Some members of the Kwara State House of Assembly have hit back at information minister, Lai Mohammed, debunking his claim that he bankrolled their elections in 2019.
Mr Mohammed had on Saturday spoken about how he ‘single-handedly’ sponsored all the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates in Kwara, including Governor. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, for the 2019 general elections.
“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,” he said at the inauguration of a factional secretariat.
He went on to say that he does not deserve the treatment he was getting from Governor AbdulRazaq whom he accused of biting the finger that fed him.
The minister also spoke about the controversial registration and revalidation exercise of the APC in the state, which he assured his followers would be conducted again. He had earlier alleged that the exercise was marred by infractions in February.
However, in a swift reaction, 21 members of the state House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Yakubu Salihu-Danladi, denied receiving any support from the minister for the elections.
The lawmakers granted a press conference in Ilorin, the state capital, on Sunday afternoon.
“Our attention has been drawn to an odious lie recently told by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, claiming that he supported and or financed the campaign and election of the 24 members into the Kwara State House of Assembly in the last general election in 2019.”
“Lai Mohammed did not give any support in any form to members of the 9th legislature during the campaign and election; if he did, he should name who and what he gave out. Could the minister be mixing things up on account of his old age?!”
The lawmakers stated that they only received financial support from Governor Abdulrazaq for the purpose of prosecuting the House of Assembly election.
“Apart from the governorship candidate (His Excellency Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq), the other support was the sum of N500,000 each that we received from the national headquarters of our party, APC. Other than that, it was the governor who funded our expenses including logistics, souvenirs, posters and other campaign materials. Even so, at no time did the governor go about telling anyone that he funded our campaign.
“It is also laughable that Lai Mohammed could claim to have personally raised money to finance the 2019 general elections in Kwara State. The question that would readily come to mind is: What is Lai’s contribution to his own Ward, Local Government, District and Kwara in general to have earned him respect and reputation for people to trust him and donate money to him?” the assembly members queried.
As a backdrop of the lingering crisis in the party, Kwara APC leaders have recently washed their dirty linens in public, exchanging words over the financing of the 2019 election.
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 members of the APC who 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.
Political observers believe that the crisis, if unresolved before the state congress, is capable of further destabilising the party and consequently blow Mr AbdulRazaq’s chances of securing a second term.