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Kwara 2019: It’s time to get it right (The case for Lai Mohammed), By Abdulrazaq Magaji

By News Express on 20/02/2017

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 •Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
•Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

By this time next year, the smell of politics will be too strong you will not need extra-sensory receptors to pick it. Then, attention will shift to candidates jostling for various elective posts at state and federal levels. The governorship race in Kwara State which has, in recent years, generated uncommon interest is not going to be an exception. The 2019 general election is an opportunity for the people of Kwara State to install a responsible government to replace the freeloading, puppet governments that have held the state by its jugular for decades.

This time around, Kwara State cannot afford to get it wrong. To get it wrong is to retain the status quo, which is possible if another stooge is elected as governor in 2019. The choice before the people of Kwara in 2019 is to end their enslavement to freeloaders who have scant interest in improving the state and the wellbeing of its people. Fact is, if things do not change and another stooge surfaces at Government House, Ilorin in 2019, chances are a huge chunk of the resources of the state will go into fuelling the false lifestyle of a few.

What this means is that the caretaker government that gets installed will have to tinker with the books, as has been the practice thus far, to reimburse the billions of naira needed to keep the multi-million naira legal team that is battling to keep Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, out of trouble. Of course, Saraki knew what he was saying when he claimed he could not even put a figure to his worth. What a strange confession from a man who has so far excelled more in politics than his calling as a medical practitioner.

In not treading the bumpy and anger-inducing Bukola Saraki road, the only option available to the people of Kwara State is to identify an individual who is beyond reproach; an individual who will improve the state and not wait for the state to improve him, as has been the practice over the past several years. It is time to elect an honest and dedicated governor that the people of Kwara can call their own. The next election provides an opportunity to elect a governor who will not hold the treasury in trust for freeloaders to pilfer. Several individuals fit the bill.

Top on the list is Alhaji Abdulrauf Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information. Lai Mohammed was an active participant in laying the foundation for the ongoing socio-economic transformation in Lagos State. Since then he has proved, through diligence to assigned roles and duties, that he has a key role to play in salvaging Kwara State. If truth be told, Lai Mohammed has distinguished himself and stands tall among the motley crowd that could be called upon to get the state out of the disharmonious state it has been forced into by years of sustained plunder.

The other time he contested his party’s governorship primaries in Kwara State, third rate publicists who were working at the behest of pedestrian politicians launched a vicious and dishonest campaign to the effect that, being a Lagos politician (whatever that meant), Lai Mohammed had no business aspiring to be governor of Kwara State! The tale-bearers went to town again when he was announced as ministerial nominee for Kwara State. Of course, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari knew Lai Mohammed will not disappoint as a member of the cabinet. He hasn’t!

The ongoing transformation in neighbouring Osun State makes the case for Lai Mohammed even more importunate. In Osun State, the people entrusted their destiny in the hands of Alhaji Abdulrauf Aregbesola who, like Lai Mohammed, was an active participant in the success story of Lagos State. Aregbesola has not disappointed. The sensible and far-sighted argument in Osun State was that, having cut his political teeth in Lagos State, Aregbesola was bound to perform creditably. Kwara State keeps faltering because electors succumb to financial inducement and vote for puppets.

Hopefully, the era of inducing delegates to nominate wrong candidates has come to grief. The outcome of the 2014 All Progressives Congress (APC), presidential primaries and the 2015 general election have shown that, when the chips are down, Nigerians can identify and vote for honest and decent people. Building on the gains of 2015, therefore, there is the need to draft decent and honest people who otherwise would have been sidelined by the asphyxiating money politics we play. The misconception that politics is a dirty game has placed plunderers and all manner of dirty people in the cockpit.

Sadly, it was the frustration with the subsisting puppet state arrangement in Kwara State that forced the peace-loving people of Kwara to the point of hauling invectives and stones at politicians in public. The subsisting political arrangement has turned a wonderful set of Nigerians into vulnerable and submissive lot, to the point of becoming objects of insult and butts of derisive jokes from their neighbours. What the state needs at the expiration of the current caretaker government is not another surrogate or puppet government.

The State of Harmony can no longer accommodate politicians who do not appreciate the demarcation between state funds and personal bank accounts. It will be a disaster if, in 2019, the people of Kwara put their destiny in the hands of another surrogate and principal who feed fat at their expense. This will be a tragedy of no mean proportion in a state that brims with educated, intelligent, god-fearing and incorruptible people in the mould of Nigeria’s minister of information.

It remains an irony of fate that, even with abundance of straight-thinking sons and daughters of the soil, Kwara State has continued to dance to the weird drumbeat of a larcenous, self-serving few. The task that must be done in 2019 is to return the Kwara to a state of harmony. The way to do it is to snatch the state from the jaws of death by dismantling the prevailing puppet state that benefits a few. How do we do it?

By organising the people to line behind credible politicians who will serve the state, and not freeloaders who expect the state to serve them.

Happily, the people do not have to look any further.

•Magaji is based in Abuja and can be reached at magaji777@yahoo.com

Source News Express

Posted 20/02/2017 9:22:50 PM

 

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