With drab personality, no eye-catching projects executed in Kogi State, disgruntled civil servants and party members not fancying him, Governor Yahaya Bello’s re-election bid is like walking a tightrope, writes Yekini Jimoh
Recently some group of youths came forward and supported the reelection of the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello. The group also donated the sum of N2 million to him for the purchase of his nomination and interest forms, claiming its members were drawn from the 21 local government areas of the state. But what seemed to have surprised many people the more was the so-called leader of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Comrade Israel Alonge, who made the donation.
The question on the lips of people now is: when did NYCN become affiliated to Kogi APC especially, that the story is that the youths cut across the 21 local government areas of the state. But some opinion moulders, who spoke to THISDAY condemned the action of NYCN, saying no political party has started selling interest form and queried why the governor was in a hurry.
They alleged that the event was stage-managed by the government to boost the popularity of the governor, following his travails within the party. A political analyst, Mr. George Law, was of the opinion that whatever plan or plans being made by the governor was already too late.
“He has the whole three years and he never changed. He sacked innocent workers, fought Dino Melaye, his deputy governor, Elder Simon Achuba, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Nasiru Ajanah and now his own Monarch, Dr. Ado Ibrahim.
“He made everybody his enemy in the state. If you are against his bad leadership he declared you as his enemy. He insulted the elders anyhow; workers were under bondage in the state. He never cared about the welfare of the masses that voted APC to the government in Kogi State.
“He claimed to have all the state assembly election and other elections in the state. He has forgotten that the people of Kogi central always support Buhari. We all saw what happened during the election. People on the streets were given police uniform and also armed to rig the election.”
To compound his predicament, the Kogi Patriotic Group, has threatened that it would not hesitate to blacklist and tender a request before the anti-graft agency, EFCC, and its collaborators, over the missing funds of N1.8 billion Ganaja flyover project not executed, but paid for by the state.
The group, in a statement, signed by Abdul Abdul condemned the fraudulent activities of the company and some members of the state executive council for reneging on the agreement earlier signed with the previous administration, on “Contract finance” arrangement between the company and the state.
Abdul said towards the twilight of the last administration, the job was awarded to TEC engineering, basically on the condition that it would be wholly financed by the company with the state providing an enabling environment, through securing other jobs that would deduct from source on other projects.
He, therefore, wondered why the agreement template was suddenly changed by the Bello-led government, soon after assumption of office, with payment fully made before completion of the projects.
Records showed that TEC engineering got a whopping N1.8 billion in the last three years, to construct a model flyover interchange at Ganaja junction, an idea conceived by the former governor, Idris Wada, without job execution.
“The company who had a good working relationship with the Ibrahim Idris administration and was sustained by Capt. Idris Wada was cajoled into defrauding the state by the current administration, subjecting the people to untold hardship,” he said.
He said available documents had also shown full evidence of indictment on the part of the company and its collaborators from the state government and therefore urged the anti-graft agencies to carry out a detailed investigation of all contracts awarded in the state by the current administration, saying most of the jobs were inflated and kickbacks received by agents of the state government.
Also recently, stakeholders in the APC in the state sent a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari against fielding Bello for a second term in office. They made their position known in the petition signed by the Convener of the Kogi APC Stakeholders Forum, Senator Alex Kadiri, saying Bello had received about N344 billion in the last 38 months that he had been in charge of the state.
Regardless, they said the governor has been owing salaries, pensions, and gratuities without any visible capital projects on the ground anywhere in the state. To that extent, they described Bello as a non- performing and violent governor in the past three and a half years.
In the petition made available to THISDAY, they said: “Governor Yahaya Bello was never elected by the good people of Kogi State. The death of Abubakar Audu made it possible for Bello to be Kogi State Governor. He has shown everyone that he lacks leadership abilities. He can’t fight for the rights and privileges of Kogi people.
“We request you to step down your support for the candidature of Governor Yahaya Bello for the forthcoming election in Kogi State. If the party fields him as a candidate, we are sure of losing the state to the opposition,” the stakeholders said, giving insights into how the governor allegedly mismanaged statutory allocations meant for the state.
They added: “For the past 38 months including February 2019, Governor Yahaya Bello has not paid full salaries to the workers of Kogi State, despite the fact that the state received full allocation from Federation Account as detailed below: Statutory allocation, Excess Crude and VAT(N132b); Internally Generated Revenue by the state(N51b); total allocations to local governments(N111b).
“Total funds received by the state and local governments: N294 billion. The other funds received by the state are as below: Bail Out (N20b); Paris Club refunds 1, 2, and 3 (N19b); and refunds for road construction by previous governments (N11b). The governor had conducted multiple staff screening for both the state and the local governments. And from the Report of the screening, the monthly wage bill (state, local governments, and pensions) at the inception of the administration stood at N5.8 billion. After screening, this figure reduced to N4.4 billion.”
Continuing, they said, “From the table above, it is evidently clear that the total revenue received by the state government was more than enough to settle all salaries, pensions, and gratuities with a huge balance remaining for overheads and capital projects.
“It is very instructive to note that even without bailout and other funds received outside statutory allocation, Governor Yahaya Bello could have still paid all salaries including pensions without conducting multiple screening and inflicting pains on Kogi State and local government workers.”
The stakeholders said they had tried to seek presidential and party interventions to call Bello to order without success, adding, “We respectfully write to bring to your esteemed attention, the following facts, and issues associated with our party and the governor of Kogi State.”
Although the governor is not giving up and is doing all he can to be reelected, the odds against him have also stacked up – making him the most unlikely candidate any party can field in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
It is also not certain if the APC will give Bello the party’s ticket as it appears the party’s leadership is under intense pressure to review its option as far as Bello is concerned.