It's improper for Lai Mohammed to factionalise Kwara APC - AbdulRazaq supporter
Prince Sunday Fagbemi is one of the leaders of the four groups that formed the All Progressives Congress in Kwara State in August 2018 and belongs to AA, a pro-Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq group in the state APC. He speaks with TUNDE OYEKOLA on the causes of the crisis within the party and what the group intends to do
What is the cause of the APC crisis?
First, let me refresh your memory on the rebirth of the APC in 2018. It was an amalgamation of varied tendencies with no common ideology and therefore was lacking in the most rudimentary party discipline at the takeoff of its operation. It is also necessary to remind you of the events that led to the conclusion of the party's governorship primary election in October 2018 with Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq emerging the winner of the primary election. Since then, there has been no love lost between him and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who assumed the leadership of the party shortly before the primaries were held(being the highest political office holder at the time). That not too cordial relationship resulting from a supremacy contest has existed up till today. It is from this angle that one can understand this lingering hostility. The crisis is about supremacy and the minister, who became the leader of the party shortly before the governorship primary, wants to continue to be the leader, but the constitution of the party already stipulates that the governor is the leader of the party. I think that is the summary of what happened.
There are accusations and counter accusations as the governor alleged that the minister and the executive of the party did not follow him to campaign for the election and that the minister collected some donations and did not make them known to him. What is your take on this?
This is a very serious matter. A candidate cannot be on his own, he is promoted by the party and he is supposed to be supported by the party. After the emergence of Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as the governorship candidate of the party, the party did not follow him to campaign in the Kwara North and (Kwara) Central. It was when we were going to the southern zone, especially to the Ifelodun and the Irepodun local government areas, that the chairman of the party, Alhaji Bashir Bolarinwa, together with few members of the executive, followed us to the campaign and that was all.
The bulk of the executive did not follow us. Alhaji Lai Mohammed did not for once follow us to any campaign, except the day the President came to the state for campaigns. About the campaign funds, some well-meaning Kwarans in Lagos State donated money for the partyís campaign through Alhaji Lai Mohammed, he collected the money and never informed the candidate of the party and expended the money. Actually, the candidate was not happy about that. As to whether the governor collected money or not, that has already been settled by the Vice Chairman of the North-Central zone of the party, who said no governor was given any money for the campaign. The money that was given for the election was for the agents. The template of how to spend the money followed it and there was no complaint anywhere, even the coordinator, Moshood Mustapha, confirmed it.
The minister alleged that the governor did not fund the campaign. Is it true?
The minister did not do anything to fund the campaign and we went round every nook and cranny of Kwara State. I was privileged to be at the centre of everything: the governor funded the campaign. What Lai Mohammed used the money with him for was to buy vehicles, motorcycles, etc., which he distributed to his former campaign organisation, Lai Mohammed Campaign Organisation. They were the people that were given all the vehicles. Nobody quarrelled then because these beneficiaries were members of the party and we didnít want to rock the boat because the election was on the way.
How do you think this crisis can be resolved?
When water gets to a point, it boils and then it cools down. So, I know that God will intervene.
APC summons Lai Mohammed, minister faces anti-party activities allegation
You struggled to get to power in 2019 and 2023 is around the corner. Don't you think that this crisis will affect the chances of the party?
Yes, everybody is conscious of the presence of the opposition in the state. That is why we are trying to mend fences. If not for the fact that the minister came to unveil a factional secretariat last week, every machinery had been put in place to make sure that there was reconciliation everywhere. The reconciliation is still is ongoing and I believe it will yield a fruitful result.
It was learnt that your group is planning to report Mohammed to the national secretariat of the APC. Is this true?
Yes, that is what we want to do and that is why we want to brief the press because somebody of the status of a minister should not be found to be doing what Alhaji Lai Mohammed has done. He is a beneficiary of the party and he should not contribute to the pulling down of the house that he has helped to build. I think it is unbecoming of a minister to factionalise the party. They said they are the 'Third Force.' What is the meaning of that? Then, maybe they are already eyeing another place and they want to destroy the APC, so that it can be easy for them.
Is Mohammed part of the third force?
He should be the leader because all the people that burnt the broom, which is the symbol of the APC, that day were the same people present at the unveiling of the factional secretariat.