The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has accused Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of biting the fingers that fed him, citing how he singlehandedly sponsored the governor’s election in 2019.
Mr Mohammed, who hails from Kwara South, said this on Saturday in Ilorin at the inauguration of a new state secretariat of the party.
“By the grace of God, I single-handedly, with the support of friends, politicians and families, raised all the money for all the elections we had in Kwara during that period, starting from the by-election that brought in honourable Raheem Olawuyi (Ajuloopin) as rep member.
“I challenge anybody here to say who gave the party one penny apart from what I gave them. The money paid to party agents and leaders to mobilise voters was raised by me.I challenge anybody here to say that he gave logistic support to the party, I did it by the grace of God.
“I distributed 500 motorcycles, 20 vehicles and many of the beneficiaries are here,’’ Mr Mohammed said.
The minister also spoke about the controversial registration and revalidation exercise of the APC in the state, which he assured would be conducted again. He had earlier alleged that the exercise was marred by infractions in February.
Both Messrs Mohammed and AbdulRazaq have been at loggerheads after the All Progressives Congress (APC) coasted to victory in 2019.
The minister and some other pivotal members of the APC that played a major role in the ousting of the Saraki hegemony in the state have accused Governor AbdulRazaq of sidelining them in his administration of the state.
The governor, on the other hand, said he would not use state resources to reward party loyalty as allegedly expected by some APC members.
This rift was ,however, widened with the removal of Bashir Bolarinwa as caretaker chairman of the party in the state.
Mr Bolarinwa, loyal to the bloc opposed to the governor, was replaced with Abdullahi Samari, a development some see as an attempt by Mr AbdulRazaq to usurp the party structures in the state.
Both the spokespersons of Mr AbdulRazaq and Kwara APC secretariat, Rafiu Ajakaye and Tajudeen Aro respectively, could not immediately respond to enquiries seeking their reactions to the minister’s claims.
How lawmaker ’embezzled campaign funds’
Mr Mohammed alleged that a House of Representatives member, Abdulraheem Olawuyi, representing Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-ero Federal Constituency, embezzled a N70 million campaign fund.
He alleged that during the re-run election in the constituency, the lawmaker could only account for N30 million out of the N100 million raised.
“They should explain what happened to the balance of N70 million that Ajulo kept and refused to give us during the election.
“I have to go to friends to raise another N150 million to prosecute that election, which we won,’’ he said.
The minister also refuted the allegations that himself diverted campaign funds to personal use.
He said if he had not deployed the funds he raised judiciously, the party would not have recorded its resounding success in the elections.
Rep denies “wild allegations”
However, Mr Olawuyi in a swift reaction said the minister’s “wild allegation amounted to a campaign of calumny and a well-orchestrated move to score cheap political points.”
Messrs Mohammed and Olawuyi are from the same federal constituency in Kwara South senatorial district.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, the federal lawmaker said a North-central State governor reached out to him on personal ground to donate to the 2018 by-election and that when the minister got wind of the donation, he asked him to bring the money.
“However, I immediately contacted a few of our trusted party elders to intimate them of the development, but they counselled me against sending the money to the minister based on his antecedent with money.”
“Also, on my own, I personally gave Alhaji Lai Mohammed the sum of N32.5m, with the full knowledge of the former party chairman, Bashiru Bolarinwa, for election purposes; the minister and Bashir Bolarinwa cannot deny this except there is no conscience left.
“It will also interest the public to know that one senior Federal Government official told Governor AbdulRazaq who was then the candidate of our party that Lai Mohammed reached out to him and claimed that there was no money for the bye-election campaign in Kwara.
“The official whose name I won’t mention here spoke and pleaded with our governorship candidate (now the governor) and asked him to release N50 million to the minister, which was released but the money was never accounted for nor used for campaign purposes as envisaged.”
According to Mr Olawuyi, if anyone is to be accused of mismanaging the 2018 campaign fund, it should be Mr Mohammed whom he claimed was yet to give details of how the money was spent.