Elders caucus of the All Progressives Congress in Kwara State on Thursday, demanded prompt suspension of Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed over alleged factionalisation of the party, among other anti-party activities.
The elders said Mohammed’s removal as a minister is pertinent for he is no longer fit to represent the interest of people of Kwara state.
Members of the caucus at a press conference in Ilorin through their spokesperson, Prince Sunday Fagbemi, had alleged that the minister created a parallel party secretariat in the state.
Prominent elders at the conference include Chief Wole Oke, Kunle Sulaiman, Alhaji Abdulmumeen Katibi, Chief Titus Ashaolu, SAN, Senator Simeon Ajibola, Senator Mohammed Ahmed, among others.
The spokesperson said, “The action of Alhaji Lai Mohammed has clearly shown to everyone that the crisis that has bedeviled our party in Kwara state was not precipitated by the erstwhile chairman of the party, Alhaji Bashir Bolarinwa. Bolarinwa was just a tool in the hands of Alhaji Lai to destroy the APC in Kwara State.’’
However, a faction of APC loyal to the minister also threatened to invoke section 21 of the party’s Constitution on the state Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, for alleged anti-party activities.
The group at a press conference addressed by the factional legal adviser of the party loyal to the minister, Oladimeji Mustapha said that the Elders caucus lacks the power to call for the suspension of the minister as the party constitution does not recognize them.
He said, “There is no elder caucus in the constitution of APC and therefore, the call for the suspension and removal from office of the minister was baseless and uncalled for and lack locus standi.”
The crisis of APC in Kwara rose at an alarming fecund rate after the removal of Bashir Bolarinwa as the party chairman by the National Caretaker Committee of the party led by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.
A group belonging to the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed has also accused Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to have formed his cabinet to the exclusion of its members.
Earlier, the membership registration exercise of the APC in the state turned violent on Wednesday, February 3, as members of two factions of the party clashed violently in Ilorin.
On Sunday, July 4, members of Kwara State House of Assembly tackled Lai Mohammed, accusing him of attempting to impose himself on the state.
Speaking while inaugurating the secretariat of a faction of the APC in Kwara, Mohammed had said the party regrets supporting Abdulrazaq as the Governor of the state.
The crisis rocking Kwara State chapter of the APC had also led aggrieved members to dump the party to form what is now known as “third force”. The decampees led by Yakubu Gobir, a former governorship aspirant, include APC senatorial chairmen, ward chairmen, local government chairmen, women leaders, youth leaders, as well as other party stalwarts in all the 16 local government areas of the state.
At a press briefing at the NUJ Press Centre in Ilorin, the state capital, on Sunday, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Engr. Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, said the Minister did not in any form support the then APC House of Assembly candidates during the campaigns and election.
Danladi-Salihu, who spoke through the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Raphael Olanrewaju Adetiba, said Mohammed was no where to be found during the campaign and election that produced the Ninth Legislature, describing Governor AbdulRazaq as the only individual who could claim that he offered great support during the election.
According to the speaker, the briefing is jointly held on behalf of 21 of the 24 members of the Assembly whom he said were “convinced that Kwara can no longer be brought under any godfather or slave driver.”
He said, “We ordinarily should have ignored the Minister and took it as another lie from Lai Mohammed but for the unsuspecting members of the public and posterity, the record needs to be set straight,” he said, flanked by several members of the Assembly.
“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?
“For God knows reason, Lai Mohammed did not participate in any of our campaigns and did not also contribute financially to it. It was the then Governorship candidate of our party, the APC, who supported our campaigns all through. For the records, all the twenty-four members of the House of Assembly received financial support from His Excellency Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq for the purpose of prosecuting the House of Assembly election, so Lai Mohammed should please stop telling lie to the people.
“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.”