Endless rift in Lugard House exposes lack of direction
• As Bello Wages Silent War With Deputy, Achuba
The All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Kogi may be at wits end, what with the recent washing of dirty linens in the public, brought about by the cold war between Governor Yahaya Bello and his Deputy, Simon Achuba. Things have almost got to a head, as the centre seems not to be holding between the two.
Although Governor Bello had not addressed the possible differences between him and his deputy, but his aides have been throwing jibes against his deputy.Indeed, nothing could have better underscored the matter than when the Chief of staff to the Governor recently treated the Deputy Governor’s Office with so much disdain.
The Chief of Staff, Mr. Edward Onoja, who is from the Eastern senatorial district like the Deputy Governor, is perceived the Oracle of Government, with the enormous influence he wields, calling the shots in almost all matters.Earlier report said Onoja was the brain behind Achuba’s nomination to replace James Faleke, who declined offer to continue as Bello’s running mate after the demise of Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC candidate in the 2015 governorship election.
Achuba was sworn in on February 8, 2016 as Deputy Governor.And ever since, there has been no love lost between the two, culminating in a running battle that is causing a deep crack in the APC-led administration. Accusations and counter-accusation have become their stock in trade. Onoja, believed to be speaking the Governor’s mind at a town hall meeting held in Ibaji Local Government Area recently, took a swipe at the embattled Deputy governor for taking kickbacks from road contractors working in the area.He also alleged that Achuba was under investigation for underhand dealings, as he blamed government’s failure to deliver its mandate to Ibaji people on the Deputy Governor’s Office.
Onoja berated the Deputy Governor, whom he tagged “the enemy within,” for his lack of concern at the plight of Ibaji people.This was the new dimension brought into the crisis of confidence between Governor Bello and his deputy. On the eve of the botched Presidential and National Assembly elections, the Deputy Governor’s security aides were withdrawn, including his police Orderly and ADC. Achuba, who has been treating his ordeal with caution could no longer hold back, and called a press conference to open up on all the allegations and withdrawal of his security apparatus.
At the event, he raised alarm of threats to his life, family and aides.He called on the Inspector General of Police to wade into his ordeal, whereby his aides were withdrawn without any cogent reason. Achuba said his security details were summoned to Government House for security briefing, as he was about to travel to his village for the botched election. While trying to reach out to them, the Governor’s ADC summoned his own ADC and Police Orderly.
After waiting in vain for them to return, he said he put a call through, only to discover their lines were not reachable. He later learnt that they were detained and being interrogated on gunrunning charges to which they were asked to make statements at the OC SARS office in the Government House.He explained that since that Friday, he has not seen them, as they have been in detention.
Achuba said: “I called at about 3pm, but he later stopped picking my calls. So, I forwarded a text message to him, that if anything happened to me, any member of my family or aides, he was aware of it because the Police are not under the Governor or his Deputy’s control.
“I travelled home and returned yesterday. This morning, I also called the Commissioner of Police to let him know that my police aides were not on duty, and he asked if I was sure. He said he was going to call the ADC to find out. I believe he was pretending. I’m not sure he instructed the ADC to return them. I suspect that all my aides are in Government House.”He called on the IG to ensure that law and order are maintained in Kogi.
In his reaction, the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Busari said Achuba contacted him and he told him he was going to look into the matter. He explained that he was working on it to know what to do.He said: “I want to contact the ADC to the Governor to ask him why the Deputy Governor’s details were withdrawn. There’s no problem. He requested for two extra policemen prior to the withdrawal of his details. I don’t know if those two were given to him before the withdrawal.
“We post policemen to Government House, but I think it’s the ADC to the Governor that is in charge of security at Government House. We will send two policemen there pending when the issue will be resolved.”About half an hour after the press conference, the Deputy Governor later confirmed that his security had been fully restored.
While clearing himself of the many allegations against him, Achuba also threw his own punches at Bello and Onoja, saying: “When as a Government you cannot explain to the people what you have done, it is not accusations that give you favour before the people. When as a government you fail to do what is needful, it is not blaming the people in that same administration that will exonerate you.“In the first place, I am not a contractor. The contractor that was given the job has a company, and money was paid to him. So, how could it be that I am now the one collecting money for the same road? It does not add up. It shows that something is internally wrong, when a Chief of Staff, who is an aide to the Governor, accuses the Deputy Governor of taking money from a contractor. Who paid that money?
“I have not been paid any imprest in my office, and I have carried on quietly without letting anyone know. I have asked the Governor several times to state the reason for this, and no reason was given.“I have made the matter known to the President and the party national chairman. I also told the Secretary to the Federal Government, as well as the Vice President, but there has been no response till date…”
On the allegation that he was hobnobbing with the opposition PDP and that his soul was already with the party, he said there couldn’t have been a better time to defect than during the Presidential election. He said: “If there is any person that I should curry favour from, is it not the Presidential candidate? They are the ones generating this information, and they are the ones that are defending it, as they like, all in a bid to put me in bad light.
“I am in APC, but I won election on PDP platform to the State Assembly twice. I have lots of friends in PDP, so if they call me, I shouldn’t respond? If they say they want to see me I should ignore them?…” Earlier, the Senior Special Assistant on political matters to the Deputy Governor, Honorious Aromeh described Onoja as a sinking man.He said the comments made by the Chief of Staff clearly portrayed him as a man with the spirit of telling lies. He wondered how a governor’s aide could publicly denigrate the Deputy Governor’s Office by formulating lies in an attempt to cover government’s inadequacies.
He added that Onoja was telling the world that the present administration has failed, while urging him to go for a psychiatric test.He noted that the Deputy Governor was unaware of any committee investigating him, as he had not been found wanting in the discharge of his duties.He said Ibaji people know their enemy and should query Onoja and his boss why their administration could not boast of a single project in the area since it came on board three years ago.
It was gathered that in the last one year, Achuba has been facing untold hardship from deliberate effort to frustrate him out of office.
Sources close to Government said the Kogi number two citizen has been handling his ordeal with maturity.It was also gathered that sources of power supply to the Deputy Governor’s Office, which was directly from the Governor’s Office has been severed for months. The same goes for water supply, said to be epileptic.Sources also alleged that Achuba’s salary was last paid in February 2018, while that of his wife was stopped the following month.
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