The pilfering cabal in Kwara state, so daring and ever devious over the past decade and half, has never been this desperate. Since the March 9 election that halted the growing despondency in the state, desperate efforts by agents of the outgoing administration and their main patron are cleaning up their dirty act.
The act that provoked the desperation was the univocal statement made by Kwara voters on March 9: blood is not always thicker than water! Still, the cleaning up act is a tall order for an establishment that thrived on impunity. The outgoing and sinking establishment can only pray and hope that incoming governor, His Excellency Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, displays his characteristic large-heartedness. Otherwise, the outgoing government will have a lot of explanation to make
Truth is, Kwara state began the democratic journey in 1999 on a wrong-foot. From the late Muhammad Lawal, a retired naval officer, to scandal-prone Bukola Saraki, and outgoing caretaker-governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, it has been tales of frittered opportunities that left gaping holes in the coffers of the state. The 20-year period from 1999 to 2019 is a sad reminder of everything that could go wrong in a human community. It was the lowest moment for a state that brims with upright and intelligent individuals.
The sad state of affairs has, on several occasions, been confirmed by stomach-churning accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of the mindless plunder when Dr. Bukola Saraki governed the state. What the sad experience in Kwara state, especially over the past decade and half, has shown is that nothing good comes from any political arrangement that allows one man to decide who gets what.
Today, those who held Kwara state by the jugular have lost grip and the people can begin breathe freely. Importantly, 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. Equally important is for the incoming government 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. Much of the credit for the revolution to liberate Kwara state must go to Alhaji Abdulrauf Lai Mohammed, lawyer, businessman, publicist, politician and Minister of Information and Culture. He was the one who transformed opposition elements in the state into a formidable political force and he, it was, who lifted people out of their state of despondency.
Lai Mohammed literally galvanized opposition politicians into believing that the war to liberate Kwara state from the vice-grip of a few self-seeking individuals was achievable.
Truth is, Lai Mohammed 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! Indeed, the March 9 landmark victory capped years of attempt to end the rule of one man in the state. Truth is, Lai Mohammed is in a class of his own.
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! With Lai Mohammed at the heart of the emerging political equation in Kwara state, the people are not likely going to see the reign of another ineffectual governor! Alhaji Lai Mohammed 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 then opposition, but now, 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 some dose of dishonesty. And, like his principal, Lai Mohammed 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 has remained in the woods. Reason for this is not far-fetched; for too long, the destiny of the state and that of its people have were intractably tied to that of a larcenous, self-serving few. No more so; for certain, deception has come to grief and despondency is yielding way for hope. For Lai Mohammed, this was the latest in his several struggles.
Strangely, the other time Lai Mohammed contested his party’s governorship primaries in Kwara state, third rate publicists who were working at the behest of pedestrian and dubious politicians in the state launched a vicious and dishonest campaign that, being a Lagos-based politician (whatever that meant!) Alhaji Lai Mohammed had no business with politics of Kwara state! Talebearers even went to town in a futile bid to stop Lai Mohammed from joining President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet!
With the end of puppetry is in sight, efforts must be made by the incoming administration to reverse those tendencies that turned the wonderful people Kwara state into a vulnerable, unquestioning and submissive lot. What the state needs and, hopefully, what it got fom the March 9 election, is a farsighted and committed leadership. The emerging Kwara state should be a State of Harmony in the real sense; it cannot afford to be a haven for discredited leaders who cannot see distinction between state and private bank accounts!
It is heartwarming that Kwara state voters did not vote for another yes-man as the next main tenant at Government House, Ilorin. Lai Mohammed took care of that; he has also shown that the collective dream of ‘a brave, new Kwara’, devoid of the manipulative tendencies of a thieving cabal, is realistic.
Magaji <firstname.lastname@example.org> is based in Abuja