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Lai Mohammed is not popular in Kwara Politics— Awoyale

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Lai Mohammed is not popular in Kwara Politics— Awoyale

Chief Gbenga Awoyale

Chief Gbenga Awoyale is the President-General of Orisun Igbomina, a socio-cultural group for the people of Kwara South Senatorial District. In this interview with KUNLE ADENIYI, he speaks on issues affecting Kwara Politics and other important issues of national interest.

Excerpts:

Can you highlight some of the achievements of this administration?  

Thank you for this timely question, as you can see that our dear state has been yearning for this type of leadership for a very long time. It is a statement of fact the Governor Abdulraman Abdulrazaq has achieved a lot for the people of Kwara State in less than two years in office. For instance in my local government alone, I can point to at least three places where the governor’s works are being felt and In want to categorically tell you that the positive impacts are felt in the entire 16 local government areas of the state.

However, such achievements can be classified into infrastructure, health and education. This is clearly evident in the rehabilitation of Museum and NITEL, Okerimi roads in Oro, renovation of healthcare centers as well as renovation of dilapidated blocks of classrooms in Esie Technical Secondary School, Oro Grammar School. There is no local government that the Governor has not touched without borrowing, rather, he has been clearing debt that he inherited from previous governments.

He is not after awarding elephant project contracts that he won’t be able to complete but repairing and maintaining what he met on ground. Especially, he has been repairing and maintaining roads that are essential to the wellbeing of the people of the state. He is a wonderful Governor with the principle of maintenance and sustainability.

In addition, when the former Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, started work on Gbongan Erin-Ile road, a project which so enormous that even the federal government dare not engage. He ended up without completing 10 percent of that project in his eight years of two term in office.

The governor is conscious of the fact that the state is left with little resources, therefore, he adopted the formula of maintenance culture on the existing assets. All abandoned projects that the regime of former Governors Mohammed Lawal, Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed did not revisit, he is currently attending to them.  As you can see that even the Up Lawal water project is currently receiving attention.

How can you rate Abdulrazaq’s performance among other states with similar allocation?   

There’s no state with little allocation like Kwara that has being able to efficiently manage it the manner Abdulrazaq has done. No governor in Nigeria has being able to maintain his state with allocation like Abdulrazaq and will touch the across the state. Go to Kwara North, Kwara Central and Kwara South senatorial districts, his works are speaking for him there.

Why have you kept silence on issue of BOB and Kwara APC?  

I kept quiet because everything that has beginning will sure have an end and because I have never seen a state party chairman that will be so bold to committing such atrocities just like what Bashiru Bolarinwa is doing, except he is being bankrolled by an external force(s) support.

Can anyone try that with Governor Nyeson Wike of Rivers State or Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State? But such is not new in the Nigeria’s political landscape, thereby outsider to cause confusion in the state. It happened in Ekiti, Ondo and Kogi states respectively but the state governors later emerged victorious overcame because their sponsors were not popular and more so, they were aliens in their states.

I really like the recent statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari, where he said that APC will no longer tolerate the act of imposing candidates on states from Abuja. I’m so delighted with that statement.

The style of imposition is not new and I have being repeating ever since. Dele Belgore can give account of his ordeal while in Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), after he contested twice and was opposed in the party. Since then, Kwara has been struggling to gain freedom from this same man that hindered Belgore from fulfilling his dream. He is using power from Lagos, not that he is popular at home or has any significant impact on the people, but Kwara is resisting such interference and trespass.

Imagine a party chairman went to government house and banged table before the governor in his office and told him they only made him as a ‘Director’ and that State Party Executives and stakeholders. He even warned the governor not to send any list to the State House of Assembly without their knowledge. But the governor has not replied him till today. No governor can tolerate that in Nigeria. The governor, however, continue to focus on the state projects and he avoid all sorts of distractions, believing that his achievement will speak for him before Kwarans.

The Governor sponsored their trip to Abuja to attend Lai Mohammed swearingin as minister, but they ended up embarrassing him there. The chairman and his executives should have at least stand up to greet the governor when he entered,  rather, they started chanting hate songs against him and praising Lai Mohammed as their leader.

The ill-feelings still persist and the governor decided to keep quiet because of his simplicity. I have raised this issue but they tagged me as raising false alarm and that I have hatred against Kwara South where I come from. Those perpetrating this evil acts are not up to 20 percent of the party, both within the state and outside. Where are they? On social media and in Abuja. I was only raising alarm so that the governor can have a rest of mind to concentrate, but people think I have gone overboard on this matter. Very soon, we shall all see my positions clearly.

Cars were donated from Abuja and the governor did not even sight them till now. He did not even know how much funds was raised for the development of the state nor did he know anything or inquire about the campaign material disbursed in favour of the state.

Unfortunately, the cars that are meant for campaign are now being sighted with people who were not involved in the party’s struggle, some even gave them out to their girlfriends and we see them driving them around in town. We party members used our personal cars, fuel it with our money and make them available for party struggles. Governor did not condemn them or make any comment. Let them come out and deny it. That is why the problem persists up till now, he just believe he should be working so that the masses will judge him by his work and appreciate him.

This same people that condemned Saraki’s government, are now being ignored by the masses when they came out again to condemn the Abdulrazaq-led government within just a year. I appreciates the masses for acknowledging the Governor’s efforts.

Is there any measure to stop opposition from within from wreaking havoc on the party?

It will rather be hard to stop such people, because they are being bankrolled. How many states in Nigeria will you see a party chairman bold enough to be going from one radio station to another to discredit a sitting governor. Worthy of note is that both the opposition in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and those within our party cannot come out to complain against the performance of the governor, rather what they are saying is that the governor is not carrying them along. They want to impose political appointees from Ogun, Lagos, Osun and Edo States under the pretense that they are not carried along.

As I speak, it’s only one local government in Lagos that is financing Kwara crisis. That is what they do to any governor they don’t accept because he is not dancing to their tune.  They did same when contending with Kogi and Ekiti. Our revenue is small in Kwara, at most N20bn compared to about N200bn generated in a single local government in Lagos. So how can Kwara finance crisis with that little revenue against Lagos. House of Assembly member and chairman left their duty posts to be jumping from one radio station to another and on social media to condemn efforts of the governor.

Why didn’t Kwara APC conduct election?  

Our desperation to oust Saraki led us to accepting the imposed party chairman, he was not elected ditto all other executive members. They said we should go and sort ourselves out when we complained. They used party chairmen to wreck serious havoc in states. That is what they use party chairmen for right from time and also to cause crisis within the party. The same thing was done during AC and ACN.

The Party Chairman and one member of the State House of Assembly are found of going for Radio programmes. Both go from one radio programmes to another to condemn governor’s work.

Where do they get funding? 

They get funding from Lagos. We have witnessed it when we were in opposition party. There is money in Lagos, just to raise fund from a single local government and cause trouble for any state they want to fight and cause distraction for the governor. But we are not from South West, so why is Lagos bothering us? They attempted same thing in Kogi, but they were warned to stay in their geopolitical zone. They should leave Kwara State alone too.

They tried all their possible best to manipulate this election result that ushered in Abdulrazaq but to no avail. So they determined to discredit his work for his whole tenure in office, either four or eight years they will work against him. We all know what happened to Akeredolu in Ondo and people they use against him were not popular. BOB contested in Lagos but people they put there are not those that won. They operate imposition not by winner. He went to House of Representatives and local government chairman and then crossed from ACN.

For someone who has contested twice and has being to Abuja was then sent to Kwara to contest under PDP for governorship. But he only scored one vote during the primaries. Then he crossed to APC, because someone is using him for all these actions. Then, he was imposed on us in APC as the chairman. Is that how to be a progressive?

Lai Mohammed is not popular in Kwara Politics— Awoyale

The minister who is the friend to the Lagos man and being financed to use BOB has never won a local government chairman. This minister could not even stop ward chairman from following Bukola Saraki when he dumped APC is the one that want to be controlling this state. Even though, I might not be a minister, I stopped my entire ward members and executives from following Saraki, the record is there.

All they are after is for the government to inherit debts to be sharing money. But his work is glaring everywhere, paying salaries; he is one of the best governors in Nigeria who maintained his allocation and did not borrow a dime as at now. All these achievements are there on ground for everyone to see.

If the governor consented and allow them share the money and take it to Lagos, what will be left to execute projects in the state? Kwara will just end up returning to how it used to be and they would not be blamed for it, rather the governor will responsible. They want a dummy that they can impose and use to actualize their personal agenda. Similar occurrence happened in Edo, until Obaseki crossed to PDP and he still won the second term.

Today, masses has stopped listening to their lies, but rather curse them when they go on radio. Masses are satisfied with the government, and those that have not being to Kwara for a while will notice the massive differences that are now in place.

Issue with Akogun

Poopoola Akogun is famous for feeding fat on opposition all his life and he is only useful during crisis, just as we are now. He has that on his track record and everybody knows him for this, including the governor. That is how he opposed late former Governor Mohammed Lawal throughout his tenure. He also did not end well with Bukola Saraki despite all what he did for him. These are the records people check about him, even if any governor comes tomorrow, Akogun’s record is there that he is not to be trusted and that he is only useful during crisis.

He was rejected by his town in Isanlu-Isin when he started this fight. His people staged protest to their Oba’s palace that he should not represent them because he has never being of any benefit to them. The video went viral on social media and people were highly disappointed in him.

He is always fighting for personal interest and be asked governor what he cannot offer. He wants federal appointment, but which of the governors has the power to get it during Buhari administration. But the governor offered to grant him anything within his power in the state, either commissioner or Special Adviser. If he feels he’s too big for such appointments, then why can’t he give the appointment to people under him to empower them? Because he think if he empowers his followers it might affect him somehow.

What Akogun had benefitted since inception of this government, those that worked hard for this governor has not enjoyed 10 percent of it. Still he is not satisfied, claiming that he can talk for anyone and follow the highest bidder, but that cannot continue forever. The same programme he did on radio that made him won people’s affection because they want Saraki to go, people now call in to the same programme and they banged calls because people are now cursing him. I can’t waste time on his issue, he has that bad records of betrayal. Akogun was heard talking about money gift from AA for wedding. Is it today AA has been coming to his rescue financially ? They were in CPC together in 2011, let him tell us his benefits from AA, he should please stop playing saints. He talked about Yinka Aluko as the messenger that gave him N5million, is it today he has been salvaging him, this Yinka Aluko was the man that took him and his group to Saraki as Security Adviser, he should tell us what he benefitted from Saraki.

Saheed Popoola  

His matter is irrelevant and I have stopped giving him attention since the day he said that the only request that led him to the governor was the three and half kilometer road to his house which was executed. He is not satisfied even when the whole people benefit from that same road, but you prefer that governor should share state allocation with you.

Today, he does not worth anything again before his people since he made that statement. He abandoned his work at the House of Assembly to embark on shameless venture to discredit governor on radio programmes, yet he is in the same ruling party. He dare not say the governor has no achievement in his local government. All he and his cohorts want is to know how much state receives in allocation so that they can share it once it arrives, their usual manner with the previous government.

He finished himself before Kwaras when he opened up in less than one year that they have reached out to Saraki, and started condemning the government they brought in. Kwarans no longer count such people as being relevant and they are not worthy of our attention. We are also aware of his recent transactions with Saraki, they will soon expose themselves. God has finally answered prayers of Kwarans for liberation after so many years, people don’t want to return to bondage anymore.

The new party caretaker chairman Samari organized a press conference to address issues as he resumed office, only for these same detractors to rent one of the biggest hall in Ilorin, hired the  service of a DJ and filled up the hall with hoodlums to disturb the party’s event. We have the video of the hoodlums dancing and constituting nuisance against the press conference. We have never heard about hoodlums again in Kwara since Saraki was ousted from dominating Kwara politics.

Any comment on Hon. Bio Ibrahim and Hon. Cook Olododo that appointment is not circulated?  

Both of them went to the media and to Abuja to condemn the governor that appointments are not well circulated despite having their children in government. They are indirectly attacking their children and not the governor. Do they and their families want to take all the appointments? Anyways, before I can pass any comment on this, I will find time to talk to Hon. Olododo, he is my friend.

About Lai Mohammed  

We that have being in the system for a while are not surprised with his actions. His boys saying they are in talks with Saraki is not new to us. They have being romancing with Saraki years back since the days of ACN because they don’t want their party to have governor in Kwara. They believed that once their party produced the governor, automatically, the governor will not respect them as leader. Because party constitution recognizes governor has the leader in the state.

That’s why they sabotaged Belgore’s dream the first and second time he contested but instead want to impose dummy on us. They wanted to bring someone who will accept them as leader, but they failed. Everything that transpired from the beginning until now is the handiwork of the minister and they are bankrolled from Lagos.

Same formulas was used in Edo, Ondo, Kogi, Ekiti. All they need do is call one local government chairman in Lagos to finance the crisis since they know Kwara cannot afford such spending.

The minister is in charge of Kwara crisis and it was only God that made it possible for Abdulrazaq to win the election because they didn’t want him and he was already rigged out before alarm was raised to give the ticket to illegible winner.

Saraki is gone for life in Kwara and if they were wise, they would have allowed the governor to finish his tenure and allow public assessment to determine his performance. Kwarans should be the judge on who they want based on achievements of this government and the previous ones. And then judge by themselves which is better between the 8 years of Saraki plus eight years of Ahmed compared to Abdulrazaq four years. Even Abdulrazaq’s two years has knocked them out.

Abdulrazaq even went as far as revisiting Ahmed and Saraki’s uncompleted projects with little allocation he received and still services debts from same. Let the masses make their assessment.

Go to Kwara North and chant Saraki’s praises, they will stone that person to death. The whole Kwara North sighted tarred road last during the military regime, as if they are not part of Kwara State. But go there now and see Abdulrazaq’s achievement, he is focusing attention on them and if anyone claim that he has not done anything, the community will count the person to have gone nut.

Abdulrazaq’s interest is after the masses, but he never said he won’t take care of the party only that they should learn to be contented. They are not satisfied with the little that is available but want to be collecting money from Lagos.

When Akogun claimed that he wasn’t carried along, did he carry us along too? Before we moved to APC, we started the struggle together, I contributed to it and many other party members worked tirelessly. He always feed fat on crisis when we were in PDP and we didn’t want to leave until we were forced to because of Saraki. After making such effort and sacrifice, we should have taken caution to make agreement on the modality of the party we want to cross to.

But because they promised Akogun that he will run as Deputy Governor, he just went ahead without any formality. We believed that things will take shape after winning the election when Saraki is sent packing. The same Akogun wanted to be Deputy Governor to Professor Shuaib Abdulraheem, Alhaji Hakeem Lawal and to Luqman Mustspha; negotiating Deputy Governorship slot from three Ilorin indigenes. But as God would have it, Abdulrazaq won all of them and North Central rose to his defense when he was almost rigged out, that Kwara is not Lagos. They agitated that ticket should be given to Abdulrazaq because he won the primary election. So, Akogun had problem because he already played his cards with three candidates, he could not go to Abdulrazaq to show interest in becoming his deputy. He had exhausted his chances.

What will be your reaction to herdsmen issue?  

President Muhammadu Buhari should act fast before things get out of hand. He encouraged Nigerians to return to farm and many have borrowed money to invest in agriculture. It would not be good that all the gains (farm produce) are destroyed by cattle. Someone like me really devoted my time to farm. I diversified just like any other reasonable Nigerian businessman because of perceived positive result but herdsmen are not making agriculture attractive anymore.

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