By Nimi Princewill.
A former governorship candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in Kwara State, Dr. Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia, in a chat with INSIDER on Thursday, made startling revelations about the alleged fraudulent conduct of the state ANRP Chairman, Ade Alabi during the build-up to the March 9 governorship election in the state.
Dr. Ajia also refuted claims he decamped to the All Progressives Congress, APC, six days to the guber election for pecuniary gains or self-elevation as alleged by the state ANRP chairman.
Why did you decamp to the APC?
The reason why I was in the ANRP in the first instance was because of some misunderstanding that happened between some of us in the Kwara opposition at the time. I’m someone that fights injustice anywhere it occurs. I consider it important to give Kwara an alternative, a vision of leadership that is all encompassing.
However, before I joined ANRP, I made it clear to Ade Alabi (Kwara ANRP chairman) that if we ever come to a point where we are not able to successfully mobilize the financial and human resources necessary for an outright win, I would have no choice but to support whomever is the leading opposition candidate. My goal since 2014 has always been to be part of those who’d change the former hegemony in Kwara State because it’s not about me, it has never been about me. A lot of the proposals I put forward to Ade Alabi, he agreed with. He said no problem. I never knew I was dealing with a desperate, lying, unethical charlatan.
The governorship ambition wasn’t about me. It has never been about me but Kwara first, because it is in a functional Kwara that all of us can win. Before I accepted the nomination as ANRP guber candidate, there were so many admonitions I made to Ade Alabi, all of which he continued to say there wasn’t going to be any problem. I believed in the course I was going to champion.
By the way, I wrote the manifesto of Kwara ANRP for the governorship myself. That’s one singular thing that differentiated my campaign from others in Kwara State. Eventually, we made a little bit of impact in our own little way but we were not able to mobilize the resources necessary to win outright. I told him (Alabi) that I can’t envision the alternative of letting the people in power yesterday (PDP) continue, and that if I don’t have a clear path to victory, I was going to put mine aside and fully support the APC candidate.
What was the clash of interest between you and the ANRP leadership?
As time went on, I was shocked when I began to know the person of Ade Alabi. It actually wasn’t about ANRP Kwara but Ade Alabi because a lot conversations he was having with me, he did not carry along his executives. Like I said, it was the misunderstanding that happened between some of us in the opposition that led me to pitch my tent with the ANRP at the last hour.
Ever since he got in touch with me, I never called him, he called me. And ever since, the relationship he was trying to build with me, I never knew he had a motive. When I decided that I was going to offer Kwara a different vision of where we should be going, I wasn’t desperate about it.
Please ask him, why was ANRP primary election scheduled on the last day of INEC’s regulation? Why? There was a reason for that. The second question is, why did he lie? And I’m saying all of these with all sense of responsibility knowing that we may end up in court. Why did he submit fake names of candidates that never existed to INEC? He’s a desperate, lying, unethical charlatan.
What was your reaction when he sent the fake names to INEC?
He never told me
So how did you find out?
That is a question for him to answer. If we have a responsible INEC, they should look at the first list he sent to them and find out if those people existed. If he says that what I’ve said is wrong, then he should charge me to court and it would be revealed.
Were you truly hoping to win when you chose to run for governor on the ANRP platform, or you simply wanted to make a statement or eventually jump ship to another party with a brighter prospect of winning the election?
I was nominated on the last day of INEC’s regulation. However, when I accepted the nomination, I believed in my heart I could win. Even though I acknowledged the financial difficulties, I believed in the ideas I was espousing. I believed that when we mobilize the right people behind us, we can make it happen. I wasn’t trying to make any statement. I wanted to win. I was hoping on the strength of the idea that I espoused that people would get behind us and we’d do it together. And that was why it took me days after the nomination to even announce to the world because I had to make consultations with several people including Ade Alabi.
But like I said earlier, when we got to the point we could not mobilize the financial and human resources necessary to winning the election, the ultimate thing to do for any progressive opposition politician at that time was to line up behind a nominee. I’m one hundred percent certain Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq would have done the same for me if he were in my position because the vision is greater than anyone of us.
Why did you wait until six days to the election before announcing your defection to the APC?
Sometime in February, I had a meeting with the ANRP excos and they said they were not going to support the leading opposition candidate, that they just wanted to go to the election. Since that was the majority view of the excos, I registered my minority view and said I didn’t agree with that position. At that time I didn’t have any intention of leaving the ANRP. I just wanted them to understand that we needed to line behind Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to get the election over. But when they said they don’t care how it goes, whether the winner is PDP or APC, that they just wanted to go to the election, I said it was pointless going forward because we clearly didn’t have a path to victory.
I maintained communications with some excos who tried to prevail on me not to leave the party or at least, wait till after the election. I disagreed. I had to either stand with the hegemony or stand with the opposition. I chose to stand with the people of Kwara. Even if it was 50 votes I’ll bring, I’d contribute that 50 votes to the victory. That’s what Kwara opposition needs from us. Up to today, I have no regrets for my decision.
Before I even announced officially to support Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, I resigned from the ANRP, resigned my candidacy and threw my support fully behind Alhaji Abdulrazaq with no preconditions or incentives.
You had no negotiations with Alhaji Abdulrahman or the APC before you defected?
Zero! I’m a man of conviction. And that’s the sad thing about what Ade Alabi said about me in the interview he granted. The things he said about me, I’d say, it takes one to know one. It’s more like when you project something on to someone else, that’s exactly who you are. There was no need for me to negotiate for anything because that’s not who I am. I’m not in this for pecuniary gains or to elevate myself in any way.
Since Gov. Abdulrazaq assumed office, have you received any political/ financial favors from him or the APC, or do you have promissory notes for any of such favors?
Capital no! I never sought nor received any favors from anyone in the APC, whether federal or state.
Why do you think the Kwara ANRP chairman strongly alleges you jettisoned the party for self-elevation?
I’m almost convinced that Ade Alabi is suffering from psychological projection. When it’s something that you do, you project it on to others. I challenge him any day, anywhere, in any court of law to come forward where I was promised or sought anything in the course of supporting Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. Ade was only projecting his inept inadequacy to me. And that’s not who I am.
What’s your next move politically?
The governor is working in the right path. I will continue to support the party in whatever way that I can. I’m back running my business, I don’t have any ambition that I’m looking for whatever. I’m happy for what God has done for me in terms of my family and people I care about. Politically, I wish the party continues to move from strength to strength.
Note: INSIDER Newspapers wishes to exert its right as the copyright owner of this interview. No part of it should therefore be used or quoted without appropriate credit given to the publication.