Rt Hon Abdullahi Bello, was speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly and a former Acting Governor of the state. In this Interview with our correspondent, Obansa Ibrahim, says his party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC), is well positioned to win the November 11, 2023 governorship election in the state. He maintained that the candidate of his party Alhaji Ododo Ahmed Usman is far better and equipped for governance than all the other candidates.
How do you rate the chances of your party, APC in the coming November Gubernatorial election in Kogi State?
I am confident of our victory without any iota of doubts.
My party APC have done well in terms of holding the State together united and in peace. There are so many great achievements cutting across the three Senatorial District that the current Governor have put in place, that will enhance our chances towards attaining total victory in November. And these are in the areas of infrastructures, education, health and rural development among others. Salaries have been paid as at when due. What the government did in the area of staff Salaries particularly in the Local government is novel, that is, instead of retrenchment, the government decided to pay what is available to cover all civil servants instead of few. And thus retrenchment was avoided in the last 7 years of Yahaya Bello’s administration. And Ododo will do better. He has learned governance and it’s critical ethics and demands.
But some critics says your party is too weak and divided from within that the APC will not be victorious in Nov election, they cited that, other party flag bearers like Ajaka, Dino etc left APC to pursue their ambition, and that most founding members of the party like you and many others are not seen or involved in the ongoing campaign, what is your view on this?
The pathway to our victory is clear. We will win conveniently in the November election in Kogi State by the grace of God. I will not reveal the strategic path, but these individuals whom you mentioned that left our party to pursue their ambition in other parties is a good source of strength for us in APC. That is what I will say for that for now. And not seeing someone like me around the candidate doesn’t mean that I am not supporting my party and our candidate. Alh Usman Ododo our gubernatorial candidate is chosen from the heart of my traditional political base. We have perfected plans of how we will deliver him in November. Just wait and see by November how the results will be. I can assure you that Ododo is better by far among all the contenders and in-shaa Allah, on 27th January 2024, he will be sworn into office as the next Governor of Kogi State, taking over from the white lion. Kogi’s fortune will increase under Ododo, there will be more peace, inclusivity and progress with development. The purpose of good governance have been learned and this will manifest with Ododo’s administration.
All other foundation members of APC are ready and committed towards the party’s victory.
That you don’t see us walking the streets with our teeming supporters and foot soldiers doesn’t mean that we are against our party.
No. We support our party APC with all our political goodwill and strength. Someone like me being a Former Honorable Speaker, and by the provisions of Article 12.6 of our party Constitution, I am a Member of the North-Central Zonal Executive Committee of the party, and by implications an automatic Member of the National Gubernatorial Campaign Council for Kogi State. We’re working hard for our party’s victory in the coming elections in November.
Some people have accused Governor Yahaya Bello of ethnic bigotry for abandoning his Deputy, and by ensuring the emergence of Ododo, whom they also alleged are cousins and from the same Ward, are these true and if yes, how do you think this will affect your party’s chances of victory?
Let me start by stating that not all these claims are true. Yes, we cannot deny that Ododo is a Nigerian from Kogi and an Ebira like Governor Yahaya Bello, we cannot also deny that both are from Okene, but they’re not cousins or from the same Ward. And more importantly that he satisfied the requirements of the law for this position.
Let me take you to the memory lane. I will leave the period of His Excellency Prince Abubakar Audu’s era out of what I’m about to say here. The next Governor after Prince Audu was His Excellency, Alh Ibrahim Idris, and his Deputy for more than 8yrs in office was our respected son Chief Phillip Salawu, from Kogi central where Governor Bello hails from.
Gov Ibrahim Idris failed the State by bringing an unknown Idris Wada from his ethnic group and a close friend of him to take the rein of authority and governance. And in-between these two gentle men, I was sworn into office as the Acting Governor of my State, Kogi. That was on Friday the 27th of January 2012, the day the Supreme Court sacked 5 sitting Governors in Nigeria, that day it was like the world has come to an end, that an Ebira will sit on the seat of government in Luggard house.
It was like a taboo. Do you know that as the court judgment became public that Governor Ibrahim failed to invite me for briefing even when he knew that I was the person to be sworn in as Acting Governor, and I will then properly prepare the swearing ceremony of Capt Idris Wada?
Gov Ibrahim Idris abandoned this legal path and decided to sworn in Capt Wada thereby nearly thrown our State into an otherwise avoidable crisis. I took over properly as sworn by the Chief Judge, the person recognized by the 1999 Constitution to perform such duty, and I addressed the State and ensured peace.
Governor Ibrahim found it difficult to see any Non-Igala on the seat of government after him or at the end of his tenure. People should not easily forget this very nauseating episode of our political history.
They dragged me to the Villa in Abuja as the Acting Governor and impressed upon me to revert back to my post of Speaker.
The Vice President Namadi Sambo who was the Acting President at the time because President Goodluck traveled outside the Country, specifically appeal to me to return back and hand over back to Capt. Idris Wada.
If Governor Idris found nothing good about me serving as Acting Governor for few days and also didn’t consider Chief Phillips Salawu worthy to take over from him, to me Governor Yahaya Bello merely follow the precedence and the standard in this regard as set by those who came before him. And Chief Olafemi who as the Speaker and Acting Governor of Kogi State supervised a re-run election and returned Governor Ibrahim Idris back to office successfully as an Okun man was not fit to take over after Governor Ibrahim ended his tenure neither his Ebira Deputy was fit enough to occupy the seat of government.
There is this story that most people didn’t know about how miraculously Chief Olafemi became the Acting Governor in the first place.
He was forced to resign his position of Speaker so that his Deputy an Igala can take over and later that day be sworn in as Acting Governor. Luckily Chief Olafemi forgot his resignation letter at home by the time he arrived the Assembly complex the Supreme Court has delivered it’s judgment and in the eyes of the law he was the Speaker when this judgment became known officially and he couldn’t read his resignation letter. This was how Chief Olafemi became Acting Governor in Kogi State. The man is alive, you can verify this from him.
So who laid the ethnic foundation in Kogi’s politics, Gov Yahaya Bello or those before him? I am of the strongest opinion that Governor Yahaya Bello has done excellently well in terms of ethnic balancing.
Your final take?
My appeal is for all Kogi citizens to conduct themselves peacefully as we go through this election season. We’re one people under Allah Who Created us. We’re one citizen under the constitution of our nation, and we’re one in Kogi State. Therefore let’s approach the election with maximum caution, and thus minimize conflict.
Whom God has chosen is known to Him, and we shouldn’t kill and maim ourselves for what is divine and has been decided by Allah Almighty.What will be will be. Usman Ododo will take over from Governor Yahaya Bello in-shaa Allah. And let’s consolidate on a renewed hope of good governance that the combination of Usman Ododo and that of President Bola Tinubu’s era will usher unto us in Kogi State and Nigeria.