I do not hold brief for ex-Governor Idris Wada but for posterity sake, I must not keep quiet.
A feeling of security is a feeling of being safe and free from worry. I read in angst the attempt to twist Capt. Idris Wada’s presentation on channels TV, Politics Today which covered a range of issues including the security situation in Kogi.
In a piece titled “From Berekete to Channes TV, Wada lied again”, the anonymous writer avoided the foundational issues of security which border on safeguarding the lives and properties in Kogi State. Instead he went on to highlight incidents which are not peculiar to only Kogi State, but the world in general.
Even in the modern world, bank robberies, kidnapping and ethnic crimes are prevalent. Does that mean their lands are insecured? If so, the United States of America would have been abandoned as a foremost tourism and business destination immediately after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Furthermore, the issues of robberies, kidnappings and homicides under the current administration are well documented.
In case the writer doesn’t understand the import of Capt. Wada’s presentation on the current security failings in the State, let me attempt to expatiate further. The former Governor was referring to the role the current administration plays in promoting insecurity as a foremost policy of government.
Prior to the emergence of Governor Yahaya Bello, it was a known fact that Capt. Idris Wada abhorred thuggery or any form of politically funded violence aimed at destabilizing the opposition and the general populace. His body language forced would be thugs into hibernation. For the first time in the State, retired thugs enrolled in Universities and would be thugs opted for other credible means of livelihood. Some of the beneficiaries of Wada’s zero thuggery policy are currently serving under Governor Bello.
No doubt, there were one or two incidences that forced the state to change strategy and develop policies aimed at sustaining the peace in the land. The Boko Haram menace that crept into Kogi State, was not of Governor Wada’s doing. As at then, the potency of the Boko Haram terrorist was a national ongoing concern. What the writer should celebrate, was the manner in which the government went about curtailing the menace. Maturity and experience helped the administration overcome the challenges. There were no known cases of Boko Haram bombings in Kogi State.
Governor Wada deemed it fit to establish the Kogi State Security Trust Fund that was headed by Honourable T.J. Faniyi. The aim of this fund was to develop a funding strategy for the security apparatus in the State. For Wada, security funding went beyond the day to day government subventions. It was all encompassing. All the private sector captains of industry in the State donated to the fund. The fund was used to provide equipment and allowances to the various security agencies in the State.
The current breakdown of law and order in the state is not a function of what Governor Wada didn’t do, but a function of what Governor Bello has done. From the onset of this administration, it was clear that governance was an all comers affair. All sorts of vices skilled at praise singing were invited to chaperone the affairs of state. Areas that required experienced hands, were jettisoned, in favor of primordial sentiments.
Rather than focus on securing the State, the government embarked on using the security to intimidate those perceived as “Enemies of State”. In doing so, Governor Bello ceded his primary functions as Governor, to political “Gestapos”. It is a well-known fact that the government has a detention center in the Lugard House meant for torturing non-New Direction conformist. The Government laid a proper foundation for insecurity by refusing to pay civil servants their salaries. In doing so they had unleashed economic violence on the lives of over Fifty Thousand State and Local Government workers and their dependents. Those who were resilient amongst them, pulled through. Others who weren’t died of curable disease due to lack of funds for medical care, some committed suicide and others embarked crimes as a means of survival. It is not unusual for kidnappers to blame the current administration for driving them into banditry.
The labour unions were not spared in the administrative terrorism. On November 1st 2017, a prominent Labour leader in the State, Mr. Abdulmumuni Yakubu was gunned down in Okene, for refusing to do the bidding of the State during the lingering disputes with Civil Servants. Mr. Yakubu in his capacity as Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools had remained steadfast in calling on the Government to pay workers’ salaries. Considering that he and the Governor were from the same Local Government, his refusal to do his bidding earned him lots of scorn from the Government. His death forced the labour unions to suspend negotiations with the Government, until assurances of their safety were guaranteed. This could never have happened under Wada.
The orgy of violence unleashed on Senator Dino Melaye is still fresh in the minds of Kogites and Nigerians. At a time when Kidnapping and Fulani herdsmen clashes were prevalent in the State, the Government’s main focus was “Dino Melaye”. In their screwed reasoning, silencing Dino was the solution to the challenges they were facing as a Government. Several attempts were made on his life, but the God he serves protected him from their evil machinations.
Then came the odyssey of Natasha Akpoti. To date the only crime she was perceived to have committed, was courageously standing up to vie for the Senatorial seat in Kogi Central. From the day she made her intentions known up until the General Elections, it was one orgy of violence per day, unleashed on she and her supporters. Her legacy family house was burnt down, her supporters were murdered on daily basis, here campaign trails were disrupted with gunshots and all sorts of strategies aimed at destabilizing her aspirations.
In fact, Kingsley Fanwo, the Governor’s spokesperson went as far as calling her unprintable on national TV. A clear form of “sexual violence”. Her ordeal led the women in Kogi Central to stage a naked protest against the violence unleashed on her person.
The general elections in the state were not spared of the Government’s pro-violence policy. A day to the elections, the Governor’s ADC led masked police officers to setup a barricade at Koton-Karfe, aimed at preventing senior members of the opposition parties from entering the state for elections. The former Governor Ibrahim Idris was detained at the checkpoint for several hours and was eventually prevented from entering the State for the elections.
To pass the blockade, Senator Dino Melaye had to charter a plane that landed him in Obajana. From where he was ferried to Ijumu to participate in the elections.
Natasha Akpoti wasn’t so lucky. She was detained at the blockade from 2pm to 10pm before she was eventually turned back to Abuja. She eventually made it to Kogi for the elections by driving overnight through Nassarawa and Benue States.
Foremost among the victims of Governor Bello’s doctrine of political terrorism is my humble self, Usman Austin Okai. Since the inception of this administration I have been harassed, jailed and battered for my consistent opposition to the draconian acts of the New-Direction maladministration. In the administration’s early days, I was detained in Koton-Karfe prisons for twenty one days and spent another twenty one days in SARS custody. Prior to the 2019 elections, I spent twenty one days in solitary confinement under the DSS custody. I was prevented from interacting with my family members and associates. It took pleas from the high and mighty before I gained freedom.
Such acts of human rights violation and deprivation of constitutional voting rights could never have happened under Governor Wada.
Several batons of Ak-47 rifles and fake military uniforms were imported into the state. The government sponsored thugs were the beneficiaries of these arsenals. On Election Day, it was clear that we were back to the legions of the Wild Wild West. Gunshots were more than the ballots casted, with plenty casualties recorded across the state. Houses belonging to members of the opposition were burnt down. In Dekina Local Government, the Administrator was seen moving around with his pump action rifle. This was clearly a distant departure in comparison to the 2015 elections, where no life was lost during electioneering.
The story of violence during the elections is better told by the parents of nineteen year old Daniel Usman, who was gunned down by thugs while patiently waiting to cast his vote on the morning of the 2019 Presidential Elections. A day to the elections, he made a post on his Facebook page where he urged voters to shun electoral violence. Little did he know that a day later, he was going to end up being the victim of state sponsored electoral terrorism. While his parents continue to mourn the death of their beloved son, nobody has been charged with the crime to date.
After the elections, to further strengthen the pro-violence policy of this administration, thugs and murderers were compensated with Toyota Venza vehicles. This could never have happened under Governor Wada.
Under Governor Bello, Ayingba is now the “murder capital” of Kogi State. Thugs parade sophisticated weapons in the open. Murder is seen as the only means of solving disputes. The major tertiary institution in the state has not been spared in all of these. Kogi State University has turned into a den for cultists and ritualists. On daily basis, students are maimed for no justifiable reason. Recently the Government was forced to change the head of security in KSU as a means of checkmating the insecurity in the institution. Such drastic measures didn’t occur under Governor Wada, because the institution was secured for effective tutelage.
Finally, since you claim that Wada lied during his presentation, I will like the anonymous writer to highlight incidences where Governor Wada used the State Apparatus to intimidate and harass Governor Bello when he was an aspirant prior to the APC Primaries in 2015. Did Wada authorize the destruction of any of his billboards? Were his supporters murdered? Were his houses burnt? Were there attempts to assassinate him?
I started this article with the following quote: “A feeling of security is a feeling of being safe and free from worry”. I will like to ask Kogites if They feel safe and are free from worry under Governor Yahaya Bello? The floor is open!
– Usman Austin Okai, a Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Abuja.