The governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello, is one of Nigeria’s most visible governors. However most of Bello’s media mentions are negative, from the owed salaries of the state’s civil servants and pensioners, to his frequent fights with lawmakers.
On Wednesday, the governor was roundly criticized by senators over what they described as his frequent “undemocratic moves.” (PS: There are over a dozen former governors in the senate and hardly any one of them – from the senate president to the immediate past Kano, Plateau, Abia or Akwa Ibom governors – can be exonerated from the kinds of undemocratic moves for which Bello is now being accused.)
A Kogi senator, Ahmed Ogembe (PDP) accused Gov. Bello of sponsoring thugs to disrupt an empowerment program he organised for his constituents on Saturday in Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State. Ogembe also accused the police of taking a very partisan stand.
Summary of Ogembe’s accusations:
The police agreed to provide 20 officers to secure the event. The Area Commander that controls Okenne/Okehi was supposed to take charge.
“I was given his number, I called him and it was confirmed that 20 policemen will be there before 7a.m. By 7 a.m., I called him, the man switched off his phone. When he picked up, he said there is no way he could deploy policemen now, that there are other pressing issues,” Ogembe said.
He accused the governor of sending thugs to disrupt the programme. He added that the thugs were resisted by youth in the community as the programme was held successfully.
Mr. Ogembe alleged that the governor, using two local government chairmen in his constituency, attacked him and his supporters the night after the programme.
“The two caretaker chairmen went on (the) rampage with SARS at the state level and a special vigilante group. They destroyed everywhere, they destroyed every supporter of mine. My family house was also destroyed,” he said.
Senators were uniform in condemning Gov. Bello:
Enyinnaya Abaribe – “Mr President, people have been running around to say we need youth, the man in Kogi is a youth, why is it that this youth does not know what he’s doing? That does not give credence to the saying that we should hand over this country to the youth. So far we hand it over to them, what will now happen? We’ll now have a broken country that is thrown to the dogs. You can now see that it is not youth, it is the idea that you have that decides how you act. I don’t think we can continue in this way where senators will be afraid to go home to their constituents because somebody is sitting down there, deciding he would be a little Hitler.”
Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’ Allah – “Yesterday it was Dino, some people are saying it’s because Dino is creating problem, what problem is Ogembe creating? The issue of Kogi is a very serious matter. From what I have been reading, I have tried to restrain myself from commenting but it appears we can validly say that the Governor of Kogi is a threat to our democracy.”
Dino Melaye – President Buhari should declare a state of emergency in Kogi.
Godswill Akpabio – Gov. Bello is irresponsible.
Olusola Adeyeye – “Gov Bello is a small mind occupying a great office. When we see what has just been described to us in details, it describes to us the huge tragedy for so long has afflicted Nigeria and that is the tragedy of small minds occupying great offices. Unfortunately, this tragedy defies party affiliation because we have seen it with APC governors, we have also seen it with PDP governors.”
“The Inspector-General of police must be asked to investigate and report back to the Senate within one week. If we are not satisfied with what we are told by the IG, we must summon the minister in charge of police to the Senate. If we are not satisfied, I believe we should go to the President and report all the abuses happening in every part of Nigeria.”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu – “Today I am advising the governor that the road he is travelling will not lead him to anywhere. Ultimately, these people (senators) will be back here and he will leave the office. If he doesn’t stop, there is no way he will come back in Kogi State in 2019. Never, he will not!”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki – “It is not really about Kogi State, it is clear that Kogi is becoming the point where there is a threat to our democracy. This is not what democracy is all about. For the role we play in comity of nations, we need to be good examples to other parts of the world.
“These kind of actions are unacceptable, it starts with one state – many of us have been privileged to be governors and we are almost 20 years in democracy, this is not the democracy that we should be talking about. We saw the case in Kaduna State, how a governor would go and bulldoze a house, in Nigeria? At this time and we are all still keeping quiet. These are things we must condemn totally.”