Weeks before the conduct of Kogi state governorship primaries and the main election, concerned APC leaders have alleged the state is under siege. Bode Olagoke writes.
Complaints upon complaints have trailed the forthcoming Kogi state governorship election across party lines. In some cases the mode of conducting the primaries- whether direct or indirect method has agitated the minds of key stakeholders and aspirants.
In the All Progressives Congress (APC) this has been a major issue. Just last June, the party had adopted indirect form of primaries ahead of this month’s selection of its governorship candidate.
Decision for the format was supposedly reached during a State Executive Committee (SEC) meeting attended by party executive, elected and appointed office holders and other party bigwigs.
That was swiftly refuted by those clearly opposed to the indirect method. They claimed it unduly favoured the governor, Yahaya Bello, who they alleged was doing and would do everything and anything to clinch the ticket of the party and cling on to power. Some in fact see Bello as the party’s albatross saying his candidacy portends serious danger for the party.
When dialogue yielded no success at getting the leadership of the party evidently masterminded by Governor Bello to shift grounds, some resorted to legal redress to compel a shift in the stand. They headed to a federal high court, which last Friday ordered the APC to suspend its plan to use the indirect method to conduct primaries for the nomination of its candidate in the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Kogi state.
Ruling on an ex parte application filed by four members of the factional executive committee of the party in the state, Justice Taiwo Taiwo ordered parties to the suit “to maintain the status quo” pending the main suit which dwells on the propriety of adopting indirect mode of primary.
Justice Taiwo had ordered an accelerated hearing in the suit, then adjourned till July 19 to enable him to dispense with the suit ahead of the party’s primary scheduled for August 29. That was done and judgement delivered last Friday.
Group writes Osinbajo
A group of senior members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), under the aegis of APC Stakeholders Forum & Oppressed Citizens, have written a letter to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, asking for his urgent intervention in the crisis rocking the Kogi state chapter.
The group revealed that Kogi state is currently under siege and may likely lead to defeat for the APC in the coming governorship election.
In a dated August 6th and addressed to the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo entitled: “Request for urgent intervention in the governance and security of lives and property in Kogi state”, the group raised serious alarm saying should the Presidency failed to intervene in the matter, the party would suffer a humiliating defeat. It therefore appealed and begged all concern to step in and stop the hanky-panky being played by the leadership of the party in the state in connivance with the incumbent governor.
“The affliction the state is suffering is from the duo of the state governor, Governor Yahaya Bello, and his Chief of Staff, who doubles as his Deputy Governor and many times the Defacto Governor whose name is Edward Onoja.”
The letter signed by the chairman of the forum, Senator (Dr) Alex Usman Kadiri, accused the incumbent governor and his chief of staff of terrorising anyone who is not support the re-election of Yahaya Bello.
“Their joint reign of terror and oppression has left the state and the people at their worst. They are completely weakened and beaten down dying under the weight of poverty and lack, and they are also fearful for their lives or even expressing themselves.
“It will appears that those in charge of Kogi state presently are merchants of death, killing people by either impoverishing them or violently silencing them. Anyone who is perceived not to be in their support dares not cross boundary into Kogi state or risks being violently killed. 9
“There are so many cases and examples that it will take too much time to itemize in this letter. Thuggery, banditry, violence and killings have become normal in Kogi state. And they are perpetrated by officials of the state government.
“Citizens of Kogi outside Kogi state don’t fare better. They are under constant threat from the State government and their militias and violent gangs and thugs. They are also becoming poorer because of the unbearable poverty in the state because they constantly receive SOS messages daily for help or death from back home.”
Need for intervention
On the need for urgent intervention before the forthcoming election, the letter stated that: “The grave danger of kogi today is a desperation that can portend more doom for the state. Agitations to ensure the removal of Bello and Onoja are fueling disunity, distrust, preparation for violence and ethnic disagreement.
“Although Kogi has like other parts of Nigeria its own internal ethnic politics, but it is more pronounced now and the fight to regain power is taking a dangerous ethnic dimension without consideration for competence and result orientation.
“This is very dangerous because any continuation of the current government in Kogi or transition to another non-performing government is certain to finally and fully finish the state completely
“Recently, there has been a rash of killings of political thugs and operatives of those opposed to the government and revenge killings of thugs belonging to the state government. These retaliation killings are just a tip of the iceberg and a small show of what is ahead.
“A few weeks ago, there was breaking news that the operatives of the government led violent thugs to attack Admiral Jibrin Usman, who is a former Chief of Naval Staff and a gubernatorial aspirant. The attack was met by the stiff opposition of the security apparatus of the former Service Chief. This led to the death of two people. There have been other attacks and counter attacks that are not reported in the news.
Kogi becoming a battle field
“This escalating tension and degenerating security situation is fearful and calls for concern and serious action. If care is not taken, Kogi state will become the battlefield and bloodbath that will stain and dent this administration’s good governance record. Kogi is fast descending into a situation far worse than Ekiti when former President Obasanjo declared a state of emergency and removed the governor. The readiness for violence, war and death by the people of Kogi state is palpable and the resultant end will be disastrous.
“As concerned citizens, we appeal to you to champion the cause of the many peace loving and pauperized, terrorized and oppressed Kogites to chart a new course for kogi and help to get leadership for good governance that is in consonance with Nigeria’s national creed of equity, unity, justice and fairness.
“What we have seen and heard in the past weeks is more alarming. We are hearing the Presidency and APC have endorsed Yahaya Bello to run for a second term. We have heard that even though there are cases in court that can jeopardize the party, indirect primaries have been adopted by the party.
Your Excellency, posterity is the judge of all. What we do or fail to do will stand for or against us in the Day of Judgment. Politics that is not centred around the people is politrick. Winning Kogi state at all costs, without considering the people is a total loss.”