In Kwara’s 53-year history, few politicians have offered to serve the state like Governor Abdulrasaq. From contesting to be the State’s Governor to Senator, Abdulrasaq has offered to serve on many occasions on the CPC and PDP platforms, before he became a beneficiary of the marriage of strange bedfellows that formed the O To Ge Movement that ended the Saraki political order in the State.
But power in the hands of a ruler without capacity and vision is a calamity. This has been the case of Kwara under Abdulrasaq. For someone who has been offering himself to serve his people for over a decade, this reporter expects that Abdulrasaq has a blueprint on how take Kwara to the next level and has identified men and women that will help to turn his vision into reality.
But 365 days after, discerning observers are united in the thought that Abdulrasaq lacks the capacity or even the will to improve the fortunes of the State. They posit that this is due to his limited education, abject inexperience, lack of exposure and inferiority complex which make him abhor cerebral people. According to a recent survey, Abdulrasaq is one of the two least educated State Governors in Nigeria, with the other being Yobe Governor, Mai Mala Buni.
Without meaning any disrespect, if the people of Yobe are willing to pardon their governor’s lack of education, it will stand as a major insult and disgrace to a state like Kwara, with all the highly educated and competent people the state is blessed with, that its governor lacks proper education. Why this is particularly bad for Kwara State is that it may send the dangerous signal to younger people that education does not really matter, all you need is ability to make money.
Plato in The Republic recommends that a leader should be a philosopher king who must possesses a love of wisdom, as well as intelligence.
Francis Bacon advised that a leader should be one who can read and write because: Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.
Kwara APC members are disciples of Plato and Bacon because their preferred candidate was Oba Abdulraheem, a professor of English and European Languages.
But the powers that be in APC allegedly manipulated the primaries and Abdulraheem was dropped. The aspirant who placed third, Abdulrasaq, is not anywhere close to a philosopher king, since a controversial secondary school certificate does not qualify one to be a man of letters.
Nor is running First Fuels, a corner shop, enough experience and exposure to run a huge supermarket called Kwara. Still, he got the nod of APC leaders to be the party flag bearer.
In a world driven by ideas and knowledge, where will AbdulRasaq’s ideas come from when he lacks the intellectual capacity to utilize ideas or process knowledge? To quote the Portuguese football tactician, Jose Mourinho, you do not hang an ‘L’ sign on a Ferrari. But this is exactly what Kwaran did in 2019; they hand a very expensive luxury car to a learner. The accident will be costly.
Even before he was elected governor, Abdulrasaq’s appointees gave credence to insinuations that he has an inferiority complex and can only work with family members who will not expose his lack of capacity.
His running mate was Kayode Alabi, a childhood friend of his younger brother Isiaka Abdulrasaq, who might as well be called the governor’s younger brother since they all grew up together.
Although Alabi appears more visible than the Deputy Governors before him, feelers from Kwara indicate that Kale Belgore and Yinka Aluko, both Special Advisers to Abdulrasaq, are the shadowy hands running the show. Everyone knows that these two were Bukola Saraki’s men. But even in the Saraki dispensation, they were not in the first eleven. But they are now Abdulrasaq’s brainbox.
When Alabi had a running battle with Makanjuola Ajadi, one of Abdulrasaq’s foot soldiers, Abdulrasaq stayed aloof. Could this be a divide and conquer tactic? Probably not, but most likely yes.
Abdulrasaq’s next appointment was his uncle Aminu Adisa Logun, whom he appointed as Chief of Staff.
When he eventually named his cabinet after several months of dilly-dallying and somersaulting, it screams nepotism all through. But more importantly, it confirms beyond doubt, that this is one governor that just didn’t know what he was doing or what the state and the people that banded together to chase Saraki away expected of him.
Most of the appointees are family and friends, or their children. A third-rate, mediocre collection of apprentices who lack even the basic capacity to hold positions at local government, much less state level.
Let facts speak. Aisha Ahman-Pategi is a longtime associate of Abdulrasaq. Arinola Lawal is the daughter of former Governor Muhammed Lawal, Abdulrasaq’s in-law; his sister Ayisat was married to Lawal.
Abdulrasaq appointed a neophyte in information management, Murtala Olanrewaju, as commissioner of Communications.
Sa’adatu Modibbo-Kawu, wife of his friend Modibo is the commissioner for Tertiary Education, Ahmed Bisola commissioner of Education is the candidate of Nusi Lawal, Governor Lawal’s first wife, she was a newly recruited primary school teacher before her miraculous elevation as commissioner of education.
But Bisola’s father was Nusi’s business manager. Lucky girl, isn’t she? Unlucky for Kwarans, who must wonder, like Steve Wonder, how a junior school teacher of less than a year’s teaching experience, managed to step into the shoes once worn by a Bolaji Abdullahi.
Joana Kolo, the wife of one of Abdulrasaq’s boys, is commissioner of Youths and Sport. She was plucked straight from her NYSC and thrown into a cabinet position as commissioner! Even if a government memo fell on her, she wouldn’t recognize it. Yet, she is was appointed to make policies for the State in the most important areas of youth development and sports. One must weep for Kwara.
Insiders in Abdulrasaq’s government could not fathom the choice of a teacher as Commissioner of Finance. Governor Muhammed Lawal appointed a former director of finance in Coca-Cola, Bukola Saraki appointed Fatah Ahmed a highly experienced banker and Ahmed also appointed Ademola Banu another financial guru, as finance commissioners. By appointing a teacher, no disrespect meant, to lead and engineer the finances of the state at a most critical time, one must again wonder if Abdulrasaq really knew why he was Governor.
Members of Abdulrasaq’s think-tank had recommend Bolaji Elelu, an erudite banker and real estate entrepreneur as finance commissioner. In fact, about two weeks before inauguration he had started working with officials of the state finance ministry.
How Abdulrasaq came about preferring Oyeyemi Olasunbo, as commissioner of finance over Elelu is still a mystery. Oyeyemi, a chemistry graduate was, until her appointment, Administrative Manager and Public Relations Officer at a private school, Roemichs International School Ilorin. What the hell is going on in Kwara State.
Probably because of his limited education, and shallow intellect, Abdulrasaq, may not understand the implication of calling on boys to do men’s job, or apprentices to the work that only masters can handle
Appointing young people into positions in government is not the problem. The problem is appointing inept people as commissioners and amateur players in a game that require you to field your best eleven.
Lets’ assume there is a media collaboration between Osun and Kwara, or media war. How will Murtala match against Funke Egbemode his Osun counterpart, a former president of Guild of Editors?
What will a Murtala have to say to his Lagos counterpart Gbenga Omotosho a former editor and columnist of the year when they meet, for example at the National Council on Information.
During the national outrage that greeted the demolition of Ile Arugbo, I watched as Rafiu Ajakaiye, Abdulrasaq’s CPS, fidgeted and sweated to defend his boss when pitched against lawyer Jiti Ogunye. I wonder if this is the best Kwara can offer?
Where will Kolo of Kwara fit into a room to defend the state’s interest in sports, when she would have to face he counterparts from other states who are seasoned and knowledgeable sports gurus like Godwin Dudu-Orumen of Edo or Paul Bassey of Akwa-Ibom?
At FAC meetings, when top bankers, accountants and financial gurus representing other states are using statistics and technical acumen to defend their states’ interests, what will be the contribution of Oyeyemi, how will she defend the interest of Kwara? What does she know of monetary or fiscal policies and how these will impact on the economies of states in a federation? Kwara is indeed in trouble.
Aside appointing incompetent hands, Abdulrasaq’s handling of the Kwara State University Vice Chancellor appointment clearly shows lack of wisdom and tact.
Kwara North gave him more votes than his constituency, Kwara Central, but Abdulrasaq in his usual narrow mindedness denied the region’s son Mahmud Saka the chance to be Vice Chancellor despite coming first in the interview and already occupying the position in acting capacity.
Three candidates were shortlisted: Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi, Mahmud Saka and Yisa Muhammed Gana.
Saka came first, followed by Gana, while Akanbi came third.
Probably because he doesn’t anything about anything, Abdulrasaq picked Akanbi, who came third.
Offa Professors’ Forum described Akanbi’s appointmentas unfair and against natural justice.
Farooq A. Kperogi a professor from Kwara North based in the United States said “passing over the most qualified candidate for the job of Vice Chancellor for a barely qualified intellectual parvenu because of where they come from is just outright condemnable.”
The Coalition of Kwara North Groups (CKNG) Chairman, Comrade Musa Buko, said: “Since inception of this administration, we have observed lopsidedness, crass marginalization and insensitivity to the rights and interest of Kwara North in the distribution of appointments both substantive as well as ad-hoc. The most recent appointment of the KWASU VC from Kwara Central is a confirmation of the insincerity of this administration as far as Kwara North affairs is concerned.”
A challenged state like Kwara needs all hands on deck to move forward, but Abdulrasaq has been a phantom governor in the last 365 days, appearing and disappearing with the wind.
Reporters in Kwara revealed he has only met the media twice, the first time being when he was celebrating 100 days in office and when he addressed the media on Covid 19, which he did reluctantly after so much outcry from Kwarans who wondered where their governor had disappeared to at a time of major national crisis when governors of other states were addressing their people on a daily basis
Some claim the State Executive Council have only met once since inauguration, while others claimed they have not met at all.
Those conversant with Abdulrasaq from his childhood are not surprised that he turned out to be a phantom governor. They revealed that as a child he was a recluse popularly called Ko Sin Le.
Earlier in his politics career, during his days in CPC and PDP, his supporters call him Mr. Dakor, an Ilorin slang for an elusive and deceptive person.
Because of his perpetual absence, the state is grounded. Under Saraki, the approval limit of his deputy was N5 million monthly, under Ahmed it was N1million, the present Deputy Governor cannot approve anything. He has only N350,000.00 as running cost for his office, so every project that needs funds has to wait for the governor, who more often that not, is nowhere to be found. He has effectively become a visiting governor, who shows up in the state briefly, makes a few public appearances and then disappear again to God knows where.
Due to lack of depth or inferiority complex, Abdulrasaq is fighting many battles on many fronts. His relationship with the Emir of Ilorin is frosty. Upon assumption of office, he withdrew from the traditional rulers in State the Government Chalet opposite the Presidential Lodge, where they usually stay whenever they are in Ilorin.
The chalet is now occupied by his uncle, the Chief of Staff, Ajadi and a State Security Operative.
His continued opposition to the swearing in of the only PDP winner of the State Assembly defies logic. What can one PDP member do in a House of Assembly that your party has overwhelming majority?
Abdulrasaq’s lack of tact has also led to the factionalisation of the his party, the APC in Kwara.. As at today we have a group loyal to party Chairman Basiru Bolarinwa and those loyal to the governor, known as the AA Group.
The fight is not just against Bolarinwa, other party leaders and members have been totally alienated. Those who dare complain are threatened into silence or quietly chased away from the State. Recently, Moshood Mustapha who fell out with Abdulrasaq was subtly reminded that he built his house at Love Garden on government land and that if he continues to grumble, the fate that befell Ile Arugbo will also befall his house.
The above lends credence to insinuations that Ile Arugbo was demolished for political reasons or ego trip.
Those in the know about the relationship between Abdulrasaq and Bukola Saraki revealed that the duo wereclose friends and that when Bukola was getting married, Abdulrasaq organized about two or three parties in his honour. Thus, his demolition of Ile Arugbo was just an ego trip, a family vendetta or both.
While civil servants in Kwara are still waiting for him to fulfill his promise to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage, Abdulrazaq retired all permanent secretaries in the state though many of them are still tenure protected and replaced them with some directors who have failed promotion exams.
Between Abdulrasaq and the two ministers from Kwara, Lai Muhammed and Gbemi Saraki, there’s no love lost. The cold war between them was fought on the pages of newspapers recently over who supported or worked against the appointment of Fareeda Dankaka as Chairperson, Federal Character Commission.
Feelers from Aso Rock was that a Kwaran will be made Chairman and another a commissioner. Abdulrasaq was reported to have sent the name of Habibat Yusuf, chairperson Kwara state Civil Service Commission as Chairperson and Daniel James Kolo as commissioner. Meanwhile, he also promised Benjamin Yisa and Ajadi respectively.
When Dankaba was eventually made Chairperson through her contacts in the presidency and Kaduna, there were claims and counter claims by both groups on who opposed or supported her nomination.
Acting without tact the way Abdulrasaq has carried on in the last 365 days is usually costly in the long run.
Members of factions within APC claimed he recently gave APC Ward Chairmen fifty thousand Naira each to buy their loyalty, if the party had been united, there won’t be need for this wasteful spending.
Claims that he had spent N8 billion on health has been described as bogus as there is nothing on ground to justify the claim.
There are also allegations that all contracts in Kwara now goes to members of the governors’ family. They cited the return of First August, the construction company that held the sway when Lawal was Governor between 1999-2003. The same company is now rehabilitating all the roads in the State.
They also alleged that the N500m contract for the renovation of government house and the N163 million Covid 19 contract were awarded to the governor’s relations.
“Our dream was for O to Ge Revolution to sack Bukola Saraki paddypaddy government and enthrone a moreegalitarian order,but what we have today in Kwara is government of family by family and for family,” said Musa Ahmed, a businessman in Ilorin.
Ahmed said that while Saraki model which led to the O to Ge Revolution was not ideal, “but he touched the lives of many Kwarans in every local government area. This government is without direction, it’s just a copy and paste government, they claimed they spent N8 billion on health, yet they were using a rickety bus to carry Covid 19 patients and the video which went viral was huge disgrace to Kwara’’ said Ahmed. “They are turning our State into a laughing stock in the country”.
With the better part of 365 days spent on frivolous activities, fighting former governors of the state endlessly, introducing probes to cover his lack of capacity, Abdulrasaq’s Media Team came up with some phantom achievements to justify 365 days in office.
The most annoying is bench marking one year of government that promised us Eldorado with the performances of Saraki and Ahmed.
One cannot but wonder if Abdulrasaq and his team know the meaning of revolution. If they do, they won’t be using the performance of the rejected duo as bench mark.
Even some of their claims were false. The money they claimed they used to pay the state share of health interventions was in the State’s account before Abdulrasaq was sworn in but after losing the election, the outgoing government was denied access to all state government’s accounts.
Abdulrasaq Media Team’s claim that he has enrolled 10,000 people in free health insurance. This is a lie from hell. They should be challenged to publish the name of the 10, 000 people they have brought under the health insurance since they came to power, or accept that by lying and deceiving the people, the governor has betrayed his oath of office and is not fit to continue to occupy that office.
I am bemused that Abdulrasaq is celebrating employment of 37 doctors when Ahmed that we called a failure employed several consultants, remodeled five general hospitals and established the only renal center in the North Central.
That Abdulrasaq is celebrating the release of N19million to some institutions is shocking. Ahmed released hundreds of millions to tertiary institution from Paris club refunds.
After 365 days, Kwarans are asking Abdulrasaq; where is your development plan? What is your vision for agriculture and the 193 tractors you promised each ward during the 2019 election campaign? Why is the revenue generated by KWIRS shrouded inso much secrecy? Why have you refused to sign the freedom of information bill in to law?
To move forward, Kwara needs a Third Force that will set the terms of engagement between the leaders and the led, and Kwara professionals from Central, North and South of the State need to rise up against these professional politicians, jobbers and charlatans.
Kwarans should be worried that states established about the same time with Kwara like Rivers, Cross Rivers, Kano, Imo and others are far ahead of Kwara. Even states that were created after ours like Ogun are ahead of us. How can a State that was the never centre of bureaucracy in Northern Nigeria at the time of creation now be led by a governor with hardly any education to speak of?
Enough of Abdulrasaq’s shenanigans, pretentious humility and deception, we Kwarans must rise up and take back our state from political jobbers. The revolution that overthrew Saraki in 2019 showed the real power of the people. But certainly, the job is not done. This Abdulrasaq could not have been God’s plan for Kwara State.
Thomas is a two-time CNN African Journalist of the Year.
The opinions of the writer are his and are not endorsed by the Lagos Times.