saying no congress would take place in the state until all members are duly registered.
He said he got that assurance from the acting national chairman of APC, Mai Mala Buni.
Mohammed added: “I never diverted APC 2019 general elections campaign funds for my personal use as alleged by Kwara state Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. By the grace of God 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.
“And 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.
“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. But for the grace of God and some friends there would be no election in November 2018, because when we raised money we gave them but two days before election we could not reach them through their phones again.
“I had to go to friends to raise another N150 million to prosecute that election. I remember very well that there are 42 wards in that constituency. We thank God today that was the beginning of our success.
“When elections proper came we did not see our governorship candidate. We could not wait. I say without any fear of contradictions that by the grace of God with the money raised from friends, colleagues and associates we financed the four elections and we scored 100 percent.”
On the forthcoming state congresses nationwide, the minister said that: “The acting national chairman of APC, Mai Mala Buni,- has assured us that no congress will take place in Kwara until all our members are registered. And that the congress will be free and fair by the grace of God.”
The minister’s position was corroborated by other speakers at the event namely, Alh Bashir Bolarinwa, Prof Shuaib AbdulRaheem, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. AbdulGaniyu Cook- Olododo, a former gubernatorial aspirant, Tajudeen Makama, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo and a member of the state House of Assembly, Prince Saheed Popoola.
Reacting, however, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Ekiti/ Isin/Oke- Ero/ Irepodun constituency, Hon. Olawuyi Ajuloopin, described the allegation of embezzlement of N70m campaign funds levelled against him by Alh Lai Mohammed as frivolous, baseless and wild.
He accused the minister of being economical with the truth, adding that it was a north- central state governor that assisted him with campaign funds.
Also, 21 members of the state House of Assembly led by Speaker Yakubu Danladi-Salihu described the minister’s comments as baseless and unfounded.
The lawmakers said the only individual who offered them massive support during the election was the state governor who was the APC governorship candidate at the time.
The Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, who addressed newsmen on behalf of his colleagues, said the minister did not support them in any way during the campaigns and election.
Represented by his deputy, Hon. Raphael Adetiba, the speaker said, “Lai Mohammed did not give any support in any form to members of the 9th legislature during the campaign and election; if he did, he should name who and what he gave out.
“For God knows reason, Lai Mohammed did not participate in any of our campaigns and did not also contribute financially to it. It was the then Governorship candidate of our party, the APC, who supported our campaigns all through. For the records, all the 24 members of the House of Assembly received financial support from His Excellency, Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq for the purpose of prosecuting the House of Assembly election,” Danladi-Salihu stated.
Meanwhile, an APC stalwart, Hon. Mashood Mustapha, traced the crisis rocking the party to the governor’s refusal to share money with politicians.
Mustapha, a former member of the House of Representatives, said the governor is more passionate about infrastructure development than attending to “
A former aide of the former Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Mustapha said the governor is “not keen about stomach infrastructure which is the problem he has with some APC stakeholders. I want to award him a pass mark of 7 out of 10 percent”.
Mustapha implored the aggrieved APC members to retrace their steps, urging them to join hands with the governor in developing the state.
“ The stakeholders should seathe their swords. Let us come together; if there is any issue we are not cleared about, let us ask the governor for clarification. If he makes amends, fine, if he doesn’t listen to us, then we should wait to react at the appropriate time. This is the time for governance and not politics. Let’s allow the governor to concentrate on governance,” Mustapha added.