A fresh crisis is already brewing in the Kwara State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the leadership of the party in the state.
This development, according to Daily Independent, has pitched the supporters of Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, and Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq against each other, a situation many believe may not augur well for the party as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is already waiting in the wings to benefit from the crisis.
Prior to the 2019 general election, Lai Mohammed, by virtue of his position as minister, was regarded as the undisputed leader of the APC in the state.
He was also given the recognition based on the fact that he had been a member of the APC since the days of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), under whose platform he contested the 2003 governorship election in Kwara State. He lost the election to Bukola Saraki who ran on the platform of the PDP.
The AD later became the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the parties that coalesced to form the APC.
Stakeholders who are queuing behind Lai Mohammed have also argued that he had been the sole financier of the party in the state and stood against the then ruling party in the state and its leader. He also spearheaded the ‘Otoge’ movement which ended the Saraki dynasty in the state.
Under Lai Mohammed’s leadership, aside winning the governorship election, candidates of the APC in Kwara won all the three senatorial seats, all six House of Representatives seats in the state, and cleared all the 24 House of Assembly seats.
However, shortly after he was sworn-in, OduNews.com gathered that Governor AbdulRasaq decided to assume the leadership position of the party in the state, claiming that he was the new leader of the party based on his position as the governor.
It was also gathered that since his emergence, AbdulRasaq has sidelined members of the party’s state executives, carrying out policies without recourse to the party that brought him to power.
From what was gathered, apart from sidelining party state executives in respect of funding, the governor did not consult the party in the compilation of the list of his commissioner-nominees sent to the state House of Assembly for confirmation.
In order to take full control of the party leadership, the governor is also alleged to be plotting the removal of Bashir Bolarinwa, the APC chairman in the state, and replace him with one of his loyalists.
According to Daily Independent, one of the exco members who asked not to be named said the governor was merely dreaming and deceiving himself if he thought he was the leader of the party in the state.
According to him, there is nowhere in the party’s constitution that says you are automatically the party leader once you assume the position of governor.
“Let the governor continue to delude himself. The people in Kwara APC know who their leaders are. I don’t want to describe the governor as an ingrate but that is what he is. We have only one leader in Kwara State and that is the current Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is recognised both in Kwara APC and at the national level”.
“Nobody can deny the role he (Lai Mohammed) played in making APC the ruling party in the state today, especially in the build up to the ‘Otoge’ movement that made Governor AbdulRasaq what he is today.
“Governor AbdulRasaq only contributed 10 percent to the structures that brought him in. How many supporters could he bring out in Kwara APC before now?
“So, if the governor thinks he can just become the party leader in the state by fiat, I think he is just deceiving himself. The earlier he realises that, the better for him.
“We even understand that he is nursing the ambition to become president of Nigeria and that is why he has been appointing more women into his cabinet so as to curry the favour of women in the country and also the youths by appointing a 26-year-old commissioner. How that is possible remains to be seen,” the source said.
However, responding to the claim, one of the governor’s loyalists who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Governor AbdulRasaq is the leader of the party in Kwara State based on the position of the party’s constitution. According to him, any other person laying claims to the position of party leader is nothing but an interloper.
“The constitution of the party, the APC, is very clear. In a presidential system, where a party produces the president, the president automatically becomes the leader of the party.
“In a state election, where a party has produced the governor, the governor is the leader of the party, not any other person.
“We have some situations in some other states where another person is the leader of the party where they have a sitting governor, but it does not necessarily make it the position of the party’s constitution.
“So, to that extent, any other person who claims to be the leader of the party when that person is not the governor is just an interloper, and that is according to the constitution of the party.
“So, there is nothing bad if the governor does not just want to govern but also wants to have the political clout to govern smoothly, then it is necessary for him to take full control of the party machinery. No governor will want to be distracted by the same party that brought him to power.”
Another loyalist of the governor also accused the minister of sponsoring a smear campaign against the governor.
“The minister has been sponsoring media attacks against the governor. They have been sponsoring news item on negative things such as garbage on the streets while closing their eyes to the positive things he has been doing. We will soon see where all this ends,” he said.