Now That Bello’s Battle is Over

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With last week’s Supreme Court judgment, which upheld the mandate of the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, it is time all hands must be on deck for good governance, writes Yekini Jimoh

Kogi State was created in 1991 and in such a short while, she has had interesting democratic evolution. Her first democratic election held in December of same year between the late Dr. Steven Makoju Achema and the late Abubakar Audu. Audu won and despite the pressure, Achema did not challenge the outcome.

In 2003, another election held and former Governor Ibrahim Idris won. Audu too accepted defeat in good fate.

In 2007, Audu was excluded from the race and he challenged it. The election was annulled and a rerun ordered. A rerun election was conducted and Idris was re-elected. But this time, Audu challenged it and went all the way to the apex court but lost.

When it was another bout of election in 2011, Alhaji Jibrin Isah Echocho won the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but Idris had tenure elongation in lieu of the rerun that would later stagger the state’s election calendar. By this action, however, Echocho’s mandate was scuttled for Captain Idris Wada.

Echocho challenged the outcome and also went all the way through to the apex court but lost. In 2015, Audu returned to the turf and was coasting home to victory when death knocked at his door. He died leaving behind a constitutional crisis. There was a lacuna and his running mate, Hon. James Faleke and former Governor Wada challenged the outcome of the election, with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) joined in the suit. But Bello who was appointed to replace Audu won.

Certainly, the long period of litigation had taken its toll on governance in the state and the expectations are high despite the inclement economic situation across the country. This is why people think there should be no time-wasting for Governor Bello except to get down to brass tacks and give all that he promised during the “leftover campaign”.

Speaking to THISDAY, Sunday Saki, an indigene of the state said the fact remained that “our common wealth has been expended on litigation, while governance has suffered in the last 10 years. Now that the case has been decided as expected, we have a chance to get things right. If we fail it means that our seriousness is in doubt.”

Kogi State, no doubt, needs some radical socioeconomic interventions rooted in the urgency of immediacy and in the immediacy of urgency. Infrastructure, institutional projects and salaries, amongst other critical areas, need the swiftest attention. The governor, many would expect, should woo his foes to his camp especially those that belong to the Audu/Faleke camp in collective interest.

The governor had from day one, anchored his emergence on divine mandate. That, perhaps, has been vindicated and his office validated by judicial fiat. Since practically everyone believes in God’s supremacy, and the collective beliefs not vitiated by politics and whimsical interests, the people of Kogi should rally round him for utmost discharge of his promises for the state.

Former Governor Wada, for instance, has resolved to offer support to Governor Bello. According to his Media consultant, the Chief Communications Manager, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, “We have resolved to do our best in whatever way possible to offer support to Governor Yahaya Bello for the uplift of Kogi State.

“Without doubt, we shall serve as the polished metal for the compunction of government with the quality of opposition we will provide in the days ahead but it is our prayer that Governor Yahaya Bello and his aides will appreciate our advice and proposals in the overall interest of the Kogi people”.

According to him, the decision of the apex court brought to an end, a long drawn legal battle, not because he just wanted a second term in office at all cost but to serve as a historic denunciation and a befitting dirge for electoral fraud.

But Faleke, on his part, said he had no regrets challenging the decision to declare the election inconclusive as the step was taken in good faith to protect the interest of the over 240,000 electorate that voted for the Audu/Faleke ticket in that election. He said it would amount to a betrayal of the sacred trust of the people, who reposed implicit confidence in the Audu/Faleke ticket not to have defended the sanctity of their votes up to the apex court.

“But let it be stated here that we have no regrets challenging the declaration of our election as inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). What we did was to defend the votes cast for Audu/Faleke by the over 240,000 electorate on November 21, 2015.”

Some other cross-section of the people, who spoke with THISDAY, said the outcome of the judgment was a welcome development.
A former acting governor of the state, Chief Clarence Olafemi, said now that the judgment was over, the governor should reconcile with the aggrieved members of All Progressives Congress (APC).

The APC chieftain said the governor needed to sit straight now and avoid anything that would bring him down, stressing that many people were left outside, and he needed to allow those genuine people come into the train.

Olafemi, who is also a member of APC’s Board of Trustees (BOT) however advised the governor to dissolve his cabinet and bring in those that have the capacity to work with him. He also mentioned that the governor should embark on massive development across the state and accommodate Audu/Faleke’s group into his administration.

Also speaking, deputy chairman of the PDP, Chief Samuel Abenemi, said the party has accepted the verdict but advised the governor to see himself as a governor of all segments in the state.

He urged him to employed quick approach that would bring succor to the people of the state, pointing out that the party has asked his members to be law-abiding and support the present administration, even as it awaits the reason for which the Supreme Court gave its verdict.

Spokesperson of PDP in the state, Mr. Bode Ogunmola while speaking with THISDAY said they had nothing against the governor but should increase his capacity to learn quickly and improve on good governance, which he noted had been lacking in last eight months.
Although the opposition, both within and outside the APC had exhausted their options by pushing the litigation through to the apex court, the judgment thereof has also left them completely helpless, hence their somewhat contrite approach to the Bello mandate.

But whatever might have informed their transformation homily to the governor, going forward, they had a point. The break is over and Bello must fasten his seat belt and get cracking. There would not be excuses on no account when the day of reckoning comes. This is why his approach must be inclusive and without bitterness. It is only he can be more than a conqueror.

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Kogi State, no doubt, needs some radical socioeconomic interventions rooted in the urgency of immediacy and in the immediacy of urgency. Infrastructure, institutional projects and salaries, amongst other critical areas, need the swiftest attention. The governor, many would expect, should woo his foes to his camp especially those that belong to the Audu/Faleke camp in collective interest