By OLAYINKA OWOLABI
The National Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has initiated moves to reconcile the Kwara State Governor, Mr. Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq; the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki.
The crisis of confidence among the three leaders has led to a split of the party into two factions in the state, with one faction backing the governor while the other faction is supporting Mohammed and Saraki.
The apparent misunderstanding between the three leaders came to a peak when the Mala Buni-led caretaker committee of the party removed the state Chairman, Hon. Bashir Bolarinwa, and replaced him with his deputy, Alhaji Samari Abdullahi.
The governor was said to have told the caretaker committee that he could no longer work with Bolarinwa, a known loyalist of Mohammed and alleged critic of the state government.
The development led to a war of words between the two warring factions, causing disaffection among the members of the party in the state.
A group of APC leaders loyal to Mohammed and Saraki had protested the removal of Bolarinwa after a meeting in Abuja with the National Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe.
The group also kicked against the issuance of a letter of appointment to Abdullahi as the acting chairman of the party in the state.
The spokesperson of the group, Mr. Iyiola Oyedepo, had berated the action of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and called on the NWC to reinstate Bolarinwa in order to reposition the party.
But in a swift reaction, the governor’s loyalists, which identified themselves as Concerned Kwara APC Elders/Stakeholders, described Mohammed and Saraki as paper-weight politicians with no electoral value.
They also declared support for the APC national caretaker committee on the removal of Bolarinwa.
The Chairman of Kwara APC Elders’ Forum, Mr. Kunle Suleiman, while fielding questions from journalists in Abuja had said: “Those ministers and association of failed governorship aspirants can come to Abuja to say nonsense but they are just paper-weight politicians.
They have no influence at the grassroots. Even a professor like Oba Abdulrasheed who prides himself as a former university vice-chancellor would still have to come to the grassroots to learn.”
Another member of the forum, Senator Suleiman Ajadi, described the two ministers as presidential appointees, who lack the capability to win elections.
“Ministers are not elected officials. President Muhammadu Buhari picked them not based on their capability to win elections. If you check the pedigree of the two ministers you will understand what I am saying that they do not have the capacity to win elections.”
Addressing journalists on behalf of Kwara APC stakeholders earlier, Ambassador Nurudeen Muhammed had described the decision of the national leadership of the party as a life-saving decision.
He stated: “First, we throw our weight behind the decision of the national headquarters of our party to appoint a dogged, committed and level-headed party chieftain, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari, as the acting chairman of the party.
“This indeed is a life-saving decision for the party that had been in the vice grip of power-drunk and self-conceited individuals whose only loyalists are garrulous and selfish few whose only anger with the governor is that he did not make himself a yes-man or stooge through whom the public vault is thrown open.”
The youth groups of the warring leaders have also been making threats to disrupt the forthcoming membership registration of the party in the state.
Sensing the looming danger to the party, the national caretaker committee, it was learnt, has decided to summon a peace meeting to discuss the matter so as to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
It was gathered that the committee has convened a peace meeting in Abuja today with the two warring factions and their leaders.
A chieftain of APC who spoke on condition of anonymity in Ilorin yesterday that the national caretaker committee of the party had summoned a peace meeting in Abuja for today (Monday).
He said the meeting would afford the national caretaker committee of the party to intervene and resolve the crisis.
“Kwara State is an important state for the APC and all efforts must be in place to consolidate the electoral victory of 2019 general election and to resolve the matter before the 2023 general election in the country,” he said.