With two local governments yet to be collated, but already with a commanding lead of over 200,000 votes, the re-election of Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB) of Kogi State, is all but confirmed. One can only enquire about festivities to herald the gift of four more years, so as to join in the programmed wining and dining in celebration of this “well deserved” victory! GYB is back to Lugard House, take it or leave it!
Neither bothering oneself with the genuineness, or otherwise, of the entirety of votes garnered by Yahaya Bello and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to massacre Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Engr. Musa Wada, or the purity of the entire process, already porkmarked by video evidences of violence, brutality and substantial departure from the ethics of free, fair and credible elections, but stringently concentrate on the consequences, aftermath the poll (however painful that may be), one can see, that Kogi State, already beguiled by years of poor governance, and bedevilled with leaders who have no business with the art and science of controlling a people’s commonwealth, is a very long shot off redemption. That state, like Nigeria herself, can’t just get her leadership recruitment process right.
Save party diehards in Lokoja and environs, party supporters across the country oblivious of the happenings in that confluence state, and party apparatchiks in Abuja, chaperoned by Mr. Bello’s tendering Aso Rock godfather, President Muhammadu Buhari, I doubt if there was any analyst who foresaw victory for Mr. Bello in Saturday’s governorship poll, not even in the margin in which the massacre was delivered; horrendous? incredible? outrageous? One can go on and on, to describe what was meant to be a loss, now shaped a “miracle” thanks to Abuja baring her fangs, and procuring, willy-nilly, victory for her beloved son, in whom she is indeed, well pleased.
Mr. Bello did all within his power to lose. Forget his renaming of the Kogi State University after the deceased Abubakar Audu, or the purchase of a brand new Rolls Royce to the Attah of Igalla, not minding the terrible condition of roads in the Attah’s domain. Truth is, yes, he did all that needed to be done not to earn a second term. Not only was his emergence shrouded in the worst controversy ever, having been selected to replace the deceased Abubakar Audu, at the cusp of victory in the 2015 governorship poll (in defiance to all known legal and political considerations), but also has his governance been immature, puerile, childish and bereft of any logic. While reports have it that he owes workers around 38 months salaries (he may have made frantic efforts to defray parts of it weeks to the election, and will sure have enough now to pay up, considering the N10B just released to him by his “daddy”); has polarised and traumatized the judiciary, to the extent that the State Chief Judge, Nassir Ajana, after initially holding him at arms length for several years, and fighting to save the soul of the judiciary, has now dropped arms, only to himself quiver at Mr. Bello’s feet, probably when he saw he was alone, as the National Judicial Council (NJC), seemed to have left him to his own fate; has emasculated the legislature to the point those ones are willing to shed their last blood to satisfy his orgies; has lived in Abuja more than he has delivered good governance to Kogi; superintended, albeit unwisely, the impeachment of his erstwhile deputy, Simon Achuba, (in connivance with a grovelling legislature), nearly three weeks to re-election, despite the investigating panel giving the beleaguered Achuba a clean bill of health; has alienated the Audu-Faleke Group (forget the hastily contrived reconciliation); plus the absence of social amenities advertised in very bad roads, dilapidated schools, and several poorly executed public policies, all under the guidance of Mr. Bello. It therefore needed no gift of sorcery to predict Mr. Bello’s ouster; he in fact, qualified to be defeated, and humbled, savagely at the polls.
To worsen matters, and to publicise Abuja’s hypocrisy, Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, First Lady, Aisha Buhari, and other federal top-notch, went on their kneels at the closing campaigns of their party to as they said; “apologize on behalf of Bello, for his misdeeds”, with the inimitable el-Rufai saying; “he (Bello) is a young man, and can make mistakes, but that, he’s corrected them”. So, all this while, Abuja knew of Mr. Bello’s serial misdemeanors, but decidedly looked elsewhere, probably not to offend President Buhari, and the Aso Rock cabal, who see in Bello, a son worthy of being backed. And with the ubiquitous National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, reputed to being an upholder of party discipline and rewarder of excellence, also acquiscing to the choice of re-presenting Bello, without as much as a whimp, Abuja’s “two-face” cannot be less visible, especially if the way and manner a certain Akinwumi Ambode was dispensed with, despite visible evidences of credible performance is brought to light.
Whatever are the opinions of commentators, writings of essayists, and the feelings of Kogites; hopeless and helpless, who now have to endure four more years of Mr. Bello’s infantile governance, what matters to Abuja is that Kogi State has been retained, and will probably be of good value come 2023. What matters to President Buhari and the APC hegemony is not that Mr. Bello did not deliver on any points of meaningful governance, but that she has succeeded in foisting him on Kogites, who have no choice, but to live with that tragic choice.
For Kogites, hard and unfeeling as this may seem, methinks they deserve no pity; for right in their eyes, they ensured Mr. Bello was returned. They have to live with that choice, for that’s what democracy prescribes. Much as the PDP, (not herself a better choice, but a tragic alternative that should’ve been considered if only to punish the garrulous Mr. Bello), may cry foul and claim she was rigged out, one cannot but blame Kogites, and the political establishment for allowing such to happen in the first instance! First is, why was it so difficult for those who contested against Musa Wada unable to come to terms with his candidature, even weeks to the election? That Dino Melaye, that colourful yet funny Senator supported Engr. Wada not in itself out of a personal volition, but down more to political survival; his political life having being twined to that of his party’s candidate, is itself a terrible situation. The PDP should blame itself for having a divided house. Why was it difficult for other contestants, (even from other parties), to rally round Wada, and form a rainbow coalition, reminiscent of the Oyo example? Though, that may be a tough choice in itself, considering the “treatment” coalition partners have been receiving from the Oyo State governor, truth is, the common enemy, “the APC” would’ve first been dealt a political blow, before partners air their grievances; much like chasing the hyena away, before bouncing on the hen!
And for Kogites to have “allowed” rigging, either through over or covert participation in vote buying, docility in ensuring politicians get away with violence, and of course, electing to stay away from voting, thus allowing the minority decide the majority’s fate, they’re welcome to four more years of Bello’s uncommon style of governance. The age-long maxim that “you only rig where you’re popular, or where the people connive”, readily comes to mind. A people deserve the leader they get one will say!
For the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), particularly under Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, the gains of credible elections under Prof. Attahiru Jega, applauded globally, and adored locally, are gradually being lost every election cycle. From one election to the other, it’s been tales of malfunctioning card readers, logistic challenges, never-ending collation process, to open rigging, violence and brigandage. Aside the Jega-organised 2015 polls that were adjudged credible, subsequent Mahmoud Yakubu-midwifed poll has left a lot to be desired.
In cohorts with the police, and the military, the APC has left no one in doubt that she has learnt the ropes intelligently from the PDP, and that she will do anything, and everything, to perpetuate herself in office. To promoters of the “broom revolution”, the theme for electoral management since her 2015 ascension to power, seem to be “rig first, complain later”. It will therefore require something akin to a miracle, to dislodge a party with such “winner takes all mentality” from power. It pretty looks difficult.
In all of this tedious, yet untenable calculations, the people generally, and Kogi people particularly, are the ultimate losers. As things stand, those who lead them can now develop an air of invisibility; bother less about democratic dividends and deliverables, make campaigns a routine rather than a ritual, and like the non-performing Bello, who has just been gifted a second term; take the people for a ride, after all, what do they know?
On the strength of Bello’s re-election, to be announced in the coming hours, Kogi State is sure very very far from redemption. One can only wish her people, all the very best.