The forty-two year old governor of Kogi state rode to power in mysterious circumstances. Although he came second in the APC primaries that produced the late Abubakar Audu, he neither expected to win it, nor was really grieved at the loss. What’s more, the gap between first and second was so wide, that it was fair to say it wasn’t a contest after all. As a matter of fact, Yahaya Bello was not even part of the APC prior to the November 2015 election that ended in a stalemate. Some even accused him of actually campaigning for the PDP. Wait. He didn’t even register to vote in Kogi! He wasn’t really contesting for governor. He was just throwing money around, strategically. Until Audu died, suddenly.
The APC, obviously reluctant of playing into Tinubu’s hands, chose to ignore commonsense, create a storm of their own, looked for what was never lost, and relied on two fraudulent interpretations of the law; one from the bland Attorney-General, and another from the INEC. Both asked that a replacement, rather to than a seamless ascension by the running mate to the deceased; should take over Audu’s place in the poll. The poll in itself was 90% concluded, with Abubakar Audu’s APC having quite an APC unassailable lead. Audu’s running mate, James Faleke, was handpicked by Lagos strongman, Bola Tinubu. The APC started getting worried that Tinubu’s influence was already overbearing, even across the Niger. At the end of the self inflicted quagmire, a certain Yahaya Bello was the beneficiary. It was against commonsense and logic that a man who was not part of the team, nor even the campaign of an election that was practically concluded would be the one to reap the rewards. But that’s what fate bestowed on Yahaya Bello. What he has thereafter bestowed on Kogi, is what this essay is about.
As if getting power on a platter of gold wasn’t enough to humble a man, Bello picked a fight with everyone that disagreed with him. Not knowing what to do with power, he used it to silence opposition, and oppress the downtrodden. Relying on a fraudulent verification exercise, thousands of state civil servants have either been dismissed, or left unpaid. While he claims not to owe salaries beyond the months he was in power, many claim to have not been paid for as long as sixteen months. Pensioners are actually the worst hit. With many of them living outside the state, they are mandated to appear almost every quater for verification and registration. The cries of agony have been unbelievable.
Bello’s penchant for mischief is unprecedented too. Matched in affinity for turbulence by Dino Melaye, Yahaya Bello wasted little time in mobilizing state resources for the famous recall exercise. Close watchers believe Yahaya Bello, who feels he needs to silence Melaye by all means necessary, spent over a billion naira gathering the required number of signatures to trigger the recall process of Senator Melaye.
While Kogi remains perpetually under governed, Yahaya Bello has taken mediocrity to Olympian heights. On Sunday, August 20, he declared a public holiday to celebrate the return of President Buhari, who spent 103 days on medical vacation in London. The aim of the holiday is not clear. But feelers think it is aimed at sowing seeds of loyalty in Aso Rock.
The outrage that followed that ridiculous holiday makes me hope that we still retain a lot of commonsense. I believe its more of youthful exuberance and nothing else. Over excitement is one of the hallmarks of kids. Nothing else could make a man declare a work free day, in a state that is still struggling to even pay salaries, in a country that has too many holdidays already, if not utter childishness. Its a shame that Kogi is ruled by a child. I rest my case.