Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State on Saturday broke his silence on the crisis rocking the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, saying the disagreement began before he became the governor of the state.
Abdulrazaq, who spoke on Saturday in Ilorin at the launch of a book, titled “Otoge”, written by Tony Oyeyiola, traced the crisis to his refusal to fund a campaign structure that was formed without his knowledge or input as the governorship candidate.
According to the governor, some party chieftain who allegedly received hundreds of millions of naira as donations for the Kwara State did not deliver a kobo to him.
Abdulrazaq, who was represented by the deputy governor, Kayode Alabi, said party officials were equally barred from campaigning with him until the presidential election had been won and the pendulum was clearly swinging in his favour.
He said, “Since this book is about history, I feel it is important to set the record straight on a few things. First, the Otoge is the struggle of our people and it did not necessarily start in 2019. Every Kwaran of good conscience owned and worked for that struggle in various ways. We were only positioned by providence to lead the final lap of the breaking of the jinx that dated back many decades.
“However, permit me to assert here that contrary to some claims out there, the battle cry Otoge and its adoption were a product of a state-wide field research that I commissioned shortly after the primaries in October 2018. If anyone could lay claim to its copyright, it has to be the Hook Nigeria, a communications outfit owned by very young people.
“I also need to set the record straight about the party crisis. It did not begin after the election or swearing-in. It is safe to say that those who claimed to own the party in the state at that time practically disowned me until after the President had won his election and the coast became clearer back home. Here is the story. Shortly after the primaries in October, the party told me they have set up a campaign structure. Nobody consulted me before doing that, even though I was the governorship candidate.
“They asked me to fund the campaign structure that I was not privy to. Of course I declined it. I would later lead my own small campaign team across the state. It is on record that the party officially boycotted my campaign tours. Party officials got the instruction not to attend my campaign. A few of them can testify to this. I went round the whole of Kwara North without the party. However, they stylishly joined the campaign after the presidential election when it was clear Kwarans had decided in our favour. I am not aware of any decent democracy where a candidate would not be given the privilege of shaping the direction of his own campaign. It is even worse that my campaign was boycotted because I refused to be led by the nose.
“I have told these stories of the slogan and of the party issues to disabuse the mind of Kwarans or friends of Kwara who may not have had this information. In doing so, I am not claiming sole credit for the success of the struggle. Far from it, I have done so simply to clear the air, and this book launch offers the right platform to speak up. And for ministers, governors, party supporters and friends of Kwara who I later heard donated hundreds of millions of naira to support the Otoge struggle in Kwara, I want to say that I did not receive a kobo of that fund. But how that money was managed or stolen is a story for another day!”
The governor congratulated the author of the work, Tony Oyeyiola, describing it as a commendable effort and directing the purchase of 100 copies for the government.
But the immediate past Chairman of the APC in Kwara State, Bashir Bolarinwa, when contacted by our correspondent, denied the allegation that the governor was not consulted by the party before the campaign structure for the 2019 general elections was constituted.
Bolarinwa claimed that the governor suggested a unified campaign structure for the party so as to save cost after he was consulted on the matter by party leaders.
According to the ex-party chair, Abdulrazaq nominated an architect, Kale Belgore, to be on the committee after which he allegedly turned his back on the party.
Bolarinwa said, “The governor has told the world the truth that he did not fund the campaign of the party. He was contacted and after approving the campaign structure headed by Chief Sunday Oyebiyi, the Senatorial Chairman of APC in Kwara North Senatorial zone, he nominated architect Kale Belgore to be on the campaign. The report of the committee was sent to him through his nominee but he turned his back and abandoned the party. We were desperate to win the election and change the status quo in the state. We approached Alhaji Lai Mohammed and it was the minister who funded the campaign of the party for the 2019 elections including the presidential campaign.
On the donations made to the party by governors and ministers which the governor said was not delivered to him, Bolarinwa said, “I don’t know anything about that, no donation made to the party was given to me.”
On allegation that the party did not join the governor in his campaign and that it was after the presidential election that the party joined him, Bolarinwa said, “It is a lie. I told you that we went and approached Alhaji Lai Mohammed who went and looked for money, I don’t know how and where he got the money but we went on campaign because we wanted to win the election.