- Petitions mount at ruling party’s secretariat
Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
Governor Yahaya Bello’s hope of securing the ticket of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the November Kogi State governorship election is under threat as a result of criticism by stakeholders that he has performed below average in office.
The governor, according to information available to THISDAY, is set to dump the party for Accord Party due to the uncertainty that beclouds his ambition for second term.
It was reliably gathered that Bello, who is presently facing a difficult task to secure the party’s governorship ticket, has been petitioned by individuals, groups and even members of his party before the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC, all complaining that his administration has performed poorly.
An indication that the governor is on his way out is the removal of APC flags hoisted in the premises of Government House, including the one hoisted at the main entrance gate to Lugard House, the seat of the state government.
The Accord Party secretariat has reportedly been renovated by the governor. Although the Accord Party was his alternative party in 2015 when he lost the APC governorship primary to late Prince Abubakar Audu, he was eventually nominated to take the place of Audu in the supplementary election.
According to sources, Bello is said to have disclosed to some of his closest allies in his cabinet that some cabal in Aso Rock advised him to move to another party since forces were against him for the ticket.
According to him, he has been assured of their support if he contests the governorship election in another party.
The sources also disclosed that the governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, a good friend of Bello, also advised him to dump the APC for another party so that he could contest in the November 2 governorship election.
THISDAY also gathered that the National Secretariat of the party received over 10 petitions submitted by individuals, various groups and also within the party demanding that Bello should not be given ticket for second term.
One of the groups, which made its statement available to THISDAY, a concerned group under the name Kogi Rescue Mission (KRM) is of the opinion that Bello’s “abysmal style of leadership has further subjected the state to political and economic hemorrhage.”
The group, which embarked on a peaceful protest led by its President, Hon. Ali Dan, to the National Headquarters of the APC with numerous placards that carried various save our soul (SOS) messages, the group described the Yahaya Bello-led administration as a threat to people’s welfare and the economic prosperity of Kogi State.
In their protest letter to the national leadership of the party, the group highlighted various anti-people activities of the state government ranging from suicidal deaths among the state civil servants, whose salaries have not been paid for many months, institutional dearth in the land, misuse of state resources, hunger and perceived molestation of people, who are believed not to be supporters of the present administration in the state.
The group said: “Salaries of civil servants for November and 60 per cent of December, 2017 are yet to be paid; this is despite receiving N20 billion as bailout funds, over N21 billion from the Paris Club refund and money from the monthly federal allocations as well as the internally generated revenue.
“As a result of non-payment of salaries, about three civil servants took their own lives because of their inability to meet up with their family needs, while over a hundred have died due to lack of funds to continue medical treatment.”
Dan Ali who spoke on behalf of the protesters also said: “Businesses have folded up, people are leaving for another state to seek refuge and workers have become paupers, feeding from hand to mouth. You will believe me that on no account will the people support and vote for a governor that operates draconian policy of this nature.”
Ali who decried the dearth of public institutions in the state also told APC national leadership that the state workers have been turned to IDPs without recourse to dignity of labour as enshrined in the Labour Acts.
He said: “Workers in Kogi State are now living like IDPs; Kogi State has become hunger/poverty capital of the country as nothing seems to be working due to the sorry state of salaries.
“In Kogi State today, there are no public primary schools for the past two years as they only exist in structures without teachers to teach the pupils due to non-payment of salaries; no primary health centres for the past two years; pensioners have not been paid for the past 12 months; there’s no judiciary for the past eight months due to non-payment of their salaries; and no development anywhere in the state.”
Efforts to get the reaction of Bello were abortive wednesday as calls to the phones of his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Muhammed Onogwu, were not answered.
Senior officials of the party at the National Secretariat in Abuja that preferred anonymity, however, said while it was normal for discontent to exist in the polity, it was doubtful if Bello would contemplate jumping ship.
“What the national leadership is determined to do is to level the playing field for all aspirants to play,” one of them told THISDAY, adding, “the question of anyone being favoured by Abuja is totally misconceived.”