Kogi: The Albatross On APC's Neck Ahead November 16 Guber Election



By Abdulkarim Salihu

Its 100 days plus to  Kogi State governorship election scheduled for November 2019, and unless the All Progressive Congress, APC acts with speed and precision, the Confluence State would add up another digit in number of states where the ruling party has lost.

All things being equal, there was no  reason for APC to lose Zamfara, Bauchi, Imo , but it did, due to indecisiveness and sentiments. Kogi looks good to join this list as I would show below: First, the Zamfara senario is already in place -  Kogi APC have   two factions of the State Executive Council, SEC, both already in court to  determine which one is the legitimate executive. Thus, perchance Gov Bello wins, and his faction loses in court, APC would lose Kogi. If the other faction wins in court, and Bello wins at the polls, APC still loses Kogi.

Second, going by the game of numbers, Kogi East Senatorial District which boasts of over 50% of votes needed for a governor to win have already rolled out their tanks to battle Gov Bello to the last man. ''Gov Bello's performance in office is the worst we have seen in recent times'', says Kogi's Elders Council led by the irrepressible Alex Kadiri,  also an APC chieftain is from this zone.  Thus one can see that the  APC machinery are  not 100% with him, such that if he goes into  the election, his loss would be certain as he would not only be going with a divided house, but he would  be certain to be sabotaged from within. Here a possible repeat of the  Bauchi scenario where APC incumbent governor lost to PDP would come to play. Can a house divided against itself stand?

Third, while Gov Bello shamelessly drops the name of  President Mohammadu Buhari as his godfather, the truth of the matter is that he is actually a burden, an encumbrance, an albatross to Kogi APC.

Yes, Gov Bello is an albatross on Kogi APC's neck. The word, albatross coined from S.T. Coleridge's poem 'The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner', signifies a burden, a form of distress, especially one that impairs effective action. From unfolding events, Gov Bello impairs the capacity of APC leadership to take action how to salvage Kogi.

A journalist, George Oyedepo  sums up the situation thus:  ''The president (Muhammadu Buhari) has a good opportunity to show example by denying Yahaya Bello and telling him the truth. If he is truly a son, he will not disgrace and spoil his father’s name and so he should not contest.

''He should not contest not because there is fear he can win, but because there is fear presidency is behind him. There is concern that his violent antecedents will come during elections and his do or die attitude will be on ground"

Fourth, Gov Bello has become a sinking man clutching at any straw.  His mien and body language shows a desperado. His desperation is such that he will sacrifice anything - including shedding the blood of innocent Kogites - read Oyedepo again,  or take any short cut to achieve his ambition.

Bello's desperado and  his battle within was glaring on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 when he showed up at APC's National Secretariat, Abuja, to pick his nomination forms. He showed up with Alhaji Haddy Ametuo who had been in court with the Abdulahi Bello's factional SEC loyal to the governor since early 2018.

Ametuo told journalists that the factional crisis has been resolved, and Kogi APC is now one. He lied.

Earlier, he had sold out to Gov Bello, an action which not only misled the APC's NWC, but also heated up the polity.

What has emerged is a desperate Bello attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of APC leadership a second time.

Gov Bello attempted this trick and succeeded when he bribed  Ametuo to transmit a letter  to APC's NWC causing the APC to decide that indirect primary would be used to select its governorship candidate.

 Ametuo claimed in his letter to APC's NWC that the case in court to determine the genuine party executives has been withdrawn and all executives and stakeholders have come to a reconciliation and unanimously agreed to adopt indirect primaries.

However, a APC chieftain,  Hon. Danladi Yusufu stated the true position thus: “The NWC was deceived by a letter written by Ametuo who had a foreknowledge of the NWC meeting on Friday. He lied to them that the case pending in Federal High Court Abuja, have been withdrawn and the faction has settled and collectively adopted indirect primaries,”

The fact is that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja adjourned the suit  on the lingering fractionalization crisis to October 2, 2019.

The danger in Bello's desperation is that sooner than expected, the true position shows up. Following Ametuo's lies  to APC's NWC,   some members of his action led by Mr Tom Adejo factional APC state secretary, along side other executives including  Apostle Destiny Eneojoh Aromeh, Ex-officio, Isah Abubakar, State Organising Secretary and Noah Aku, State Zonal Youth Leader equally wrote  APC's NWC to inform them that the case before the Federal High Court Abuja is still pending.

They also urged  the NWC to review their earlier decision in favour of indirect primaries in 48 hours, advising them exercise restraint pending the determination of the case before the court.

Destiny Aromeh,  one of the  signatories opined that: ''since there are two factions of APC State executives in Kogi State, with a pending case in court to avoid a recap of the unfortunate saga in Zamfara and Rivers States - which torpedoed the party to zilch, a situation where there where the party ended up not fielding candidates in those States -  happening in Kogi State, the APC NWC has to reverse their decision on the adoption of indirect primaries to adopting a direct primaries pending the determination of the case instituted by our faction on which executive is the authentic one.

How desperate is Gov Bello? How far will he go to pick APC's ticket? Besides, bending over  to resolve, albeit fraudulently,  the internal crisis rocking the Kogi APC since  May 18, 2018, where two different executive councils emerged from the two parallel congresses conducted by the party’s two  factions;  It has also emerged that he is willing to put up over N1 billion to buy nomination forms for as many as over 44 governorship aspirants, who he will use as a pressure group to force APC to bend to his whims and caprices.

The intent in using State resources in buying forms for  governorship aspirants is to borrow from simliar tactics used by former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima to plant Babagana Umara-Zulum as his successor. Shettima bought nomination forms for about ten out of the 21 aspirants. The ten were later to step down from the governorship primary and pledge support for Umara-Zulum, while others were forced to boycott the primary.

Indeed, 37 pro-Bello  have already declared support for Bello and for indirect primary which he favours. Chairman of the group known as Kogi APC governorship aspirants coalition, Amade Edime, had previously not been  in reckoning previously as an aspirant for  the governorship ticket. But he has today become a willing horse for Gov Bello to ride to his ambition.

But the determined and purposeful opposition to Bello are vigilant, as a group of twenty Kogi governorship aspirants led by the grassroots mobiliser, Mohammed Ali are ready to take him on.  In a letter to APC's NWC rejecting indirect primary as the decision taken by NWC was done without adequate consultation with critical stakeholders in the state, the aspirants argued in their protest letter addresssed to National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole. Following up with a visit to the APC National Secretariat they maintained:

“We categorically reject the indirect primary adopted by our party for Kogi election.

“We urge the national leadership of the party to set up an Independent Caretaker Management Committee without delay with the sole mandate of providing a level playing ground for a popular direct primary involving  all card-carry members in the state.

“As loyal party men, we would not fold our arms and allow our party to suffer huge political loss,” he affirmed

Ordinarily, an incumbent would have been a guarantee that APC may keep Kogi, but Kogites sees Gov Bello as liability who must be eased out by every means possible.

According to a Kogi-based political group, Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), Bello is  “an impending danger if allowed to be the party’s flag bearer in the forthcoming Kogi gubernatorial election”.

The group's spokesperson, Mr. Amos Alfa, maintains that Bello’s administration will go down in the history of Kogi State as the “most atrocious, given the backlog of debts, accrued pension, refusal to pay workers’ salary, absence of probity in the management of resources, and deficient public service management”.

However, Gov Bello is equally  facing the most consistent pressure from  Convener of the Kogi APC Stakeholders Forum, Sen. Alex Kadiri who recently again petitioned President Buhari, urging him to step down his support for the governor.

The Forum in the petition argued that “Governor Yahaya Bello was never elected by the good people of Kogi State. The death of Abubakar Audu made it possible for Bello to be Kogi State Governor. He has shown everyone that he lacks leadership abilities. He can’t fight for the rights and privileges of Kogi people.

“If the party fields him as a candidate, we are sure of losing the state to the opposition'

It is very instructive to note that even without bailout and other funds received outside statutory allocation, Governor Yahaya Bello could have still paid all salaries including pensions without conducting multiple screening and inflicting pains on Kogi State and local government workers. This must hurt APC at the polls'', they maintained.

From this point, it is obvious that the situation would degenerate and possibly lead to worse consequences for the party if it fails to act and act very fast too.

Whether APC would sacrifice Bello to keep APC is a question whose answer is blowing in the winds, nonetheless, the fact remains that he is a liability,  an anxiety and an embarrassment to the ruling party.


Salihu, Executive Director, Good Governance and Democracy Facilitators in Nigeria, GGDFN, writes from Lokoja. He can be reached at karim.salihu@gmail.com.
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