Leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State has been crisis ridden for some time now. But Governor Idris Wada has consistently denied allegations that he was the brain behind the crisis, writes Shola Oyeyipo
There is no doubting the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State is gradually sliding into a major crisis and in the three senatorial districts. This is due to some political moves Gconsidered in many quarters as the handiworks of the governor, Captain Idris Wada.
In the west, a chieftain of the party and former governorship aspirant of the party, Chief Oyebode Makinde, was suspended about seven weeks ago. His offence was that he was challenging the swearing-in of the governor. Shortly after, there was an aborted attempt to apply similar punishment on the winner of the January, 2011 primary of the party, Alhaji Jibrin Isa (Echocho). The ploy failed because of the perceived negative and volatile consequences the move would have generated.
When the plan failed, Isa’s publicist, Mr. Frank Shuaibu, pointed fingers at the Governor as the one who wanted his boss out of the party. Though, Special Adviser to Wada on Media and Strategy, Mr. Jacob Edi, immediately debunked the allegation, what is clear is that there is a conspicuous divide between the governor and Echocho's supporters in the east senatorial district, especially at the Dekina axis where they both come from. The divide was further broadened with the suspension attempt on some of those loyal to Echocho and who were aggrieved, waiting for the opportunity to get their pounds of flesh.
The situation in the central senatorial district is much more acrimonious. The crisis had started with the choice of Wada’s Liaison Officer I for Okene Local Government Area in the person of Ahmed Ogembe whereas the immediate past Chairman, Alhaji Yahaya Karaku was still eyeing the seat. Unfortunately, Karaku is a strong PDP member with considerable influence in the area. The undercurrent of that political decision is yet to abate. In fact, the recent massacre that left 20 worshippers dead at the Deeper Life Bible Church, Eika Adagu, Okene as well as the two soldiers killed were believed to have been politically motivated.
Worst still, the purported impeachment of the Speaker, Hon. Abdulahi Bello, is the most notable crisis in the district. Though one or two persons have come out from the area to support the 'impeachment', notable youth groups and other well-meaning persons have condemned it and described the action of twelve persons to undo the Speaker whereas thirteen others are vehemently resisting the move in the 25-member house as illegal.
Some of the lawmakers like the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon. Saliwu Akawu and Hon. Henry Ojuola, have openly accused the governor as the perpetrator of the discord in the house. They also accused Wada of investing considerably huge resources into actualising the ambition of controlling the leadership of the Assembly.
The Speaker, Hon. Abdullahi Bello, had on Channels Television in the morning of Thursday October 18, traced the root cause of his travails to the Executive. Bello who spoke in a telephone interview accused the Executive of sponsoring his removal. He alleged, among other things, that he had a running battle with the governor over some irreconcilable differences. And to settle scores with him, the governor induced members of the Assembly with large sums of money to facilitate his impeachment.
In the public debate that trailed the development, the Ebira Youth Congress (EYC), cautioned the assembly members to thread the part of peace and constitutionality in the interest of the nation's democracy. In a statement issued, President and Deputy Secretary of the group, Comrade Gomina Kadir and Azimazi Usman, respectively, said the two factions in the assembly must consider the interest of the electorate far above any personal gains. The body stated that "Kogi central where the two contending Speakers hail from has been overheated with political crisis in the recent past, so, we enjoin governor Wada to do everything within his powers to sustain peace in the area".
In the same vein, an association based also in the Central district, Ebira Ozoza Association (EOA), suggested that the alleged impeachment of the Speaker was capable of sparking another round of crisis in the ever volatile area, if not properly managed. Patron and Secretary of the group, Abdulmalik Ateiza and Ahmed Tijani Sadiq, said in a statement: "The Ebira people have suffered untold hardship in the past due to unhealthy political maneuvering and as such, we caution the two actors in the assembly crisis who are from this area to exercise restraint in the interest of their people."
The statement described the action of the 12 members who carried out the impeachment as "dishonourable, ill-advised and capable of sparking another crisis that would could throw the state in confusion and retard socio-economic development".
Typically, the Governor's media team was quick to describing the accusation as a bunch of lies “directed at the governor who is so busy to have time for such political maneuverings.”
Interestingly, the media team in a statement signed entitled: Abdullahi Bello, Former Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly: Our Position, referred to Bello as “former Speaker”. Yet, the House of Representatives mediating committee, which had since suspended all the activities of the assembly, pending the outcome of its findings, is yet to come up with any resolution on the matter.
There has also been allegations of secret meeting held at the Kogi State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, between Wada and Hon. Yakubu Yunusa, Majority Leader of Kogi Assembly representing Ofu constituency and a strong member of the 13-pro Speaker lawmakers on November 5, where Wada was alleged to have implored Yunusa to influence his colleagues from east senatorial district who are with the Speaker, to dump him, with financial inducement. There had also been similar meeting to allegedly coax four legislators from the west, to support the new Speaker. The meeting was held at about 10.30pm that Wednesday at the residence of Chief Jide Omokore in Maitama, Abuja.
In fact, many believed that the degree of impunity and total disregard for constituted authority with which the group of 12 lawmakers has operated also shows that the anti-Speaker group is getting the backing of some powerful element within the system.
The assembly crisis however grew worse when the ruling PDP suspended four elected members of the party for alleged anti-party activities. In a statement signed by the Kogi East senatorial district PDP Chairman, Mr. Saidu Odoma, the party accused its members of working against the peaceful resolution of the assembly crisis.
The suspended members are Honourable Abdullahi Zakari, Honourable Emmanuel Omebije, Honorable Yunusa Yakubu and Honourable Musa Idok. This last move, according to sources closed to the lawmakers has deepened the resolve of the legislators to stand firm by their decision not to allow the impeachment carried out by less than half of the assembly members to see the light of the day,
Nonetheless, the totality of this has begun to impact negatively on the state. Rather than concentrate on governance and improve the living standard of the largely poor people of the state, much of the finance of the state is going down the drain in the power contest. This is why some members of the party are already tinkering with the idea of staging an impeachment of the governor. They have begun to hold ad hoc meetings on how to perfect allegations that would nail the governor. But as it is, many an observer cannot wait to see where the brewing crisis would land the ruling PDP, especially that all eyes are already on the countdown to the next governorship election in the state.