The lingering face-off between the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, and Senator Dino Melaye assumed another
condescending twist during this year’s Kabba Day celebration, writes Yekini Jimoh
The political tussle between the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and the Senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye resurfaced recently during this year’s Kabba Day celebration, which took place at Kabba township stadium. The annual festival was organised by the Kabba Development Association to celebrate the people of Kabba and also to raise funds for the union.
It is an annual event that brought home the who-is-who in the state, including those in the diaspora. The event usually unites the people of the ‘Owes’. From politicians, doctors, businessmen and women, market women and students – they all see the event as the only thing that brings joy and happiness to the community.
Thus, this year’s event was quite colourful as the people trooped out in their thousands to witness the occasion.
Among the prominent indigenes invited to the event included the paramount ruler of Ife, the Oni Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II; Governor Bello and Senator Melaye; a member of House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf and Hon. James Faleke; the Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Yomi Matthew Kolawole and other national and state assembly members and traditional rulers, among other dignitaries.
Different traditional dancers also partook of the event with colour, donning the venue that was filled to the capacity.
Melaye arrived at the venue at about 1pm with hundreds of his supporters dancing to the traditional music provided by the locals. But before the event proper, THISDAY reliably gathered that some traditional rulers from his area had visited the Senator and told him not to come for the event.
According to the Speaker, Kolawole, if Senator Dino Melaye had listened to the advice of the elders by not attending, there would not have been any reason for thugs to capitalise on his presence to unleash terror on the field.
“Senator Dino Melaye attended the Kabba Day last Saturday against the advice of the traditional rulers and Okun Elders Council,” he lamented.
According to a source close to the traditional rulers, Dino was advised to avoid anything that would bring problem as the governor was expected to grace the occasion. Dino was also asked to advise his supporters to stay away from trouble.
At the end of the meeting, Dino promised not to do anything that would disrupt the occasion, reminding them he was a sitting senator. However, from the meeting, he proceeded to the venue, where he was welcomed by his supporters.
THISDAY learnt that after his arrival at the venue, some hours later, some of the organisers approached and informed the Senator that the governor was already in Kabba but lodged at one of the hotels in the town. According to the sources, the governor categorically told the organising committee that he would only come to the venue if the Senator was not there.
After this was brought to his notice, he allegedly promised to listen to them. But minutes later, he was called to the podium to present his speech and donation, which he did and at the end of his speech he donated N3million naira and left.
As he was approaching his Bullet proof Mercedez sport utility vehicle, to make way for the arrival of the governor, some thugs from nowhere attacked him with objects such as stone, sachet water and other dangerous objects.
He lost the windshield of one of his cars to the attack as the venue suddenly turned to a theater of war. The security agents on the other hand did everything possible to bring the ugly situation under control.
Dino at this time was able to zoom out of the venue in his car due to the quick response of his security aides.
But for obvious security reasons, Bello who was already in Kabba for the programme failed to turn up at the venue even though his advance party was already on ground before the attack.
Melaye was duly invited for the event just as the governor but their long standing feud played out and marred the celebration as many dignitaries scampered to safety.
Bello, in a swift reaction, said he took a proactive step to avert an impending chaos that would have resulted in the loss of lives and property at the event.
Spokesperson to the governor, Mrs. Petra Akinti Onyegbule, noted that the governor’s inability to make a scheduled appearance at Kabba Day was to prevent the possible insurrection that could have disrupted the peace of the event.
“The alleged attack on Dino Melaye by some aggrieved Kogi west youths would have been worsened if the governor was present at the event”, saying as the father of the state, the governor decided to stay off to avert further violence.
“As the chief security officer of the state, whose job is to ensure the protection and safety of lives and property of the citizens, Governor Bello is committed to making sure that the onerous task of ensuring the safety of the entire citizens was never compromised,” she stated.
She hinted that the governor had said it many times that no single life is worth being lost for any political misunderstanding.
“If my appearance would hurt anyone, I would rather stay away and let everyone be at peace. Kogi is for all of us, and together we shall build the state of our dream.”
The governor, however, urged the youths to shun any act of violence that could disrupt peace across the state, stressing that every life is important to him irrespective of who is involved.
Responding too, Melaye told newsmen that he was attacked by men he claimed to have been sent by the Kogi State government.
“Two out of the Ebira boys that attacked me in Kabba on Saturday were sent by Kogi State Government but were arrested by the Police but later granted bail following the intervention of the state apparatus. The thugs from Kogi Central were led by a member of Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon Abdullahi Bello,” he alleged.
He stated that his superlative outing at the occasion had angered the governor and his entourage, adding that the thugs also invaded his constituency office, in Kabba, shooting sporadically, in apparent belief that he was at the building to commission the facility.
People who spoke to THISDAY on the development were of the view that the event should have brought the governor and the Senator together and make peace in the interest of the state.
According to them, what happened in Kabba was a strong indication that 2019 general election in the state may not be peaceful considering the chain of ugly political events around the state.