Understanding the Titanic Battle for the Soul of Kwara APC

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Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq

Hammed Shittu writes that the simmering crisis raging in the Kwara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress for over seven months has split the party into two camps

Its seems this is not the best of times in the Kwara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress(APC) as the internal crisis that rocked the party after it successfully overturned the Saraki dynasty political structure during the last general election has continued unabated.

The simmering crisis which has been raging for over seven months now according to THISDAY investigations has snowbaledl into a full blown one as it has split the party into two camps in the state.

During the last general election in the state, all the elective positions from state to the national levels were won by the APC courtesy of the commitment of purpose that cut across the 16 local government councils of the state, which assisted the members and leaders of the party to achieve the unprecedented electoral victory in the political annals of the state nicknamed ‘State of Harmony.’

The reason for this feat in the elections of that year was also because of the zeal of the opposition groups that had been in existence in the state which finally culminated in the coming together of these groups into one political movement called “O to Ge” which gave them the enabling platform to win.

Shortly after the election and subsequent swearing in of the state governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq and his deputy, Mr. Lekan Alabi, some unforeseen situations started to emerge within the leadership of the party which at the end led to the current situation that the party is experiencing in the state now.

The outcome of this simmering situation in the party has allegedly brought allegations and counter allegations over the conduct of elections as some leaders of the party have been questioned over certain issues that bothers on their activities during the polls.

When the issue came up according to sources close to the party, some top members of the party in Abuja were said to have intervened on the allegations which they claimed bothers on financial impropriety but which the officers of the party asked those milling such rumours to stop the tall tales, reminding everyone that the party won all the seats in the state and that what should be paramount now is on how to provide dividends of democracy to the doorsteps of the populace and not to cause any crisis.

This was the submission of the echelon of the party but some stakeholders in the state said to be loyal to the power that be allegedly refused to let the matter died down and this has continued to cause perceived crisis in the party.

The development according to THISDAY checks might not be unconnected with the non involvement of some party leaders in the composition of the members of the state executive council of the state and the appointment of some key officials of the state by Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, especially the Chief of Staff and the Secretary to the State Government among others.

The ugly situation according to the political pundits in the state has led to the division of the state executive council committee of the party thereby blowing off the crisis in the party in the state.

However, some leaders of the state defended the action of the governor for not allegedly carrying some stakeholders along in the appointment of his key officials and composition of the state executive council.

They claimed that, the governor is the leader of the party and government in the state, he has all rights to choose anyone he feels that could work with him in the day to day running of affairs of the state.

This controversy however prompted some groups in the state to call for the resignation of the state chairman, Hon. Bashr Bolarinwa who some stakeholders of the party claimed was moving beyond his boundary in the day to day running of the state.

The two groups include Orisun Igbomina and Congress of Kwara Youths in the state where they accused the chairman of arrogance and therefore should resign so as to pave way for a new chairman.

The chairman, Hon. Bolarinwa in his reaction then described the outburst of the two groups as uncalled for, saying that, the call for his resignation from office was comical and political adventure taken too far.

Since then, the party leadership had been divided into two groups in the state. One group led by the state chairman of the party, Hon. Bolarinwa is said to be loyal to a leader of the party and Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed while other group led by the state deputy chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar is said to be loyal to the state governor Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq.

The ugly scenario led some members of the state executive committee of the party led by Hon. Bolarinwa have distanced themselves from the day to day affairs of the state while some state executive committee said to be loyal to the governor have been attending the state functions.

As this is going on in the political arena of the state, some state executive council committee led by Hon. Bolarinwa recently decided to embark on thank-you-tour of the 16 local government councils so as to thank the members of the party for their unalloyed support and to call on them to continue to support the income government in the state.

As this tour was going on, the visit of the Chairman and his team to Shao town in Moro local government council area of the state however turned sour as some members of the team were attacked by the suspected hoodlums in the town.

Reports also had it that windscreen of the bus was shattered by the attackers who were said to have also threatened to inflict bodily harm on the party chairman and his team.

Confirming the development, the state vice chairman of the party, Sunday Oyebiyi, described the attack as unfortunate, saying it could lead to disintegration of the party in the state.

He said that police permit was sought and obtained for the tour of the 16 local government areas of the state, particularly when some members of the party loyal to the governor stood against it.

Oyebiyi, who is also zonal chairman, (Kwara North) of the party was also among entourage of the party chairman to Shao, saying that members of the party are eagerly waiting for outcome of intervention being done by elders of the party into the crisis.

He called on members of the party to remain calm and embrace peace and love in their dealings.

Meanwhile, Governor Abdulrasaq has condemned the attack on party chairman and his entourage to Shao, calling on the police command to fish out all the perpetrators and prosecute them.

In the statement issued by the govenor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Rafiu Ajakaye, governor described the attack as disturbing.

” We condemn in strongest terms possible the alleged attack on the state chairman of the APC Hon. Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa allegedly by some hoodlums in Moro local government. This is very disturbing. The Governor is very proud of the peaceful atmosphere in the state and seriously frowns at any action that might heat up the polity under whatever guise.

“He calls on the security agencies to not just fish out those behind the attack but to also make sure they face the full weight of the law. For the record, the state faces many developmental issues and the Governor has no time for anything that does not add value to the lives of the people he’s been elected to govern”.

However, as party in the state is battling with this attack on the state chairman, Hon. Bolarinwa and his team at Shao town in Moro local government council area of the state, a new twist to the ugly situation in the party ensued.

This time around, some aggrieved state executive council committee loyal to the governor addressed a press conference on the true position of things in the party in the state.

The group led by the state deputy chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar accused the state chairman of the party, Hon. Bolarinwa of high handedness in the day to day running of the party.

Speaking at a press conference in Ilorin, the spokesperson of the group,.Alhaji Abubakar said that, “all the actions and attitude of Hon. Bolarinwa were acted against the constitution of the APC”.

He said that, “this ugly internal crisis in the party in Kwara State was occasioned by dissatisfaction expressed by a bloc of the state executive committee against the leadership of Hon. Bolarinwa”

The group said that, “the state executive as constituted today is a fusion of varying interest groups arising from the various consensus and compromises necessitated by the need to temper all personal interests for the general goal of achieving the much desired victory envisioned as the end result of the :’O to Ge’mantra.

“To the glory of God, Kwarans in their right judgement entrusted our great party with the leadership of the State. We hold this trust and will continue to do so in high esteem.

“To think therefore that the state chairman still runs the party like a sole administrator without recourse to any level of a properly conveyed executive committee in a party that prides itself as the champion of anti-corruption, transparency and accountability offends our sensibility. This certainly betrays the fundamental principle upon which our party was built and should not be allowed to continue”

The group also accused the party chairman of financial misappropriation, recklessness and lack of fiscal discipline, saying, “As at today, there is no evidence of a properly documented record of the party’s financial transactions. No records of inflow and outflow of funds, no evidence of compliance with the principle of internal control.”

The APC leaders said the chairman had made sustained efforts to frustrate the audit process in clear breach of the extant provisions of the party’s constitution he swore to uphold

They added, “More worrisome is the refusal of Bolarinwa to acquire a befitting accommodation for the party even after donations running into millions of naira were sought and received from our Party stakeholders when most of them were still aspirants.

“Regrettably today, we (as a party) are housed in a wing of an apartment used for personal and political purpose by one of our respected party chieftains. How does asking for the whereabouts of the money meant for the office accommodation become a crime in a party like ours? All that is requested is accountability and nothing more”.

But, in a swift reaction by the group loyal to Information and Culture Minister led by the state chairman of the party, Hon. Bolarinwa said that, the party is being threatened and hijacked by “political parties mauraders” in the state.

Bolarinwa, therefore called on, “all genuine party members to join us in the tortuous task of saving our party from leeches and serial killer jobbers”.

His deputy, Chief Sunday Oyebiyi spoke on his behalf at a press conference at the party secretariat in Ilorin on the simmering crisis rocking the party in the state

He said that, “the party would continue to remain resolute and focused on the task of party building and streghtening based on the principle of cohesiveness and oneness.

“Any other agenda by the agents of divisive politics and their sponsors are anchored by genuine stakeholders in the Kwara project”.

Bolarinwa who absolved the minister of Information and Culture,. Alhaji Lai Muhammed of instigating crisis in the party explained that, the minister provided logistics and support towards the electoral victory of the party in the state.

He said that “Their reference to a cabal is petty within APC led by Alhaji Lai Muhammed is petty childish and laughable. They are afraid of their own shadows, and in going down, their willing to pull any strands with them. The APC will outlive many of them.

“If the memories of these aggrieved people is short, we cannot be accused of same. The struggle to win election was fierce and challenging. During this period of tribulation, it was only Alhaji Lai Muhammed that we saw, he sponsored sensitisation programme, provided logistics and other such supports requested from him. He stood by us and together we navigated the rough roads to victory. This is not news to our traducers, the only choose the part of mischieve”.

Bolarinwa who accused the state governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq of dumping the party after the electoral victory of the party last year added that, every efforts made till now to make him seen reason has failed.

He said, “At this juncture, we need to reiterate that, contrary to the norm, there is gapping disconnect between the governor and the party and between the governor and revered party elders.

“This scenario has been in place after the party primaries, during and indeed after the polls. We were also part of the success of the governor at the election petition tribunal and we went to Government House to congratulate him and even took pictures with him but these aggrieved party exco went back on the second day and told the governor that, they are for the governor and his support group called “AA” support group and since that time, they decided to exempt themselves from the main stream of the party exco in the state”

He pointed out further that, “severally party elders had tried to wade into the matter by meeting with the state party chairman, Alhaji Lai Muhammed and the governor himself.

“However, a follow up meeting with the governor to resolve the areas of differences has not been possible because the governor has refused to grant audience to the elders”.

He therefore assured the members of the party that the party would continue to wax stronger and called on them to shun people that wanted to embark on divisive politics in the party.

On the allegations of high handedness, the chairman said that, he has taken upon himself to be carrying along all the members of the state exco of the party.

According to him, “I carried everybody along consulting,seeking divergent opinions and ensuring consensus in a manner that is satisfactory to all”.

He said that, “the hues and cries from these aggrieved state exco within our party is a result of them not being able to have me buy into their political of money for “hand, back for ground”.

Meanwhile, members of a political group in the party loyal to the party chairman and the Minister of Information,Alhaji Muhammed under the aegis of the Kwara APC Integrity Vanguards (KAIV), have also reacted in a statement issued in Ilorin recently saying that allegations of the aggrieved APC exco members are illogical allegations drawn from speculations against the party chairman and the minister with a sinister motives to heat up party politics in the state.

The statement signed by its national coordinator and publicity secretary, Abdullahi Yinka Onimasa and Kayode Aliyu Bamidele, respectively, said, “the party leaders were acting divisive script of their sponsor, “targetting our state chairman, Hon. Bashir Bolarinwa, the minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and other notable leaders of our party who have invested their times, energies and resources, but have today become targets of their daily verbal missiles. This is a clear case of an ingrate king who go for the jugular of those who made him”.

They said that, “First, we want everyone to know that this is not the first time these desperate stomach infrastructure and appointment seekers who now described themselves as aggrieved persons will be throwing illogical allegations drawn from their speculations against the party chairman with a sinister motives to heat up party politics, stir up the chairman’s emotions so as to give their power obsessed sponsor avenue to dismantle the validly constituted party structures and replace with their co-desperate stomach infrastructure, appointment seeking parasites

“Bashir Bolarinwa, an experienced party man and an advocate of party disciplines and supremacy understands all their evil plots and will never be distracted by sponsored attacks of few frustrated elements acting scripts of their sponsor within the party”.

“It is so tiring that these people keep exposing themselves to public ridicules with their unintelligent speculations that BOB

The group said that Bolarinwa did not mismanage the party funds which came in form of donations, asking, “How else will Bolarinwa be expected to be transparent when the party operating guidelines requires not less than three (3) party officials including the Secretary who’s part of these aggrieved excos to sign chequebooks?

“Why will a party Secretary , Alhaji Salman Ishowo who is a key signatory to party’s financial records and chequebooks claim ignorant of how donations from aspirants were expended?

“In addition to being a key signatory to all party’s accounts , Salman Ishowo, one of these people is also the only receiver of the account transaction alert from banks on behalf of the party .

“Where then is sincerity in their agitations when they turned their backs to deny party’s decision which they were not only part of but also benefited from?

“The State Chairman, Bolarinwa who’s found to have been rejecting valuable gifts and gratification from aspirants cannot be alleged of misappropriating party fund which has a record?

“It’s also on good record that the party conducted primaries which was fully sponsored by the state as it was open and verifiable that no kobo came from the national headquarters for that purpose. Special thanks for the efforts and the pro activenesss of the
state leadership (Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the State Chairman Bolarinwa) that our primaries did not end up the way of Zamfara state.

“It is save to conclude that the Chairman has not been the one frustrating the party’s audit process but the incompetency and insincerity of the auditor, pursuit of needless vendetta are responsible for his failure.

“It is also important to state that all the records of the party’s financial transactions are correct, up to date and intact. So, let’s abide by the party constitution.

“A genuine party member will not frown at the present exercise being embarked upon by the state executives ably led by the State Chairman, Bashir Bolarinwa. Or why should visitation aimed at strengthening the party be a problem to them if they are not having a hidden agenda.”

QUOTE:

Shortly after the election and subsequent swearing in of the state governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq and his deputy, Mr. Lekan Alabi, some unforeseen situations started to emerge within the leadership of the party which at the end led to the current situation that the party is experiencing in the state now. The outcome of this simmering situation in the party has allegedly brought allegations and counter allegations over the conduct of elections as some leaders of the party have been questioned over certain issues that bothers on their activities during the polls.