The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Saturday, opened a parallel secretariat of All Progressives Congress in Kwara in an action that many political buffs believe could pitch him against the state governor, AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq.
Sunday PUNCH reported that the state government and a faction of the APC led by the minister had held a parallel rally to mark the two-year celebration of the party in power in the state.
While Abdulrazaq’s faction has its party secretariat located in the Tanke area, the minister’s faction unveiled its secretariat at GRA, Ilorin.
A defiant Mohammed further stated that the All Progressives Congress will soon organise a fresh registration/revalidation of members in the state.
The minister, who spoke at the unveiling of the APC parallel secretariat in Ilorin, the state capital, on Saturday, said the recently concluded registration exercise conducted for members in the state was not genuine because it failed to capture every member of the party.
“The recently concluded membership registration exercise conducted in the state is a charade as most members of the party were not given the opportunity to register as the registration documents were not made available to them.
“When we observed this, myself and two former governorship aspirants, Prof Oba AbdulRaheem and Alhaji Tajudeen Audu, went to the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, and he assured us that a fresh registration would be done for party members in Kwara.
“We didn’t know him before, he has no campaign office. The battle line is now drawn; without you, members, there would be no APC in the state. I want to assure you all that no party congress will hold in Kwara State until the fresh registration/revalidation exercise is conducted for all APC members in Kwara State.”
Recall that AbdulRazaq, on June 26, alleged that a cabal within the party who received hundreds of millions of naira as donations for the Kwara struggle, did not deliver a kobo to him.
But Mohammed had denied receiving donations from any minister or governor of the party as campaign funds for the 2019 general elections in the state, saying, “I never diverted APC 2019 general elections campaign funds for my personal use as alleged by Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
“By the grace of God, I single handedly, with the support of friends and family, raised all the monies for the Oke-Ero/Isin/Ekiti/Irepodun Federal Constituency by-election of November 2019 that brought Tunji Olawuyi to the House of Representatives.
“And I challenge anybody here to say he gave the party one penny apart from what I gave them. I challenge anybody here to say he gave logistics support to the party. I did that by the grace of God.”
The minister said he distributed 500 motorcycles and 20 vehicles, adding that many of the beneficiaries were in attendance to buttress his claim.
“I want them to explain to Nigerians what happened to the N70m that Mr Olawuyi kept that the governor refused to give us during the by-election. But for the grace of God and some friends, there would have been no election in November 2018, because when we raised money, we gave them, but two days before the election, we could not reach them on their phones anymore.
“I had to go to friends to raise another N150m to prosecute that election. I remember very well that there are 42 wards in that constituency. We thank God today that was the beginning of our success. When elections proper came, we did not see our governorship candidate. We could not wait.”
Mohammed stated “without any fear of contradictions” that the money raised from friends, colleagues and associates were used to finance the four elections, adding that the party in the state scored 100 per cent.
“I remember a governor calling me when we won the first election to ask if it was true we won the by-election. And I told him ‘yes sir.’ He said, ‘I want to apologise to you, when you came to me for money, they told me not to give you money. They told me you are a Lagos politician and nobody could defeat Saraki.’
“But then, we did not know that God brings more wonder. That is how we won all the elections. But today, they have got there and forgotten the people that put them there. If we did not give money to the party, how did he think the party won?” he asked.
All efforts to get the reaction of the governor to the alleged non-accountability for the campaign funds proved abortive as the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, neither picked calls to his phone nor responded to questions sent to him on WhatsApp.
The Special Adviser to the governor on Political Communication, Mr Bashiru Adigun, however, said, “It is a matter concerning the party and the party will issue a statement soon.”
Factional Chairman of the party, Bashir Bolarinwa, urged members of the party to register and revalidate their membership when the exercise begins in the state and also reminded them to renew their voter registration cards.
Other party leaders who spoke at the gathering included a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and former governorship aspirant, Prof Shuaib AbdulRaheem and a member of the House of Representatives, AbdulGaniyu Cook-Olododo.
Others were a former governorship aspirant, Tajudeen Makama; Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo; and a member of the state House of Assembly, Prince Saheed Popoola, who backed the minister’s claims on the campaign funds.
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