Tinkering With the Fragile Unity in Kwara

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Abdurahman Abdulrazaq

Hammed Shittu writes that fifth columnists are at work in Kwara State, threatening the fragile unity between Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress

For the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara state,things are falling apart and the center can no longer hold as some stakeholders in the party are hell bent to effect the removal of its state chairman, Hon. Bashr Bolarinwa Omolaja.

The scenario according to THISDAY checks might not be unconnected with the supposed permutations ahead of 2023 general election in the state.

It was gathered that, some members of the party have identified the state chairman of the party, Hon. Omolaja as a strong supporter of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed and keeping him in office may hinder the assumed second term bid of the governor.

Sources close to the party revealed that, the planned removal of Omolaja was borne of the frosty relationship that had existed between the governor and Alhaji Muhammed as the latter has allegedly distanced himself from Alhaji Muhammed despite his unalloyed support that heralded his emergence as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC. Muhammed supported Governor Abdulrazaq against many governorship aspirants who vehemently kicked against the procedure that produced him as the party’s governorship candidate.

However, the alleged sin of Omolaja is his alleged disrespect to the constituted authority of the state governor, Alhaji Abdulraham Abdulrazaq during a recent meeting with the leaders of the party.

Although, Omolaja has described the allegation as false, baseless and the opinion of his accusers, the accusations have refused to go away. His accusers insist that .Omolaja should resign to pave way for the election of new chairman that would work with the state governor, in order to assist him lead the party and more importantly to enable him deliver on campaign promises to the good people of the state.

The development according to THISDAY Investigations has unsettled the rank and file of the party in the state.

Sources close to the party in the state hinted that, some leading members of the party in the state were not happy with the governor on the way and manner he has been running the affairs of the state since he assumed office.

Their grouse is that party leadership in the state was not allegedly carried along in the appointment of key officials, especially the appointment of Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Alhaji Mamman Sabi and the Chief of Staff(Cos) Alhaji Adisa Loogun among others.

They alleged that these officials were not part of the success story of the APC government in the state. The Kwara State Governor has been taken to task for not considering for appointment those who worked for his emergence as the Chief Executive of the state.

It was also alleged that the governor had turned the administration of the state into a family affair which they claimed was not good for the party in the state.

As these allegations continue to fly around in the state, some leaders of the party have expressed concern that if this trend continues the party may have serious problems at the end of the day.

But a source close to the governor told THISDAY that, Abdulrazaq has the right to pick whoever he feels comfortable to work with to enable him deliver on his promises to the people of the state.

As this is going on in the state, a socio cultural group in the state, Orisun Igbomina from the Kwara South senatorial district has accused Omolaja of being behind the allegations and vowed that they would ensure his resignation. They again insisted that Omolaja must be punished for allegedly insulting Governor Abdulrasaq at a meeting with some leaders of the party.

The infringement according to THISDAY checks happened at the recent celebration of one of the ministers from Kwara State. At the event, Omolaja was said to have claimed that Alhaji Muhammed was the leader of the party in the state. This statement caused displeasure among some leaders of the party and governor, who were in attendance.

The group alleged that,the state chairman failed to recognise the presence of Governor Abdulrasaq at the event and accused him of deliberately insulting the governor.

This development according to THISDAY checks led the group to accuse Omolaja of arrogance and abuse of office. The leadership of Orisun Igbomima has since passed a vote of no confidence on Omolaja.

The President-General of the group, Chief Gbenga Awoyale, in a statement made available to journalists in Ilorin said that, “In the interest of equity, fairness and progress of, Hon. Bashiru Bolarinwa should immediately resign from office.”

He noted that, “This becomes pertinent because he was never elected in line with constitution of the party which has further strengthened him to be running the party like a personal business empire.

In addition, the party chairman is arrogant and lacks the capacity to run the parry democratically.

He said, “Build up to the last general elections, Hon. Bolarinwa directed all his executive members to boycott the governorship campaign and refused to move along with the gubernatorial candidate.

“His non-challant attitude and arrogance would have earned the party failure in the 2019 polls.”

Chief Awoyale added that, “We condemn in strong terms, the unruly outburst of the chairman at a meeting between the party’s executives and Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

Awoyale added that, “Similarly, at a reception held in honour of Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was recently reappointed as the minister of Information and Culture, the Chairman deliberately failed to recognize the Governor who was also seated at the event.

“To worsen the matter, Hon. Bolarinwa, during his remarks referred to the minister as the leader of the party in the state, being the height of insubordination which is highly condemnable and unwarranted.

“The outbursts and antagonistic disposition of the Chairman arose from the refusal of the Governor to grant his N10 million request for a one-day event in Abuja.

“This display of arrogance was largely due to the fact that he was not elected but was rather imposed. Since there is democratically elected administration in place and the Deputy Governor comes from the same local government with the Chairman it is politically expedient for the party chairmanship position to shift to another local government in Kwara South.”

Stressing further, Chief Awoyale declared total support and loyalty of the Orisun Igbomina organisation to the Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and commended him for taking bold steps towards delivering the state from wilderness of poverty, corruption and joblessness among others, that were orchestrated by the last administration.”

He added that the governor has demonstrated high leadership qualities and high sense of commitment to the growth, development and prosperity to the State of Harmony within the shortest time.

Awoyale also praised him for his maturity and patience over the display of arrogance by the APC chairman in the state, who is not known in Kwara but Lagos and playing the scripts of some Abuja-based politicians with no impact at home.

The Orisun Igbomina boss therefore advised the Governor not to be distracted by those who are not happy with his achievements even as he appealed to him to extend his road rehabilitation projects to Oro-Esie-Arandun communities and other bad roads in Kwara South, stressing that past administrations have failed to redeem their campaign promises on the dilapidated road networks.

Another youths group in the state, the Congress of Kwara Youths, an umbrella body of youth associations across the state penultimate week issued a quite notice to the state chairman of the APC, Hon. Omolaja, urging him to resign his appointment with immediate effect.

Speaking to journalists shortly after an emergency meeting in Ilorin, the spokesperson of the group, Mr. Ishaq Ibrahim, who read the resolutions of the group, gave the party a seven day ultimatum to remove Hon. Omolaja from office.

Ibrahim, who is also the coordinator of Ilorin Emirate Youths Assembly, noted that, “We have carefully watched the trend of political happenings in the state in the last few days and we hereby lend our voice to corroborate the position of other stakeholders in the state who have earlier called for the party chairman’s removal.

“Hon. Omolaja’s greed, disloyalty attitude to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq doesn’t portray that of a true party helmsman who is expected to foster prudence, peace, unity and prosperity among members. He has demonstrated high level of greed, indiscipline, arrogance and insubordination against the highest ruling class in the state.”

“We are urging him to retrace his step. Apologise unreservedly to our governor and pledge loyalty to him so that the governor can continue to achieve his aim of repositioning the state without unnecessary distraction for within.

“It won’t be out of place to state that there is urgent need for the review of the current structure of the APC in the state. Presently, The Governor is from Kwara Central and minister of state for transport, Deputy Governor and minister of information are from Kwara South, while only the Speaker of the Kwara State House Assembly is from Kwara North.

“We hereby urge the APC national leadership to urgently remove Hon. Bolarinwa and allow an experienced party man from Kwara North to replace him. Failure to heed to our demand will lead to total takeover and shutdown of the APC secretariat by our members.”

The group pledged its unalloyed loyalty and support to the peaceful co-existence of Kwarans especially youths towards national consciousness and democratic advancement.

But, the state chairman, Hon.Omolaja in a swift reaction said that, the purported call for his resignation from office by Orisun Igbomina group was a comical and political adventure taken too far.

He said that, “Ordinarily, we would have ignored the unfortunate rantings of this political leach, Chief Gbenga Awoyale who calls himself the President-General of the Orisun Igbomina Organisation.

“His statement that I should resign as the the State chairman of Kwara APC shows that he is a hatchet man for some faceless people. In a hurry to rush to accomplish his mischief, he did not take proper briefing.

He said that, the claim of Chief Awoyale that, “since the chairman and deputy governor come from the same local government, the chairman should resign, for all right thinking persons, it is like saying that either the senator representing Kwara central senatorial district or the Hon. Minister, Senator Gbemi Saraki should resign because the executive Governor of Kwara state is also from the same Local Government.

“What he fails to realise is that the State Chairman was already in office before the choice of the deputy governor was made. It should be a case of what is good for the goose also being be good for the gander.

Unknown to Chief Awoyale and his gang, the APC has two processes for choosing its officers, it’s either by consensus or primary election which can be direct or indirect. To therefore insinuate that the state chairman of the APC in Kwara state was not elected is a reflection of his penchant for turning history on its head.

“All discerning Kwarans are aware of the circumstances leading to the emergence of the chairman and his executive members. If Chief Awoyale is indeed an interested party in the well being of Kwara, he should have known that the apex court of the land, the Supreme Court has since confirmed the Omolaja led exco as the authentic exco of the party in the state.

“For him or any other person or group of persons to insinuate anything aside the ruling of the court is a wild goose chase and such people can only be allowed to wallow in their ignorance.

On the allegations of running the party autocratically, Hon.Omolaja said, “I want to say that, aside from carrying along all party executive members in the running of the party, the state, I enjoy the confidence of the entire structure of the party.”

The claim that the party stricture did not campaign with the governor during the electioneering campaign smacks of deliberate misinformation.

He said that, ‘I campaigned with governor across the state, though we often went to different destinations, but it was meant to achieve the purpose reaching out to the entire state because of the late take off of campaign of the APC.

“For a party that scored 100% at the polls, Chief Awoyale displays little intelligence to posit that I would have cost the party 2019 general election victory..”

On the meeting of the state executive committee with the governor recently, the state chairman said that, the meeting was held behind closed doors and described it as a family meeting, where views were freely expressed and the claim of Chief Awoyale of unruly outburst is way off the mark.

He noted that, the governor was duly recognised and those at the meeting could testify that the State Chairman almost declined to speak citing protocol, since the Governor had already spoken.

” It is on record and indeed can be verified that the state chairman did not collect a dime from any aspirant before and during the APC primaries at all levels in the state. To allude to insubordination on my path because of a paltry N10 million is quite unfortunate,” he stressed.

He pointed out further that, “I am not a Lagos politician as claimed by Chief Awoyale because I had once contested for the governorship position of Kwara state. I was the runner-up to the immediate past Governor in 2011. I have been involved in the politics of Kwara state until my emergence as State chairman of APC in Kwara state.”

Omolaja therefore urged the state governor, Alhaji Abdulrasaq to ignore the fifth columnists whose job over the years has been to derail good intentions of government saying that, “they like to profit from crisis and do an
Anything to turn institutions of government against themselves.”

Meanwhile, the leadership of the party in the state has vowed to continue to support and stand with Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq in his drive to deliver to Kwarans the fruits of governance.

This is evidenced in the endorsement of Governor Abdulrasaq by the chairmen of the 16 Local Government Area chapters of the party in the state.

The 16 LGA chairmen of the party in the state in a statement issued in Ilorin signed by its Public Relations Officer, Hon Sulaiman Tejidini, reaffirmed faith in the leadership of Abdulrasaq.

The statement read in part, ” We also wish to affirm that Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, the Executive Governor of Kwara State is the APC Party Leader in the State and we are ready to work with him to enable his administration deliver on the set objectives

“We therefore distant ourselves from all statements that may be credited to individuals or groups against Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, his administration and our party and thus urge all party loyalists to disregard such.

“We are proud to inform the public that APC is one big and united family under the leadership of our Governor, irrespective of any internal issues which are bound to occur in a democratic setting and that notwithstanding, we are blessed with good mechanisms to resolve such matters in the best interest of justice and democracy.

“We pray that Almighty Allah continue to guide our government, the Governor and our party on the right path.”

The statement added that, “We urge the discerning public to disregard recent happenings hatched by anti people elements within and outside the party geared towards destabilizing the party.

“Party members should be wary of fifth columnists been sponsored by anti people’s element in the state. There are party procedures on different matters which are not ambiguous, and clearly spelt out in the party’s constitution. Any call for the resignation of the party chairman is not only reckless but senseless.”

The APC chairmen noted that, “The relationship between the party and the state government is cordial and the party will do everything possible to maintain this cordiality so that the good people of Kwara state can benefit maximally the dividends of democracy.

“So far, the party is happy with the various developmental efforts of the governor some of which will be showcased for his first 100days in office.

“All factional tendencies are not only self serving but injurious to the collective interest of party members and the generality of Kwarans.

“We urge our elders in the party to ensure that a wrong foot is not put forward in the course of consolidating our political success. We should leverage on the experience of the governor as a successful businessman and that of the party chairman as a successful politician.”

By and large, the residents of the state are watching with the keen interest to see how the ruling party will restore unity within its fold and continue to work as a team, instead of allowing little issues to destroy its cohesion ahead of the 2023 polls, which appears far away. Political pundits believe that the party cannot afford to sacrifice the goodwill that brought it to power. Expectations are high for an even and rounded development of the state, through a purposeful fulfilment of campaign promises.

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As these allegations continue to fly around in the state, some leaders of the party have expressed concern that if this trend continues the party may have serious problems at the end of the day