The many (mis)adventures of Gov. Yahaya Bello
Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, assumed duty on January 27, 2016 under circumstances many have described as “miraculous and divine.” However, rather than enjoy the “goodies” that come with executive powers, Bello’s case is that of tumbling on one problem after another. Our correspondent chronicles some of the issues.
Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja
Yahaya Bello’s emergence as governor followed the sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 21, 2015 gubernatorial election. Audu had polled 240,867 votes to have an edge over his opponent, the then Governor Idris Wada, who trailed behind with 199,514. Audu died shortly before the declaration of results.
Before then, Audu had slugged it out with no fewer than 28 aspirants who were all looking for the APC ticket.
During the governorship election proper, the INEC’s state Returning Officer, Prof. Emmanuel Kucha, declared the election inconclusive on grounds of the margin of win between Audu and Wada.
In the ensuing political logjam, INEC fixed a supplementary election for December 5, 2015 and subsequently asked the APC to get a replacement for its late candidate.
Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who came second in the primaries, was eventually fielded in the supplementary election and emerged winner at the end of the day, amidst protests from Mr James Faleke, the deputy governorship candidate to the late Audu.
At the end of the day, Bello won at the court, putting the rest the fierce battle put forward by Faleke.
But after about 16 months in power, Governor Bello has continued to face one form of travail or the other from friends, foes, party/executive members, organised labour and other stakeholders from within and outside the state.
On assumption of power, Bello could hardly enjoy the needed reception and support of the APC executive in the state in view of the circumstances of his emergence.
The reason for the cold reception, pundits noted, was largely due to the concerns that a good number of the state APC party executive and other stakeholders who worked vigorously for the victory of the late Audu felt short-changed by the choice of Bello as APC’s replacement.
Besides, the whole problem seemed to have been compounded by the alleged failure on the part of Bello to bring all the polarized groups within the party together as one house, after the Supreme Court verdict that favoured him instead of Faleke. He did not carry those that mattered along in the scheme of things, some of the aggrieved APC members said.
The party executive had in April, 2016, passed a vote of no confidence on the governor, accusing him of appointing non-APC members into his cabinet while side-lining those that worked for the victory of the party.
The internal wrangling between Bello and the APC festered and took another dimension when the party’s stakeholders from the state held a press conference in Abuja on January 27 where they passed another “Vote of no confidence” on him.
The party, aside passing a no confidence vote, also issued a four-week ultimatum to the governor to reconcile the staff audit in the state and pay workers.
Beside the disagreement between Bello and some of his party executive members and stalwarts, he has also been at loggerheads with civil servants and various labour unions in the state following the negative impact the screening exercise he carried out has had on workers.
The prolonged screening exercise embarked upon by the government is said to have caused untold hardships and pains to many workers, with some being owed about 12 months salaries while a number of others who were found to be “ghost workers and unintended beneficiaries,” were thrown out of jobs.
In the past four months, workers in all the state-owned tertiary institutions have been on strike over demands bordering on non- payment of salaries and alleged declaration of some genuine workers as ghost workers/unintended beneficiaries.
In the same vein, doctors in the state under the auspices of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) embarked on an industrial action on May 3 over unpaid salaries and other grouses, but put the action on hold following the intervention of some prominent personalities in the state, including the Attah Igala, Dr Michael Ameh Oboni II.
Recently, what looked like a proxy war ensued between the governor and his friend-turned-foe, Senator Dino Melaye, over an alleged assassination attempt on the life of Dino, reportedly masterminded by the Administrator of Ijumu Local Government Area, Taufiq Isah.
Dino, who was reportedly attacked by unknown gunmen in his country home at Aiyetoro Gbede in Ijumu LGA on April 16, had accused the governor of having hands in the incident.
He claimed that he was attacked because he spoke against the non- payment of workers and pensioners in the state.
But the governor denied having any hand in the attack, saying there was no “running battle” between him and Senator Melaye as alleged.
Bello, speaking through his Director General on Media and Strategy, Kingsley Fanwo, said he had been working closely with people who are not “averse to the progress of the state,” maintaining that his administration would be undaunted by the “recklessness in certain quarters to create a fiction of war.”
While the dust raised in the state over the alleged assassination attempt on Dino was settling down, the governor was again in the eyes of the storm following the recent revelation emanating from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that he registered twice for the permanent voter card (PVC) in violation of the Electoral Act.
The electoral umpire had in a statement issued in Abuja by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Voter Education and Information Committee, Prince Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, that Mr. Bello acted “illegally” to have registered for voter’s cards in Abuja and Kogi.
INEC, however, said it could not take action against the governor because he was constitutionally protected from prosecution while in office, according to provisions of Section 308 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Mr. Soyebi confirmed that Governor Bello was first registered at Wuse Zone 4, Abuja, on January 30, 2011 but illegally did so again on May 23, during the continuous voters registration exercise in his office in Lokoja, Kogi State.
“The governor’s double registration and doing so outside INEC’s designated centres are both illegal,” Soyebi said.
According to the statement, the commission did not authorise any staff or citizen to “re-register him (the governor) or any citizen or to do so outside our designated CVR centres”, adding that disciplinary action would be taken against the INEC staff involved in the exercise.
Meanwhile, the latest development has been generating ripples and reactions from across stakeholders in the state, with some calling on the governor to resign.
Some APC leaders from the state led by Senator Dino Melaye described the development as an embarrassment to the party and urged the governor to resign or they would mobilise members of the state assembly to impeach him.
On his part, the spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Mr Bode Ogunmola, accused INEC of double standards and urged the commission to ensure the matter is not “swept under the carpet.”
But the Director General Media and Publicity to the Governor, Kingsley Fanwo, described those calling for the resignation of Bello over the INEC registration saga as political jokers, saying the matter was overblown by opponents to score political goals.
“Resignation is completely out of the options and the governor will continue his good work for the people of Kogi State. They and their corrupt sponsors should wait till 2019. The governor will not resign. We have listened to INEC and we respect their decisions. Now is time for the commission to fast-track the transfer of the PVC of the governor to Kogi State from Abuja,” he said.
In the midst of his travails, however, the governor has been able to initiate and complete some projects in the past 16 months while a number of others are on going.
Some of the projects he initiated and completed since he came to office include the Kogi Revenue House, Lokoja, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) office complex, Lokoja, solar-powered street lights in Lokoja metropolis, renovation of the Kogi State House of Assembly complex in Lokoja, traffic signalisation in Lokoja and internal road construction at the Kogi State High Court.
Other major projects flagged-off by the governor include the Agassa-Ahache-Upogoro road, Ogaminana-Ebogogo road, Obehira-Okengwe-Ihima township road and Itakpe-Eika-Kuroko road, all within Kogi Central district.
In Kogi East, the governor flagged-off the Anyigba-Umomi-Akpagidigbo-Ugwolawo-Ajaka road, Ikeje-Ette-Ogugu road, Idah-Ibaji road, Shintaku-Gboloko-Dekina road and Ankpa township road.
Road projects flagged-off in Kogi West district include Iyamoye-Jege-Ifeolukotun-Ponyan-Ijowa-Isanlu road, Ekerin-Ade-Ohun-Ifeolukotun road and construction/rehabilitation work on Lokoja township road.
Culled from Daily Trust
Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery
Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery
By John Akubo, Lokoja
Many victims of the 2012 flood disaster in Kogi State who are experiencing another round of displacement are apprehensive over a possible repeat of 2012 scenario, when many partås of the state and country were ravaged by floodwater.
As the ominous signs crystalise, the apprehension is palpable in the state because the tributaries of most small rivers in the northern axis, empty themselves into the River Niger and Benue at the confluence, in Lokoja.
At least 623, 690 displaced persons were accommodated in 87 camps across the state during the last flood disaster. And six years after, the continuous rise of water levels is forcing many residents that live close to the riverbanks to relocate as their houses are already submerged.
According to the Executive Secretary, Kogi State Emergency Management Agency, Alhassan Ayeggba, by the last count, about 45, 000 persons have been displaced, and are camped in various IDP camps across the state, aside from those who elected to put up with their relatives.
The absence of health facilities at the different camps, is already posing dire medical challenges to the IDPs who need medical attention. But matters recently got worse with the birth of three babies at the Koton Karfe IDP camp. Ayishat Zakeriya from Adamogu Community delivered a baby boy; Maryam Ishaq from Akpaku Village delivered a baby girl, and Sakinat Musa, also from Akpaku Village delivered another boy.
However, many in the state fear that the damage this year may be worse compared to that of 2012 should Camerounian authorities discharge water from the Lagdo dam.
At the moment, according to Ayegba, “the water level is 10.30 metres, and this has exceeded the normal level. The situation in Ibaji Local Council is worse as there are no high lands in the area, hence the people have been advised to move to the IDP Camp at Idah
The Secretary to the State Government Ayoade Arike Folashade, who was at the camp on a routine visit, donated food items, and cash to the victims and mothers of the newborn babies, as well as, commended them for the courage they displayed in the face of obvious challenge.
A youth leader at the camp, Abubakar Isah, appealed to the government to assist them as they have lost all their crops to the flood, while the meagre assistance they have received from public-spirited individuals “translates to a few bags of rice and cartons of Indomie Noodles.”
Seidu Akowe, a victim of 2012 flood disaster at the Lokoja IDP camp, was forced out of his home at midnight six years ago without picking any property. This time around, he said he moved to the IDP hostel in Lokoja when his house was overtaken by floods to avoid losing all his belongings.
Another victim, Hajia Meimuna Akawo, who recalled that in 2015, many organisations were showing support to displaced persons in camps, said this time around, apart from very few individuals, including the Commissioner for Environment, Sanusi Yahaya, who gave them two bags of rice and water tanks, the IDPs were starving.
She also said the sanitation situation has become deplorable, even as she fears the outbreak of an epidemic.
Lending credence to the people’s fears of a likelihood of the 2012 flooding, NEMA’s Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting, Mr. Vincent Owan, while on a recent visit to the state advised residents of flood plains to immediately move upland or to the state’s IDPs hostel at the Flood Estate, built by the Governor Idris Wada-administration.
According to him, “My first impression is that the flood situation is quite devastating for the fact that all the indices that manifested during the 2012 flood disaster are here with us today, except for the release of water from the Lagdo dam. Most of the people that have been affected by the flood today have been relocated to higher grounds particularly the IDP hostels at the former Governor Wada Flood Housing Estate.
“We are going collaborate extensively with Kogi State government to ensure that displaced persons are well catered for. I have communicated with the director general of NEMA, and very shortly you will feel the presence of the agency in the state,” the NEMA chief stated.
He also called on the state government to ensure that SEMA discharges its statutory function before seeking external help.
“When incidents like these happen, state governments just run cap-in-hand to the Federal Government for assistance, but the Federal Government wants to see what the state has done before calling for external support.
“Once the Federal Government sees what the state has done and the efforts put in place, it will say okay, having seen what has been done in the face of the challenge that you are facing, which is beyond your coping capacity, the Federal Government will then come in with full force to support you.
According to him, SEMA should never be the type of government agency that should be running around looking for operational vehicles to use when emergencies occur, “and that is why we call for functional state emergency agencies that are fully empowered to ensure that they carry out their statutory responsibilities.”
The Environment Commissioner, Yahaya, who noted that the water level was not receding, equally appealed to residents of “flood-prone areas to move to higher grounds immediately because we don’t know when the water from the Lagdo Dam would be released. When it is released the situation may be worse than the 2012 flood disaster.”
The Director of Engineering Hydrology, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA), Abuja, Clement Nze, who recently described the state as the “headquarters of flood in Nigeria,” said the meeting of two major rivers to form a confluence in the state makes the flood disaster in the state worse when it happens.
While on an assessment tour of areas so far affected by flood in the state, Nze said the state’s peculiar disposition was the reason why the agency was more interested in what is happening in Lokoja.
“We are measuring downstream of River Niger and River Benue and taking the reading there everyday to make comparisons with the past.
“On September 29, 2012 it was 12.84m and we have about three more weeks to September29, 2018. So, if the rise continues as it is going now, the situation might be worse. Yesterday, the difference between the water level to the highest in 2012 was 2.7m, today it has narrowed to 2.59m, tomorrow it might be 2.5m moving to meet up with the value of 2012 that was so critical 12.84m,” he said.
He recalled that in the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Seasonal Rainfall Predictions release in March this year, the agency said “that the earliest time rain will seize in the northern part of Nigeria, including Sokoto and Katsina is September 28, which means we still have about three weeks or thereabouts of rainfall, but in the southern coastal cities it would be around December.”
“Going by this record and most of the flooding that occur between July, August and September, the period of heavy rainfall in the northern parts of Nigeria is here. We are expecting that the rains will continue and the water levels will continue to rise.”
“The safety net that we have now is that Camerounian authorities have not released any water from the Lagdo dam yet,” he stated, adding that the flooding that has been taking place in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba are caused by water from rivers in Nigeria because there are many of them that are feeding into River Benue and River Niger.”
Called from the Guardian
CAN in Kogi joins national protest
CAN in Kogi joins national protest
The day of prayer and protest declared by the national the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) was observed in Kogi state yesterday.
Though the protests were marked in low key as it was restricted to each churche premises in the state, members displayed placards to express their displeasure with the ongoing killings across the country.
The leadership of CAN in the state had written to the blocks in the chapter on the mode that the protest was expected to take.
The Kogi state chairman of th body Bishop John Ibenu, told newsmen after the protest in his church in Lokoja, that the protests were peaceful in the state.
He however said there was the need for the federal government to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission over the menace of herdsmen attacks in the country.
Ibenu said, “It is a national day of prayer and protest, Christians don’t protest, if we have to that means the issues have reached the peak, we spent time to pray for the nation and Kogi state and also for the future, Kogi state CAN in obedience to the directive of national CAN observed the day in our church premises
“In the process of protesting we should also keep the peace and stability of the nation and that is why we said it must be within the church premises because we want to do the best that we can to bring down the tension number two we want governance to go beyond promises tp practicality.
“The killings have continued unabated and it has been taken to the church, there were no grasses for cattles to eat in the church when the Fulanis invaded the church and killed worshippers, so what has started on the farm came to the village and has entered the church.
“Government must act to make sure that this was not something aimed at the church but started in the farm, we are being proactive by calling for attention before it degenerate, we do not want to be pushed to a point where we will start using the pulpits to tell everyone to look for available arm to defend themselves”.
NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President
NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President
Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, a student of Kogi State University (KSU), an indigene of Mopa-Amuro Local Government Area of Kogi State, has been elected as the National President of the National Association of Okun Students (NAOS) 2017/2018 Session.
The election which was conducted during the National Association of Okun Students 2017/2018 National Convention on Sunday in Aiyekunle-Gbede, also produced other National Excos of the association in a free, fair and peaceful environment.
A statement by the Secretary of the Electoral Committee, 2017/2018 NAOS National Convention, in Lokoja, Comr. Prime Abubakar, said that the NAOS 2017/2018 National Convention was a huge success.
“As a law abiding citizens of Okun Nation, we followed due process as regards the earlier announced security threat alert from the Chief Security officer of Ijumu Local Govnment (Host Local Government).
“This caused a little set back as against the planned time for the Convention, as the Electoral Committee, The President and Senate President had to put in the necessary measures for a free, peaceful and fair Convention/Election Process.
“We appreciate all delegates who represented each Local Government Areas for their cooperation and resolution to remain Law abiding as they all exercised their fundamental right to cast their votes.
“Distinguish Naosites both at home and diaspora, permit me to introduce the 2017/2018 National Excos of Okun Students:
“National President- Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, From Mopa-Amuro Local Government and a Student of Kogi State University; National Senate President- Comr. Oloruntoba Mosses Juwon from Kabba/Bunu Local Government.
“National General Secretary- Comr Aiyenigba Mercy from Ijumu Local Government
“National Deputy Senate President – Comr. Leke Nihi also from Ijumu, a student of Federal University of Technology Minna.
“All other offices will be announced in due time just before their official inaguration”,
He appreciated the presence of all Past National Presidents and Senate Presidents, all representatives of National Youth Council of Nigeria, National Association of Kogi State Students, and all other stakeholders, who had ensured maximum decorum and due process was followed.
In his acceptance speech, the President-elect of NAOS, Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, said: “I must as an individual return all glory and thanks to God almighty for granting me the victory”.
Jacob expressed appreciation to His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, and the Speaker Kogi State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on youth Empowerment, Sports and Student’s Affairs- Hon. MD Eseyin, Hon Taufiq Isa, the Administrator of Ijumu LGA, who doubled as Kogi ALGON Chairman, other LG Administrators from Mopamuro, Yagba East, Yagba West and Kabba-Bunu respectively.
He also thanked all the royal fathers from Okun Land, for making sure they had an enabling and peaceful environment for a wonderful election amidst all forms of perceived security threats.
He added: “You all have proven that Just like Kogi State is a home of peace, Okunland will always remain a peaceful land.
“NAOS is an association which serves as the umbrella that covers positive benefiting interests of Okun students, as it is enshrined in her constitution. Hence, the protection of the objectives, mission and visions’ statements becomes highly paramount.
“I promise I will not be part of those sugar-coated mouth leaders who will promise heaven and earth, but yet will never make a move to fulfil any. I do not believe in promises that are obviously mirage.
“I have stated clearly in my manifestos that I am only bringing Positive Rebirth, Reformation and Redefinition into NAOS. We can be sure of having Accountability, Credibility, Transparency, and Fair representations achieved as well .
“NAOS is not a one man business and as such, it requires the efforts of all and sundries. Therefore, all hands must be on deck if we must give a positive rebirth, reformation and redefinition of her purpose of existence.
“I want to seize this opportunity to appreciate all NAOSITES and other stakeholders, who gave me their support and encouragement across the length and breath of the state during the course of this struggle.
“I want to leave you at the bench of being the judge to judge me by my activities and achievements at the course of the commencement of our administration immediately after inauguration.
“May I state it categorically that Okun students will always stand firm to protect the interest of the state in as much as it will accelerate the development and growth of the state.
“We are responsible students, we must always be ready to be responsive to the state just like the state must also become responsive to us at our point of needs.
“The unity and progress must and will always remain our chants”.
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