IT has been one week since the Supreme Court declared its verdict on the Kogi State electoral debacle, which began last year. This ought to have rested the controversies surrounding the substitution of late AlhajiAbubakarAudu as All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate for Kogi State, the nomination of the state governor, AlhajiYahaya Bello in standing for the election and the role of the APC in all of this. It was the APC that submitted Bello’s name for the poll. Also in contention were the rejection of Hon James Faleke, by himself, as Bello’s running mate, the role of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in all of this and the eventual declaration of Alhaji Bello as winner of the contest. Immediate past governor of the state, Idris Wada, who re-contested the election on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), claimed that he was denied victory based on what he described as ‘widespread rigging and manipulation of votes.’ Faleke, who was Audu’s running mate in the November 21, 2015 election that was declared inconclusive by INEC journeyed through the tribunal, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court to protest APC’s decision to nominate Bello, arguing that having been Audu’s prospective subordinate, he would have been the rightful candidate. He also chastised INEC for accepting Bello’s choice. Wada had since the verdict of the Supreme Court reportedly congratulated Bello and agreed to work with him, but Faleke still appears unsatisfied with the pronouncement. He is probably taking his case to high Heavens, but not to the throne of God where the Supreme Being would adjudicate and rest his case permanently. If he had channeled his grumbles to God by now, after the last court pronouncement, he would have received divine appeasement, after all by the way events have played out, it is no longer in doubt that all the victories of Alhaji Bello have been divine. In a bid to express his grievances after the rulings, though rudely, Faleke has shown lack of faith in the legal process, which he begun. He and his supporters have in their analyses and paid commentaries, dismissed Bello’s victory at the Supreme Court as ‘mere surface victory’ so as to truncate the peace that the verdict is enthroning on the state and by this, erode people’s confidence in the judgement of the apex court. He is probably attempting to blackmail the courts and make it appear as if the rulings were premised on hatred for him. At the ruling of Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, on 6th June, 2016, Faleke’s petition was dismissed for lack of proof and was told in plain language that all votes cast belong to political parties after he complained that Bello ought not to have inherited Audu’s votes in the November 21 inconclusive poll. Not satisfied with the elucidation of the tribunal that Bello was validly elected as governor, Faleke headed to the appellate court, which threw out his appeal and that of Capt. Wada on Thursday 4th August, 2016. They were again plainly told that Bello was properly nominated by APC as a replacement for Audu who passed away during the election. Ahead of the interpretation of the Supreme Court judgement on 30th September, 2016, Falake is regrettably questioning most of the issues that were in dispute and the judgement of the apex court. They are also quick to observe that by September 30 when the apex court is expected to advance reasons for its decision,the eminent justices might probably regret their earlier position on the matter due ‘intuitive perspectives’ that would spring up by the time ‘calmness takes over their minds.’ According to them, September 30 is quite apart from the September 20 that the judgement was given to allow for this form of attention to detail. Without sounding spiteful, it is important to state here that this form of affront on the highest court in the land is not only perverse, but regrettable. The upsetting odium of this set of persons who have no interest of the people of the state at heart is further aimed at whipping up ethnic hatred in Kogi State, at the time citizens in the state are still luxuriating in the euphoria of the Supreme Court verdict. The seven-man panel of the Supreme Court that adjudicated on the matter is by no means a conglomeration of legal lumininaries with expanse of knowledge and experiences. At different ladder of the legal profession, they have been tested and found worthy. Time and space will fail us if we desire to peruse and state their credentials at this point. Kogites would no longer want to be deceived by this group of persons who are drumming up sentiments. The people of the state know them and their intentions and would do all that which is morally and legally justifiable to resist their schemes this time. They also understand that members of this group are mere power seekers, not peace seekers. An American guitarist and songwriter, Jimi Hendrix aptly said this of them: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” The Kogi people are not traumatized in any way as claimed by this group. Their jubilation all through the period of the legal tussles was genuine, extensive and that of hope. From the plains of Okunland, to the region of Igalaland, and the hills of Ebiraland, the people demonstrated unimaginable joy the moment the apex court, especially, rolled out the verdict in favour of the governor. That has always been their expectation. They are thrilled by the character of the governor and his dispositions to critical matters of the state. In the face of stiff opposition, the governor has always maintained his cool, focusing on his administration’s cardinal change policies that are aimed at revolutionalizing the state. An ardent agent of change, the governor is by no means guilty of trumped up charges that have been put out at the public space to denigrate his development efforts in the state and is not unaware of the popular maxim that says, ‘when victory you fight corruption, corruption fights you back.’ He is grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for his support to the state as well as that of the APC, which has also shown that it is ready to leap the Nigerian state away from the fulcrum of underdevelopment. It is this reason, among others that is propelling the administration of AlhajiYahaya Bello to continue to extend the olive branch to all aggrieved persons in the state, not minding that their grievances are waning in the face of his commitment to effective governance. At the moment, the Kogi State Screening Review and Complaints Committee has released a new schedule for the screening of staff of Local Government Education Authority, State and Local Government Pensioners and Kogi State University workers who have complaints. This is to ensure that workers and retirees in the State are adequately accommodated in the scheme of things and no one is left behind in the welfare package of the administration. The administration is aiming at declaring the state as an agribusiness hub, following the administration’s priorities in manufacturing and farming. To this end, the government has approved the School Farm Scheme Initiative to boost food production and stressed the importance of agriculture on pupils and students. The Government Farm recently set up by the government to complement food supply in the state and beyond, has the capacity of engaging several thousands of citizens wishing to engage in agriculture. President of Dangote Group, AlikoDangote had pledged to support the government in diversifying its economy and the group has announced its sinking of 160 million dollars into coal mining in Ankpa and another N5.2 billion to build the mining industry. When consciously followed, the policy would go a long way to assuaging the pains of the people at this time. Furthermore, through commitment of his economic team, Alhaji Bello is striving at blocking all financial leakages in the state civil service with the ghost workers syndrome also being addressed. It has also tracked scam in pension grants for retirees in the state and in doing this, the administration has further enthroned financial prudence and accountability in boosting the state Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs). When this is achieved, the government will save more funds to implement its socio-economic blueprint for the benefit of all. Through prudence management of financial resources, the administration has also initiated viable projects for implementation, while aiming at completing many others that were initiated by the governor’s predecessor. As at now, the Lokoja township roads have been rehabilitated while the usual heaps of refuge on the streets of Lokoja have disappeared. Citizens of the state today are no longer talking about political party affiliation but the safeguard of the divine leadership at the Luguard House. While Bello does not go so far as to speak of himself as the leader of the economic revolution now in progress, there is no doubt that the people of Kogi state consider the governor at this juncture the instrument by which profound and necessary changes in the Kogi system are to be effected. Bello’s triumph in alleviating the suffering of the commuters by rehabilitating the township roads, boost in revenue generation by blocking leakages in all government agencies, an enhanced blueprint with bottom-up approach of understanding of the needs of every community in Kogi State, cost containment in governance, elimination of State and Local Government Joint Account and strides in agricultural, health and educational sectors are some achievements that have so far established him as most efficient governor with rapid response to the needs, challenges and aspirations of the people. . The writer, Zubair sent the article via [email protected]


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