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What is the business between the South Pole and the North Pole? Such inconsistencies only happen in Nigeria.The full time Lawmaker of Lagos State running a part time program in Kogi State politics, Honourable James Abiodun Faleke, recently wrote a twitter piece to thrill his audience, something he dubbed: “My Stand”. He claims Governor Yahaya Bello is so ‘desperate’ for reconciliation with the Audu/Faleke faction he will be dissolving his Cabinet and rejigging his appointments soon, ostensibly to accommodate the reconciled.
Always the opportunist, he tries to market a roadmap which makes him the gate to heaven by advising the Governor to approach ‘the right channels’, presumably himself, for the reconciliation and warns that using the ‘back door’ (interpreted as any route which does not pass through him) to give appointments to anyone in their faction will not work.
Having established himself as the one and only person who can speak for the Audu/Faleke camp he gives a shoutout to what he believes are the interests of Kogi people, at least to show that he cares. He demands ‘up-to-date’ payment of salaries for civil servants, reabsorption of state workers rendered useless (by the staff screening and verification exercise of the Bello Administration), reabsorption of ‘the sacked KSU teachers’, among others.
I am nonplussed. This lawmaker who still represents Lagos in the House of Representatives and will do so till 2019 is forming political grandmaster in Kogi? This one who was totally unheard of in Kogi before the late Prince Abubakar Audu used him to complete equation in 2015 is now a godfather? I will soon cut off these ears if they will not stop hearing nonsense.
The man who advised Kogites to boycott their party Congresses in Kogi but fully participated in the Lagos State congresses of the same party now fancies himself the axis of rotation when Kogites want to talk peace among themselves? The Honourable who has gone AWOL from Kogi State since he lost to Governor Bello at the Supreme Court is now talking about the rubrics, or is it the matrices, of reconciliation?
When reconciliation comes to the table, we in Kogi State know the “Audu” Political family. Which one be “Audu/Faleke” Political family in Kogi State again? It is strange and laughable. How can anyone reconcile with people they do not even know?
Let us even leave Hon. James Abiodun Faleke’s incurable identity crisis aside for a while and look at the devious ways his mind works. To him, the Governor who is by law and practice the undisputed leader of the ruling APC in Kogi State is ‘desperate’ because he is pursuing reconciliation? He considers the Governor as weak for using his masterfully won political victories to offer reconciliation to those who betrayed their party and turned on him when they thought he had no chance of survival in the political crossfire they launched against him?
Our indigenous Lagosian must explain how reconciliation can be desperate for a man who cannot seem to stop defeating his political opponents at every turn, using nothing but superior wits, strategy and 100% adherence to the rule of law, including his party constitution. How can reconciliation be desperate for a Governor who takes seriously the attendant responsibility to create peace and harmony in his state and party?
By the way, isn’t reconciliation what many APC States are currently doing as mandated by their party’s last National Convention? Did not all of Nigeria hear Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the newly minted National Chairman of the APC declare himself entrusted with the primary responsibility of reconciling all aggrieved groups within the party? Did we not hear him charge all state delegations to go home and do likewise?
Reconciliation is a no-brainer. So, shouldn’t Honourable Faleke be in the forefront of advancing it in APC Kogi as a loyal partyman instead of planting booby-traps in the path of Governor Bello and those who are working to specifications. Oga James really needs to chill out and get with the programme.
In a political environment highly characterized by “interests” that jettisons “service” how can Politicians not circumvent stability of party apparatus and stewardship if interests are not negotiated and renegotiated? Ask Dr. Ogbo Usman of the Department of Political Science, Kogi State University. I am sure he will gladly school some people on this, a basic concept in POLs 101.
Incidentally, it seems to me that the federal lawmaker will benefit most from a negotiated peace with the current occupant of Lugard House. Though he hails from Kogi State, he has ‘naturalized’ in foreign lands for too many years. He needs to integrate and put off the cloak of a standoffish stranger which envelopes him across every constituency in Kogi State. Peace with Governor Bello will give him an access he cannot otherwise purchase. If Kogi is to benefit some day from whatever experiences he may acquired from his long and personally fruitful sojourn in the Centre of Excellence, then Honourable Faleke has to start playing politics with the smarts one would expect from a protégé of the sagacious Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Although he likes to play victim, James Faleke needs to be reminded that he is the aggressor. In spite of that, he should also know that Governor Yahaya Bello is not his enemy. The records show that he came on loan to try his luck in Kogi State politics. He came into the 2015 elections as running-mate to the late Prince Abubakar Audu. As with most Deputy Governor candidates, he was an ‘anointee’. He did not run for his party’s primaries. He was anointed by Audu. When his principal suddenly died en route a decisive win for the APC at the polls, Faleke tried to stir up his ‘anointing’. He litigated his right to be declared Governor of Kogi State to the Supreme Court only to have the lawlords oust his demands in no uncertain terms.
The court also ruled that the ticket rightfully devolved on Bello, the runner-up in the APC primaries and upheld his swearing-in as Governor of Kogi State several months earlier. Although he must have felt deeply hurt by the acrimonious campaigns which the Audu/Faleke faction immediately launched against his government in both the press and the courts, Governor Bello still kept the Deputy Governorship position open for Faleke until way past reasonable doubt.
Faleke did not even turn up for the inauguration in the hope that the absence of a Deputy would nullify the event. His gambit failed before the law and Bello found for himself a veritable asset of a deputy in the person of Elder Simon Achuba to make up the upper crust of the New Direction Team. I think if anyone should now be desperate for a reconciliation, Faleke knows it cannot be Bello.
In fact, shouldn’t Faleke be desperate to reassure Kogites of his loyalty to them? I mean, fate offered him the opportunity to serve his people in the exalted capacity of a Deputy Governor, and he rejected them in a fit of hubris. After Audu’s unfortunate demise, Bello offered him the coveted seat again. He turned it down because he eyes we gazing, awestruck, at the Governor’s seat. When the courts poured cold water on his turgid ambition, he abandoned base. Like the Biblical hireling who did not love the sheep as his own, he fled at the first sign of personal inconvenience. That was the singular act which showed him up as a stranger to Kogites.
In the light of the above, I posit that if Honourable Faleke had any honour, he would be making desperate and humble efforts of his own to reconcile with us, the electorate he so willingly gave up at birth. Speaking metaphorically, Honourable James Abiodun Faleke dumped Kogites like an unwanted child because the father, late Prince Abubakar Audu, died so suddenly. He chose to serve Lagos instead.
Therefore, it would actually be in better taste if rather than trying to dictate terms to our Governor now, he displayed some honesty and owned up to his misdeeds. We do not all have the sangfroid of the mild-mannered Bello, so the only way some of us might find the charity to take him back today or in the future is if he came crawling on hands and knees, full of remorse and repentance.
Before I leave this matter, let me just respond specifically to some of the nastiness displayed by Faleke in his tweet:
It is a Governor’s prerogative to rejig his team when the need arises. If Governor Bello decides to do it in the near or distant future, I certainly hope it will be for capacity building and not to accommodate Faleke’s piggyback ambitions.
There is no back door, nor front door even, in the matter of appointments. There is only merit, competence and the accommodation of legitimate loyal interests in true political fashion. Before now the Governor has freely appointed or secured appointment for members of the different political families making up Kogi APC, followers of late Prince Abubakar Audu not excepted. If the Governor once again adjudges any of them suitable for any office, he will make the appointment, and without necessarily seeking the input of any self-appointed doorman. Especially not one who has since transferred his voter’s details back to Lagos.
Nothing says that Honourable James Abiodun Faleke is trying to play politics with such an emotive matter as the staff screening and verification exercise conducted by Governor Yahaya Bello as his demands that it be overturned. Because overturning the exercise is the only way those whose sins have shown them out of service can be reabsorbed.
Faleke wants Bello to reabsorb the thousands of ghost workers who did not even turn up for the headcount after more than 12 months involving at least 3 levels of screening, appeal and review, the last led by experts from the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON).
Faleke wants Bello to reabsorb the thousands of leeches who fled of their own accord when BVN and biometrics became the new benchmarks for getting any payment out of the Kogi State payroll.
Faleke wants Governor Bello to reabsorb the hundreds who were gaming the system and taking double, triple, quadruple, all the ways to hundreds of salaries monthly, either by ‘working’ multiple jobs or padding the staff register and payrolls with fictitious beneficiaries.
Faleke wants Governor Bello to reabsorb those who embezzled ginormous amounts meant for Ministries, Departments or Agencies, for social services, for salaries or for pensions.
Faleke wants Bello to reabsorb the thousands of individuals who stole into our civil service with fake certificates and credentials and overburdened it to the financial and career detriment of genuine workers. The thousands who have now been repudiated by the institutions they claimed to have attended.
Faleke wants Bello to reabsorb those whose alleged institutions have responded to Government’s written requests for verification by unequivocally disowning their certificates, much the same way Faleke disowned Kogites after Bello’s election.
Faleke needs to visit the state’s website at www.kogistate.gov.ng and tell us who and who among the thousands listed for forged certificates he would personally reabsorb into service if God were to someday make him the Governor of Kogi State.
Faleke wants Bello to reabsorb the relative minority of lecturers sacked by Kogi State University after they persisted in a strike action which kept our students at home for nearly one year.
Faleke rates these lecturers who were happy to take their pay all the while they downed tools above the students who have now made appreciable progress in their studies from an uninterrupted academic calendar.
Faleke rates these lecturers above the majority of their colleagues who returned to work following the proscription of ASUU activities on the KSU campuses.
Faleke still fights the cause of this oppressive minority nearly 2 years later yet his minions were wont to taunt Bello with the achievements of Unilorin which vaulted into the league of premier universities in this country following a similar proscription over a decade ago.
Those of us who are alumni of KSU felt that strike was more political than academic. We used to suspect that there were unseen political hands behind key agitators in that lamentable and intractable strike action, and we have been searching. It appears we need not search further.
Faleke and those like him who have been discrediting the screening exercise out of ignorance or political insincerity now have a chance to stake their personal and political reputations against Governor Bello’s on this matter. Henceforth, each time they comment on this matter we will consider it a policy statement of their intentions for us if they ever come to power. We will fact-check leadership and aspiring leadership going forward and publish our findings. Let God and individuals of goodwill be judge.
Finally, Faleke wants Governor Yahaya Bello to pay all civil servants in full and up-to-date. Governor Bello wants the same things as far as the cleared and genuine workers are concerned. The records reflect that most of this category of workers are currently owed between 1 to 4 months salaries due to financial exigencies. Governor Bello has undertaken to pay everyone up-to-date as soon as possible. Faleke is aware of the financial struggles of states, not just Kogi. Perhaps he can rise above the need to politic and proffer workable solutions.
Faleke is stomping the yard now because he feels Governor Yahaya Bello ‘desperately needs the Audu/Faleke Political family now for elections’. It may come as news to Faleke but the Audu/Faleke Political family is still APC. It has benefitted immensely from Governor Bello’s inclusive and malice-free style of administration. Her members are embedded in Government at all levels, including federal. If APC fails today, in Kogi or Nigeria, the Audu/Faleke Political Family will also feel the blow big-time.
So, unless Faleke is only concerned about himself alone (if stories of federal lawmakers’ jumbo emoluments are anything to go by, he certainly will not suffer lack were things to go topsy-turvy for his party today), it should resonate with him that he needs Bello more than Bello needs him in any future political realignments. He has much at stake and Bello can provide the traction to keep the whole rig heading up the steep slopes to victory. The APC on the other hand, needs all her own to survive 2019 and beyond.
In summary, nobody should be making demands or giving ultimatum. Let everyone in the APC Family humble themselves and find accommodation within an atmosphere of give-and-take which does not substitute competition for complementation.
– Promise Emmanuel (Kogi Rebel) writes from Lokoja.
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