OPINION: Kwara 2019: Let's draft Lai Mohammed! By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Date: 2016-07-11

It is still strange that the idea of drafting people to vie for public offices is alien to Nigeria's political space. The norm has been for politicians with deep-pockets to hijack the space and foist themselves on the people which normally claim was at the instance of the people! The situation has always thrown up crooked people who employ their ill-gotten wealth to hijack the political space which we all know should be the prerogative of decent people. The 2015 election has changed all that.

The outcome of last year's election has shown that, when the chips are down, Nigerians can identify and vote for decent people. Building on the gains of 2015 therefore, there is the need to begin to draft decent and honest people who otherwise would have been sidelined by the asphyxiating money politics, to vie for public office! Politics should no longer be considered a dirty game that should be left to dirty people. It is this misconception that pushed the country to its present sorry state.

Any moment from now and, barring any hitches, an online campaign will be activated for the purpose of encouraging the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to consider joining the 2019 governorship race in Kwara state! Central to the envisaged hitches is the need to secure the consent of the subject of the draft considering the centrality of his role in the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. As a key change agent in the administration, the information minister already has his hands full as it were.

Great! Yet, it is begging the issue to say Alhaji Lai Mohammed has a key role to play in salvaging Kwara state. In this regard, this is a passionate appeal to Nigerians of goodwill to join the draft-Lai Mohammed campaign because Kwara is at a crossroads, an avoidable situation caused by years of sustained plunder by a pilfering cabal. Honestly, the years of puppetry that turned the people into a vulnerable, unquestioning and submissive lot and which is also responsible for turning the state into the butt of derisive jokes must stop!

What the state needs at the expiration of the current caretaker government in the state is a foresighted government, not another surrogate or caretaker government that holds power in trust for plunderers! The State of Harmony can no longer accommodate discredited leaders who cannot appreciate the demarcation between state funds and personal wealth! It will be another mistake if, in 2019, the people of Kwara state put their destiny in the hands of another surrogate and his principal who feed fat at the expense of the people!

With educated, intelligent, god-fearing and incorruptible people, many people out there fit the bill. Truth is, Alhaji Lai Muhammed is in a class of his own. By every standard, President Muhammadu Buhari's choice for minister of information is like his principal: Lai Mohammed is nobody's and everybody's man! He is a politician of the finest order who has made a name for himself since he came to national political limelight. What is more, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is too serious-minded to engage in the indulgences that push people to the desperate point of stealing public funds! Put Lai Mohammed in charge of state funds and the people of Kwara state can go to sleep assured that their money is secured!

Born in 1951, Alhaji Lai Abdulra'uf Mohammed, lawyer, businessman, publicist and politician of the finest order cut his political teeth in the early 1990's as a leader of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP. Those who claim some level of acquaintance with him say honesty comes naturally to the information minister. His thoroughness, his disdain for money politics, his sense of justice, his belief in due process and his incorruptibility came to the fore when he successfully managed the press and media affairs of the ruling All Progressives' Congress, APC.

As the main publicist for the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed put the lie to the claim that publicity is impossible without a small dose of dishonesty. And, like his principal, he jealously guides his personal integrity by which he is guided in whatever he sets his mind to. It is indeed an irony of fate that with abundance of straight-thinking sons of the soil in the mould of Lai Mohammed, Kwara state remains in the woods mainly because its destiny was intractably tied to that of a larcenous, self-serving few.

The pilfering cabal in Kwara state has become even more daring, more desperate and more devious since 1999. From the late Alhaji Muhammad Lawal, a retired naval chief, to scandal-prone senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and incumbent Maigida Abdulfatai Ahmed, the state has been unlucky with its elected governors. Of recent, the picture of Kwara state as a besieged territory was brought into proper perspective by stomach-churning EFCC account of treasury looting during the eight years Dr. Bukola Saraki held sway. This is a matter for another day, anyway!

For now, how to snatch the State of Harmony from the jaws of death should be paramount! Equally important is for the next government, like the corrective Buhari/Osinbajo administration, to erect formidable structures as a bulwark against a clique, however devious they are and whatever the depth of their pocket, from pocketing the state! A situation where one man determines the fate and destiny of a people for selfish and parochial purposes, especially in a state overflowing with intelligent, far-sighted and, more importantly god-fearing people, is not healthy. The situation has forced Kwara state to abdicate its unique role of a veritable bridge!

Honestly, the sad experience in Kwara state, especially over the past dozen and half decades, has shown that nothing good comes from any political arrangement that allows one man to decide who gets what. The people of Kwara state have God to thank for the gift of the Buhari/Osinbajo-led APC government! Today, those who hithero held Kwara state by the jugular appear to be losing grip and the people can now breathe freely. For instance, the act of ass-licking, one of the demeaning practices that forced self-respecting individuals to keep their distances from aspiring to serve is gradually yielding ground.

One sign of this, which as well an indication that the over-pampered clique has lost grip, is the recent appointments to fill Kwara state slots into federal agencies. In the recent past, chances are the space would have been filled with clowns who fall upon themselves to lick the asses of the caballing plunderers of the state. For the dream of a brave, new Kwara devoid of the manipulative tendencies of a thieving cabal to come true, deliberate and concerted effort should be made to draft the independent-minded and conscientious foresighted Lai Mohammed into the race for Government House, Ilorin, in 2019.

Nothing should be left to chance in the drive to deliver Kwara state from the vice grip of leaders who improve themselves at the expense of the state instead of being the ones to improve the state!

Magaji is based in Abuja and can be reached at

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