Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello
By Gabriel B. Agbonika
On May 27, 2019, Mr George Oyedepo wrote a passionate and touching article in ThisDay newspaper in which he called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to choose between Kogi State people and Governor Yahaya Bello for the November 16, 2019 State gubernatorial election. The call, he said, has become necessary because many Nigerians now believed strongly that President Buhari seems to be supporting Governor Yahaya Bello when majority of Kogi people were crying and begging the leadership of APC to save and rescue them from Bello’s maladministration.
According to Oyedepo it has become obvious to people in Kogi State that President Buhari was a major influential person who brought Yahaya Bello to power, because he has supported him in power and he still want to impose him as governor for a second tenure.
In his words, “Yahaya Bello has proudly and arrogantly claimed to be the ‘son’ of Mr. President and the governor has not failed to remind anybody who cares to listen to him that anything he does in Kogi State has Presidential backing. Consequently, many people have come to belief all the seeming arrogant claims and actions of Yahaya Bello because the President has said nothing or done anything to distance himself from several embarrassing and impunity attitude of Kogi state Governor.”
Certainly, President Buhari cannot claim ignorance of what is going on in Kogi State because several state visits and open letters have been sent to him by well meaning APC state stakeholders within the past one year with sufficient information on the deteriorating socio-economic and political situation in the state. Buhari’s open lamentation on some State governors who have chosen to ignore the welfare of their citizens by not paying salaries of their workers as at when due is an evidence that his attention must have been drawn to such unfortunate situation in Kogi State.
For example, last year the President expressed disappointment and pains over civil servants in some states who have not been paid their salaries for several months, wondering how such governors go to sleep without paying salaries to their workers as at when due.
But ironically Yahaya Bello, who claims to be his son, has been sleeping well under the presidential protection without paying full salaries of State and Local government workers for the past three years. What he does often is only to tell some kind of cheap and shameless lies through paid newspaper advertisements andtelevision news that he has paid all salaries of workers in the state.
Unfortunately Federal Government’s reaction through presidential intervention in form of Bail-out Fund and refund of Paris Clubs were usually abused by Governor Yahaya Bello who diverted such funds to personal benefits and fighting perceived political enemies. Indeed Yahaya Bello has wickedly refused toutilize the funds for the purpose of payingsalaries Kogi State workers for the past three and half years. Instead he has been using the huge amount of such bail-out fund to pursue his second term ambition through harassment and intimidation of political opponents, employment of political thugs as well as bribe some greedy and corrupt traditional rulers to support his second tenure ambition.
Only last week, the deputy governor, Mr. Simon Achuba, cried out over the ill-treatment he has been enduring under Yahaya Bello for almost two years urging President Buhari and security agents to ensure the safety of his life against a ruthless governor of the state. In his usual style of leadership the Governor swiftly ordered his ‘appointed’ Ibaji Local Government party officials to announce the suspension of the Deputy Governor on alleged anti-party activities.
Similarly, within twenty four hours later the state lawmakers hurriedly initiated impeachment process against the Deputy Governor. What a shame! What a primitive behavior!
The Deputy Governor had alleged that some gunmen on the payroll of Yahaya Bello were out to kill him because he disagreed with the governor’s style of leadership in the state. In his words,”the rift between me and the governor is the issue of performance. Rather than focusing on delivering the dividends of democracy to the people, Governor Bello chose to pursue personal agenda and venting his frustration on those who do not support him.”
‘Meanwhile for the past four months some well meaning political leaders in Kogi state have been calling on President Buhari and National party leaders to intervene and save the party from imminent major crisis and defeat in the November 16, 2019 governorship election by denying Yahaya Bello the party ticket to contest the primary election. But it appears the call and fears have fallen on deaf ears of APC leaders who suddenly came up with a purported decision for an indirect election instead of direct primary election being advocated and preferred by majority of party members in the state.
The insensitivity of President Buhari leadership to the plight of Kogi people through his seeming support for governor Bello may soon throw Kogi state into a bloody battle especially on the issue of party ticket for the forth-coming election.
For example, many party leaders and stakeholders are opposed to Governor Bello contesting the primary election not because he can win in a free and fear election in the state, but because it is feared that the presidency will support him to pick APC ticket. That will mean an imposition of unwanted candidate on the party. The consequence of such imposition will lead to great disappointment, frustration and resentment of many party members who might join forces with PDP in the state to defeat APC in the November 16, 2019 election.
Like what happened in Bauchi state during the recent elections, Governor Bello is probably depending on anticipated presidential backing in his do or die attitude towards second tenure ambition. But from all available information, majority of Kogi state citizens have resolved to fight and defend their individual and collective freedom from the hopeless and oppressive administration of Yahaya Bello instead of allowing him the luxury of a second tenure.