NGF Chairman, Governor AbdulRazaq’s Weird Ways

The original title is ‘His Excellency’s Weird Ways

By Olukayode Thomas

Though strange I will not be surprised if the governor of my dear state, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq attends late Chief (Mrs) Florence Morenike Saraki’s burial on July 19 despite not visiting condolences to the family since her death on June 18.

Governor Abdulrasaq has avoided the Saraki’s home, since the death of their matriarch despite the deep relationship between the two families. His decision is considered weird in many circles but not to those of us who know that the abnormal is the norm with His Excellency.

‘Your Governor is weird’ a friend said to me a few nights ago. ‘Which of them’? I asked if it was Babajide Sanwo-Olu or my amiable AA.

‘Who is talking about Sanwo-Olu, that one is a jolly good fellow, despite all the trash that Hilda Bassey wrote about him before the 2023 elections he still supported her during her quest to break the Guinness Book of Records for Marathon Cooking.

‘I am talking about the governor of your home state, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq. Despite his close relationship with the Sarakis, Abdulrasaq has not paid a condolence visit to the family. Considering the status of the Sarakis in Kwara State and Nigeria, one would have expected the Governor to lead a delegation to the family house in Lagos. Also, remember that he is a personal friend of Bukky for about five decades. One would also expect him to lead their retinue of friends to Bukky’s house and be part of the burial arrangements, but there has been zero response from him. Is that how you people behave or play politics in Kwara State?’.

Another friend fired: ‘Meanwhile, the Presidency has issued a press statement to condole the Sarakis. The Senate President led a delegation to Bukola Saraki’s house. Ditto, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governors from across political parties, Ministers, heads of parastatals, and several prominent Nigerians. But his friend who I can also call his brother did not even deem it fit to issue a statement, you people are weird in Kwara State.

AA as the Ultimate ‘Abami Eda’

After their insults and ranting I laughed, this further took other friends at the gathering aback. I tried to explain to my friends that my Governor is the ultimate Abami Eda, though opposed to the original Abami Eda, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

Whereas Fela was called Abami Eda because he was a revolutionary, a freedom fighter, a force and voice for the voiceless, and many more, AA is Abami Eda because many that have known him for decades, including friends, relations, siblings, and others that have lived, worked and walked with him for years, can still not claim to understand him.

AA Course 101 is still one these people have to continue reading, studying, and memorizing. Even then, each time they write an examination on it, they fail woefully because living, working, and walking with AA does not guarantee you will ever know him.

I told my friends that I would not be shocked if AA turns out to be the first person at the Christ Cathedral Church, Marina where the late Mrs. Florence Saraki’s burial service will be held on July 19. In the last five years, Kwarans who are deep, discerning, and are used to his unconventional styles will not doubt me.

Whereas psychologists and sociologists from the biggest universities in the world may still be cracking their heads to explain some of his unorthodox behaviours, Kwarans who know him will not be surprised. A few examples will suffice here:

The Man Who Abandoned the Tunde Idiagbon Tanke Flyover And Began Construction of a New One at Unity Road

Beautification of Ilorin with bridges and flyovers is a great initiative, and naming a flyover after Tunde Idiagbon who was a leading son of Kwara State before his death was an excellent idea. But how will Idiagbon, a man who craved excellence when he was alive be feeling in his grave that a flyover named after him has not been commissioned for public use because of insinuations that its construction was substandard? There is a report that a Chinese firm told the Kwara State Government to correct the structural errors on the flyover or bring down the entire structure to start the construction afresh. The experts believe it is the only way to avoid future calamity.

The Chinese were of the view that the low quality of materials used in the construction and the gross inexperience of local engineers engaged to handle the project made mere adjustments on the structure almost impossible. Government spin doctors have denied this story but the only way they can prove the doubting Thomases wrong is to commission the bridge for use. It looks weird that a Governor would spend billions of Naira to build a flyover, completed and abandoned while the same administration is building another flyover at Unity Roundabout less than 10 km from the abandoned one.

NBS Says Ijoba Mekunu spent N724 m on foreign trips in 3 months

By all standards, AA is not a mekunu. He was born with a silver spoon. However, he has chosen to be a governor of the masses and promised to shun unproductive spending while reducing the cost of governance. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have put a lie to the posturing. The NBS revealed that Abdulrazaq, the head of the Mekunu Government in Kwara State spent N724, 470,725.00 from the state treasury to embark on several international excursions during the first 90 days of 2024 without bringing any investment into his state.

This is scary for a man who wants to be seen as a friend of the takalawas but is living like a Lord wasting state resources. In this age of the internet and vastly improved telecommunications services, a lot can achieved online without wasting hundreds of millions on needless trips at state expenses.

From O to Ge to O tu Ka and MM’s love letter to AA

When it comes to frittering away the gains of a revolution, AA’s transformation from the O to Ge revolution in Kwara to O tu Ka within months of assuming office deserves a special place in the Guinness Book of Records. Bashir Bolarinwa, Shuaib Oba, Iyiola Oyedepo, Lai Muhammed, Gbemi Saraki, and other stalwarts that supported AA’s rise to power were jettisoned before anybody could say ‘Jack’.

But for this reporter, the most painful was his treatment of Hon. Moshood Mustapha, popularly called ‘MM’. I have known MM and his relationship with the Sarakis since the early 1980s and I know how difficult it was for him to join the O to Ge movement and the sacrifices he made to realise the goals of the change of affairs in Kwara. I cannot imagine that his Crystal Group bid for and subsequently, won the right to the Kwara Hotel concession. He was issued a letter of award by Harmony Holdings Limited for work to be done at N3 billion which may rise to N5 billion due to inflation and the exchange rate.

Later, MM and his company were discarded, and the job was reportedly awarded to another company for N17.8 billion. As if all the above were not enough, AA’s spin doctors went after MM and wrote all sorts of garbage about him in the media. Is that how to reward somebody loyal to you with everything including his finances, who sacrificed age-long relationships for you? But that’s AA, there is no emotion in his dictionary.

Delay in Cabinet Composition to Enable Serving NYSC Members Qualify for Membership and Appointment of a Graduate of Chemistry as Finance Commissioner

If you think Abdurazaq’s treatment of MM is weird and strange, the delay in the announcement of names of cabinet members on two occasions to allow serving NYSC members to complete their service and be named as members beat all imaginations. Same way the appointment of a chemistry graduate as commissioner of finance is still something I can’t fathom five years after.

Is Kwara that poor in human resources? No, we are rich in human resources. AA’s father was the first lawyer in the whole of Northern Nigeria, and JD Soleye was the first medical doctor in the region. That was in the 1950s. Kwarans dominated the civil service in the whole of Northern Nigeria. Yet, in 2019 AA cannot find an accountant or someone in the allied field to appoint as Commissioner of Finance.

For AA, the best person for the job is a chemistry graduate. In 2019, cabinet composition was delayed for months so that Joan Kolo could complete her NYSC. This act repeated itself in 2023, this time for Nafisa Buge now Commissioner of Youth.

Ile Arugbo demolished and abandoned

When a land meant for public use is converted to private use and the documentation is not properly perfected, when a new sheriff comes to town, putting the rights the wrong, the masses, including this reporter will do nothing but hail the decision.

But if after five years, nothing is done on the acquired land after the new sheriff promised to build a secretariat and parking space for a civil service clinic on it, one can safely conclude that the new sheriff just embarked on an ego trip, another weird decision. This is how this reporter can describe AA‘s decision to demolish Ile Arugbo.

Like a revolutionary, AA told us that Saraki’s family property popularly known as Ile Arugbo (old people’s home) in Ilorin, the state capital belongs to the state government.

One early morning during the festive period, the government’s bulldozers backed by security agents demolished the building and dispersed protesters, including old women. AA promised to use the land for what it was meant for, but after five years nothing has been done.

Local Government Autonomy, Funds, and Offa APC

AA during the campaign promised local government election and internal democracy. After five years they are all a mirage. Though election into local government areas is now slated for September 21, 2024, doubts persist. Ironically, the first crisis in the AA government was about local government funds.

Aisha Pategi, a former commissioner who resigned from AA’s cabinet, a few months into his government challenged the state government to publish the local government’s financial accounts from 2019.

Pategi claimed that the state’s Ministry of Finance diverted N300 million in local government funds when she was head of the local government and chieftaincy affairs ministry.

LG Primaries Crises

As we countdown to September 21, in my town Offa, AA’s name is all over the place, they are alleging that he wants to impose a lady as the APC Chairmanship candidate. Party members’ choice is one Suleiman Olatunji aka Unique, but members of APC in Offa Local Government are claiming that AA called his SA Political one Femi Whyte, and told him that they should all go and work for one Zaniab Abbass.

The Abbass is said to be a close associate of the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly Yakubu Danladi Salihu. AA in his bid to ensure that his lackey, Salihu, gets the APC governorship ticket for the 2027 election and eventually succeeds him, wants to produce 16 local government chairmen who will be loyal to him. The party is currently enmeshed in crisis across the wards and LGAs in the state.

Isn’t it weird that AA who has been a victim of a lack of internal democracy in his previous political parties like CPC, PDP, and others is trying to do the same thing in Offa and elsewhere in Kwara State?

Absentee AA is a Normalcy but His Absence at the Sokoto-Badagry Super -Highway Project Meeting is Unpardonable

Telling anybody in Kwara State that Our Governor, His Excellency, Mallam AA is a Governor in the Diaspora is old news but his absence at the launch of the Kwara State leg of the 1000-kilometre Sokoto-Badagry superhighway project is still a shock to this reporter. At least, 188 kilometers of the road cut through different Kwara communities, while 125 kilometers are on Niger land so the Minister of Works, David Umahi was in Ilorin last Thursday for a stakeholder meeting with Kwara and Niger States leaders.

Umaru Bago, Niger State Governor came from Minna to attend the event in Ilorin but the host state was represented by Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi. Federal and state lawmakers, including Kwara North’s Sadiq Umar; and Minister of Youth Development, Jamilah Bio were present.

How our governor can ignore such an epoch occasion is still a mystery. However, if you remember that in five years, there have not been up to 50 Executive Council Meetings held by the Kwara State Government, you won’t be shocked again.

In the period under review, AA made just one appearance at Radio Kwara, one also at Kwara TV, and none at The Herald. When it comes to granting interviews, it was just a one-hour-long interview with Radio Kwara, Kwara TV, and The Herald for five years.

Road setback enforcement and 80% of projects in the same vicinity

For Ijoba Mekunu, AA’s handling of the road setback enforcement with the current hardships in Nigeria shows his lack of empathy. Why did he not borrow a leave from George Innih who in 1977 established Baboko Market to solve the problem of street trading or Bukola Saraki who established Mandate Market in 2003 to solve the same problem?

Most painful is the demolition of Baba Olohunyo Newspapers Stand which has been the premier Newspapers Stand in Kwara State since 1967.

Elsewhere, such an iconic newsstand will be turned into a tourist attraction center to portray the history of newspaper sales in Kwara. Students of Mass Communications in tertiary institutions in Kwara State who now get most of their news on their telephone will visit the place for excursion and learn from Baba how people come from far and wide to buy newspapers or join free readers association decades ago.

So Many Projects Concentrated on One Street

Elsewhere projects are scattered across states and cities to encourage even development, apart from Tanke Flyover and Garment Factory, most of AA’s key projects in Ilorin are in the same vicinity. Audio-Visual Center opposite Government House, Digital Hub by Kwara Hotel, Revenue House on Ahmadu Bello Avenue, Ilorin International Conference Centre, also on Ahmadu Bello, and Sugar Film Factory, opposite Police A Division, then Unity Road Flyover, did other parts of the city commit a crime?

A Brother as Deputy Yet Zero Trust and No Relationship

AA is probably the only Governor in the history of Nigeria whose Deputy Governor is almost like his junior brother. Yet, since 2019 when they were sworn in, the relationship between them has been at zero level.

Most times I wonder if Kayode Alabi, the Deputy Governor is the same Kayode Alabi that I have known for over four decades.

Revolutionary, assertive, a defender of justice, a fighter for human rights, an advocate of good deeds, youth empowerment, and youth engagement, I wonder how my firebrand brother is now so meek and comfortable in a government of Mekunu with anti-Mekunu policies.

I wonder if it is the same Alabi that will drive me around in his Volkswagen Beetle car in Kaduna in the 1980s and we would talk about standing up against injustice. The same Alabi who fought injustice to a standstill in one of the biggest Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria is now a Sidon-Look Deputy Governor. Most of my friends that usually followed me to his house in Surulere then are also wondering like Steve Wonder.

Denied of resources and political power, AA does not even trust his ‘brother’ enough to let him act as Governor since he is a Governor in Diaspora.

When people were blaming Alabi for not convincing AA to site Kwara University of Education in Kwara South I asked them if Alabi had been able to convince AA to site legacy project in Alabi’s hometown, Oro-Ago.

Just a chapter about AA, don’t be shocked to see him at Christ Cathedral on July 19.

This is just an introduction to AA’s unconventional ways of governing Kwara, a book will be written after his tenure in 2027, trust me it will be a best-seller. The research has already commenced.

For my friends who think his not paying a condolence visit to the Sarakis is weird, now they will agree with those of us who told them that, for AA the abnormal is normal.

His friends dread him when they see him carrying a knapsack. They know he can do and undo. He confessed in an interview that he could be in a room with a friend, and he would not say a word for several hours.

Besides, AA and the Sarakis are one family. Their relationship dates back to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire where AA’s father was Nigeria’s Ambassador and Oloye Olusola Saraki’s father was one of the wealthiest men in Abidjan. The latter was also the leader of the Nigerian community in the Côte d’Ivoire of then.

When Bukola was getting married, it was said that AA organized three parties for his friend. The two families will be fine. Let AA just stay out of Offa APC Chairmanship politics. We do not want his weird decision to set our peaceful community on fire. We are a peaceful people, but we abhor injustice that is why we always say ‘laare ko dogba’.

Thomas, a Lagos-based reporter is from Offa, Kwara State.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: