He first appeared in the Kwara political scene in 2018. Before this time, not so much was known about him. For the most part during the period, he was infact confused for Lukman Mustapha, the successful Banker and Media Executive.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) under Adams Oshiomole even refused to clear him – Mr Saliu Mustapha, for the Governorship primary in 2018. Since he was not a major contender for the governorship run at the time, the popular opinion in the grapevine was that the party must have intercepted damning intelligence about the unknown Mustapha at the time.
After his unsuccessful bid in 2019, Saliu decided that it was time to make a name for himself. After considering all options, it appears the man decided that the best shot for him was to embark on aggressive, sometimes senseless spending, like never had seen before.
Saliu soon became Kwara APC’s new poster boy. He had been shot into fame by his war chest. Not before long, his strength became his albatross, and people began to question his intentions and source of wealth.
For the Governor, Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman to have chosen Saliu Mustapha over Yahya Oloriegbe as the Kwara Central senatorial candidate for the lulled òtògè’s APC version is because they are related by philanthropic bloodstream. Before his 2019 winning year as Governor, Abdulrahman himself was confused for a philanthropist, but one whose interventions were unknown to the public, not even one. That is why Saliu mimics him.
Increasingly, Saliu’s penchant for throwing money at anything has become a great concern for many people from Kwara Central. They question his intentions and reckon that his has become the talked about “òwò Abu” – a businessman who is looking to make his money back down the road. For many, Saliu’s bogus N200 million empowerment claim, as well as other multi-million naira “projects” for pre-election is nothing but a means to grab the saber of incompetency.
Some say, was it not clear when he purchased 3000 tickets for people to watch a Kwara United match freely, for someone who hitherto merely finances the sport. But he promptly said that his motive for doing it is for the people, as in all cases. But in response, the people say that is sufficient ground to know that he is perpetrating these for motives other than service. Some say, even the Kwara Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq cannot spend in like manner. Where then would a private citizen get such money from?
For the records, Saliu wasn’t widely known for his generosity in Kwara until election season blew out. He now spends like MTN’s ‘yafun-yafun’ who can’t pin up a type of cash’s tribal dent. He is not only a money-squanderer but also a tortoise, as a non-notable man who shifts into Kwara politics and monetizes it to invent visibility. Hence, he is everywhere. Some say, everyone who wish Kwara central people well, must ask for the source of his income. Considering Nigeria’s current economic situation, even Dangote would speculate before embarking on such spending spree.
However, Walecki 2006, Scaffer 2005 and other political scholars consider Saliu’s charity occurring when the election is closer as ‘money politics’, which refers to the phenomenon in the Nigerian electoral process where candidates for elective positions use money, or money is used on their behalf, as an inducement to sway support. This is done not by persuading the electorate to vote in accordance with their wish and conviction, but rather by the force of money that has changed hands. Direct vote buying is related to this.
They also stressed that it has caused the severe effect on internal politics in Nigeria. That Saliu’s model money politics is still manifesting itself in Kwara state through poor policy selection and execution. The enthronement of Saliu in 2023 would spare no one, and can cause a lack of basic requirements like access to electricity, clean water, jobs, and high-quality education.
As it is common, the corruption that soars in the execution of federal government projects in every district in Nigeria by the Senators representing common people from the grassroots is alarming. While politicians bid for political positions, particularly senatorial seats like the one covets by Saliu, they spend their money on the public—which is usually recovered back indirectly from public funds meant for project execution. (Wòn fí òwò Abu śe Abù làlèjò.)
While his source of wealth is unclear to the public, a lot of Kwarans have been asking questions about his integrity in such respect. For example, there has been several insinuations that he is into an illegal arms deal. Other speculations suggest that he ventures into illegal bureau de change, therefore exploiting the country’s low foreign exchange for personal gains.
The people are asking to know publicly his source of wealth to retain their trust. If Mr. Saliu certainly wants to attain any public office with equity, free and fair steps; then he must address boldly, what has been speculated as his use of unexplained wealth to buy voters and loyalty.
The model may also not augur well for him in the long term, because it means that everyone around Saliu are with him for his money. What about the day Saliu’s ATM refuses to dispense, due to one error or the other, would the people he has today retained their loyalty with money still stand by him?
The big question for Saliu Mustapha are; what are his track records? Where has he worked before? What is his work experience? Where did he make his money from? And what work is he currently doing to be able to spend in that manner? The people of Kwara Central are asking the tough question!