Kogi, a state without deputy governor and the hurdles Bello must scale
•The Tinubu – northern elements proxy war
By BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO, LOKOJA
The inauguration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as Kogi State governor without a deputy continues to raise dust.
Apparently, the last has not been heard about the governorship election and Wednesday’s inauguration of a new governor in Kogi State, but, for now, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has taken charge at Lugard House pending the outcome of the legal war that will determine the fate of all the contenders to the state number one seat.
Aside the legal fireworks involving 12 political parties, and a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, James Faleke, Bello has to deal with, the House of Assembly has been factionalised while the labour tussle with government has led to workers downing tools since December last year.
But the most urgent task ahead of him is how to produce a deputy to replace an unwilling deputy-governor-elect, Faleke.
Though the National Chairman of the APC, John Oyegun, had, a couple of weeks ago, said the party had perfected plans to address the Faleke-saga, political pundits are of the opinion that the issue, if not handled well, could shake the party to its foundation.
The Faleke and Bello debacle is beyond the duo. It is more of a proxy war between the camp of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and some northern elements who, it was gathered, fear that Tinubu could get hold of a northern state. To them, the presence of Faleke, a close associate of the APC National Leader, in Lugard House, is more of Tinubu incursion into the political arena of the North; a situation they have been working against, apparently ahead of the 2019 polls.
The development has made the state a battle ground where political elephants fight and the grass suffers. Not only has it tainted Kogi as a jinxed state, it has also strengthened the belief that it always records a ‘first’ in virtually every bad political occurrence; it is the first state to have a leading candidate dying in election, the first state to have its civilian governor’s election upturned, the first state to have three governors in one day…and the latest, the first state to have a governor sworn- in without a deputy.
While the echo of a governor without a deputy is still reverberating,the APC and the governor have made up their mind to replace Faleke by nominating a deputy and transmit a letter to the state House Assembly for ratification.
The only ‘trouble’ on this political pedestal is that Bello and the party are at loggerheads on which zone of Kogi to produce the deputy. While majority of the party hierarchy favour Kogi West (the same zone with Faleke), the governor is said to be insisting on picking his deputy from the East. The ‘sin’ of the West (if it is sin at all) is that Bello believes that stakeholders from the axis, especially the traditional institution, did not do anything to persuade Faleke to withdraw his case and accept to be his deputy.
The party leadership in Kogi and some political analysts are, however, of the opinion that it is politically wrong to visit the sin of a person on the whole ethnic group. To them, even if Faleke should be replaced, the new deputy governor should be by someone from his senatorial axis to calm frayed nerves in the area. To them, if Bello should go ahead with his option, he will make more political enemies for himself.
The APC has, in the meantime, raised a committee to submit three names for consideration from the West and East senatorial districts of the state.
While the nominees from the East are Dim Nda Diche and Silas Egbuna, Sunday Vanguard, however, gathered that the governor prefers Simon Achuba (a two term House of Assembly member and former deputy Speaker from Ibaji Local Government).
The West nominees are Barr. (Mrs) Justina Abanida, Dr David Atte and Mr. Kola Bamisaiye.
In a related development, Concerned Youth of Kogi State, has called on the state legislators to zone the House speakership to Kogi West.
The group said it is imperative for the West to produce the speakership in view of the fact that the new governor, Bello, hails from the same Central zone with the former Speaker, Momoh Jimoh Lawal.
Coordinator of the group, Austin Aiyelabowo, said zoning the speakership to the West will be in the interest of peace, equity and fairness. “In view of the multi-ethnic setting of the state, and the fact that the executive power has shifted to the central senatorial axis, it will be a political aberration if the speakership position does not shift to another zone,”Aiyelabowo stated.
“Equity and fairness must be adopted at the state House of Assembly in selecting the new Speaker. We, Concerned Youths of the state, have viewed all the variables and decided that Kogi West with consideration for the Kabba/Bunu State Constituency should be considered. Denying the zone the Speakership will amount to political coup de-tat on the zone who have contributed immensely to the socio- political stability of the state.”