Lai can make the difference!
Reference here is to Osun state.
Eight years ago, the people of Osun state entrusted their destiny in the hands of Abdulrauf Aregbesola.
In those eight years, even his worst critics have formed a positive opinion about Governor Aregbesola; very few, if any, dismiss him as another pedestrian in government.
What Governor Aregbesola is doing, against the backdrop of limited funds, is the story for another day.
But, before we leave Osun state, it is pertinent to note that the governor, in his characteristic humility, has consistently attributed his sterling performance to the experience he picked when he served in the cabinet of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu in Lagos state.
Indeed so! The sensible and farsighted argument in Osun state eight years ago was that, having cut his political teeth in Lagos state, Aregbesola was bound to perform creditably. This has proved prophetic!
Delegates in Kwara state had the opportunity of making a clean break with the asphyxiating politics of the past.
They had the opportunity of picking from a gubernatorial shortlist that had the name of Alhaji ‘Lai Mohammed, another active participant in laying the foundation for the ongoing socio-economic transformation in Lagos state, on it.
While delegates in Osun state recognised and settled for excellence, their counterparts in Kwara state settled for bags of repackaged rice and crisp Naira notes. The result, to say the least, has been catastrophic!
As has been the practice, money became the determining factor and a point that worked in other climes became an albatross!
The other time Lai Mohammed contested his party’s governorship primaries, third rate publicists went to town to depict him as a Lagos politician who had no business aspiring to be governor of Kwara!
When talebearers went to town after he was announced as ministerial nominee for Kwara state, they failed because President Muhammadu Buhari who did the nomination knew ‘Lai Mohammed would not disappoint as a member of the cabinet. He hasn’t!
Another search has begun! The search is one that seeks to liberate people from mental slavery. It is as well the search for unstained and credible candidates into elective posts at state and federal levels in 2019.
The governorship race in Kwara state which has, in recent years, generated uncommon interest, is not going to be an exception.
The 2019 elections is the best opportunity to break the asphyxiating hold of freeloaders and their puppets that deny the people breathing space for decades.
This time, Kwara state must get it right! To get it right is to vote for the right people. It will be a mistake of no mean proportion if another stooge is elected as governor in 2019.
The choice before the people is to end their enslavement to freeloaders who have no interest in improving the state and the welfare of its people.
If things must change, all hands must be on deck to stop another stooge from surfacing at Government House, Ilorin, in 2019. Otherwise, a huge chunk of the resources of the state will continue to fuel the false lifestyle of a few.
Yes, the search is on and one option available to the people of Kwara state is to identify individuals who are beyond reproach; individuals who will improve the state and not those who will wait for the state to improve them as has been the practice over the past several years.
Of the lot that fit the bill, the sitting minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stands tall. If truth be told, ‘Lai Mohammed has distinguished himself among the motley crowd that could be called upon to get the state out of the disharmonious state it has been forced into.
In essence, 2019 provides an opportunity to elect a governor who will not hold the treasury in trust for freeloaders. Gradually, the era of inducing delegates to nominate wrong candidates is coming to grief.
The outcome of the 2014 All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential primaries and the 2015 general elections have shown that Nigerians can resist inducement and vote for honest and decent people.
We should build on the gains of 2015 and draft decent and honest people who otherwise would have been sidelined by the asphyxiating money politics we play!
The State of Harmony can no longer accommodate politicians who do not appreciate the demarcation between state funds and personal bank accounts!
It will be a disaster if, in 2019, the people of Kwara state put their destiny in the hands of another surrogate and his principal who feed fat at their expense!
This will be a tragedy of no mean proportion in a state that brims with educated, intelligent, god-fearing and incorruptible people in the mould of Nigeria’s minister of information.
It is time to end decades of lamentation and insinuations. It is time to stop dancing to the weird drumbeat of a larcenous, self-serving few.
It is time to snatch Kwara state from the jaws of death. 2019 provides an opportunity to return the State of Harmony to a true state of harmony!
It is time to make Lai’s experience count!
• Magaji lives in Abuja
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