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2019: Dawn of Regenerated Kwara, By Abdulrazaq Magaji

By News Express on 01/06/2018

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•Abdulrazaq Magaji
•Abdulrazaq Magaji

Of all known mortal failings, not even his most implacable enemy has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of being petty. Aside his incorruptibility, the president has distinguished himself as a man of integrity, a patriot par excellence who has the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians at heart. In point of fact, it is not in the character of President Buhari to go public in praise of outstanding members of his cabinet.

This probably explains why Nigerians took notice last year when the president singled out Information minister Lai Mohammed, for praise. Aside praising the minister for being faithful, Buhari described Lai Mohammed as an “upright” Nigerian, with a vital role to play as the nation positions itself for true greatness. This is no idle talk and one can only hope that the people of Kwara State are in agreement with the president’s assessment.

Truth is, like his President Buhari, Lai Mohammed is “nobody’s and, everybody’s”, man. He is a politician of the finest order and a man who has made a name for himself since he came to national political limelight. Lai Mohammed is too serious-minded to engage in the indulgences that push people to the desperate point of stealing public funds. Put Lai Mohammed in charge of state funds, and the people of Kwara State can go to sleep, assured that their money is secured.

Lai Mohammed, lawyer, businessman, activist and publicist cut his political teeth in the early 1990’s, as a leader of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). Those who claim some level of acquaintance with him say honesty comes naturally to the Information minister. His thoroughness, his disdain for money politics, his sense of justice, his belief in due process and his incorruptibility came to the fore when he successfully managed the press and media affairs of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

As the main publicist for the APC, Lai Mohammed put the lie to claims that publicity is impossible without a small dose of dishonesty. And, like his principal, he jealously guides his personal integrity by which he is guided in whatever he sets his mind to. It is, indeed, an irony of fate that with abundance of straight-thinking sons of the soil in the mould of Lai Mohammed, Kwara State remains in the woods, mainly because its destiny was intractably tied to that of a larcenous, self-serving few.

Strangely, the other time he contested his party’s governorship primaries in Kwara State, sponsored third rate publicists launched a vicious and dishonest campaign that, being a Lagos politician (whatever that meant!) Alhaji Lai had no business with politics of Kwara State. The tale-bearers went to town again when President Buhari tipped him as ministerial nominee for Kwara State. Of course, the president knew Lai Mohammed will not disappoint. He has not!

Kwara State is at crossroads, an avoidable situation caused by years of sustained plunder by an unrelenting few. Come 2019, Kwara needs an independent-minded individual who will not hold down the cow for a few to milk. There is no gainsaying the fact that Lai Mohammed has a key role to play in salvaging the state. In this regard, Nigerians of goodwill should quit throwing barbs at the subdued people of Kwara State; rather, they should join in the search for a brave and new Kwara, by lending their voices to the growing clamour to draft Information Minister Lai Mohammed into the governorship race.

Honestly, the years of puppetry that turned the people of Kwara into a vulnerable, unquestioning and submissive lot and which is also responsible for turning the state into the butt of derisive jokes, must stop. What the state needs at the expiration of the current caretaker government in the state is a foresighted government, not another surrogate or caretaker government that holds power in trust for plunderers. The State of Harmony can no longer accommodate leaders who do not appreciate the demarcation between state funds and personal wealth.

For now, how to snatch the State of Harmony from the jaws of death should be paramount. It will be another mistake if, in 2019, the people vote for politicians who feed fat at their expense. Equally important is for the next government to erect formidable structures as a bulwark against the state being hijacked. This will be a mistake in a state overflowing with intelligent, far-sighted and god-fearing people. Come 2019, Kwara State should begin to play its unique role of a veritable bridge.

The collective dream of a brave, new Kwara devoid of any manipulative tendencies is realistic. But, first, there must be a sustained and deliberate drive to draft the independent-minded and farsighted Lai Mohammed into the race for Government House, Ilorin, next year. Nothing should be left to chance in the drive to entrust the future of Kwara State to honest men and women whose sole aim would be to improve the state ... and not the other way around.

Of course, it is all in search of a brave, new Kwara! It is all in the quest to restore Kwara, the famed State of Harmony, to its true state of harmony. And, if there is sincerity in the search, there is a lot to gain in rallying round Lai Mohammed.

 •Abdulrazaq Magaji, magaji778@gmail.com, is based in Abuja.

Source News Express

Posted 01/06/2018 08:29:23 AM

 

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