By Casmir Igbokwe
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, is a political mistake. In civilised societies, his type does not get close to the corridors of power. But in our own society that celebrates warped values, he is hailed and crowned as a messiah. That is why the All Progressives Congress (APC) not only presented him for a second term in office but also helped rig him back to power in the November 16 election. He is prancing about now with a tainted certificate of return. But what his second term portends for the people of Kogi State still wears a hat.
Oftentimes, people clamour for power shift to the youths. They point to the fact that in some countries such as France, leadership now revolves around the youth. Bello is a young man. In fact, he is about the youngest governor in the current dispensation. But his performance in office puts question marks on the avowed ability of youths to outperform recycled old men in power.
In Bello’s Kogi, dividends of democracy are a far cry. Civil servants, in particular, are owed many arrears of salary. In September this year, teachers in the state urged the governor to pay them 39 months’ salary arrears.
Some of those who could not bear the situation committed suicide. A typical example is a director in the state civil service, Mr. Edward Soje. He was owed 11-month salary arrears. In 2017, he took his life barely 10 days after his wife gave birth to a set of male triplets after 17 years of childlessness.
Almost one month to the infamous governorship election, the Kogi State House of Assembly illegally impeached Bello’s deputy, Mr Simon Achuba, for alleged gross misconduct. This was even when the impeachment inquiry against him found him blameless. Despite the illegality, the state Chief Judge swore in a new deputy governor in whom Bello and the APC are well pleased.
One major achievement of Bello is that he is an avid supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari. He vigorously campaigned for the President’s second term and did not mince words to tell whoever cared to listen that there was no vacancy in Aso Rock. Perhaps, his return to power is a reward for his loyalty and commitment to both Buhari and the APC.
Nevertheless, the election that returned him to power was a grand defecation on the altar of our democracy. There were serious allegations that security agents aided party thugs to snatch ballot boxes, intimidate and harass voters and electoral officials. Violence, vote buying and killing of innocent people held sway. About six people reportedly lost their lives in the state. Reports have it that even police helicopters hovered round in some centres to scare away voters and clear the way for some men in tinted cars to move in and snatch voting materials.
This is why a coalition of civil rights organisations described the election as a “major dent to Nigeria’s democratic process.” They called for its outright cancellation. But who will cancel the election of the anointed one when Miyetti Allah said his victory was well deserved? Even President Buhari has already congratulated him. He asked aggrieved parties to go to court.
Which court, if one may ask? There is total loss of confidence in the judiciary as presently constituted. The lamentations of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will take it nowhere. I don’t see the party getting any justice in the courts.
What is particularly painful is that Bello’s supporters are not magnanimous in this questionable victory. They have inflicted terror and anarchy on the people. In a particular painful incident, some thugs suspected to be loyal to the ruling party, invaded the house of the PDP women leader of Wada Aro Campaign Council, Ochadamu Ward in Kogi and burnt her alive. The crime of Mrs Salome Abuh was that she did not support Bello and the APC.
Her manner of death last Monday was horrifying. The spokesman of Wada/Aro Campaign Council, Faruk Adejoh-Audu, said the hoodlums shot sporadically, chanting GYB 4+4. The thugs, he added, “surrounded the house, bolting every exit and escape from outside. They then poured petrol on the building and set it ablaze as other terrorized villagers watched from hiding. She reportedly attempted to escape through a window but was prevented by the metal burglary proof and gunshots with bullets raining in her direction. The blood-thirsty thugs waited, shooting and watching with relish while Mrs Abuh cried from inside the inferno until her voice died out.” It was alleged that some other houses were also burnt.
We are gradually going back to Stone Age atavism. In 2011, about 800 people reportedly died in different parts of the North after the presidential election of that year. Incidentally, the election was between Buhari and former President Goodluck Jonathan. The 2019 general elections held between February and March also witnessed the killing of scores of innocent Nigerians.
Regrettably, the police always come out with their usual cock and bull stories after which they probably retire to their bases to drink kunu and ogogolo. On the just concluded Kogi and Bayelsa violent elections, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, blamed the incidents on fake policemen. This was despite deploying 66,241 officers to the two states for the election. The conventional police officers were complemented by Police Mobile Force, Special Protection Unit, Counterterrorism Unit, Special Forces, Intelligence Response Unit, Special Tactical Squad, Mounted Troops and so on.
Adamu was proud to tell Nigerians that politicians had sewn military and police uniforms for thugs. He gave his own men tags to distinguish them, but did nothing to apprehend those without tags. So both genuine and fake police officers operated freely without qualms. What a country!
By the way, has there been any resolution of the allegation levelled against Bello last year that he was involved in the importation of military items? And why is the case of his involvement in double voter registration still in court even after the election?
The more we look, the less we see. On Mrs Abuh, Governor Bello’s spokesman, Kingsley Fanwo, vomited the usual cliché: Those responsible for the atrocities would be brought to book. Story!
My prayer is that the spirit of this woman will haunt the evil doers for life! Since many Nigerians now see prayer as our last hope, let me also join to pray that our politicians begin to see governance as service; not just a meal ticket, or a means to grab wealth for generations yet unborn. Until we change our mindset; until we reform our electoral and political systems; until we begin to severely punish electoral offenders; and until the president signs the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, people like Bello will continue to desecrate our political and electoral system.
Re: Welcome Back, Our Widely-Travelled President
No amount of money diverted from one sector to boost the areas you have mentioned in your write-up will have any meaningful impact. What you will have succeeded in doing is to make more money available for those at the helm of those sectors to steal. The present allocation can do a lot if you eliminate primitive greed and stealing by the civil servants and the political class. Thanks.
- Ritchie, Abuja, +2348033143783
Dear Casmir, you do not need to waste any more words on President Buhari and VP Osinbajo. It is established in Igbo and even Greek mythology that the local flute, “oja”, beckons at only one of two momentous periods in the annals of great or strong men. We already know their reckoning moments, and how the flute will sound on their achievements, or lack thereof.
- Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645.
Dear Casmir, I advise Buhari on physical presence. Presidency is like manning a shop. Market will not move as expected if customers don’t often see the shop owner. Corruption eats down the shop. Incessant trips to attend occasions tarnish profits. More grease to his elbow.
- Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
Our president widely travelling is for the interest of Nigeria. If he stays at home, how can we woo investors to come and invest in our country? Not all things we must condemn against our president’s visits. His travelling is not for jamboree but for business. All we need is prayers for all his travelling to yield good results for Nigerians.
- Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Hate speech, FG & APC should go and borrow to allocate more funds to states, to enable them to build more prisons that will accommodate the offenders because people like me will be the first person to violate it. FG should also build larger prison at Abuja because people will enter it in droves. Why is injustice pervasive in Nigeria? They, (politicians) after destroying this country, ask us not to talk, it’s a lie o! It’s akin to beating a child and asking him not to cry. They should legislate on barring ex-governor’s from contesting for senate.
Casmir, the president and his party, APC, have not been fair to Nigerians. They do not see any wrong in their actions. N1.3billion will, at N500, 000 soft loans, give more than 2000 Nigerians jobs which will grow the economy. Foreign investors will come to Nigeria when the environment is friendly.
- Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922
Your write-up is encouraging. Both of us seem to be saying the same thing. What difference does it make, that some of our leaders put their “personal greatness” above public service.
- Okorafor Victor Ugo, +2348105379522
- First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, November 25, 2019.