The APC Mistake: A Leadership Tragedy in Kogi State

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Information filtering in has it that Kogi State government temporarily relocated government activities to an hotel within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for a cabinet brain storm on arrays of issues — ranging from the glaring slow pace of developmental activities (despite huge resource investment and the augmentation from  accruals), unpopular government programs, crass insecurity, intra-party squabbles cum the natural sonorous opposition campaign against the government of the day, among other crying concerns.
Before going into the kernel of the limitations mitigating against the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello, it would be a point of interest to refresh our memories on how the man emerged as an imposed replacement for Alhaji Prince Abubakar Audu, of blessed memory.
It was held against Yahaya Bello that he resisted all appeals to collapse his campaign tructure into the unified structure of the winner of the primary election at which he, Yahaya Bello, came far second.
He declined all frantic and genuine reconciliation efforts by the party executives, opinion moulders, leaders of thought at all levels and the NWC of APC to resolve the greavance  and acrimony that preceded the primary election — a display that caused for every rational thought to believe that Bello’s strange actions after his defeat at the primaries was stamped on the fact of his celestial assurances of a ‘done deal’ because his subsequent assertions and claims were without recourse to any known laws or logic in both the party’s constitution and our national electoral laws.
His campaign strategist Edward Onoja and his lieutenants were bragging and boosting that the mandate was theirs and that whoever would come forward as a competitor  was just wasting his time. They deployed all propaganda mercenary with spurous allegations against the bona fide winner, Prince Audu, but all of which efforts proved futile.
Bello, in his desperation to become the party’s candidate at all cost, levelled a court case against Abubakar Audu who is the party’s gubernatorial candidate. He alleged that Audu, who is on the Board of Trustees of the party, cannot be qualified to fly the party’s ticket  without first relinquishing his membership of the board, an action which all critical onlookers saw as an after-thought and ridiculous.
Yahaya Bello, having failed all round and still hell-bent in making sure his party would fail in the general election resorted to negotiation with the incumbent Captain Idris Wada, who, upon the agreement of their teams, equipped him against his party in the election proper, hence the defeat of APC in Yahaya Bello’s Okene home even though, he himself could not exercise his civic duty as he did not have a voter’s card!
Turn around point: Alhaji Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC flag bearer, was the first and the second Executive Governor of Kogi State. In the state, before his ill-timed demise, Audu was seen as the only governor with an unbeatable track record of development; he was a consummate leader with a passion for innovative programmes for capacity building and empowerment with a view to quality livelihood for all and the rapid structural development of his dear domain.
He was consistent in his opposition party until they merged to form APC, which is the ruling party in Nigeria’s present political dispensation.
Audu won the 2015 election but never realized it, as he was snatched away by the cold hands of death. The news of his sudden departure to eternity while electoral processes were still on-going raised novel issues in our legal framework and created a vacuum in the candidacy of APC. The situation, which simply required expert interpretation from the supreme court to resolve was shamefully assumed by the independent or, better still, undependable electoral body (INEC) which,  in their sentimental incarceration, aligned with the powers that be — and the party in power whose winning candidate died to invoke a discretionary resolution of  “vote-appropriation and imposition of candidate” in a way and manner that would not put their spot.
Yahaya Bello, who apparently did not participate in the campaign nor made any financial contribution to the party during the campaign in anyway or form, became the beautiful bride for the widower county’s wedding.
The choice of Yahaya Bello as a replacement was outrightly rejected by the state party leadership and other interest groups across the state; these described the action of the APC national body as an aberration to the valiant party men and women who brought the party to victory. It came as a rude shock to others while the eastern flank of the state with the majority vowed never to work with ‘a stranger’.
Some aggrieved party members as well as opposition PDP went to court to seek redress if it was enshrined in our laws for votes of a dead man to be inherited or appropriated to another person who never participated legally in the associated election.
Furthermore, the purported adoption of Yahaya Bello in the stead of  Audu’s joint ticket-holder (James Faleke) was as insensitive as it was unlawful. Under normal democratic circumstances, where politics is founded on morality, strength of numbers and acceptability, the dead man’s associate (running mate) should be bestowed “offer of first refusal”. And this is the position of even the party’s western flank in the state, where Honourable James Faleke hails from! The people’s agitation was “We can’t keep hope on nothing”.
Honorable Faleke’s association with Audu on the same platform was never a liability but an asset. They traversed lengths and breaths, days and nights canvassing for vote with huge resources and logistics to make sure they defeated the incumbent Captain Idris Wada in his second term bid… it was perceived in their lamentations that the party called APC was still in the claws or inclination of primordial Northern political sentiments. Otherwise, why would a defeated aspirant at the primaries who later crossed over to another party, worked against the party and, above all, was not qualified in any ramification, be the best choice for replacement?
Little wonder then that Alhaji Bello, the executive governor of Kogi State, the party’s best for the plume job has not been able to unveil his blueprint on development plan almost two calendar years in office! When he came on board, there were mixed feelings amongst youngsters across the state: to many among this critical sector of the populace, what transpired was a paradigm shift, while others felt a  change was needed but that his emergence was undemocratic and, as such, would cause political turmoil in the state.
The government of Yahaya Bello is generally adjudged the weakest with little or no people-oriented project amidst huge resources. Close allies of the government vituperate their misgivings  as intellectually endowed persons are not allowed to go near the Governor or have input in the business of governance by the iconoclastic and arrogant Chief of Staff; though the business of the state as a government is reduced to a kindergarten play stage but, we appreciate the timely intervention of the Nigerian foremost anti-graft agency in our dear state to check the cleptomanic nature of those in custody of our funds.
Pathetically, Kogi civil servants and pensioners are being dehumanized daily as they are reduced to inevitable starvation! Sicknesses and deceases have ravaged families as the aged pensioners could no longer cater for their medical bills, food,  etc.
In conclusion, I salute the rare courage of TUC/NLC for their resilience and continuous pressure on the government to do the right thing. Needless to remind us of the incessant but vain staff screening exercise which, according to the mischief maker, is aimed at ascertaining the genuine staff strenght and actual wage bill to enable the state plan. The implication of this unending exercise is negative on the productivity of the state as it is technically edging to insolvency.
Kogi State is embroidered with a juvenile-leadership delinquency and, if not rescued at this time, then she is heading for a collapse.
God  save us and bless Kogi State.
– John Akoji Adama

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