24th June, 2022
By Nurudeen Agbabiaka
The Presidential Primary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, may have come and gone. But, its ghost hovers around government circles in Kogi State. Like a jinni. It is not likely to disappear soon.
The youthful Governor of the state, Yahaya Adoiza Bello was a proud but woeful participant in the exercise. He was perhaps, the first declarant for the race. Bello was inaugurated for a second tenure on 27 January 2020 after a wildly and widely rigged election.
Shortly after, his Presidential campaign posters flooded, Lokoja, the State capital and other cities. So bad was the situation that as early as April, (less than three months after) the Governor had commenced an automated denial of the posters. Statements from Lugard House (Kogi Governor’s official quarters) debunked any link with them.
From that moment till Bello’s shameful performance in Eagle Square, there was no dull moment in the Governor’s melodramatic unpresidential outing. Despite initial denials, his foot soldiers, epitomised in the state lawmakers, soon fretfully took the national stage. One moment they were in Jos. The next, you found them in Abakaliki. Their mission was simply to enlist support for his inordinate Presidential ambition.
In no time, swollen-headed Bello transmuted into a full-fledged emperor in the flesh of a visiting Governor. Abuja was home. His campaign office became the new Kogi Government House. His aides, principal officials and all those who required his input, promptly queued up to see him there.
Birthdays held a special place in the Emperor’s heart. He celebrated it with eclat. His 46th was with pomp and pageantry. His jolly weather friends were in attendance, as no less than four satellite television stations covered the event live, with humongous perforation on the state’s finances.
Bello only visited Kogi ceremoniously. Many times, he may not come home more than once a month. Indeed, the “White Lion” as he prefers to be called, hardly visits more. On an occasion, he came to host disused members of the Nigerian national football team.
On another, he received Nollywood actors and actresses, a breed whose company he adored with rabid affinity. They were all properly rewarded for their efforts. Youth and women groups from across the country fell on each other to hail, partake of the royal pabulum and milk the infamous Kogi cow.
Flagerbasted by the cosmetic hailing noise and in complete disregard of the more realistic wailing voices at home, the Governor claimed on set that ‘all Nigerians’ were yarning for his deliverance. He started seeing himself as a messiah. Oh, how the love of power deceives, before destroying!
The election came and Bello’s performance will irritate all right-thinking mortals. Fourteen aspirants participated in the exercise, in which about 2,300 votes were up for grabs. Former Lagos Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, described as enfant terrible of Nigerian politics won with 1,271 votes, while Bello came a distant fifth, with 47 votes. Bello came behind other sturdy figures namely Rotimi Amechi with 316; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with 235; and Senate President Ahmed Lawan with 152.
The self-acclaimed northern star is a hero in the light of his less inspiring wayfarers. No less than four of the aspirants, made up of a loquacious Lagos clergy, one former southeast Governor, a Buhari apologist and an oil magnate from the south-south recorded no votes at all.
Also, one former Governor from the southeast scored 1, another from the north scored 4 while two serving Governors from the south-south and south-east scored 37 and 38 in that order. All these, after paying a whopping one hundred million Naira nomination fee.
Bello’s 47 votes have been described as symbolic. Someone seriously called it his 47th birthday gift. It is a metaphorical coincidence that June 6-8 primary was separated by days from June 18th, Bello’s birthday.
The nauseating result reflects something more sinister. It reminds me of how weapons of war fail and the mighties fall in battle. It is a rejection of Bello as king. The Governor went to battle with 63 Kogi delegates and returned with 47. Grapevine sources confirm that only 17 of the votes were traceable to the Confluence delegates, while the balance was purchased from.the virile APC delegates black market.
This is certainly a poor showing in. comparison with his fellow defeated incumbent Governors, both of who are recent decampees from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Dave Umahi went with 39 Ebonyi delegates and scored 38 votes. Ben Ayade, a very late entrant, went with 54 and recorded 37 votes.
The vigorous rumour mills say the Governor has been livid and sucking his fingers. He was said to have threatened to deal with those responsible for his poor showing. For this, heads may roll among his betrayals.
Those 47 or 17 votes from the APC Presidential Primary represent a referendum on the clueless government in Kogi State. It is a plebiscite and vote of no confidence on a direction of government. It is a rejection of nepotism, maladministration and impoverishment. It is a renunciation of impunity, tata and everything evil in Yahaya Bello’s misrule.
More than two weeks after the election, all the delegates have returned to base and the contestants, including Tinubu, have gone back to their respective destinations. But not Bello. He has refused to make the two-hour journey to Lokoja. Without doubts, the primary is the reprobation of an absentee Governor and his future projections. The bloody nose may well be a precursor to future blows.
A word, as they say, is enough for the wise. He who has ears, let him hear!
*Nurudeen, an indigen of Kogi State, is a Lagos-based public affairs analyst.