By Ayokunle Oloye
“Elections matter”, the oft said parlance in politics can’t be truer than ever before than the Confluence state.
Kogi is a state so Nigerian, one will see the collision of all the factors that make Nigeria both beautiful and complex, while the same time inspiring and confounding in one of its thirty-six states seating right at the confluence of the great river systems that make this beautiful land of ours what it is.
The current governor, a product of marchiavillan intrigues was a product of “no election” hence one would expect “no results” in such null void logical situation. This according to the critics of Yahaya Bello has been the case.
In four years, distinguished citizens of Nigeria’s confluence state and by far one of the most blessed in natural and Human Resources have questioned their bad luck of leadership or the absence of it.
As indicated, the incumbent Governor, Yahaya BELLO was largely a political unknown when he emerged Governor against all odds without a single campaign promise, when the Late Governor Audu passed on the evening of his virtual win at the first round of Kogi’s 2015 elections.
Despite the seemingly contentious and constitutionally nebulous provisions that enabled the party to nominate him, who by the time of the Kogi General Elections was already in the opposition party, to inherit the mandate given to Alhaji Abubakar Audu, one would be forgiven if there was still some residual base level expectations for good governnace. After all, the mandate was for the party and one will expect Mr. Bello to keep that side of the bargain with the people.
But what has descended on Kogi state since that fateful decision has been the worst kind of governance any state can witness. With a combination of a reign of terror that Yahaya BELLO- the unknown that became Governor- unleashed on Kogi, to a perpetual drama of contention with various actors within and outside his party, it has been as if Kogi state has gone from bad to worse under Governor BELLO.
Lest we forget, the predecessor of the Governor was kicked out because of his penchant for owing salaries. Then Governor Wada, whom Abubakar Audu defeated before he was called to glory that fateful evening before the first round results that gave him a resounding victory was declared, was accused of owing eighteen or more months in salaries as he was bade goodbye by Kogi folks.
But little did they know that judicial tyranny will not only impose a stranger on them: by crook or by choice, but also extinguish their dreams of a more responsive Governor with it!
Since 2015, it appears the stranger is faring worse. On the salary front, our friend Mr. BELLO recently woke up from his slumber and claimed to have paid what he owed while leaving the extant arrears of his predecessors unpaid. Forgetting conveniently that he asked for the job to solve problems, or that he has been the recipient of countless Paris Club Bailout Grants from the Federal Government- the use of which were primarily to pay salary arrears not feather his own nests!
Let us ignore this salient fact for one second: that there is increasing violence in Kogi state that Mr. Yahaya despite being the designated Chief Security Officer of his state had plunged the populace. But can we forget the lack of any visible progress in infrastructure, education or healthcare in Kogi? Is this man even worthy of mention among the most mediocre of Governors when this otherwise rich state has turned to the laughing stock among the comity of states?
Well the answer is blowing in the wind. Add all these realities to the contentious geo-political balance in Kogi that has seen the Governor completely alienated the more populous Kogi-East, and one need not peer too far into the distant future to see a huge loss starring in the face of the All Progressives Congress (APC) if it fields a Yahaya Bello come late 2019 gubernatorial elections.
Dino Melaye, Yahaya’s Alter Ego
The most organized form of opposition to Governor Yahaya began from within his own party, from among his original supporters that later migrated outside of it to continue to torment him- against all odds. The character called Senator Dino Melaye was the original godfather of an unknown Yahaya Bello, with Dino calculating incorrectly that a Tinubu-boy in Honourable Faleke (Mr. Audi’s choice as deputy) was a far dangerous political rival to have in Kogi West than the unknown neophyte from Kogi Central.
No sooner had the newly minted “Governor that did not run for office” settle down into office, did he decide as they all do to cut his benefactor to size. This began the battle-royale that have since produced various hit tracks for would be music producers on social media and online platforms. Decorum have since been thrown to the wind, and the state went from the inane to the absurd to the abominable.
Kogi went from having one Fayose, to watching a drama of the absurdities between two of them. The state descended into a standby victim of melodrama between Senator Melaye and Governor Bello to which it may now be eternally sentenced for at least another year with the return of the efante terrible of Kogi politics in Dino.
But is another Yahaya Bello, despite being clothed as an opposition candidate after he packed his bags from APC to his previous vomit of PDP with Mesujamba, the best option for Kogi state? Can Kogi afford another four years of tragic melodrama between the BELAYEs? Discerning minds think not.
If Kogi will succeed, perhaps it is time to examine the fresh options. Look at this task ahead as that of choosing leaders not casting lots with theatrical characters. Time will tell, even as the people await to choose.