BATTLE FOR KWARA: They are fighting because Abdulrazaq rejected their political appointees - Awoyale
A chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Kwara State and President-General of Orisun Igbomina, Chief Gbenga Awoyale, in this interview, speaks on the crisis in the state chapter of the party.
Why is Kwara APC still enmeshed in crisis?
I kept quiet because everything that has a beginning will surely have an end. I have never seen a state party chairman that boldly conducts party affairs like the APC chairman in Kwara except the person has external backing.
Can anyone try that with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State or Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State? However, what is happening is not new in Nigeria's political landscape. It happened in Ekiti, Ondo and Kogi states respectively, but the state governors later emerged victoriously. They will not succeed in Kwara.
I really like the recent statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari. He said APC will no longer tolerate the act of imposing candidates on states from Abuja. I am so delighted about the statement.
Imposition is not new. Dele Belgore can give an account of his ordeal while in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. He contested twice and was opposed in the party. Since then, Kwara has been struggling to gain its freedom from those who hindered Belgore from fulfilling his dream.
No governor in Nigeria can tolerate what our governor experiences in the hand of the party chairman. Notwithstanding the distractions, the governor believes his achievements will speak for him before Kwarans.
Those perpetrating evil acts in Kwara APC are not up to 20 percent of the party members within and outside the state.
Cars were donated from Abuja but the governor did not even see them up until now.
The same people that condemned Saraki's government are now being ignored by the masses when they came out again to condemn the Abdulrazaq-led government in just one year. I appreciate the masses for acknowledging the governor's efforts.
How can this intra-party crisis be resolved to avoid collateral damage for APC in Kwara?
It will rather be hard to stop such people because they are being supported. How many states in Nigeria will you see a party chairman boldly going from one radio station to another to discredit a sitting governor? Worthy of note is that both the opposition in Peoples Democratic Party ,PDP, and those within our party cannot complain against the performance of the governor. Rather, what they are saying is that the governor is not carrying them along. They want to impose political appointees from Ogun, Lagos, Osun and Edo states under the pretense that they are not being carried along. That is what they do to any governor they donít accept because he is not dancing to their tune. They did the same in Kogi and Ekiti. Our revenue is small in Kwara, at most N20bn compared to about N200bn generated in a single local government in Lagos. How can Kwara finance a crisis with that little revenue? A House of Assembly member and local government chairman left their duty posts to be jumping from one radio station to another to condemn the efforts of the governor.
Unfortunately, our desperation to oust Saraki led us into accepting the imposed party chairman. He was not elected. They said we should go and sort ourselves out when we complained. They used party chairmen to wreak havoc in states. That is what they use party chairmen for right from the beginning. The same thing was done during the days of defunct Action Congress,AC, and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
The party chairman and one member of the state House of Assembly are always going for Radio programmes to criticise the governor. Is that fair?
Why are they distracting us? They attempted the same thing in Kogi, but were warned to stay in their geopolitical zone. They should leave Kwara State alone too. We are not in the South-West.
They tried their possible best to manipulate the election result that ushered in Abdulrazaq but to no avail. They are determined to discredit his work. We all know what happened to Akeredolu in Ondo and the people they used against him were not popular.
All they are after is for government to be in a debt trap. Interestingly, our governor is not taking that path. He is paying salaries regularly. He is one of the best governors in Nigeria who has not borrowed a dime up until now.
If the governor consented and allowed them to have their way, what will be left to execute projects in the state? Kwara will just end up returning to its past and they would blame the governor for it.
They want a dummy they can impose and use to actualise their personal agenda. A similar occurrence happened in Edo, making Obaseki cross to PDP and he still won the second term.
Today, the masses have stopped listening to their lies. The masses curse them whenever they go on the radio.
Don't you think the lingering nature of the crisis is capable of distracting the governor?
It is a statement of fact that Governor Abdulraman Abdulrazaq has achieved a lot for the people of Kwara State in less than two years in office. For instance, in my local government, I can speak on three areas the governor's works are being felt. His positive impacts are obvious in the entire 16 local government areas of the state.
However, such achievements can be classified into infrastructure, health and education. There is no local government the governor has not touched without borrowing. He is even paying the debt he inherited from previous administrations.
He is not after awarding elephant contracts that he won't be able to complete.
For instance, when a former governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, started work on Gbongan Erin-Ile road, a project which was so enormous that even the federal government dared not engage, he ended up without completing 10 percent of that project in his eight years of two terms in office. That is not the type of approach our governor uses.
He is conscious of the fact that the state is left with little resources. Therefore, he adopted the style of maintaining existing assets. He is currently attending to all abandoned projects. Even the Up Lawal water project is currently receiving attention.
There's no state with little allocation like Kwara that has been able to efficiently manage its resources the way Abdulrazaq has done.