Bello (r) with Ametuo...when the going was good

The vote of no confidence recently passed on Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State by a faction of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress has pitted the chairman of the party, Alhaji Hadi Ametuo against the governor and his supporters, thus compounding Kogi’s uneasy calm. Yekini Jimoh writes

Aftermath of the ‘no confidence vote’ passed on the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello by the State Chairman of his party, Alhaji Hadi Ametuo and 37 other executive councils of the party has opened new grounds for a festering of the crisis. There was a counterbalance to the attack last week as the governor too secured the support of other members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

It was a shock to the governor and his supporters that some factional members of the party wrote to the National Secretariat and passed a ‘vote of no confidence’ on his two months administration. THISDAY reliably gathered that the governor was surprised in the sense that the Kogi State Chairman of APC, Alhaji Hadi Amatuo is also his kinsman.
Sources close to the governor hinted that after the ‘vote of no confidence’ was passed, the governor knew the implication and stormed the National Secretariat of the party, where he held a closed-door meeting with the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigia Oyegun. In that meeting, Oyegun was said to have informed the governor on the need to carry everybody along in the state.

He was said to have spoken his mind by telling the governor the danger present in the development if he allowed himself to be misled by a few individuals in the party. But back home in Kogi State, the governor is already getting more support from other party members to whittle the effect of the no confidence vote passed on him by the party.

One of such groups is the Kogi State Coalition of APC Support Groups. Addressing newsmen at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) press centre in Lokoja, leader of the group, Dr. Yakubu Ugwolawo, urged the warring camps in the party to give peace a chance.

Expressing concern over the ongoing media war by the various groups, the coalition called on the national leadership of the party to quickly ease in and avert unforeseen consequences.

“We, therefore, feel deeply obliged with the responsibility of crying out to all individuals concerned, particularly the national leadership of the party to initiate all available processes needed to bring the party and its government to a cordial and positive relationship for the pragmatic development of the state,” they said.
Ugwolawo said while they were not apportioning blames, allegations on the pages of newspapers and electronic media were like washing their dirty linen in the public.

“We, therefore, feel highly concerned that we should comment on the issues bordering on the recent ‘vote-of-no confidence’ said to have been passed on His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the executive governor of Kogi State, by the state executive committee of the All Progressives Congress, led by its chairman, Alhaji Haddy Ametuo.
“While we may agree with some of the issues raised by the state executive council, we are saddened by the hasty nature with which a strictly family affair has been blown out of proportion without exhausting all the available options within the party structure and organs meant for resolution of such disputes.

“Clearly, the externalisation of the disputes within the party will cause more damages than yield any fruitful result, especially now that the party is burdened with legal, political and economic challenges from within and outside,” he added.

Similarly, Stakeholders and Elders of the APC in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State have vowed to suspend the embattled chairman of the party, Ametuo and Senator Mohammed Ohiare following alleged attempt to smear the name and office of the governor with the purported vote of no confidence letter written to the National Secretariat of APC.‎

The Secretary of the party in the local government, Comrade Banabas Oyibo, who addressed the teaming supporters and party faithful after the stakeholders meeting, also dissociated himself from the purported publication in some national dailies that Adavi people are not in support of the governor.

He said the local chapters were seriously disturbed by the anti-party activities of their sons, who supposed to be good ambassadors of the Ebiras and the entire senatorial district.

“We have put machinery in motion to investigate them and once the report is out and they are found guilty, we will suspend them outright from our party because they have brought shame to our land,” he stated.
One of the Chieftains of APC, who spoke at the crowded meeting at Ogaminana, the headquarters of the Local government, Alhaji Abdulmumuni Okara said the council has produced eminent politicians in the past and as well suffered untold hardship occasioned by the incessant political crises, saying the people of Adavi cannot afford to pass through another round of crisis.

Okara, who vehemently appealed to the stakeholders to call the duo of Ametuo and Ohiare to order, stressed that their actions were against the progress of Ebira people and was capable of causing endless crises in Adavi and the entire land.

Okara, who is Special Adviser to the governor on MDGs appealed to the party supporters and loyalists to always work harmoniously and give their unalloyed support to the governor to enable him transform the state.

The Local government council chairman, Alhaji Salihu Adaviriku, at the event described the governor as a man of transparent character. He said he ‎ has done creditably well by granting local government autonomy, fighting the dreaded ghost workers syndrome, rehabilitation of Ekuku dam as well as construction of Agassa/Upogoro road. He stated that the APC caucus is soon going to pass a vote of confidence on the governor urging the duo to stay clear in order to avoid the anger of the masses against them.‎

In Okene, the heart of Ebira Land, the political appointees from the area said Governor Bello, in keeping to his principle of equity and fairness has spread appointment to four different districts of the local government and is determined to bring the dividends of democracy to all parts of the state. They therefore wondered why a few individuals in the area were opposed to the good intentions of the governor.

The appointees said they would not sit and watch some selfish politicians destroy the blessing God has brought to them in the person of the governor and enjoined party faithful to spread the good work the governor had already started. They assured the people that all the antics of self-seeking politicians would be resisted and enjoined right thinking people of Ebiraland to rise in support of the governor, whose desire and focus was to see a new Kogi State.

The APC stakeholders said the solidarity meeting was to demonstrate their support for the present administration to enable it actualise its lofty programmes for the people of the State.

Also, Kogi State chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) has commended Bello on the positive steps so far taken by his administration, which has put the state on the part of progress and development. The group also passed a confidence vote on the governor, describing him as God sent to the people of Kogi.

The chairman of Lokoja local government, Alhaji Aliyu Baba Usman, who doubles as the Secretary of ALGON in the state, called on the people and other organs concerned in the ongoing crisis not to create distraction for the governor, who they said was determined to reposition various sectors of the state for optimal performance.
They particularly lauded the governor for his all-inclusive appointments which they noted cuts across every parts of the state, the ongoing screening exercise aimed at sanitizing the civil service for greater productivity.

‪Other achievements of the governor, according to the group, include the recent mobilisation of contractors to site, particularly the rehabilitation of the Lokoja township road, which was abandoned after the elections and other reforms of his government. The Secretary of ALGON equally promised that the body gives their unalloyed support to Bello’s administration to succeed in the task of building a better Kogi State that will be the pride of all.
Furthermore, APC youths in the state have unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of the governor. Addressing a cross-section of APC youths from the 21 local government areas of Lokoja, the state youth leader, Mr. Emmanuel Ayo cautioned the youths against the antics of some people in the state, who will hide under the canopy of the party to cause crises.

The group also berated a few of the party’s executive members in the state, who claim that the governor has not done well in the last two months of assuming office.

Ayo said at the last state Exco meeting of APC in Lokoja, the issue of no confidence vote was not discussed, lamenting that what happened few days ago clearly showed that the enemies of progress were working for Hon. Abiodun Faleke and his cohorts. He pointed out that Governor Bello’s style of leadership has liberated the youth in the state from the misconception by elders that the youth should not be given the chance to grow.

The group however unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the governor and called on perpetrators of evil in APC in the state to have a rethink, saying “Kogi is our state and we cannot afford to allow those who have held the state at the jugular to cause more destruction at the detriment of the people.”

In their separate addresses, the youth leaders from central senatorial district, Mr. Ohiwe Abubakar; that of eastern district, Abdullahi Abdulrahman and western district, Mallam Mohammed Asuku Dauda said the youths were ready to sacrifise whatever it will take to protect and support the governor, saying Bello is an apostle of youth which he has shown in the few appointments he made so far.

“By the constitution of the APC, the governor is the state leader and it very wrong for anybody to write a letter to the national body of the party passing a vote of no confidence on the governor. We the youth in the state will not accept any act to distract the governor from executing his good plans for the state and we are calling on the national body of the party to disregard the purported vote of no confidence.”

Another coalition of groups from the western axis of the state has also passed a vote of confidence on the member representing Kogi/Koton-Karfe Constituency in the state assembly, Hon. Muhammed Zakari Osewu.

Apparently reacting to the threat by some section of the party leadership to recall Hon. Zakari in a statement in Lokoja, the groups enjoined the elders to steer clear of the unfolding scenario in the state assembly. The groups comprising Kogi APC Restoration Alert, APC Integrity Group and Unity Vanguard at an emergency meeting in Koton-Karfe, yesterday, said their position was as a result of the lawmaker’s commitment in speedily taking the area to enviable heights.

In a statement jointly signed by the president of Unity Vanguard, Hon. Aliyu Ibrahim and secretary of Kogi Restoration Alert, Usman Abubakar Babaohi and Salihu Abubakar Sadiq, the groups posited that those threatening to recall the lawmaker were working against the interest of the people of the constituency.

It further alleged that Governor Bello was after the lawmakers, who “refused to dance to his tunes”, expressing the position of Hon. Zakari in seeking the nod of the people of the constituency in any crucial matter. The groups therefore warned those threatening the harmonious and peaceful co-existence amongst the people of the area to desist, stressing that they are prepared to lay down their lives to defend the mandate freely given to the lawmaker in last year’s general election.

It enjoined the teeming supporters and loyalists of APC in the area to remain calm and law-abiding, maintaining that those working against the interest of the people would be disgraced in due course.

Relatedly, executive council of APC in the state has called for the suspension of Ametuo for alleged misappropriation of funds and his anti-party activities in the state.

They alleged that Ametuo, in a letter addressed to the governor and dated 30th March, 2016, a copy of which was made available to THISDAY had requested for the sum of four million naira for the payment of two years office rent from January 2015 to December 2016, and staff salary for five months from November 2015 and March 2016.

The spokesperson of the group, Deborah Oyiza Isiguzo, who is the deputy woman leader of APC alleged that after collecting the sum of One million, three hundred and eighty thousand naira from the governor through her which she delivered to the chairman through the State Treasurer on April 2, 2016, the said chairman allegedly made away with the money and never settled the two years office rent nor paid staff salaries.

She also alleged that the state Chairman of the party, who has never convened the state executive meeting since he became the chairman in 2014, was sponsored from Lagos and Abuja to cause confusion, disaffection and disunity among the state executives and Kogi State at large.

According to her, the administration of Bello was just two months and some days in office, the state chairman should not expect miracles to happen, adding that he should also try to avoid dragging the names of the state executives to the mud for people of Kogi State and Nigerians at large not to see them as selfish and greedy set of people.

Speaking further, she disclosed that it has been discovered that the state executive meeting referred to in their publication was a pre-planned meeting by the Hon James Faleke group, adding that this later manifested in the speech of the zonal vice chairman East, Comrade Isa Daniel, who publicly declared that the entire nine local governments and exco members from Kogi East are for Audu/Faleke ticket.

The group, which commended the governor for his quality leadership in the state, noted that since he became the governor, he has contributed greatly to the campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari, which led to the success of his election in the state.

She noted that for a state that has witnessed sixteen years of misrule and underdevelopment, is it a crime if the governor decided to bring Kogites from various places that can do the job to work with him. The group also noted that the appointment made so far by the governor is commendable as he spread the positions across the three senatorial districts of the state.

But Faleke has warned Bello to desist from using his name to score point. Faleke, a member of the House of Representatives, who spoke through the Director of Media, Audu/Faleke Political Organisation, Hon. Duro Meseko, wondered why the Bellos are still clueless to identify their problems, but always involving Faleke in their already established problem.

“For the umpteenth time, I am constrained to respond to the very hollow and ridiculous allegation by a negligible faction of ward and local government executives of the APC in Kogi State that Hon James Faleke was behind the vote of no confidence passed on Alhaji Yahaya Bello by the State Exco of the party last week.

“Given the current hunger ravaging our dear state, one is not surprised to see the upsurge of state sponsored groups falling over themselves to give fake and ludicrous endorsements to an inept and drowning administration that has thrown civility to the winds in all facets of governance.

“We hereby reiterate once again that Hon Faleke has no hand in the vote of no confidence passed on Yahaya Bello by more than 99 per cent of the State Exco! From what we know, the State Exco is peopled by patriotic men and women of integrity – men, who cannot be bought.

“Given the parlous situation in Kogi, where nothing seems to be working, the State Exco members have proven beyond reasonable doubts that they mean well for the development of the state and would not sell their conscience for a mash of pottage. The position of the State Exco is right now receiving rare reviews and commendations across the nation’s political space.

“For the young men and women being lured with elements of stomach infrastructure across the state to come to Lokoja to accuse Faleke of being behind Bello’s travails, we can only pity their ignorance, for had they known that it was their future that was being protected by men of goodwill across the state, they would have been more restrained and circumspect in allowing themselves to be misled. For the temporary tenant of Lugard House, time is ticking!” he added.

Some factions of the state APC executives have consistently identified the Faleke factor in the vote of no confidence in Governor Bello.

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Ayo said at the last state Exco meeting of APC in Lokoja, the issue of no confidence vote was not discussed, lamenting that what happened few days ago clearly showed that the enemies of progress were working for Hon. Abiodun Faleke and his cohorts. He pointed out that Governor Bello’s style of leadership has liberated the youth in the state from the misconception by elders that the youth should not be given the chance to grow