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Kogi guber poll: Tinubu, Oshiomhole move against Bello

•Akeredolu too under pressure

As time ticks for the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Kogi State, the governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello, is increasingly under attacks from in-party forces, and may not secure his party’s ticket, The Nigerian Xpress has gathered., writes Samuel Alonge.

Kogi’s governorship election holds in November, this year.

Already, a pressure group in the APC known as Change Agent Foundation International, CAFI, which is based in Lagos, has relocated to Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, with the aim of mobilising party members across the state, to vote against Bello in the direct primary election proposed to hold in September.

The CAFI is an offshoot of the APC Mandate Group in Lagos, which worked against the second term ambition of former Governor Akinwumi Ambode. The Nigerian Xpress gathered that the group detours principally to the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and, to some extent, to the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and the immediate past governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

Confirming to The Nigerian Xpress correspondent that Governor Bello is now under heat, the national president of CAFI, Mr. Dipo Okeyomi, said his group, under the leadership of Tinubu, and with the support of Oshiomhole and Aregbesola, would mobilise APC members in Kogi and vote out Bello at the primary.


‘Why we want Bello out’

According to him “APC must not pick Governor Bello as its candidate in November, because the man is no longer sellable.”

Okeyomi observed that the Kogi governor currently owed public workers 34 months’ salaries, a condition which he said had lowered the bar for the party among the people.

“It is foolhardy to pile up such huge arrears of unpaid salaries and still expect the same hungry people to vote you in again. This act is not only inhuman, it is also contrary to the welfare policy of our great party.

“At least, four senior civil servants have committed suicide as a result of hunger and frustration arising from non-payment of salaries, and this is aside from the fact that the governor behaves like an unripe banana, in the way he keeps intimidating and sending thugs after people with dissenting voices. Such behaviour is alien to the spirit and letter of the APC,” Okeyomi averred.

Okeyomi also accused Governor Bello of being “the leading light behind the gang-up to remove Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as APC national chairman, stressing, “Bello’s cup is full.”

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 CAFI cannot shake me-Bello

But in his reaction, Governor Bello dismissed the CAFI as an impostor, insisting that there is no such group in the APC.

In a statement on his behalf by the Director General (Media and Publicity) of Yahaya Bello Campaign Organisation, Mr. Fanwo Kingsley, which was released exclusively to The Nigerian Xpress correspondent, the governor said, “There is no group within the APC known as Change Agent Foundation International (CAFI).”

The statement added: “Our attention has been drawn to a group of impostors who claimed fraudulently to be duly accredited to operate from within the APC as a pressure group.

“The fact that they chose to sit in Lagos State to articulate issues about Kogi State is an indication that they have no grasp of events in the state. They have chosen to be tools in the hands of people who are bent on destroying the state for the sake of their inordinate ambition.

“It is merely a group of political charlatans and political jobbers working for the money they collected, to do a hatchet job on Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC in Kogi State, a job which is dead on arrival.”

Fanwo, on behalf of his principal, also stressed: “The Nigerian Constitution, the Electoral Act, the APC Constitution and sundry guidelines provide clearly, how the flagbearer of a party emerges in every election.

“CAFI displayed its bias and disrespect for law and due process when it declared that the ‘APC must not pick Governor Yahaya Bello as its candidate’. Is that not for the delegates to decide at the primaries and citizens at the elections proper? CAFI has come to equity with bribe-soiled hands and is no longer entitled to be heard, much less seen, in this matter.”

In what appeared as a veiled response to Tinubu and others, Bello’s spokesman stated: “Like their sponsors, CAFI has shown uncommon disdain to constitutional process and the brightness of our chances in November. Their leaders fought ferociously against the party to discredit the political credentials of the party in the February and March elections.

“They were shocked by the support of the Kogi people to the party and the leadership of the governor. They are now calling on the party not to give its ticket to a tested and trusted winner, just because they have a pact with the locusts that want to return to power with the intent of destabilising our party. The plan is dead on arrival.”

Flaunting Governor Bello’s political prowess and explaining why he deserves to pick the APC ticket, Fanwo said: “First was the Lokoja/Koto Federal Constituency by-election last August which the APC, led by Governor Bello, won with 26,860, nearly doubling the votes recorded by the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party), which came second with 14,845.

“Second was the 2019 general elections in which the Kogi people delivered the state to the APC, led by Governor Yahaya Bello; as we won over 95 percent of all votes cast. President Muhammadu Buhari recorded 285,894, to defeat his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who polled 218,207.

“Governor Bello and the APC went on to produce two senators out of three, seven House of Representatives members out of nine, and all 25 state assemblymen-an unprecedented record and the most devastating win by any party in any election in Kogi State.”

He added that Governor Bello had grown the APC in the state from about 50,000 registered members in 2016 to over 500,000 now. The ranks of the ruling party, he stressed, had also been expanded by almost the entire PDP structure in the state, noting that PDP members had been defecting to the APC in droves, simply to support the governor’s re-election bid.


Fanwo also denied that the governor owed the state workers 34 months’ salary.

“Governor Bello does not owe workers 34 months’ salary. Currently, there is three months’ outstanding at the state, which is actually a carryover of the three months owed state civil servants.

“Nine months are owed teachers, with 25 months of accumulated percentages owed local government workers, spreading over the past eight years.

“Even the inherited three months’ salary will be defrayed in the weeks ahead,” Fanwo defended.

Besides, the governor put a lie to the CAFI allegation that no fewer than four senior public workers committed suicide as a result of hunger and frustration.

“Again, CAFI lied. We wait for them to publish the names and death certificates of the alleged suicides so we can properly engage them at the proper venue for fake news and cybercrimes.

“Governor Bello brought peace and security to Kogi State. From being the kidnap capital of the country when he came into office in 2016, Kogi is now rated the second most peaceful state in the country and the most peaceful in the entire North by the Nigerian Peace Index. The National Bureau of Statistics also rates Kogi as the state with the second lowest crime rate in the country. These claims can easily be verified if CAFI was not peopled by intellectual ducks,” he added.

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APC may use Faleke

However, there are indications that the APC leadership may re-draft James Abiodun Faleke into the race, to compensate him for losing out in the quest to succeed the late Abubakar Audu, when the latter died suddenly when he was already costing home to victory a day after the 2015 election, which was subsequently declared inconclusive.

Faleke who was his running mate had sought to succeed him as governor but the then APC leadership under Chief John Odigie-Oyegun aborted the dream and instead, called up Bello, who placed second at the governorship primary, to succeed the late Audu.

Faleke, who currently represents Ikeja Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, raced to court and pursued the case up to the Supreme Court but lost.

In the same vein, the party is reportedly tinkering with the idea of using the late former governor’s son, Mustapha Audu, as running mate, to woo the large Igala population that often determines where the pendulum swings.

But sneering at the permutation, Fanwo said, “CAFI is welcome to try its hands on selling the expired products they are working for, and let us see how the people will respond. Their products were rejected before, and will be rejected again in November 2019.”


 Ondo Governor, Akeredolu also under the heat

Meanwhile, same CAFI has said that it is equally determined to deny the Ondo State governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, an APC return ticket, come November 2020.


Last week, it launched its Ondo State chapter in Akure, amid pomp and ceremony.

Speaking with The Nigerian Xpress correspondent shortly after the state’s chapter of the CAFI was inaugurated, Okeyomi lambasted Akeredolu, accusing him of engaging in anti-party activities and being too controversial, and “has taken on too many politicians in one form of quarrel or the other.”

“The governor is controversial; he has taken on too many politicians in one form of disagreement or the other. He is quarrelling with the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; he is not in good terms with our national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole; he is not cordial with President Muhammadu Buhari; he is fighting with the state (former) party chairman. No, we the articulate and progressive members of the APC cannot condone that.

“How can a governor be campaigning openly for AA, Action Alliance, another political party, when he is in APC? Those whom he misled from our party to AA to go and contest there are now regretting the action. Then the governor said people should be planting Indian hemp. Would that not suggest that he smokes it?

“We are determined to stop both Akeredolu and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi from picking our ticket. APC cannot afford to use non-sellable people as candidates again,” Okeyomi declared.

He, however, informed that the CAFI in Ondo State had been tasked to penetrate the grassroots and mobilise party members, noting that from the knowledge of hindsight, he could confirm that direct primary elections would be conducted in both Kogi and Ondo states.

But in a swift reaction, the Ondo State chairman of the APC, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, described the CAFI as a strange group, expressing surprise that “non-existent allegations” could be levelled against the state governor.

Adetimehin said: “The governor is not fighting me, he is not fighting the party or anybody for that matter. You could see that he was recently with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and that he also attended a meeting between President Buhari and the South-West governors.

“If he is fighting these people, would he go to meet them?”

He added that those maligning the governor were people who could not secure political appointments in the administration.

“Truly, everybody cannot get political appointment but if we are all patient, it will reach our turn at one time or the other. What should be our concern is that, is the governor doing well in the area of infrastructural provisions? Yes, everybody can attest to Akeredolu’s great performance.

“In taking care of party members, he may not have done it 100 percent but we are going round, talking to our people to seek their understanding; and in due course, everything will be sorted out,” Adetimehin clarified.