president buhari
president buhari

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has come under fire from some stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Party, APC, in Kogi State, over his failure to appoint a minister to replace the late Barrister James Enejo Ocholi, SAN, whose tenure as minister of state for Labour and Employment was cut short as a result of a tragic car crash which claimed his life and those of his wife, Blessing Fatimah and son, Joshua on March 6. It is already nine months since the minister’s tragic demise, and some APC stakeholders in the state are angry that President Buhari and his ruling party have not deemed it fit to appoint a replacement for the deceased minister. Among the aggrieved stakeholders is the Director-General of the late Prince Abubakar Audu’s 2016 Governorship Campaign Organisation, Daniel Isah who told Nigerian Pilot via telephone from Kogi State that the failure of the federal government to appoint a successor for Barrister Ocholi was not only unfortunate, but underscores the level of disdain the APC holds those that voted them to power in Kogi and at the federal level. According to Isah, ”With the unfortunate demise of James Ocholi and our party leader in Kogi, Prince Abubakar Audu, those of us that fought for the enthronement of APC governments in the state and at the national levels have been abandoned .We are now being treated as orphans. If not, why should it take the federal government close to nine months that we lost Ocholi to have his replacement?” He said even the effort of the Abubakar Audu Campaing Organisation to reach out to the national executive of the APC on the ministerial appointment have not yielded the desired result , with matters not being helped by the intra party crises rocking the ruling party at the national level . Commenting on reports that Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the state’s governor was trying to foist his Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja, on the party’s leaders to fill the ministerial slot, and in the process slowing the appointment process, he said such a development would be against the overall interest of the party and the state, as well as negate the spirit of equity and justice. According to him: “Appointments into sensitive positions like that of a minister should not just be based on friendship or association, but by experience and competence. Onoja who is Governor Bello’s Chief of Staff should be contented with his position at the Government House for now.” Speaking in a similar vein, Ben Adaji lamented the failure of the federal government to fill the vacuum created with the death of the former minister of state for Labour and Employment. Adaji, who was an aspirant for the House of Representatives for Ankpa/Olamaboro/Omalla Federal Constituency of the state under the APC platform, expressed regret that the people of the state have been denied a voice and representation at the Federal Executive Council as a result of the failure of the government to appoint a replacement for the late minister of state. He accused the APC leadership at the state and federal levels of deliberately marginalising those that sacrificed a lot to enthrone the party in what he called “the use and dump tendencies” of the party.” Adaji called on President Buhari to do the needful by appointing a competent member of the party, without delay as replacement for the deceased minister. In our effort to ensure balance, Nigerian Pilot yesterday tried to reach out to Garba Shehu, one of the President’s spokesmen with a text message to get his response to the accusations made against his principal on the Kogi issue. We were yet to get the response of the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity before going to press last night. But Femi Kingsley Fanwo, DirectorGeneral, Media, to Governor Yahaya Bello in his response, described the allegation that attempts were being made by his principal to foist his Chief of Staff on the party for the ministerial position as ludicrous. He said via an email that:
“The allegation is laughable and ludicrous. The choice of a minister is the prerogative of the President and not that of the Governor. It is therefore unfortunate that some people are accusing the Governor of slowing down the appointment of a Minister of Kogi origin. “ Fanwo added that, “It is not logical to posit that the Governor is slowing down the process so as to push his Chief of Staff for the ministerial slot. The Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon. David Edward Onoja is doing a great job at Lugard House. The Governor’s name should not be dragged into the issue. President Muhammadu Buhari is taking his time to ensure the right choice is made from the State and the Governor trusts the discretion of the President.” He said “those behind these spurious claims are probably interested parties who are eyeing the position and feel the Governor might not support their ambition. They had sponsored protesters to disrupt the peace of Abuja. When the tactics failed, they now resorted to blackmailing the Governor. Their antics will fail. “He added that the people of Kogi State have great confidence in the President to make a good choice in the mould of the late Barrister James Ocholi to make the State proud and contribute effectively to the progress of the change agenda of the Federal Government and that of the state a reality.”

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