The battle line appears to have been drawn between the governor of Kwara state, Alhaji AbduLRahman AbdulRasaq and minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Indication that the 2023 general election in the state will be battle royale emerged at the weekend when Alhaji Mohammed opened a factional office and promised his group that no Congress will take place in the state as scheduled by the national caretaker committee until every member of the faction has been registered.
Alhaji Mohammed has told those who cared to listen that Governor AbdulRasaq is ‘One Chance’ Governor.
The crisis has also polarized the state house of assembly along Kwara Governor / minister of information factions. 21 out of the 24 members addressed the media yesterday and chided the minister for saying there won’t be congress in the state. The lawmakers said Alhaji Mohammed should be sanctioned for anti-party Activities. Alhaji Mohammed has also insisted that Governor AbdulRasaq will not be re-elected in 2023.
Amidst this confusion, there are allegations and counter allegations about how the 2018/2019 election funds were disbursed.
Rep AbdulRaheem Tunji Olawuyi Ajuloopin, member, representing Ekiti, Irepodun, Isin, Oke-ero Federal Constituency has described as frivolous, baseless and wild the allegation by Alhaji Mohammed against him of embezzling N70 million from the 2018 by-election campaign fund.
Ajuloopin said at a press briefing in Ilorin on Sunday that such allegation only exist in the imagination of the minister, while accusing Mohammed of being economical with the truth, petty and resorting to politics of pull him down.
Giving details by the details of what transpired, Ajuloopin stated that, a North Central State Governor reached out to him on personal ground to donate toward the 2018 by-election and when the minister got wind of the donation, he immediately reached out to him 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 antecedent with money.”
According to him, Also, on my own, I personally gave Alhaji Muhammed the sum of N32.5m, with the full knowledge of the former party chairman, Bashiru Bolarinwa, for election purposes; the minister and Bashir Bolarinwa cannot deny this except there is no conscience left.
Ajuloopin said that it would also interest the public to know that one senior Federal Government official told Governor AbdulRazaq who was then the candidate of the party that Lai Mohammed reached out to him and claimed that there was no money for the bye-election campaign in Kwara.
The lawmaker who declined to name the official, said he pleaded with the Governorship candidate (now the Governor) and asked him to release N50 million to the minister, which was released but the money was never accounted for nor used for campaign purposes as envisaged.
He stated that if anyone was to be accused of mismanaging campaign fund, it should be nobody other than Alhaji Mohammed, who till date could not give details of how the money was spent.
The Federal Lawmaker said why the minister would have the effrontery to accuse him of such criminality without recourse to due diligence beat his imagination and debased the exalted office he occupied.
He added that the minister’s allegation only showed that he was not on the ground during the by-election to know the enormity of work and resources put into winning the elections but whose interest was to corner every available money donated for the purpose.
He said that the Minister only found it convenient to raise such allegation at a political gathering to score cheap points.
This wild allegation amounted to a campaign of calumny and a well-orchestrated move to score cheap political points, using me as his best bet to sway his audience.
This according to him suggests that the minister has something up his sleeves and also has an axe to grind with him but chose that discredited platform to air his grievances.
“It will interest you to know that Alhaji Lai Mohammed has never challenged me on how best we can improve the lives of our people in Ekiti/Isin/Irepodun/Oke-Ero. All he cared about was how to spend campaign fund” He said.
He further said that the minister’s allegation showed that the he was at large in the build up to the election and could not have known that contesting and defeating an incumbent comes with huge resources and responsibility, and not mere political rhetoric.
“You will recall that the November 2018 by-election campaign was the best any serious and ambitious politician could put up; that election was a huge success because of our unwavering commitment.
“The minister, as at the time of the by-election, was the party leader who presided over the campaign funds, which included huge amounts donated by some Kwara-born politicians from Lagos, all these monies were not accounted for by the minister.
He stated that if the minister was in doubt as to how the money was spent, should have queried that before now and not when he fell out with the Governor who he is trying so hard to rubbish at all cost.
He urged the minister to be more cautious and elderly in his approach because those who live in a glass house should not throw stone.
Ajuloopin said, ” at a time when the minister is supposed to be commissioning projects facilitated by him, especially in Kwara South, his immediate constituency and the State in general, he is busy polarising the party and commissioning factional secretariat of the party.
“Is that how a leader behaves, Leaders are not known to be petty, garrulous with unbridled passion to lie serially.”
He said that such allegation that sought to indict the minister more was unbecoming of a man of Alhaji Mohammed status, adding that it was time to watch his back.
He said that Otoge was the struggle of the people and nobody should claim undue credit for it.