Featured: Kwara: Concerns as face-off between two commissioners degenerates

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (T); Mrs Florence Oyeyemi-Olasunbo (L)); Ms Aisha Ahman-Pategi (R)

• One may go

By Our Reporters

There are mounting concerns within the ranks of government in Kwara State, as a recent face-off between two commissioners is about to degenerate after reconciliation efforts proved ineffective, The Ravens has learnt.

The two commissioners are: Mrs Florence Olasunbo Oyeyemi, commissioner for finance and Ms Aisha Ahman Pategi, former commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs.

Last week, unofficial reports had it that both commissioners entered into a heated exchange of words over misunderstanding of financial issues pertaining to the local government at a meeting.

Some online mediums even reported that the disagreement led to physical combat between the two government officials, an insinuation that was later countered, as speculations continued to brew.

The National Pilot, a media outlet in Ilorin, spoke to a source in the know of the situation and captured the event thus:

“A source who was privy to the incident but who craved anonymity as he was not officially permitted to speak to the press on the issue because of its sensitive nature, said the former Commissioner for Local Government became furious after she discovered that over three hundred million naira belonging to local governments was secretly being withdrawn and kept by Mrs. Oyeyemi for an undisclosed reason for the past 7 months.

“That Wednesday, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Aisha Pategi shortly before the commencement of the allocation meeting visited Mrs Olasumbo in her office in order to be briefed about the finances of the local government. Although they spent over thirty minutes together, the former never told her about any withdrawal unaware that she has made her findings and was armed with bank documents to embarrass her at the meeting.

“It was some officials of the ministries who were apologists of Olasumbo and aware about Hajia Pategi’s findings that called her out of the pre allocation meeting with Pategi and informed her about the discovery. She was then advised to announce the withdrawals during the allocation meeting.

“However, Oyeyemi’s announcement infuriated the former Commissioner for Local Government and the issue degenerated to use of abusive languages among them.

“Before now, she had been complaining that she will not continue to sit in an allocation meeting that only issues of workers, pensioners and staff salaries will be discussed without any other community projects that will benefit the people who voted for them.”

What started like a rumour was later tacitly supported by the cabinet reshuffle ordered by the governor last Friday which affected Ms Aisha Ahman Pategi alongside four other commissioners.

Ahman Pategi was transferred from the ministry of local government and chieftaincy affairs to the ministry of special duties.

The announcement was made in a statement by Rafiu Ajakaye, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor on Friday, 3, July 2020.

According to the statement, “Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Friday announced a minor cabinet reshuffle involving five commissioners who are to move from one ministry to the other.

“Those affected are the Commissioner for Communication Olanrewaju Murtala who moves to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; and Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Harriet Adenike Afolabi Oshatimehin who goes to the Ministry of Communication.

“The Commissioner for Environment Architect Aliyu Mohammed Saifudeen switches to the Ministry of Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development; Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development Hajia Aisha Ahman-Pategi moves to the Ministry of Special Duties; while the Commissioner for Special Duties Funke Juliana Oyedun goes to the Ministry of Environment.”

Some days later, Ms Aisha would open up on the scenario, confirming that there was a mild disagreement between her and her finance counterpart, thereby putting all speculations to rest.

She, however, dismissed reports of physical fights as unfounded, noting that she has since moved on.

Her words: “The rumored news of the physical fight between my humble self and the State Commissioner for Finance and Planning, Mrs. Oyeyemi Olasumbo Florence is fake.

“Contrary to insinuations going round, I am bold to say we may have disagreed to agree but news of the duo exchanging blows reported in some online media and National Pilot Newspaper is malicious and unfounded as such claim is completely false.

“I have never at any time exchange blows with anybody including my Colleague(s) whom we have collectively been working for the success of the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq administration.

“We might have had some little disagreement which is normal in any democratic setting but never did we exchange blow. The rumor is false and should be disregarded in its entirety. My lawyers have been notified to watch out for anything contrary to the truth as I have stated.

“I will forever do my best (in’sha Allah) to stand on the path of truth for the sake of the people and the communities.”

In a related development, Haijah Aisha has resumed in her new office yesterday, while the finance commissioner is yet to tell her own side of the story.

The Ravens can, however, report that the coast is yet to be clear as one of the two commissioners is said to be still dissatisfied at the resolution reached by the governor on the matter.

Our findings also show all the above steps taken by her were just to save face and douse media tension. There is still arguably no love lost between the two commissioners as the face-off is very likely to spiral into the exit of one in no time.

A top government official who craved anonymity told our reporter that one of the two parties was high-handed and feels too big that she’s been blocking all efforts of reconcilation.

The source also added that barring any last minute changes, she has perfected her plans to exit the cabinet of the AbdulRazaq-led administration.

The death of the State’s Chief of Staff, Alhaji Aminu Adisa Logun which occurred unexpectedly yesterday may delay the outcomes of things, but the coming days will surely show where the pendulum swings.


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