The 2023 Kogi Governorship election is fast approaching, and it is evident that the ruling party is on the verge of losing the election due to the white lion’s braggadocios posture and abysmal performance over the past seven years.
It is clear that the white lion is losing control over his territory, as evidence suggests that many of his initial supporters for a second term have deserted him for valid reasons. Many people have cited various reasons why the lion has become prey in his own den, and we have compiled seven of these reasons. The seventh reason will shock you to your bone.
Reason 1: Payment of Percentage Salaries: The White Lion’s decision to pay only a portion of salaries to public servants, especially local government workers, is a major factor contributing to the challenges he currently faces, even within his own territory. There are also reports that many of his appointees are being denied their benefits. Some have even claimed that his appointees are the poorest government officials in Nigeria. The White Lion’s Commissioners and litany of Special Assistants (SAs) and Senior Special Assistants (SSAs), some of whom can only boast of their appointment letters, are among the most financially strained public office holders in Nigeria. This denial of benefits has created discontent among Bello’s appointees and other workforce in the state. As a matter of fact, many of Bello’s appointees are patiently waiting to ‘cash out’ from the campaign mobilization funds, which they would joyfully consider as their severance package.Many appointees are already seen gleefully boasting in beer parlors, expressing their optimism about changing their cars or completing construction of buildings they started many years ago, both to be funded by campaign mobilization funds.
Reason 2: Weak Party Candidate: One of the primary reasons the White Lion has become vulnerable in its own territory, as highlighted by political pundits, is the perception that the APC’s governorship candidate, Alhaji Usman Ododo, lacks the vigor and leadership qualities expected of a governor. This has elevated the chances of the opposition parties. For example, many have pointed out that while Senator Dino Melaye and Alhaji Muritala Ajaka have been engaging the media in their campaigns, Alhaji Usman Ododo appears reluctant to engage with the electorate on national television and answer critical questions about his manifesto. Many Kogites have therefore expressed concerns about Ododo’s capacity to bring development to the state, given his perceived lack of confidence in interacting with others, including the press.
Reason 3: The Dismissal of Academic Staff at PAAU: The mass dismissal of over 100 academic staff from Kogi State University, Anyigba (now Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyigba), orchestrated by Bello’s administration, remains a deep wound for many. This action has not only harmed the state’s education system but has also generated widespread resentment and backlash against Bello’s administration. The truth is that many of the issues that led ASUU to go on strike at the University still persist. For example, at PAAU, a professor may receive the salary of a senior lecturer, despite being promoted twice, as the promotions in the institution are primarily notional.
Reason 4: The Chief Edward David Onoja Factor: The once-strong bond between Governor Yahaya Bello and Chief Edward Onoja, often likened to the relationship of Siamese Twins, is no longer as apparent. Each time they publicly referred to each other as “My Siamese Twin,” it was accompanied by smiles from both of them. With the sound and strong connection that existed between the two, many believed that Edward Onoja was the natural choice for Governor Bello’s succession. However, this transition did not occur. Since then, many people have wondered if they still address each other as “My Siamese Twin,” as they used to. People now believe that the umbilical cord that once joined most popular twins has been severed and buried on the altar of betrayal. The real or perceived strain in the relationship between Bello and Edward has eroded the trust people had in Bello, as many feel that a man who could treat his own Siamese Twin in such a manner should never be trusted.
Reason 5: Humiliation of Traditional Rulers: The humiliation and victimization of traditional rulers, including the late Ohinoyi of Ebira, Ata Igala, and other respected traditional leaders within the state, have not only strained relations but also tarnished the White Lion’s reputation among those who value traditional leadership. It is well-documented that traditional rulers have faced challenges similar to civil servants in the state, with their freedom of expression and association fiercely resisted by the state government. For instance, the late Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, a highly respected and celebrated traditional ruler in the state, was subjected to victimization and humiliation, receiving queries on two occasions. As a result, many sons and daughters of Ebiraland, as well as those who respect the traditional system, do not support Ododo, as they see him as an extension of Bello’s government.
Reason 6: Senator Natasha Akpoti’s Influence in Kogi Central: Senator Natasha Akpoti’s significant influence in Kogi Central, demonstrated by her victories at both the Tribunal and Appeal Court, is one of the reasons the White Lion is losing sleep. Although Governor Yahaya Bello congratulated his “Sister,” Senator Natasha, on her Appeal Court victory, Natasha has openly stated that she cannot consider someone who ordered the excavation of the Ihima road on the eve of the election, as a way to frustrate and diminish votes from one of her strongholds, as a “Sister.” The fact that Natasha is campaigning for Senator Dino Melaye, the PDP Governorship candidate, suggests that Ododo’s expected votes from the Central will be adversely affected, making the White Lion vulnerable in his own territory. Who will have a Senator Natasha as an opposition and will not pant? Not even a White Lion!!!
Reason 7: The Imminent Victory of MURI AJAKA: The seventh reason the White Lion is anxious despite being in his own territory is the growing popularity of the SDP candidate, Alhaji Muritala Ajaka, commonly known as MURI AJAKA. While the White Lion once belittled Muri as an antelope, it is now widely recognized that this particular antelope has the ability to tame a lion, whether it’s white or any other colour. MURI is not only seen as a man of extraordinary charisma, he’s loved by Kogites across all senatorial districts. People’s love for Muri is rooted in his impressive track record, which shows his unwavering support for worthy causes. With the certainty that MURI is on the ballot, and the determination of Kogi people to erase the Lion’s paws, there is no way the White Lion won’t pant in his den.
– Nathan Emmanuel