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Visiting Governor Of Kogi State; Yahaya Bello, Truancy And The Villa

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In corporate parlance, only a thin line differentiates an absentee leader, from an absent leader. The two can overlap. While the former describes lack of capacity and overdependence on subordinates for the tasks at hand, the later refers to one who oftentimes stay away from his duty post. When and wherever the twin maladies afflict an organization, such will be imperilled to free failure.

As it is in business or corporate organizations, so it is in politics and governance. Beyond the razzmatazz of official perquisites, a public officer is expected to exercise reasonable discretion and tact in the discharge of the mandate, he holds in trust for the masses.

The Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Adoiza Bello is a man with impressionable credentials. Young, persuasive, confident (almost defiant) and with a commendable media attention. Of course, he is wealthy, powerful and ambitious. In fact, to put it bluntly, he has swagger! But a look at his trajectories in the State exposes him to the charge of absenteeism and absent leadership. That is, crash incompetence and nonchalance.
Bello’s love for outside his state, is only comparable to the first century Roman tyrant and Christians’ persecutor, Emperor Nero who “fiddled” away on a journey while the great fire of 64AD razed Rome.

In the night of Sunday, 12th Sept through the wee hours of Monday when gunmen killed five soldiers, a civilian and set free 240 prisoners from a Correctional facility, in Kabba town, headquarter of Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area, the Governor was nowhere to be seen in the State.

It is shocking that he has not found time or considered it necessary to visit the state, since then, at the time of this report. Like the proverbial cockerel which will never be home, whenever a bad thing happens, Bello has a reputation of alibi, not been home whenever a disaster occurred in his state.

There are several antecedents.

On June 4th, 2020 when gunmen attacked a bank and police station in Isanlu, headquarter of Yagba East LGA, killing 12, the Governor was not at home.

On July 23rd the same year when they struck at Agbudu village in Kotonkarffe area, killing 14 and fatally wounding six people, Bello was not in Kogi.

Very early that year on January 2nd, when gunmen killed more than 20 people, burnt the palace, a church, mosque and other houses in Tawari village of Kogi LGA, the Governor was not at home.

Worse of all, he has not visited any of the scenes of crime, in a rare display of “I don’t care attitude.”

Bello hardly stays at his duty post. Yes, as Chief Executive of a state, he is not compelled to remain at home, always. The demand of his office can and should sometimes take him out of the State. But, a Governor who spends far more time outside his state, leaves much to be desired.

Bello’s unequalled record and notoriety for absconding has earned him a new title, “Visiting Governor.” He was slightly better in his lowly rated first tenure. He became a total truant from the start of his rascally second term.

To be sure, he was inaugurated on 27th January 2020. But barely three months after, his Presidential campaign posters flooded Lokoja. By early April, his media handlers had started responding to enquires about a presidential ambition. Although he denied and disowned the posters at the time, subsequent events have revealed the truth.

Suffice to say that since those posters appeared on the streets of the State capital, the Governor has directed every energy and resource to the prosecution of the Presidential ambition, at the detriment of the Kogi people. He professes more nationalistic opinions on issues, dabbles more into federal matters and locomote about.

He seems to get worse per time, going by his itinerary in the last few months. This writer can authoritatively assert that in the last six months, Bello has stayed less than a quarter of the period, inside Kogi, his primary area of jurisdiction. Instead, he hibernates in Abuja, where his commissioners and other aides regularly visit, for files that may require his attention.

Bello did not spend 24 hours in Kogi in the month of April. He left for Abuja on the first day of that month, popularly called April fool. He did not visit Kogi until 3rd May. He attended EXCO meeting on the 5th and departed for Abuja on the 8th after giving audience to the Rector of Kogi State Polytechnic, Dr. Usman Ogbo. He returned for few more functions including wedding of the daughter of House of Assembly Speaker, Mathew Kolawole. Bello was in Kogi from 31st May to 2nd June. After EXCO meeting that day, he went back to Abuja. He would only return to Kogi for his birthday celebration. That was 16th to 19th. Once done with the Natal day bash, he left for Abuja and was not to be seen again in Kogi for the next 30 days, until the Sallah festival of 19th-20th July, which he observed at his country home in Okene. On that visit, he did not make a stop in Lokoja at all. He passed through on the 21st on his return journey to the FCT, where he remained for another month.

As their Governor continues with his quest for the Villa, the poor Kogi masses hang at the receiving end of that ambition. With their Governor working from Abuja, things remain sluggish at home. But the question on the minds of the traumatised populace is with which credentials does Bello hope to govern Nigeria? Yet, the only venture that makes sense to the occupiers of Lugard House, is the GYB to PYB script.

God bless the hapless people of Kogi State.

– Nurudeen Agbabiaka, journalist, political activist, social entrepreneur and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos.

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Opinion

An Appeal to FG to Fix Okun Road-Trunk A-13

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By Tony Fagbemi

In 1975 the Ilorin –Egbe-Kabba-Lokoja road was awarded to foreign contractor-Dumez.
That was the only Federal road Trunk A13 that runs from Ilorin through Egbe, Kabba to Lokoja to form the Interstate road. Today, this highway has become a disaster, and now qualifies to be filmed in the world’s most dangerously abandoned and decrepit road. It is shameful to say that there is agovernment in ‘Modern day’ Nigeria that is responsible for the
infrastructural development 61 years after independence. One now begins to wonder whether we practice democracy or
kleptocracy. This is one question the caliber of people that are currently in office since
2015 needs to provide the answer. Seeing the rot and decay all around, one will
assume that despite all the borrowing from the World Bank, some of it would have been used to fix our roads to world’s standard that is comparable to the Western World. All anyone can see are loquacious Senators, Reps and Governors canvassing for the next
election without commissioning any social projects since 2015. So none of the borrowed money was used for any infrastructural development in Okunland? What is going on? We pay our taxes like
others; yet nothing of federal presence except this broken-down road. This writer wrote an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari ln 2015, to embark on massive road construction as a way of combating massive unemployment problem. When Mr. Babatunde Fashola
was appointed as Federal Minister of works, the writer was highly elated because of his successful accomplishments in Lagos as the
Governor. He was expecting him to be different from other Federal
ministers of works since 1999. He was expecting improvement on massive road network transformation of international standard.
Particularly the interstate Trunk A-13, from Ilorin – Egbe-Kabba-Lokoja that still remains as it was since 1975. That road is the only Federal land mark in Okunland that makes it all important. It is
pathetic to know that as educated as the Okuns are, there is no Federal, State institutions or investments in Okunland.
The Trunk A-13 road has some more serious implications for the Nigerian government as a major highway to Abuja.
There is international project going on at Egbe Hospital, which requires shipment of heavy freights to be moved from the United States to Egbe. These include heavy laboratory equipment, tractors, containers and personnel staff. These form the back bone of the Revitalization Project that is currently going on at the hospital in Egbe. That involves personnel all over the world but particularly from the United States. They include teams of Doctors, Engineers, Missionaries, Visitors and medical students. Egbe Hospital was rated as one of the best in Nigeria in the 60s. It helped in the delivery of the now late Prophet T.B. Joshua as a baby in 1963, after spending 15 months in her mother’s womb (as documented in his memoire). There is a conscious attempt to maintain and bring back the old glory;
and make it an American standard hospital in Nigeria. If you are curious about the revitalization you can check their website Egbe Hospital Revitalization. There are other projects in Egbe, Isanlu, Jege and other parts of Okunland that are been supported from the USA. As it is right
now, the Americans, God bless them, have supplied the equipment, the personnel that will install and provide training, all at their own expense to serve Nigerians. As one would expect that 61 years after
independence, Nigeria, the giant of Africa should be able to construct and maintain a basic road network of high standard all
across the country. There was enough revenue from oil and other resources that should build strong infrastructure for the country particularly after 61 years.

Trunk A-13 should have been dualized long time ago because of heavy traffic but it remains an eyesore and embarrassment to Nigeria and Nigerians both home
and abroad. As I write, the road is virtually closed to traffic because of a complete dilapidation and wreckage to the extent that road users had to abandon their vehicles t hat were stuck in the mud.
Passengers have to abandon their vehicle to avoid making themselves sitting ducks for the kidnappers. They have temporarily abandoned the road. And yet this is an oil rich nation!
The lack of good road network to Egbe is calling for the development of the Airstrip that was built in 1978, and once used by General Olusegun Obasanjo for the
national farewell tour to Egbe during his final days in office as Head of State, into an Airport. The call for development of the airstrip into an Airport is ginning currency which is now undertaken by another foreign
agency. This has become necessary because of the expatriate travelers from US that are billed to visit Nigeria soon. All attempts should be made to shield the Expatriates and missionaries from kidnappers or any danger; God forbids.
Those coming through Lagos or Abuja to Egbe have been advised against using the road. People have been warned against using the road because of its bad condition that is fast turning the area into Kidnappers’ den.

Little wonder the Governor and other VIPs have abandoned the road to Egbe. Egbe is really an important, critical town in Okunland; it is a junction town and a border town to Kwara, Ekiti and to some extent Niger states.
Truck A-13 provides the only link to the outside world for the Okuns. This is the only highway that runs through the underbelly of the Okun people. Highway infrastructure is so important to development of the nation’s economy. A massive investment into roads construction is a panacea to the nation’s unemployment and its concomitant problems.
Such problem as kidnapping, robberies, joblessness will be reduced because many of them will be absorbed into massive construction scheme. Money will be
in circulation as workers get paid bi-weekly. There will be more ripple economic activities in the housing, transportation, and food sectors in the area.

To be continued……

●Dr Tony Fagbemi writes from USA

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Opinion

The 2019 elections and the desecration of Okunland

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By Tunde Olusunle

For those who know a thing or two about the history and evolution of the Okun homeland, never has the area been as weaponized and as violent as the experience of the 2019 general elections. The Okun country, by the way, is the Okun-Yoruba speaking stretch of Kogi State. To refresh our minds about this part of the sprawling and luminous landscape called Nigeria, Okunland is the southernmost extremes of the Yoruba country, on the nation’s geophysical map. It is abutted to the north west by the Igbomina-speaking part of Kwara State; to the west by Ekiti and to its south west by Ondo State. Okunland traverses six of the 21 local government areas in Kogi State, namely: Yagba West, Yagba East, Mopamuro, Ijumu, Kabba-Bunu and Lokoja. In what is a definite geophysical aberration, Okunland is delineated within the North Central zone of Nigeria.

Because the area is wholly subsumed geoculturally and ethno-linguistically in the expansive Yoruba sub-country, its sophistry as one of the most educated sub-nationalities in Nigeria, is most often understated. Yet, unarguably, Okunland whose people provided the bureaucratic, even technocratic backbone of the erstwhile omnibus Northern Nigeria administration, is one of the most literate ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyis, Silas Bamidele Daniyans, Ade Johns, Moody Olorunmonus, Emmanuel Otitojus, Michael Asajus, Raphael Ibitomis, and so on, who served meritoriously in various capacities in the evolutionary course of Nigeria are all well documented.

The professorial and doctorate degree indices of Okunland per square kilometre, run neck to neck with that of its Ekiti kith, to its geographical west. My good friend, Yemi Akinwumi, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Lokoja (FUL), discussed with me a few years back, the need for us to document the human resource profile of Okunland, so as to perspectivise the contributions of scholars and professionals from that critical core of Nigeria, to nation building. Statistics available to us as at that time, put the number of professors of Okun extraction, at over 200. Former Health Minister, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, many years ago aggregated about two dozen professors from Isanlu, his birthplace at that time, one of the several communities in Okunland.

While not pre-empting the proposed publication highlighted above, “charity might as well begin from home,” the media (scholars and practitioners), which is the forte of this writer, where Okunland has contributed some of the very best professionals, to the vocation, in the course of state building and service to nation. Household names like Olatunji Dare, Ayo Olukotun, Peter Olowo, Jimmy Atte, Dapo Olorunyomi, Eniola Bello, Tunde Ipinmisho, Ishaq Ajibola, Segun Ayobolu, Simon Kolawole, Vicky Olumudi, Moji Makanjuola and Lara Owoeye-Wise, are distinguished Okun sons and daughters in the media. Gbemiga Ogunleye, Tunde Asaju, Babajide Otitoju, Kola Ologbondiyan, Austin Elewodalu, Sanya Oni, Ola Ampitan, Vincent Akanmode, Toyin Ibitoye, Ronke Bello, Dayo Asaju, Dayo Thomas, Adeleke Adeseri, Ayokanmi Osinlu, Duro Meseko, Richard Elesho, Ralph Omololu-Agbana, among others, are also media bright lights from Okunland.

The Okun-Yoruba country is also the home of seasoned intellectuals like Adeoye Adeniyi, Ade Mobain Obayemi, Felix Anjorin, Pius Adesanmi, Idowu Ajibero, Bade Onimode, Olu Obafemi, Albert Anjorin, Ifeyori Ihimodu, Etannibi Alemika, Emily Alemika, Adewumi Osanaiye, Sam Ale, Bamidele Solomon, Tunde Adelaiye, Rotimi Ajayi, Gbenga Ibileye, Mike Ikupolati, Kolade Obamiro, Dave Omokore, Bamidele Olobaniyi, Sam Metiboba, Segun Akanbi, and Ezekiel Olumodeji, among others. There are also Taiwo Fagbemi, Taiwo Daramola, Salman Idris, Timothy Asobele, Stephen Owa, Moses Ayodele, Francis Bayo Lewu, Joseph Owonubi, Samuel Olowo, Olu Olufeagba, Albert Kole Olayemi, Olujide Jackson, Blessing Oladele, Sunday Orebiyi, Paul Bolorunduro, Kutu Raphael and Joash Amupitan, among several others.

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Opinion

Tainted threat of ’emergency rule’ in Anambra

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By Ehichioya Ezomon

President Muhammadu Buhari may’ve temporarily doused the tension generated by Wednesday, October 6, 2021, threat by the government to proclaim a “state of emergency” in Anambra State.
LThe Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), threw the obviously discriminatory and politically-motivated proposal amid public expectation of de-escalation of tension nationwide.
According to Anambra Governor Willie Obiano, Buhari isn’t in support of the minister’s bombshell that has sent shockwaves, and elicited condemnation across the country.
The government that should lead peace initiatives appears to stoke unrest with Malami’s outburst that excuses other states in Nigeria that have more serious challenges to law and order.
The strife in the South-East, mainly from agitation for secession of the zone, is nothing compared to the carnage in the North-East, Middle Belt and North-West of Nigeria, where terrorists maraud.
And there’ve never been hints of imposition of a state of emergency in any of the states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Sokoto.
So, why the threat in Anambra regarded as the most peaceful in the South-East until lately? Obiano, after a quick visit to Buhari at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja, on Thursday, October 7, thumped his chest in attestation to the prior peace that existed in Anambra.
Short of berating Malami, who broached the plan after Wednesday, October 6, meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Obiano described insecurity in Anambra as “a flash in the pan” and “a little hiccup.”
He queried Malami’s turn-away from the hotspots “in Kaduna, in Jos, in Imo, in Zamfara” and said, “why is he making that kind of assertion, and we have an election by the corner?”
Likening happenings in Anambra and the North-West and North-East to a case of malaria and cancer that require “different treatments,” Obiano said, “we are not near, in terms of confusion and security challenges, compared to Zamfara and co.”
“Look at what is happening in the North; they kill dozens every day. Because less than 15 people were killed in Anambra in two weeks, is that a reason for somebody to call for a state of emergency? That’s a very unfortunate comment by Malami,” Obiano said.
“In summary, what I’m saying is what is happening in Anambra… crisis and challenges are far from being close to (the) challenges in the North-West and in the North-East, as the case may be.”
Explaining the rationale for weighing an emergency rule in Anambra, Malami focused principally on tightening of security ahead of the November 6, 2021, governorship election in the state.
“His words: “What I’m saying… is that no possibility is ruled out by government in terms of ensuring the sanctity of our democratic order, in terms of ensuring that our elections in Anambra hold.
“And you cannot rule out the possibility of (a) declaration of (a) state of emergency where it is established, in essence, that there’s a failure on the part of the state government to ensure the sanctity of security of lives, properties and democratic order.”
The scenario painted by Malami raises several questions: Absent the poll, will normal security operations suffice in Anambra, as in Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, which’ve witnessed reported attacks by a “militia” Eastern Security Network (ESN), allied to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and “unknown gunmen”?
What a state of emergency does the government envisage in Anambra? The brand that displaces Governors and Legislative Assemblies, and imposes Sole Administrators, as executed by Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in the Western Region in May 1962, and President Olusegun Obasanjo in Plateau State in May 2004 and Ekiti State in October 2006?
Or the kind that allows elected organs to remain in place, such as actioned by President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno and Plateau in 2011, and in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in May 2013?
While the Balewa emergency flowed from the intra-party crisis in the Action Group (AG) in the Western Region, and Obasanjo’s emanated respectively from ethnic and religious violence in Plateau and Kano, and the impeachment of Governor Ayodele Fayose; the Jonathan actions, first in Borno and Plateau, and later in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were purely to curtail insecurity in the affected states.
The conditions precedent to a proclamation of a state of emergency, which initially lasts for six months, are listed in Part II (Miscellaneous Provisions), section 305(1-6) of the amended 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, but we deal here, paraphrasingly, with subsections (1), (2), (3)(c)(d)(f)(g), (4), (5) and (6)(a)(b)(c)(d).
Section 305(1) states: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the President may, by instrument published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation, issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the Federation or any part thereof.”
(2) The President shall transmit copies of the Official Gazette to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, each of whom shall convene or arrange for a meeting of the House, “to consider the situation and decide whether or not to pass a resolution approving the Proclamation.”
(3) “The President shall have power to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency only when-
(c) there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof to such extent as to require extraordinary measures to restore peace and security;
(d) there is a clear and actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof requiring extraordinary measures to avert such danger;
(f) there is any other public danger which clearly constitutes a threat to the existence of the Federation;
(g) the President receives a request to do so in accordance with the provisions of subsection (4) of this section.”
Subsection (5) says the President shall not issue a proclamation of a state of emergency in any case to which the provisions of subsection (4) applies “unless the Governor fails, within a reasonable time, to make a request to the President to issue such Proclamation.” But has insecurity in Anambra reached the level that the Governor failed to request a state of emergency?
Mr Obiano says no, hence he didn’t ask for, as per subsection (4), “a resolution, supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly, requesting the President to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the State when there is existence within the State any of the situations specified in subsection (3)(c)(d) and (e) of this section and such a situation does not extend beyond the boundaries of the State.”
These conditions for a proclamation of a state of emergency are straight-forward, and unambiguous, harbouring no partisanship, as allegedly displayed by the Balewa and Obasanjo administrations.
Still, there’re more questions to ask, and inferences and implications to draw from government’s attempt at a back-door proclamation of a state of emergency in Anambra. They include:
Despite the atrocities of Boko Haram in the North-East and North-West, and “bandits” in the North-West and Middle Belt, government hasn’t imposed an emergency in any or all of the states.*
Why in Anambra? Is it a precursor, as critics allege, to a wider application of the rule in the South-East, or any other state or zone where agitation for secession has reared or may rear its head?
The Malami mooted proposal fits into President Buhari’s declaration to crush any separatist agitation and deal ruthlessly with those stoking and backing such divisive campaign.*
The series of “Operation Python Dance” in the South-East didn’t result in the expected outcome. Will “Operation Golden Dawn” in the area or a state therein guarantee peace?
Government’s proposal may reecho the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), which backgrounds the alleged exclusion, marginalisation, and injustice against the South-East and Igbo in Nigeria.*
An emergency rule in Anambra is a Catch 23 situation, as government can’t deny political motive, to favour the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November poll, while the beneficiary of such an alleged imposition would lose the mandate and legitimacy of the electorate in Anambra and the entire South-East.
Yet, it’s not late for the government to pull the breaks on Anambra, and reool its strategy of deploying power for the sword rather than the shield, to achieve peace and security in the South-East, and Nigeria.
The administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had laid the marker in the Niger Delta, when militants were engaged in dialogue, to lay down their arms in exchange for an enduring amnesty programme.
The Buhari administration should follow in the footsteps of the Yar’Adua example in the South-East, and elsewhere, and dialogue with genuine agitators for equity, inclusiveness and justice for all.

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