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Unguarded Speeches And Executive Rascality In Kogi State: Need For Concern, By Ogacheko Opaluwa

September 7, 2022

Alhaji Yahaya Bello, APC's usurping and President Muhammad Buhari's imposition Governor of Kogi is of a renowned boastful personage. And this is known to virtually all that associate with or have interacted with him although some that know him more closely when he was a nobody claim he used to be a timid scraggy lad from a poor background. If this account is true, it means that Bello is merely affirming Lord Acton's (1834-1902) popular quote that said 'power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.' Most of us from Kogi State particularly from the Eastern geo-political flank have refrained from speaking out against the many shenanigans and poor governance in Kogi State all these while principally for two reasons. Firstly, as Igalas such would be interpreted as 'bellyaching' vituperations by a monopolistic majority that allowed power to slip through their fingers rather providentially. Secondly, corruption and poor governance is not the prerogative of Alhaji Yahaya Bello of Kogi State alone as these have become hallmarks of governance in Nigeria under any form; be it military dictatorships or democratic governments. Many before us have railed against and shouted themselves hollow about corruption and poor governance in Nigeria, yet like a malignant tumor they won't go away. I therefore reserved my limited energy for more progressive issues concerning our dear nation and leave Emperor Yahaya Bello to rule Kogi State as his personal empire for eight years at most. At least this is as it currently stands constitutionally. However, who knows whether before the expiration of his statutory tenure he will perform magic to get the Constitution amended to make him 'Emperor for Life' in the mould of late Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the now embattled Central African Republic. Don't be surprised, it is a possibility in Nigeria if we have people like Alhaji Yahaya Bello and his ilks in Nigeria that are willing to dole out slush State resources to achieve their personal ambitions at all cost. Not even the shambolic and bloody 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State in which against the law and all democratic norms, both the State and President Muhammad Buhari's led government conspired by all means to rig to Alhaji Yahaya Bello back to Luggard House merited journalistic energies of some of us. This was not because we were not concerned, rather it was due to the fore knowledge that such would amount to dissipating effort unnecessarily in a nation that was doomed to a fate of misrule by charlatans and corrupt persons right from its very foundations. Despite the national uproar and international condemnation that greeted the obnoxious gubernatorial election of 2019 in Kogi State, we are yet to see any culprit being successfully prosecuted in the courts. Instead, all that mattered to President Buhari and his APC party is how to win all future elections at all costs. It does not matter if dissenting or competing parties or persons are murdered, maimed or have their properties destroyed. The fitting slogan of this government at all times seems to be 'the ends justify the means.' Executive impunity, legislative indifference and judicial rascality are common denominators of governance in Nigeria. So tell me, why will any sane person dissipate energy crying to these incestuos trio for remedies; with Kogi State being the worst place to go looking for such?

However, the recent statements credited to Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the uppitious Emperor of Kogi State is making me to break tradition and join the cacophony of voices that are currently raising alarm over what those statements portend to peace, safety and harmony of peoples of Kogi State particularly and fate of democracy in Nigeria generally. He was alleged to have addressed his Igbirra people at either Okehi or Ihima Local Government Area during a recent political outing. In the address that he rendered in Igbirra language and which has been trending on internet ever since, it was alleged that the boastful Governor warned his detractors that he was going to up his game in the forthcoming 2023 general elections over and above what he, in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria did during the 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State. According to the translated version of his speech that had also been trending on social media, he vowed to personally lead an armed putsch against any opposing voice in Kogi State and fill the graves with their innocent blood and their poor souls will run errands for his late mother in the world beyond. He was alleged according to the translates speech to have also promised to send his death squad after those that speak against his government, even if in whispers and in the confines of their bedrooms, to be brought before him to suffer consequences of their impudent behaviors before him; possibly through violent and extra-judicial death in his hands. And for those he is going to send on such devious errands, they were equally warned sternly by the Emperor to either deliver or suffer same fate with his real or perceived enemies. I shuddered on reading those allegations but my logical mind refused to accept that those words could come from a sane, responsible and a sitting Governor of a State. However, many antecedents of the exuberant Governor especially during the 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State is making me to thread on path of caution. Moreso, his much vaunted but failed presidential ambition seem to sit like an anal sore on his person and this makes him to be in a vengeful mood currently. Therefore, there is every need to draw attention of the nation and the world once again to the danger inherent in those careless and dangerous statements that were alleged to have been made by Alhaji Yahaya Bello of Kogi State recently. This is in the belief that there are still some patriotic, conscientious and God fearing persons within the ranks of President Muhammad Buhari's APC government, that can alert their principal to the evil plot of his Kogi political godson which unless handled appropriately and immediately, is capable of plunging the entire nation into chaos. My use of the phrase 'in the belief' here is deliberate and is because, having witnessed many elections in Nigeria with particular reference to the 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State, I came to a realization that what Alhaji Yahaya Bello of Kogi State is planning through those unguarded statements towards 2023 general elections are not new to Nigerian politicians and political parties. Yahaya Bello of Kogi State from all indications may only be echoing his party's strategic plan for rigging the 2023 presidential election given the party's opprobrious and odious profile lately arising from its dismal governance score card under President Muhammad Buhari's leadership. In addition, the desperation and arrogance being exhibited by most politicians within the ranks of the ruling party have alienated it further from majority of Nigerians. Thus, there is need for APC to think out alternative strategies for hoodwinking and intimidating the electorate into submission before 2023 elections. One can therefore be forgiven to conclude that perhaps Yahaya Bello is merely echoing the plan of his party. If I may ask, is that the rational way to go for a party or politicians? Certainly not except that we are talking about Nigeria where politicians can do anything out of desperation. Rather than throw up some of its few polished, unsoiled and patriotic members that can appeal to the Nigerian electorate, the APC decided to parade its overly ambitious, selfish and profligate kleptomaniacs as poster men thereby squandering whatever political capital the party has left in kitty. If Alhaji Yahaya Bello's alleged feverish gibbers indeed represent APC's alternative plan to normal democratic processes come 2023, it will be the most unfortunate and senseless way to reward many Nigerians that voted for APC in 2015 and 2019 against all odds. Again I shudder to think that those reprehensible and inciteful statements that were credited the boastful, self-proclaimed emperor represent the thinking of APC as a political party that is seeking for votes in the 2023 general elections in Nigeria. If this position is correct, the wise thing for APC to do in the circumstance is to disclaim those statements as being purely the personal ambition and plan of Alhaji Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. Similarly, it is expected that Nigeria's law enforcement agencies would have been sufficiently alarmed and alerted by those incendiary statements and their potential for causing general break down of law and order beyond Kogi State. Therefore, not only will they prepare adequately for any eventuality therefrom, but also document it against Alhaji Yahaya Bello in order for him to answer to them ultimately at the appropriate time. I need not remind those that govern us including Alhaji Yahaya Bello that nobody is above the law and whoever transgresses the laws of our country would be sanctioned appropriately. As has been observed by concerned citizens in Nigeria, the Constitution of Nigeria has allocated too much powers to certain public officials holding executive positions like the President, Governors and Local Government Council Chairmen. The legislatures that were created to checkmate their excesses have atrophied into mere 'rubber stamps' and patronizing accomplices for a mere 'plate of porridge.' This is not to talk of the judiciary that has failed woefully and is now commonly referred to as a place of 'cash and carry justice'. The knowledge that the Constitution has allocated too much powers to executive positions in Nigeria and absence of checks and balances may have informed the executive recklessness of Nigerian Governors most of whom are acting as modern day 'Rhodes' in our midst. Alhaji Yahaya Bello as a Governor knows this too and has capitalized on it to do as he likes in Kogi State over the past 7 years without anyone or group having the wherewithal to question him. To me, it is not his making but that of the wise men from West that connived with the former military juntas to cobble a wobbly and porous Constitution which the Federal Government is exploiting at the expense of States and State Governors at the expense of citizens. He has however taken it too far this time around, and needs to be cautioned that there will always be a time of reckoning; no matter how long it takes to arrive. I will therefore advise him as I would advise a younger brother to undo those words quickly if it is true that he said them and the translations were correct. Let him rather use the remaining period of his tenure to work assiduously to bring peace, harmony and progress to Kogi State so that he can be forgiven by posterity for the way he ruined Kogi State literally. I also urge him to refrain from reckless use of executive power because it is not finite. It will soon come to an end and whether we like it or not, all those that were entrusted with power and resources in Nigeria must account for them somedays. The youths and indeed most Nigerians are on the match to evolve a new Nigeria away from the retrogressive path that APC has led it over the past seven years. No plan or antics or intimidation can stop them. A word they say, is enough for the wise.


Ogacheko Opaluwa is a Freelance Journalist and a Public Affairs Commentator. He contributed this piece from Addis Ababa.