The Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has accused the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, of collecting N100 million from a businessman of Igbo extraction for him as campaign fund but didn’t hand it over to him.
The governor, who spoke in an interview with THISDAY, said he only learnt of the money after the governorship poll.
AbdulRazaq alleged that funds from other sources such as the governors elected on the platform of his party, All Progressives Congress, did not get to him.
He said he got to learn of the fund from the APC governors who operate on the platform of the Progressive Governors’ Forum after he accused them of not supporting his election.
He equally accused the Minister of collecting N32 million from the funds raised to prosecute a House of Representatives by-election before the governorship poll.
AbdulRazaq told THISDAY: “When the House of Reps member from Omu Aran died, there was a by-election, six months before the general election. We needed to fill the candidate. The person who won the primaries then Ajulo is still the House of Representatives member. He was trying to raise money. He got money from governors, they gave him N100 million. Lai now said the money must come to him. The boy came to me and I told him, you have to do the right thing. Are you doing the election for yourself or for Lai? Lai put pressure and collected N32 million from the boy and took off to Lagos.
“Yes, from the day I refused to hand over money to them, the APC leaders in Kwara boycotted my campaign. They did not take part in my campaign. They were sitting at home watching DStv, till we finished the Presidential election and the governorship election was postponed by one week. A few days to the election, I started seeing them showing up. Before the election what were they saying? That they will decide after the presidential. They never thought we would win. So they thought that being the minister, Lai is the leader of the party in Kwara. And when they are sharing posts that he will be the one to share it.
“They totally dealt me a bad card. The party decided that where there is no governor, the candidate will be the President’s coordinator. They didn’t allow me to operate. They frustrated me. Even when the President was coming, I set up a committee for the president’s campaign, they set up their own committee. I know where I’m going so I disbanded my committee and let them do it. Even when the president arrived they put me at the back of a Coaster bus. It was when we got to the Emir’s Palace because it was from the airport to the Emir’s Palace then to the campaign venue, that the president’s ADC tapped my back and said are you not the candidate? I said ‘yes.’ He said I should be riding with the President.
“I stayed where they put me. He said I should wait, then went to speak with the president. The president said I should ride with him. Then Lai Mohammed got up and went to speak with the ADC and said he wants to ride with the President but the ADC said Mr. President has spoken unless you go and meet him. Lai Mohammed went to meet the President and said he had something important to tell the president, that could he ride with him. The president said okay. So when we finished the event, one security guy on the president’s team just said I should sit in the car, opened the door and I sat with the president. It’s this sort of thing they were doing. Lai sat in Abuja. All the money donated to the party in the state, he never accounted for them.
“For example, the Chief of Staff to the Kaduna State Governor called and said Lai gave us an account but it’s not going through, “can you give us another account so we can send you the money?” But I was going to campaign so I said fine. I came back two days later and remembered, and I said they should call him and give him an account number. When we called, he said Lai had sorted it out. That one and several. Until today, as we speak, he never told anybody that he collected money.
“There’s a businessman from the South-east. His banker came to me and said his Oga wants to speak with me. I spoke with him and he said he was sending money to me. I said, thank you very much. After the election, he called me to congratulate me. When he saw I was just saying ‘thank you’, then he asked if Lai didn’t deliver the money, I asked him what money? He said N100 million.
“I said, no, but thank you. So he said no, it’s not thank you, that he will call Lai up and please let me know when you are in Abuja, we will thrash this out. He said I should stay on the line and speak to the former Senate President, I spoke with that one. That one said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. N100 million? Somebody gave you the money and someone pocketed it? I said, we’ve won. It’s not just that case. I have many on my phone. So many on the phone that they’ve sent money Lai collected it.
“I got to one governors meeting. They said I’m not grateful that they did this and that for me. I didn’t see anything. Everything that was donated, Lai Mohammed did not declare to the party, or to me. Some were direct donations to me. Some were sent to Kwara APC but there’s no governor, no minister. He was sitting there in Abuja, he did not know how we held the election.
“He did not know how we campaigned. He was in Abuja. Ask Minister Lai Mohammed, how many times he comes to Kwara? Our two ministers don’t come to Kwara. They are in Abuja. Both of them. Lai goes to Lagos. That’s his home. That’s where his son is a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly. That’s where his family is. He has no house here. He doesn’t come here. As our minister, he doesn’t come home. Same with Gbemi Saraki. She doesn’t come. So it’s like we don’t have a minister. That’s why the pressure is on the governor. In other states, you have ministers relieving that pressure. Everything coming to the state, they stay in Abuja and hijack it. They are running from one ministry to the other to try and hijack things from Abuja. In terms of resources, they just took everything.
“I have been sponsoring candidates since 1998, so I did not need anybody. I plan my own campaign. I have one or two friends who donated to me. I plan my election, not with the money donated to me. It’s not part of it. Lai Mohammed came a second time this year to do a press conference, because somebody launched a book on ‘O to Ge,’ and they invited me.
“The Deputy Governor represented me and read my speech. I said at the right time, I will say what happened to the processes and the funding. I think that got to him. He started saying that he is the one that funded the party. What did he do? What was his visible contribution? He bought about 30 used cars and 200 motorcycles. That’s all he did. And even at that, none got to me.
“Not one motorcycle. They had ostracised me completely. They just picked people from a group called Lai Mohammed Campaign Organisation and that’s what he used for his campaign in 2003. Those are the people he gave to and maybe one or two senators. He gave one to the senatorial candidates from south and north. Finish. Asides from that, our assembly members, zero. They did not get anything from him. When he now made this noise and came and insulted me, on two occasions I tried to say something and Asiwaju said I should forget this thing. I shouldn’t talk and I should forget it.
“That’s why I’ve not answered him. They create the impression that they built the party and I just walked in. We planned this thing. We stayed up late, we knew the people to meet. They were against us. There was a lot of work. We were not sleeping, unlocking traditional rulers, but what helped us is not that the people loved us to put us in, it is because the other side lost their mandate. They were not getting water. When we got in, no water works were working.
“The water workers were on strike. When we got in, radio stations were on strike, no radio station was working, and everything was dilapidated. When we got in, the TV station was down. And today you see one popular private television channel abusing us every day. But we looked at the record and saw that that television channel collected a N500 million contract. But there’s nothing to show for it at our TV station. I asked for the file. It has been stolen, like so many files. I asked the former commissioner during that time, Raheem Adedoyin, what happened. He said, I have one or two letters to show that there was a contract with that television channel, but the whole file was in Government House. They did it from the Government House. There were no file, like many contracts disappeared.
“It shows you the extent of the rot we met. Even the Herald Newspaper was dead, electronic media dead. Everything dead; no TV, no radio. We had to buy new consoles and build new studios for the radio stations. We’re building a new radio station in Kwara North. It was a difficult challenge for us, we’re just rebuilding the state completely. Like I said, we’re deliberate and calculating. They lost it because the state had collapsed under them. Their system of politics was simple. Take money, give to the gatekeepers, traditional rulers and clergy.
“But while you were sharing money, the empire eroded because the structures of the empire: human capital development, infrastructure, and so on had started collapsing. In the whole of Ilorin, there was no water. Workers were not getting paid. Some were just on 50 per cent salary. When we came in, we had to clear all that one. Even judges’ work allowance was not paid in 10 years. We cleared all that. That was why they lost the election. It was not a competition between us and them and who had the best manifesto. They allowed the state to crumble.
“Grandstanding now doesn’t serve any purpose. That’s what they are doing. The people know that there are changes, and the changes are gradual and dynamic. We are getting water now. We thought it would be a stage where we’ll expand on the water network and start building new water works. What we met there had collapsed. We have to bring everything back. When you ask us, “where are your legacy projects?”, we’ve invested the money of our legacy projects to bring these things back to where they should be.”
The Minister was yet to respond to the allegations by the Governor as at press time.