Adeyemi: PDP has no candidate for Kogi governorship election
What are your expectations in this election?
OF course, I expect that we are going to win with a very wide margin. It is so imminent, so obvious that the electorate is going to give us their support. I expect a free and fair election that will be violence-free. I do believe that we will score not less than 75 percent votes across the state.
This is because as I speak to you today I do not think the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party has a candidate for now. Their candidate is still a subject of litigation where prominent members of the party have gone to court with about 40 members who are delegates and from my knowledge of election cases, even though I am not a lawyer, I hold the view that their primary election was inconclusive, because the election was collated the next day inside somebody’s private residence. I don’t think PDP has a candidate for that election. But our prayers for the election are that the PDP has a candidate, we don’t want to win an election while we are in our bed sleeping, we want to have a good contest where issues will be the focus.
Other stakeholders are apprehensive the elections could be marred by violence. Are you worried?
As far as the APC is concerned, I can tell you very authoritatively that we do not have any plans for violence. It is not our own way of life, it is not what we believe in and we do not have people with criminal tendencies occupying strategic positions in our party to push for violence. But can you say that of the main opposition party? The answer is no. There is someone in the PDP standing trial for six different criminal offences. Why don’t you go and meet these people to ask them. It is not APC you should ask.
Much as the government tries to douse the cry about the backlog of salaries and pensions, the cry has persisted. Do you think it is all politics?
The cry out will persist. After the bailout the federal government gave to us, salaries have been settled, but I will tell you that those people whose names were inserted into the wage bill are the ones making noise. There is a panel working on how these people will be exposed and prosecuted, including their sponsors. Under the PDP governments, there are people they categorised as stakeholders. Every stakeholder collected salaries from the local governments running into millions of Naira; they don’t work, but they tell you that it is your benefit as a stakeholder. PDP should not push us to the point of publishing names and the atrocities they committed and I say this with every sense of responsibility. I am not saying that we didn’t owe at a point in time but it was not the picture painted. When the first exercise of getting to know those who are genuine workers was done, a lot of them were discovered not to have letters of employment, a good percentage of them, they don’t have an office.
Why do you think Governor Bello deserves a second term in office?
I believe Governor Yahaya Bello deserves a second term for so many reasons. Kogi is a very diverse state. You must equally appreciate that we have three major ethnic groups – Yoruba, Igala, and Ebira and because of this diversity, governing Kogi State is problematic. But under GYB, he was able to bring the attention of all sections to believe in his administration. He was fair and just in his political appointments cutting across the spectre of tribe and religion, which was not the case before he came on board. The Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Secretary to the State Government, commissioner for finance and commissioner for women affairs are from Kogi West senatorial district.
The Chief of Staff who is a Christian is from Kogi East. GYB didn’t bring his brother or cousin from Ebira to be chief of staff as it was in time past. Now, when a person tells you he belongs to all of you and you see it demonstrated, you have to believe in that person. To crown it all, since the creation of Kogi State nobody can tell me the percentage of Christians and Muslims but I can tell you we are equally matched. None of the governors before GYB ever thought of the need for a place of worship for Christians in Government House. Today, GYB is building a church in Government House.
He has shown that he is fair and just and those are the virtues of great leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was the first leader that established Muslims pilgrims board before it was copied by the Federal Government. Even though Pa Awolowo was a Christian. The late Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, picked an Okun man, and Christian, Chief Sunday Awoniyi as his private secretary. Baba Awoniyi once told me that Sir Ahmadu Bello bought a Bible for him, even though the Sardauna was a Muslim. GYB is following the steps of these legends.
Talking about security, today, Kogi is safer than when he came on board, when nobody could sleep with his two eyes closed. At a time, by 7pm, everyone has gone to their rooms. Today, there is free movement. He has succeeded in confronting the criminals. He has established strong vigilante groups equipped with 200 vehicles. The vigilante groups have succeeded in complimenting the Police and Joint Military Task Force in policing the state effectively.
They sad he has done nothing but I will tell you that GYB is the first Kogi governor that stepped on the site of Omi Dam, which was constructed 40 years ago. When he saw it he said he would plead with the federal ministry of water resources to enable him utilise the dam to the advantage of the people. He has obliged the permission to do that and he cited a multi-billion Naira rice mill that will employ a minimum of 5000 workers and produce 1000 bags of rice monthly. They will say Smart Adeyemi is fanatical about Yahaya Bello’s government. I am fanatical because he is empowering my people and he’s liberating my people from abject poverty. He has given them a sense of belonging. We are no longer regretting that we are in Kogi. At a time, my people were agitating that they should be merged with the Southwest because after the Sardauna era nothing meaningful came to Okunland.
That Dam in Omi is now being awarded by the Federal Government for power generation. So why would I not support that kind of a governor? Not just in my senatorial district. He is doing it across the state.
The PDP should be ashamed of all the successive governors they have produced in the state. Some of them who were governors for four years, eight years, they couldn’t even electrify their communities.
You said Kogi West will vote massively for Bello. Don’t forget that the running mate to the PDP governorship candidate,
Hon Sam Aro, is from Kogi West. Do you reckon with that?
I am not even aware…
Our people are highly educated. We are highly exposed, enlightened and intelligent people. So, we are not people that can be manipulated by the prospect of somebody being a spare tyre. Okun people believe in good governance, which GYB has shown us.
Number two, the man in question, what is his reach? Politics is all about influence by way of the positions you have held in time past, by way of the resources you have. If Aro had been a senator, then he would have been somebody who can be assessed by every part of Kogi West. But he was just a one-term member of the House of Representatives, so, good as whatever you think, it is limited within the scope of where he once represented and that has withered over the years. With due respect, he comes from Yagba West Local Government; he cannot tell me he will win in Yagba West, not to talk of the whole Kogi West Senatorial District.
The PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has intervened in the Kogi PDP crisis. Don’t you see the new rapprochement in the main opposition party as a threat?
I t is too late. I wish he did that some six months ago. It is a waste of time and money. People have made up their minds. Yoruba says if Sunday will be good, you know on Saturday. The crisis in PDP is fundamental. How can a party present the younger brother of an immediate governor? How can PDP present a candidate who is son-in-law to his elder brother’s predecessor. It is in bad taste. It is debasing. It is inexplicable in modern times. If you must pick from Igala, are you saying there are no people who are educated and who are enlightened from the Igala Kingdom outside these two families and in-laws? It is an embarrassment to Kogi State, to Nigeria and to the Kingdom of Igala.
SDP candidate, Natasha Akpoti accused APC of being behind alleged attempts to get her disqualified by the INEC. She accused your candidate of being afraid of competition. What is your comment?
I am not aware of her (Akpoti’s) statement. I am aware that she was disqualified. And I read about the reason why she was disqualified. The question now is very simple; was any offence committed? If anything is done against the law I don’t think it is fair and just to accuse Yahaya Adoza Bello to have done that. We don’t work in INEC. I am very sure Governor Yahaya Bello will not do that, there is no just reason to do that. There is no party that is so strong to make us not to sleep with our two eyes closed. When a governor is doing well, touching the lives of the people, there is no reason to target any party.
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