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Cold war in Kogi Government House

By John Akubo, Lokoja
16 December 2018   |   3:22 am
There is a cold war between Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and his deputy, Simon Achuba. On January 27, 2016 Governor Bello was inaugurated without a deputy at first.

Yahaya Bello. Photo: Twitter/lugardhouse

• As Deputy Governor Is Marginalised, Supplied Epileptic Water, Electricity
• His Salary Last Paid In February, His Wife’s Stopped
• Not True, Governor And Deputy Enjoy Cordial Relationship – FANWO

There is a cold war between Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and his deputy, Simon Achuba. On January 27, 2016 Governor Bello was inaugurated without a deputy at first. That happened, courtesy of the untimely death of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, while coasting to victory in the 2015 governorship election. Expectations that the running mate to the late Audu, James Faleke would be sworn in to replace his principal were dashed, when the party opted for the first runner up in the primary and that happened to be Bello. Hence, Bello was inaugurated without a deputy.

Two weeks into his government, Bello in a letter to the House of Assembly, asked the lawmakers to confirm Achuba as his deputy since Faleke rejected to be deputy. The House later confirmed Hon. Achuba and he was sworn in. Achuba was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party until about three weeks to 2015 election, when he dumped PDP to join late Audu for his campaigns. Specifically he was the chairman Kogi State Environmental Protection Agency (KOSEPA). But at the time many of PDP stalwarts pretended to be working for the party’s victory, they were also fully engaged in anti-party activities.

The equation favoured Achuba and he became the new bride. But not long after, the cold war began, as his ideas did not tally with those of the Governor.Months into the new administration, things started falling apart and news broke that Achuba had dumped APC for PDP, but the Deputy Governor denied any such move. But the rumour mill kept rolling and refused to go away.

There appears to be a powerful cabal within Bello’s Government that is bent on ensuring that the Achuba resigns or throws in the towel, as there were reports of plans to use the State House of Assembly to impeach him. But that option seemed to have hit the rocks, as some of the Assembly members are alleged to also have some axe to grind with the Government.

Again, even if the impeachment gets the support of Assembly members, another major hurdle would be getting the state Chief Judge to buy into the idea, as he also have issues with the government over mode of payment of Judiciary staff.The government/judiciary face-off came to a head, when the House mooted the idea of the Chief Judge’s suspension recently, a move that was frustrated by an injunction from a Kogi State High Court.

So, working behind the scene, the cabal has ensured that the Deputy Governor is subjected to humiliating circumstances in a deliberate effort to frustrate him out of office.It was gathered that the story of him dumping the APC for PDP was not the Deputy Governor’s making, but one of the cabal’s strategies to get rid of Achuba.

However, the story did not gel, as he spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Sylvester Akor, who described the rumour as another party as wicked. Achuba categorically stated that if he was decamping from APC to PDP, it would not be from behind the scene, and that it would be done in the public glare.

Sources close to Government House said the Kogi number two citizen has been handling his ordeal with maturity and calm, as he remained unperturbed, without giving the public any clue.Another strategy to frustrate him was to cut off electricity supply to his office, which was directly linked to the dedicated line to the governor’s office. Similarly, water supply into the office has allegedly been epileptic, making it tough for him and his aides to conveniently use the office.

It was also gathered that the Deputy Governor’s salary was last paid in February, while his wife’s salary was stopped the following month. The development, it was alleged, has resulted in his rare appearance in office or at public functions recently.

Although, the embattled deputy governor has always put up a stoic front, all seems not to well. The administrator of his local government area in Ibaji, Honourable Tom Offor, was allegedly removed without Achuba’s knowledge. While the local administrator was said to be hosting an official function with the governor’s wife, Rashida Bello, in attendance in Ibaji, his removal was announced in the media.

It was gathered that the deputy governor attempted to inquire from his principal about the chairman’s removal, but the governor denied any knowledge of the development. The governor is very smart in public to pretend that all is well between him and his deputy, as if they are always on same page, working for the development of the state.

Bello, who spoke through his Director General on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, said the story of any crack between him and Achuba was a creation of mischief-makers wanting to capitalise on the current political environment in the state.

According to Fanwo, the Deputy Governor represented the governor at the swearing-in ceremony of Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, just as he had been functioning without inhibitions. He also described the administrator’s removal as a government routine, and that the local government boss was only redeployed as Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Power.

Sometime in the past, when Governor Bello was rumoured to have died in a German Hospital, after he was said to have collapsed in Abuja and was rushed to the hospital, the Deputy could not act on his behalf, as power was not really transferred to him.

The death rumour, mostly peddled by scaremongers did not come as a surprise, as similar rumour was also peddled during a foreign trip embarked upon by his predecessor, former Governor Idris Wada towards the last year of his tenure.

In Wada’s case, his then deputy, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, rose to the occasion in his boss’ defence, describing the insinuations about Governor Wada’s deteriorating health in an Indian hospital, as not only baseless, but also a figment of the imagination of mischief makers. 

In Bello’s case, Achuba’s voice was not heard throughout the period, confirming that he may not have actually been in charge, as people were made to believe.Again, during Governor Bello’s recent trip in the company of President Muhammadu Buhari to Poland for the Climate Change Summit, power was transferred to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mathew Kolawole, who acted as Governor, while the Deputy Governor was allegedly forced to embark on a two-month leave.

Fanwo, who broke the news, said the Governor handed over to the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Matthew Kolawole before departing for Climate Change Summit in Poland. He said the Governor did what was necessary to keep the administration of the state going.When asked about the whereabouts of the Deputy Governor, Fanwo told newsmen to inquire from the Deputy Governor’s media handlers. Fanwo’s voice spoke volumes, as it portrayed the tone of a Government House media team working in disarray. Ordinarily, it is expected that all Deputy Governor’s appointees are actually those of the Governor, going by the provision of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

But Fanwo could not hide the fact that all was not well in their circle. And making the Deputy proceed on a two-month leave at a critical election year smells fishy.

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