By Kingsley Fanwo.
Again, the Court of Appeal rose to the occasion to deliver a sound judgement that has been applauded by the legal world. The Court refused to be cowed by the hot-cold mix of empathy seekers who strived to achieve their aim through intimidation and blackmail. It was a day the judiciary reminded all of us about the sanctity of facts, the supremacy of logic over ambition, a precocious anathema for unbridled pursuit of ego, power and everything odd.
I sat patiently in court that Thursday morning to feel the turbidity that has served as a blockade of the capacity to allow the reign of logic. It was a day I became prouder of the Nigerian judiciary. Those four judgements were some of the best I have ever listened to.
The two key judgments were Faleke vs Yahaya Bello and Wada vs Faleke. Faleke was yet again reminded of the point of law that non-candidates have no right to contest election outcomes. He was told that his decision not to join APC in the suit dealt a fatal blow to his dead-end pursuit.
Captain Idris Wada, a former Governor of the state and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party was also told how he should not have bothered himself about the nomination of the APC candidate. The judgement also helped to address the procurement of forensic reports to gain political advantage. I salute the judiciary.
More thrilled I was, listening to the people’s Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello at his magnanimous best, calling on his opponents to join him in moving Kogi forward. He referred to Faleke as his “brother” and a member of his “party”. He said he holds no grudge against him. He referred to Capt. Idris Wada as his “father who has done his best and must now accept the verdict of God”. This is the language of a statesman who is determined to move Kogi State forward.
But down the road, Faleke and Wada spoke like blind combatants, like flies determined to follow the corpse into the grave. Wada’s lawyer said he was prepared to test the “minority” judgement in the law court.
While his right to so do is inalienable, Wada is pursuing a cause that will surely collapse under the heavy weight of the law and morality. We are where we are today because some past leaders failed to do what they ought to have done. Our Local Government Councils were turned into a cash farm by politicians who failed to feel the pulse of the poor.
The times have changed!
I read Faleke’s reaction to the judgement where he ludicrously attacked the judges and his party leaders in a flippant, grossly disrespectful manner over a judgment that was based on a point of law. Rather than ask the judiciary and presidency questions, Faleke should have asked himself questions.
He should ask himself if he actually contested the primaries for the nomination of party candidate. He should ask himself the conditions that may lead to an inconclusive election. He should ask himself a mathematically supreme question concerning the number of cancelled votes that led to the election being declared inconclusive. He should ask himself if he was actually qualified to replace the late Prince Abubakar Audu, having not participated in the primaries as an aspirant.
Facts are sacrosanct, and will still stand in any court of law. No one is afraid of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is honourable and will stand by the rule of law. God, good and law are all on the side of Governor Yahaya Bello.
Faleke’s attack on the Presidency is unprovoked, unnecessary, disrespectful and a failure to bottle his infantile desperation for power. Reminding President Buhari that he was his campaign director in Lagos has sparked legal and moral questions. Does Faleke expect Mr. President to influence the judiciary to do the unlawful just to favour a former Campaign Director? This is a President that has adhered to the principle of separation of powers and the supremacy of the rule of law. President Muhammadu Buhari is a global brand for discipline and anti-corruption. He will not soil his integrity because someone was his Campaign Director.
Also, it follows that Faleke did not ask himself the essence of the Buhari Presidency before lobbying to direct his campaign in Lagos. President Buhari is out to fix Nigeria and return her to being a sane nation. Under him, our judiciary has shown strength of character. He has brought Change to give Hope to Nigeria. He has shown that Nigerians have people who are not corrupt. His presidency has brought international respect to Nigeria.
Governor Yahaya Bello mobilized thousands of Kogites to vote massively for President Muhammadu Buhari. He delivered Kogi to Buhari alongside great party members. But the glory of Buhari’s victory is not for the Bellos, Tinubus, Falekes or Atikus of this world. That glory belongs to the masses of this nation who stood gallantly behind change. And that change is already yielding fruits.
For the first time in the history of our nation, we were able to fund our Federation Account with 70% non-oil revenue! We are moving towards an agricultural revolution. Ajaokuta and Itakpe are becoming a reality in our very eyes. This is the change we voted for. Even the goats that ate our yams are being brought to face justice.
In Kogi State, Governor Yahaya Bello has been repositioning the state, blocking waste, he has enthroned Treasury Single Account, and is improving environment as well as infrastructure and environment. Already, 18,000 ghost workers have been discovered. These ghost workers stole as much as 16 billion naira from our treasury annually! Unpardonable you would say. Leadership is meant for those who are bold enough to take decisions that will impact positively on the people. If Wada had continued, we would have continued to lose this colossal sum.
When Governor Yahaya Bello initiated the Staff Verification Exercise, he knew how cumbersome it was going to be. He knew it would take time and warrant a pause in salary payments. He knew it would be hard for the people during the period. He was pained by the pains the people went through. He felt it. But someone must take the flak to redeem our state from the impending implosion. We were using our resources to service unintended beneficiaries.
How can any reasonable government be paying a worker who bears an appointment letter dated 1983 and written on the letterhead of the Kogi State Universal Basic Education Board, when Kogi was actually created in August 1991? What justification can anyone have for paying a worker who was employed at the age of 12, even before he finished primary education? What is the rationale behind paying a ‘worker’ who claims to be a teacher, and at the same time a Civil Defence Officer?
Our payrolls were riddled with questionable names, while our roads were in a humongous state of disrepair. Unholy agreements with foreign mercenaries ensured we had no water despite spending billions on the Greater Lokoja Water Works. The situation Governor Yahaya met on ground was a trap to bring his government to ground zero. What the state had was not even enough to pay salaries, not to talk of the labour crisis as a result of leadership insipidity and vapidity.
But determined not to fail, the Governor took the bull by the horn, summoned courage to lift the lid, and dared an established and institutionally entrenched system. The pains of the people will soon become their gains. The incoming glory will dim the gory story of the horrible past. It is called The New Direction.
When this government came in, insecurity was rife. Our nodal status makes it an easy destination for criminals to sneak into the State, strike and disappear into thin air. The Governor identified that security is key, and he has a competent Security Adviser in Commander Omodara (rtd), a vibrant intelligentsia whose stewardship is already yielding fruits. More security operatives and equipment are now in the State, with a surveillance helicopter leading to the arrest of many criminals. Today, criminals are absconding from the State, while investors are trooping in.
All we invested in is LEADERSHIP. We have a leader who understands that there cannot be meaningful development without security. He has injected dynamism and political will to execute security plans. We must also thank our gallant security agencies for their commitment. Kogi is a Confluence of Opportunities, and not a Confluence of criminalities. We are winning together.
From inception, the Governor promised to answer his critics with solid performance. He has not dropped that promise. With improved security, more investments, improved infrastructure, better environment and making agriculture and minerals the focal points of our economic renaissance, Kogi is on the march forward.
The resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Itakpe Iron Ore Company is coming at a time the nation needs to diversify her economy and become an exporter of steel, amidst other potentials. The moment we can meet our steel needs, our economy and infrastructure will be better, and our importation will drastically reduce. It will herald the beginning of our engineering revolution.
But rather than being jealous of this good time and The Man at the centre of it all, all Kogites at home and in the diaspora must pull in one direction to make the best of our opportunities. Politics of bitterness and acrimony will not heal our land. Our collective desire to succeed will.
If God had wanted Faleke to be Governor, He knows what to do. He wanted Yahaya Bello, and He did what He did. I salute the late Prince Abubakar Audu, The Man who laid the foundation for a better Kogi State. The Man who, despite his shortcomings (we all have ours), fought with other progressives to rescue Kogi State. May His soul rest in peace; every peace is perfect.
The Appellant Tribunal has spoken with an unimpeachable point of facts and banal fact. The point of law has been justified and proven. It is time to look through the prism into a new Kogi State. It must be clear that people who are stubbornly visionary are faithful to their beliefs. No amount of blackmail can set Yahaya Bello back from his motion.
A new Kogi is unfolding under a New Direction. Remember, if you have nothing doing, don’t do it here!
– Fanwo Kingsley is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kogi State.