Although Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello distanced himself from the failed attempt to recall the senator representing Kogi West, Mr Dino Melaye, his media aide, Mr Kingsley Fanwo has explained the reason for the failure of the exercise. He spoke with Yekini Jimoh
What is your regret as a spoke person to the governor?
My biggest regret has been the misrepresentation of the person and policies of the governor by detractors whose preoccupation was to discredit the governor.
As his publicist, I have continued to portray his true picture and it is gradually paying off as the people are beginning to understand him better.
Governor Yahaya Bello is a humane person with big ambition to develop the state and fight to ensure that the resources of the state work for the people. He should be seen as a patriot who has come to mend the battered state of affairs in our dear state.
Your job must have been quite challenging.
Yes, it is both challenging and interesting. The challenge of managing the media is one of the most daring, most dynamic and most pragmatic tasks in Nigeria. It is also enormous.
The manner of his emergence and the way he has broken the status quo with revolutionary approach to governance has pitted him against people who benefited from a rotten system in the past.
It is interesting because we are keeping pace with the giant strides of the new direction of the administration. It has been quite interesting working with the White Lion.
What is the chances of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State considering the situation of workers in the state?
APC is the party to beat in Kogi State. You saw how peaceful our congresses were and how the governor is positioning the state for a landslide victory in 2019.
The salary issue is not as bad as people are trying to paint it. Government is doing its best to keep civil servants happy.
We have done better than many states in the federation in terms of ensuring workers’ welfare and we won’t rest on our oars until every genuine worker is paid every dime owed.
We didn’t hide the fact of our financial situation from the workers and we shall continue to work together to strengthen our relationship with the civil servants in the state.
This administration has empowered thousands of Kogites through agriculture and other sectors of the economy. We have made healthcare a zero-cost for children, pregnant women and nursing mothers in public hospitals.
The larger segment of our population are quite comfortable with what we are doing and will vote APC massively in Kogi State in 2019. We are quite optimistic.
You want to contest election into the House of Representatives, what are your chances?
Unfortunately, I have not declared any intention to vie for the House of Representatives in Yagba. Our people are wonderful people and I appreciate them for identifying me as someone who could represent them well.
My loyalty is to my boss, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and I want to concentrate on the job he has given to me. I believe in destiny. What will be will be.
What have you done for your people that make you think that they will support you?
My people will support my party because I have always been a part of them. In my little way, I have empowered a good number of my people, the youth, women and farmers.
I am not surprised that they feel I could do better with higher responsibility. Governor Yahaya Bello is my political mentor. I listen to him because my loyalty to him is 200%. I will continue to serve his government and the people of Kogi State as well as canvas support for all the aspirants of our dear party in 2019.
Have you ever empowered the people of your constituency?
Yes of course, through the Titilayo Fanwo Empowerment Foundation, we have done a lot for the youth, artisans and students.
More will be done in July this year. I love my people and will continue to serve them either in political office or outside of it.
This is the first government in the state that has many young people in government. We know we have a responsibility not to let the people down.
With the likes of Chief Clarence Olafemi and other big wigs in Mopamoro that are in opposition What are your chances sir?
Chief Clarence Olafemi is a highly respected person in my Local Government and Kogi State as a whole. But 2019 is about the grassroots people who will decide the fate of political parties.
We respect his political credentials but we are not in any way intimidated. We have a point to prove in 2019 and we won’t shy away from that.
Why do you think the people of Kogi West failed to recall Senator Dino Melaye?
Recall register verification is even more complex than election. I think the recall failed due to lack of adequate orientation on the part of the people.
Also, a lot of administrative issues contributed to it as some card readers broke down or refused to verify voters’ cards.
All these took their toll on the exercise. But I think it was a good democratic test and the people of Kogi West had set a beautiful democratic precedence that a sitting senator could be shaken and made to sit tight.
Most people belief that it will be difficult for your boss, the governor to win a second term because of his style of leadership. What is your reaction to this?
He has done very well in virtually all the sectors of the economy because he has religiously implemented the New Direction Agenda of his administration. He has excelled in the areas of civil service reforms, security, agriculture, healthcare, environment, urban renewal and many others.
In which areas can you say that the governor has done very well?
Governor Yahaya Bello has touched the common man on the streets.
Those expressing pessimism over his chances of winning a second term are the people who are no more allowed to steal what belongs to the people.
Those corrupt people are so rich that they are using their stolen wealth to promote falsehood against the administration.
Governor Bello is a good leader who had brought purposeful leadership to the state. He is not someone who is afraid of taking tough but beneficial decisions to save the state. And am sure the people appreciate him for that.
Do you see APC winning the forthcoming bye election into Lokoja/Koto federal constituency?
Lokoja/Koto has always been a stronghold of the APC in Kogi State. And the bye election will further confirm that. APC’s decision to allow a Lokoja person complete the late Buba’s tenure was a wise and fair one. We are already preparing to celebrate our victory.
What about the plan to impeach the speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, how true is it?
The legislators will be able to answer that because they are responsible for determining who leads them.
However, as an outsider, I can rate the leadership of Rt Hon Kolawole Matthew high. I don’t think he has any problem with the legislators.
Don’t you think the next election in Kogi State will be based on tribal sentiment?
Governor Yahaya Bello has fundamentally banished the ghosts of ethnic jingoism in the state with his spread of appointments and projects. People now think Kogi.
For the first time, a Chief of Staff to the governor emerged from a different ethnicity from that of the governor in the state. It had never happened.
Projects are now spread and now the people of the state trust one another. Kogi has never been this united.
Governor Yahaya Bello will win massive votes from across the state. Don’t forget that he defeated the incumbent then, Capt. Idris Wada in the latter’s Local Government Area during the run-off poll.
Governor Bello is destined for a second term and I am optimistic our party, the APC will win massively in 2019.
The people of Kogi West had set a beautiful democratic precedence that a sitting senator could be shaken and made to sit tight.