Senator Smart Adeyemi recently stormed Kogi State to register his loyalty to Governor Yahaya Bello at the Lugard House, Lokoja. Yekini Jimoh reports
The event was colourful in the sense that the senator, who represented Kogi West senatorial district in the seventh National Assembly, officially visited the seat of power for the first time after he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Hundreds of people trooped out to receive the ‘Big Fish’ into the fold of the New Direction Team of Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s government.
As early as 7am, the small town of Jamata along the Lokoja-Abuja axis was already besieged by supporters of Senator Smart Adeyemi, who had left their various towns and villages to formally welcome him to Kogi State.
The situation at Jamata was hectic as motorists traveling through Abuja-Lokoja and Okene had to spend many hours before they could find their way out of the traffic jam created as a result.
Adeyemi, in the last few years, had refused to speak publicly on issues and as a politician, people expected him to always do so as it affects the nation and his state.
Some political observers, who spoke to THISDAY, said the state government had to celebrate Adeyemi’s home coming, because Bello sees him as the only person that could to take on Senator Dino Melaye, who happened to come from the same local government area of the state with him.
Senator Melaye, on the other hand, had been a thorn in the flesh of the Kogi State government. Aside serving as a much needed booster, the arrival of Adeyemi to Bello’s government was like the arrival of a Messiah that had come to deliver them from Melaye’s torment.
Addressing a sea of heads at the Lugard House, Adeyemi said his visit to the state was the fallout of a recent interview he had in Lagos, where somebody said ‘he cannot walk on the streets of Lokoja’, so we had to remind him that Lokoja is our home.
“As at this morning,” he continued, “there were 65 buses waiting to join me to come and see you as our governor. I have always collectively defended Kogi State in my political journey. I have always fought for big projects. Today, I have a golden opportunity to speak and I thank you for this privilege, Your Excellency, to let opinion leaders of our state know what it means to have a good representative.
“Your Excellency, you are not doing badly as the governor of our state, based on the resources available and problems you inherited. We are aware in Kogi State that there were people living in Enugu, Lagos, Kano, whose names were on the payroll in Kogi State. Before you came on board, Your Excellency, there were people they called ‘Stakeholders’.
“Every month, they take money from local government areas and give to them. We had institutionalised corruption in this state and if such situation is not remedied, there is no way the state can move forward. I commend your political will to embark on the civil service reform,” Adeyemi added.
On the improved security situation in the state, Adeyemi said the governor had done exceptionally well in the area of security adding that “there was a time we could not come to Kogi. Today, when I was coming, somebody asked how many Mopol (armed police officers) do I need, and I said Kogi is not like you know it before. I must thank you for making our lives and property safe”, he said.
Adeyemi, who commended the governor for improving the signatory condition of Lokoja metropolis, also commended him for installing leadership of purpose while urging him to remain focused and not give attention to distraction by those he termed ‘enemies of the state’.
“When I came into Lokoja, I saw a face of what a state capital should be. As I approached the Government House, I was asking myself, ‘Is this the Government House?’, because it was like I was in the Villa as this place has changed”.
While describing criticism as catalyst for development, Adeyemi charged those who criticise the government to be constructive when they have cause to do so. “When you engage and have cause to criticise, you criticise on the basis of programmes and policies and you don’t go personal or condemn them. I was in the PDP. I had cause to disagree with governors, but I never went personal with them. Criticism is a catalyst for development, if it is constructive.”
While thanking him for joining his New Direction Team, Bello, in his speech said, “Having Senator Smart Adeyemi in the New Direction Team confirms that we are heading in the right direction. We won’t go wrong with his experience, knowledge and smartness. We will deliver. We shall work together to deliver good governance to the people of the state, because we discovered that one major thing that Kogi lacked was good governance. We are on a journey towards a greater destination “.
The governor said he would not be distracted by the barrage of negative comments about him and his government, stating that he was too focused to be distracted by the “noise” of some Abuja-based leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who had constituted themselves into “diaspora” politicians, criticising away from home.
Bello said the leaders speaking against him were engaging in the act, because he refused to be pocketed and allow them to distribute the commonwealth of the people of the state. He explained that the 21 year-old state, deserved a greater place in the comity of states in the country, saying he was focused and determined to reposition Kogi. He urged the people of Kogi West to be careful when choosing somebody to represent them in the National Assembly.
However, in the face of the new alliance, amidst the cacophony of shouts, back-stabbing and handshakes, the people of Kogi are watching to know how long this new love between Adeyemi and Bello will last. To this, observers can only say, time will tell.