Lai Mohammed's town criers: What a sorry sight. BY OMO'BA MUSBAU SALAUDEEN
Disillusioned, frustrated, hopeless but desperate for relevance ,they have all emptied their 'arsenals ' and in their emptiness and melancholy, one cannot but be surprised that they are back to their season of mudslinging, muck racking, and sheer character assassination.
What they forgot to realise is that Kwarans today, home and abroad, see beyond their inherited tales by moonlight handed over to them by their jingoists, conservatives and recycled local champions.
For the record, late AGF AbdulRazaq (SAN) and father of Governor AA remains the tallest figure, the role model and a leading founding father not only in the making of Nigeria, northern Nigeria, Kwara state, and indeed Ilorin Emirate.
Resilience, persistence and consistency are the secret to success. So having lost some elections in the past and maintaining its principled focus to deliver good governance in Kwara is the secret to the success of the AbdulRazaq family in Kwara politics. Lai and his lackeys like Sunday Oyebiyi who claims to be from Moro displayed his crass ignorance of history. Have they heard about the persistence of President Abraham Lincoln of the USA?
Even closer home, the serial loss of elections of Chief Awolowo didn't deny him his greatness as a statesman of outstanding repute. Does Lai and his lackey Sunday Oyebiyi know that the latter's adopted Moro LG was created by a campaign championed by the statesman AGF AbdulRazaq SAN? Had he known this, Sunday Oyebiyi's temerity would have been tempered, but how can you expect this basic knowledge from this myopic non-native of Moro whose father is from Iragbiji, Osun state?
The frustrated gang of Lai town criers needs to re-educate themselves about the revered place in history of the AbdulRazaqs in the making of Kwara state, Ilorin Emirate and Nigeria in general.
By the proud footprints of the AbdulRazaqs in the independence struggles of Nigeria, the creation of Kwara state and uncommon legal battles and deliveries which won for Ilorin to remain today as an emirate and for all traditional rulers and title holders to have the exclusive rights, honour and regalia of turban as proud symbols and regalia of their titles in Ilorin emirate history are indisputable and unambiguous facts.
The late legal icon, leading light of northern Nigeria and a patriot per excellence, AGF AbdulRazaq was the main personality who won all the above rights to the eternal glory and pride of all indigenes of Ilorin emirate - and all citizens of Kwara owe him a huge debt of gratitude for being a leading founding father of the creation of the state.
Until the emergence of the jackals of the dark era; an era Kwarans had put into the dustbin of history with the 2019 Otoge revolution, late AGF AbdulRazaq and his team of patriots were the revered role models of the state, the Ilorin emirate and indeed northern Nigeria in their political evolution and leadership .
Indeed, the historic lesson of the 2019 Otoge revolution can be summed up in the promise of God to reward the steadfast; the unanimous decision of the entire citizens of the state to kick out over four decades of misrule of the state was fuelled by the determination to dump the so-called dynasty permanently in the dustbin of history .
Lai's town criers need to be reminded therefore that even their pay master is on record to have testified to Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq's exemplary and consistent sponsorship of the opposition which earned the governor the deserved victory of the 2019 gubernatorial ticket and elections.
Rather than learning from history, the disgruntled associates of Lai Mohammed in their show of shame at a news conference in Ilorin attacked His Excellency, Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq, for exposing the greed of the minister and his outright conversion of campaign funds during the 2019 general election in Kwara state.
While we understand the agony members of the group are going through since the minister was exposed by our exemplary governor in his first ever interview published in Thisday Newspaper, the group has failed to answer the pertinent questions raised by His Excellency which borders on integrity, transparency and accountability of a minister of federal republic.
While spokesman for the group, Sunday Oyebiyi, claimed the minister sourced the fund for the governorís campaign, he failed to disclose the source of the funds or answer the question of the donation of N50 million he collected from a popular north-west governor, the N100 million donated by a business man from the south-east, the N32million he collected from representative Tunji Olawuyi Ajulo Opin and various funds amounting to about N2 billion donated by APC governors, ministers and heads of federal parastatals and other well wishers.
The money collected from Ajulo Opin was during the rerun election for the house of representatives following the demise of honourable Funke Adedoyin.
During the campaign for the rerun, after collecting N32 million from Ajulo Opin, Lai Mohammed called a top government official in Abuja and lied that there was no money to campaign for Ajulo Opin. The official called His Excellency who was then the governorship candidate to give Lai N50 million and promised to refund the money. The governor gave Lai Mohammed the N50 million (although the money was refunded by the official to His Excellency after about two months) but Lai Mohammed did not disclose the donation to the party, the candidate, nor did he use it for the by-election campaign.
Lai Mohammed, being a lawyer, cannot deny the fact that by law, failure to disclose financial contributions to parties which the funds were raised for or donated to amounts to criminal conversion.
As emphasised by the governor in his interview, evidence abounds that Lai Mohammed collected financial contributions from many APC chieftains and supporters on behalf of the party and the governor in the 2019 election without disclosing.
Most painfully, Lai Mohammed did not stop at this, he personally boycotted the governorís campaign programmes and activities and instigated members of the state APC executive committee to do the same with the exception of one of them who disobeyed the party's directive to join him on his campaign.
The same Sunday Oyebyi refused to join the governor's campaign train to Kwara North or any location in Kwara in observance of the boycott called by Lai Mohammed. How could Lai Mohammed fund a campaign that he boycotted? The few times they shared the campaign podium together was during the presidential campaign flag-off and the vice-president's visit - both in Ilorin.
Granted that Lai Mohammed bought about 20 second-hand cars branded with Lai Mohammed's pictures and about 200 motorcycles also branded with his pictures, none of the vehicles or motorcycles was donated or loaned to the party or the governor. They were given out to Lai Mohammad's cronies only and the total value could not be more than N70 million which is a drop in the ocean compared to about N2 billion he racked from various parties.
Lai Mohammed and his cronies should therefore be courageous to respond to issue of campaign funds donated to support the party and Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq during his 2019 gubernatorial election but which he refused to disclose to either the party or the governor and for which the governor has suffered avoidable embarrassment.
There is no shame in losing an election, they should look in the mirror to see that even their leader, Lai, who is more of a Lagos indigene, made futile attempts to be Kwara governor on the ticket of the Alliance for Democracy.
In their display of ignorance, this group failed woefully to understand Governor AbdulRahaman's repeated emphasis in describing the near precipice and total collapse of machinery of state he found upon assuming office. He inherited a dysfunctional governance system, decrepit infrastructure, and demoralised civil service from the displaced dynasty. This state of affairs required laying a new foundation for a new prosperous Kwara rather than focusing on a manifesto articulated on an assumption of consolidation.
Either out of senility or mischief, members of the Lai Mohammed group forgot so soon that Governor AbdulRazaq won twice consecutively the best governor of the year as result of peer review by the Progressive Governors' Forum .
A governor who deviated from the APC manifesto could not have been honoured by his peers twice back to back.
We insist that the Lai group abandoned His Excellency during the campaign and even aborted the launch of his manifesto slated for Baruten in Kwara North during the campaign.
We have always known that the intention of the minister and his associates is to foist another dynasty on Kwarans and turn the state treasury into his slush fund like members of the ousted administration who were roundly rejected by the people of the state in 2019 after four decades of misrule .
We like to remind minister Lai Mohammed and his hirelings that this is a new Kwara where governance and political processes are no longer at the whims and caprices of primordial egocentric godfathers; this sordid practice has been condemned to the dustbin of history courtesy of the Otoge revolution.
We call on all members of our party who have been misled by the minister to retrace their steps and return to the All Progressive Congress under the newly elected chairman, Sunday Fagbemi.
We thank His Excellency, Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq, for his uncommon statesmanship, tolerating the ignominious activities of the group.
His humility and hard work have endeared him to the people of Kwara state and strengthened their resolve never to return to the days of the jackals that the likes of Lai Muhammed intend to provoke! Never again!
Musbau Salaudeen writes from Isin LGA, Kwara state.