Kwara APC crisis: ‘Aggrieved members insignificant to electoral fortunes of party, governor’
For Prince Sunday Fagbemi, Chairman, Kwara State chapter, All Progressives Congress (APC), there seems to be no end to the festering crisis among members in the state.
After a series of failed steps by him and some notable elders to resolve the imbroglio, Fagbemi now considers the aggrieved members “too insignificant” to affect the fortunes of Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazak in his second term bid. He also praised the governor for bringing forth a new order of governance by empowering the rural populace with vocations and contracts rather than doling out ridiculous stipends to them.
How will you describe your recent emergence as the Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State?
IT was by divine providence but it has also bequeathed on me certain responsibilities. Before then, I was actually supporting someone else to be elected as Chairman. But I later emerged through a unanimous decision. I felt humbled. The task ahead is enormous but I am praying for God’s grace to excel. It is indeed a clarion call to service.
How do you intend to resolve the festering crisis bedeviling your party in Kwara after the monumental ‘O To Ge’ electoral victories?
Immediately I came on board, I moved into action, taking steps I considered germane to crisis resolution. I visited some of the aggrieved persons. Principal among them was Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, who I visited at home. I went to my predecessor, Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa. I didn’t meet him at home but I dropped a note for him.
We set up the Elders Committee of notable leaders of the APC in the state. These include Senator Ahmad Ahmed, Barrister Kunle Sulyman, Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed, Chief Wole Oke, Barrister Teju Oguntoye, and Hon Katibi, among others. They went to all the major identified aggrieved ones. They met Alhaji Lasisi Jimoh, Professor Oba AbdulRaheem, Chief Oyedepo, Issa Benjamin and Chief Ayinde Jimoh, among others. In fact, the list is endless. The team had discussions with them.
I didn’t stop at that. I went to the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu so that he could help us appeal to them, especially, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. I went to the respected elder of the party, the former Governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande to mediate. I didn’t stop at that. I went to the three Senators to help us appeal to the Chief of Staff to the Presidency, Professor Ibrahim Gambari. We implored him to help call all the aggrieved party members, including the Governor to a meeting.
What was the result of those parleys?
I know that Tinubu advised them that going to another party was not an option. He said that by their confession, that the Governor was trying his best but was not carrying them along, meant that they must separate individual interests from public interests. They need to realise this and change the focus of their agitation. Otherwise, we may stigmatise them as persons eyeing the seat of the Governor and anything not making them get it is unpalatable. They should be reasonable enough to listen to the voice of the elders, otherwise, there could be more to it than meet the eyes. Our appeal to them is not borne out of fear of losing elections; the work done by this government is convincing enough. This is also being complemented by the empowerment endeavours of all our national and state legislators.
What do they mean by ‘not being carried along?’
They should come up with the definition by themselves. But I hope it is not going to be a case of asking the Governor to start sharing the state’s patrimony rather than using it to work for the overall good of the majority. This was what we called ‘O To Ge’. We fought for it and this government will not agree to that again.
But what if the interpretation is about not being consulted by the governor before major decisions were taken by him?
The fact that ABC was not consulted before any major decisions were reached should not be interpreted as absence of consultation. There could have been consultations with other people. No one is indispensable. The governor has a mind of his as well for the people who voted him to power, ditto his own plans for them.
Ask them, they all have national offices under the platform of the APC now. Their children have equally benefitted. They got to those offices under the platform of the party and the governor. They have hijacked all the juicy offices at the national level yet we don’t begrudge them. They always go about denigrating the governor. In spite of all these, we respect the masses. That is why the government of AbdulRazak is building roads, providing water, and hospitals, among others.
What is your assessment of the Governor’s performance so far in office?
Without a doubt, Kwara State has never had it so good. One good thing I can assure Kwarans is that most of the people following the aggrieved ones have seen that the game is up. They are no longer willing to follow them to any new party if they have that intention. They have seen a huge number of those returning to the APC and those decamping from other parties. All the national assembly members but one, are with us.
How prepared are you to manage the seemingly high number of aspirants that had signified interest in vying for political offices against the incumbents?
It will be an open field for everybody. It will be fully transparent just as level playing grounds would be provided for all the aspirants. We don’t want to be victims of manipulations of laid down rules and regulations.