The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, have been engaged in a dispute on who controls the ruling All Progressives Congress in the state. While the APC faction backed by Mohammed is claiming to be the legitimate faction, the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (A.A) group is equally claiming to be the authentic body. In this interview with MAYOWA SAMUEL, the deputy chairman of the clique loyal to Mohammed, Sunday Oyebiyi, sets the record straight about the leadership tussle bedeviling the party in the state. Excerpts:
Your faction is said to be loyal to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki….
A point of correction please, we’re loyal to the party, not to individuals. Those individuals mentioned are leaders of the loyal group.
What makes you and your members think your faction is the legitimate faction as against the rival faction?
It’s very clear; the A.A is a group but not a political party. That is what they call themselves. When the party’s executive council was in existence, they factionalised and called themselves the A.A (AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq) group. That’s why we refer to our APC as APC Loyal because we are loyal to the party and not to individuals. A.A is an individual, that’s Abdulrahman Abdulrazak. So, you can see the clear difference. We operate within the guidance of the party and we are loyal to the party. We are legitimate because we follow the rules and regulations of APC.
Don’t you think this leadership tussle in Kwara APC will affect your party’s chances in the next governorship election?
Politics is dynamic, it’s never static, so there’s room between now and that period for a rethink from the side of the A.A group. If they think rightly, I don’t see anything that’ll affect the chances of the party but if they continue in their dream of pulling down the party, it may affect it.
The election in October that made Bashir Bolarinwa the chairman and you as the deputy of your faction was done in absentia of Bolarinwa with the reasons for his absence undisclosed….
He wasn’t around that day, so he couldn’t attend, his absence didn’t matter. I can contest without being present and if people voted for me and I won, definitely, I will be the elected person and not a different person.
Unlike the A.A faction, your election was said not to have been witnessed by INEC officials or any major official of the APC, not to mention the absence of Lai Mohammed and Gbemisola Saraki. Isn’t that a dent on the legitimacy of your election or your faction?
There are lots of activities that are illegitimate. You heard of what happened in Zamfara where just overnight, it was announced that there will be a primary and the thing was conducted. If you listened very well, INEC will attend it because they were written, but there’s a condition that within a particular period, INEC should be notified. So, the presence or absence of INEC doesn’t invalidate any primary. It’s an in-house exercise but the main thing is that the party must be firmly united, so the sharp polarity is what is being seen in the party in this state. I never knew they even attended the other one but if they did, that’s their own cup of tea. That doesn’t invalidate our election at all.
The factional party chairman, Sunday Fagbemi, promised to reconcile aggrieved members of the party. Has he reached out to your faction and what was the outcome?
If he’s out for reconciliation, who is he reconciling? Because it’s the A.A group that is quarreling. So, I don’t know the fellow he wants to reconcile with. Maybe they’ll reconcile within themselves. He can’t reach out to us, how will he reach out to us?
What precisely do you, Bolarinwa and your faction in general have against Governor AbdulRazaq?
He’s not ready to follow the rules and regulations of the party, he’s not supporting the party, he doesn’t have anything to do with the party, meaning that the party in the real sense of it, is not important to him. But we are for the party, we are not for individuals. Those following him are worshiping him, that’s the difference and that’s the main crux of the matter.
You are aware of the allegation of financial misappropriation of funds meant for the governorship election in 2019. What’s the truth regarding that?
It is rubbish, the fellow who financed the campaign himself said that he didn’t do anything for the party in terms of the campaign. The party campaign was funded by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, so everything they are saying is just rubbish. Blackmailing, casting aspersions and castigating will not help them, it is destroying their point the more because they are not facing reality. The people of Kwara know who really acted and campaigned during the last election.
What was the reason for the breakaway of the A.A faction?
The faction that is worshiping the governor broke away without any reason but looking for what they will eat. That is why they left; they believed they could get something from the governor and that’s why they followed him but we are for the truth and we will remain so because we know the importance of maintaining and building the party, rather than supporting an individual who is not ready to build up the party. If you climb a ladder and after getting to where you are going, you remove that ladder, remember that you will come down. So, you may not find that ladder again.
What will your faction consider as the best move for reconciliation that you will find most acceptable?
The national leadership has set up a committee. At least, they should have reasons to believe why the reconciliation committee should be in existence. So, that’ll be until they come and we see the genuineness and sincerity of the committee because the governors have formed themselves as a cult but they can’t force people to do what they want. It’s impossible because this is a democratic setting. So, we will see the presentation and the outing of the reconciliation committee when they come, then, we’ll attend to their bids if we see sincerity in it.
What if the reconciliation committee decides that your faction should accept the A.A faction as the rightful faction?
Is that reconciliation? If they say that, then they don’t know what they are saying. There should be facts before them which they should judge or act on. So, how will they come and say that? On what basis? You will ask the minority to control the majority, it’s never done anywhere, that is not politics, that is not democracy. You don’t ask the minority to govern the majority.