Yahaya Bello: Many Crosses of a ‘Buhari Boy’

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As the 2019 general election draws near, all eyes appear to be on Kogi State despite the fact that governorship election will not hold in the state that year. The reason for the state becoming a political cynosure, analysts maintain, might not be unconnected with the drama that surrounded the emergence of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as the governor of the state.

The governor, who became the candidate of the APC following the death of the standard-bearer of the party, Alhaji Audu Abubakar, before his declaration as the winner of the governorship election, is one of those said to be quite close to the president in Kogi State. He, however, did not become the candidate of the party without a serious fight from some forces in the party including the running mate to Abubakar, Honourable James Faleke, who has behind him former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu. The fight for the ticket had been fierce and vociferous, with the supposed resolution of it only breaking the APC into two in the state. With that polarisation occasioned by the ticket on which Bello eventually emerged as governor, coupled with the war between the governor and the senator representing Kogi West, Senator Dino Melaye, the ground has, therefore, been set for a landmark political battle that might have led the governor to seek refuge from Abuja, where he is said to still be an insider.

Though Melaye is the only APC senator from the state and was one of those behind the governor at the inception of the government, a wide chasm has surfaced between the two leaders, leading to serious confrontations, with the governor even throwing his weight behind the recall of the senator by the people of Kogi West senatorial district. Melaye, on the other hand, has been the mouthpiece of the opposition to the governor’s policies that he felt was anti-people.

The governor has not hidden his preference for Buhari as the presidential candidate of the APC, having been said to be one of those said to have formed themselves into the inner caucus of the president and favoured by the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. But the question observers have begun to ask is could the governor be supporting Buhari, his benefactor in the past, for altruistic purpose or with the mindset in continuity for Buhari might resulted into continuity for him. According to observers, while Bello might be supporting Buhari because he “belongs to the camp ab initio,” there are enough for him to grapple with at the home front politically, with the majority of the members of the state executive and the state governor being at loggerheads without any sign of reconciliation. The state chairman of the party, Alhaji Hadi Ametuo, and many of the members of the executive that supported the Audu/Faleke group had not been part of the government for almost two years.

Another issue that the governor may have to contend with as the 2019 elections approach is that of the workers across the state. Despite his reportedly genuine intention on the staff verification exercise, many of the affected workers, it was gathered, had been standing by and waiting for the opportunity to “repay” the governor. Many of the people that did not receive salary for months, those that were screened out and many others have not hidden their intention to “vote against whatever Bello stands for.”

Credit: Tribune

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