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Kogi doesn’t deserve N10bn roads refund from FG –Achuba

Although, he has been removed from office after being impeached by the state House of Assembly, Elder Simon Achuba said he remains the deputy governor of Kogi State. His removal has, however, been described as illegal by many commentators on the ground that he was exonerated by the panel set up by the state Chief Judge to probe the allegations leveled against him by the state government. In this interview with our correspondent, WALE IBRAHIM in Lokoja, the embattled former deputy governor spoke on his relationship with Governor Yahaya Bello. He accused the former Chief of Staff to Bello, Edward Inoja, as lording himself over the governor. He also spoke on the coming governorship election in the state as well as the N10 billion refunded to the state by the Federal Government to cover the expenses allegedly expended on federal roads.

What was your experience like working with Governor Yahya Bello as his deputy?

As it should be, it was cordial. As we were going, government policies and documents were fantastic. Things started going wrong when implementation of these policies were not forthcoming. It was becoming very challenging to us as a government and as a party. At that point, I started insisting on the legacies that we can be remembered for; we cannot just be writing policies and only to abandon them. It amounts to nothing

 What was it like working with Governor Bello?

Working with Governor Yahaya Bello was not in itself bad. The issue is that he has a lord in the person of the former Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja. He lords it over the governor. He stays on his neck and the governor cannot turn. Without him, no commissioner can function, no special adviser can function. Anything you do, he will say no and insists until he has his way and the governor cannot do anything about it

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 Do you have regrets working for the governor in view of what happened?

I have no regret working with Governor Yahaya Bello.  Nothing like regret! No action has taken place. There was no impeachment. I am still the deputy governor, so nothing to regret about.

What role did your party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, played in resolving the crisis?

Individually, some persons intervened; I think, the national chairman, but the issue has not been taken holistically.

 How did you become Bello’s deputy governor; did he pick you or someone suggested you to him?

Everyone knows me as a liberal politician who believes that governorship can come from any part of the state and as a result, I supported the Ebira agitation. They saw me as a liberal person, who will be able to maintain all that and secondly, because of my antecedent in the state as someone who is fair and just. So, he invited me and said he will like me to be the deputy governor and I obliged. I will continue to be grateful for that.

 Is it true that it was the former Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja that single handedly chose you to be the deputy governor?

No, Onoja didn’t know me that much. He knows me as an Igala man, not as much as people from the Central know me and what I stand for.

 You have already gone to court to challenge your impeachment. Are you ready to return to work with Governor Bello if the court rules in your favour?

I have been working as the deputy governor, and I am still the deputy governor irrespective of whether there is court judgement or not. I am the sitting deputy governor and I will continue to be until there is another election and winners sworn in.

Has there been an instance where you made a suggestion and Onoja didn’t allow it to scale through?

Yes, many times. I have advised the governor on many occasions and he will agree, but the moment Onoja come in, he will say no, and the governor will also change. For instance, there was a time I suggested we pick a few projects, complete them and commission them and show forth something as achievement. The governor agreed but when the chief of staff came in, the story changed. Again, on the issue of education, most of the secondary schools in Kogi State are not functional. So, let us select maybe one or two per local government area, let’s have at least one or two functional schools in each local government. The governor agreed, because putting one here and another one there does not show much effort. Let us harmonise them to make it more presentable. The governor agreed. No one brought a better idea than that. But, because of special interest in favouring some persons with contracts, the story changed.

On the issue of your impeachment, where are we now?

We are already in court. We objected to the vacation of our objection to the impeachment notice. We have also filed more grounds of objection and the case will be coming up soon.

How will you react to the allegation that you were working for the opposition while in office to the extent that you lost your ward in the general election?

I never defected and I didn’t lose my ward. What they have been doing is to fly a kite that I was about to defect to the PDP or any other party. We have been in this since 1999 and one has traveled along many roads and along the lines, you meet many people. For instance, the former speaker of the state House of Assembly, Angulu and two other people who are in PDP came to see me with Kizito. We have been neighbours all along. Does it mean one is hobnobbing with PDP? One’s relationship with others sometimes goes beyond politics. We are in position to render service and service is not only meant for APC.

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As a member of APC, will you campaign for your party during the coming elections?

I am not a member of the party’s campaign committee, so I will not be out there campaigning. I have only one vote and I will exercise my voting right. However, I am calling on Mr. President to look at the issue (impeachment) passionately and make sure the right thing is done. If this is not done, the future I see about Kogi is bleak. If not nipped in the bud, the level of arrogance being displayed in a democratic setting is amazing and when people start to react, the end result will not be palatable.

 Where are the roads that were constructed in any part of the state that were to be refunded?

You are in Kogi here; do you see any road? What then is the refund for?

 What is your next move after all these?

I remain and will continue to remain in politics. My future is in the hand of God. He alone will decide my next move.