More knocks for Kogi traditional rulers’ visit to Buhari
Controversy has continued to trail the recent visit of Kogi State’s first class chiefs to Aso Rock Villa to seek President Muhammadu Buhari’s support for the second term ambition of Governor Yahaya Bello. The royal fathers were led on the visit by His Royal Majesty, Chief Michael Ameh Oboni II, Attah Igala who is president, Kogi State Council of Chiefs.
The royal fathers were allegedly intimidated, threatened and induced with large sums of money to embark on a visit many view as ill-timed. The traditional rulers who allegedly collected huge sums of money had not been paid for many months like other civil servants in the state.
The visit, which was arranged by the governor, was to curry popularity among the Kogi people and acceptability before the president.
The traditional rulers told President Buhari during the visit that the governor had done well, hence their decision to back him for a second term. They asked that the president should extend his support to Bello. Though the royal fathers equally made other requests, the endorsement of Governor Bello’s second term ambition has continued to occupy discourse in the political space both within and outside Kogi State. They were said to have demanded the appointment of a senior minister from Kogi State. Specifically, they asked for a minister of finance.
The president’s response regarding his support for Bello was, however, not made public. But a close source in the presidency said President Buhari told his visitors to engage the people of Kogi State particularly, members of the APC, who are in position to give the governor the ticket of the party rather than call on him to do so.
“Look at the cases of Okorocha, Amosun and even his wife’s brother in Adamawa,” the source said, “The president never interfered in all of those. The President Buhari that I know will never do that.”
Activities in the last few days, particularly the governor’s meeting with the factional executive committee of the party, led by Haddy Ametuo and other stakeholders within the party to mend fences, might have helped to give credence to the alleged position of President Buhari.
Even though the visit of the traditional rulers has come and gone, it has, however, continued to generate discussions among the people. While those in Bello’s camp view the visit as a moral booster for the reelection drive of the governor, others say the traditional rulers were insensitive to the plight of the people of the state.
An aspirant for the governorship election under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Mustapha Audu, called on Governor Bello to focus on his responsibilities as the governor of the state. Audu, while reacting to Bello’s endorsement by some Kogi traditional rulers at the Presidential Villa, said the governor could not be saved due to his non-performance.
While speaking during a press briefing in Abuja last week, Audu whose father, Abubakar Audu, died on November 2015 before the announcement of the governorship election results, said the traditional rulers were not representing the people of Kogi State.
He described the purported endorsement of Bello as a display of poverty, saying they had no business seeking the support of President Buhari.
Audu said: “That was not necessary. We do not believe that the traditional rulers who were at the Villa on Wednesday are representatives of our people or Kogi State. That is the truth and we have to be honest with ourselves.
“These rulers are setting a very bad example. These rulers are showing us that their pockets are more important than their people. Kogi is a state where civil servants are committing suicide. People are putting ropes round their necks and dying.”
He also called on the governor to desist from running to Abuja all the time but advised him to focus on leading the people responsibly.
“Bello should stop running to the president or from pillar to post because it is not the president that will save him,” Audu said. “Please go back home and work. Leave Abuja. You are not the minister of FCT. You are the Governor of Kogi State. Face Kogi and work. The road from here to Kogi is an eyesore and the excuse they give is that it is a federal road.
“Kogi is today the dirtiest state in the country. If you cannot work, just leave and we will accept you. We are not after anyone. Kogi is at a tipping point. We must not lose Kogi State. We must put our best foot forward. We are ready to forgive the governor and carry him along because he is our constituent but he can no longer be governor because he is ill-prepared.”
Another governorship aspirant on the platform of All Progressive Congress, (APC), Maj. General Patrick Ademu Akpa (rtd), who is leading ‘The HOPE Agenda Team’ also called on all political actors, particularly those in power to stop blackmailing Kogi’s royal fathers.
In statement he issued, Akpa said, “Great Kogites, home and abroad, yesterday brought us another sad memory that would remain as one of the worst historical events in our calendar as a people.
“However, The HOPE Agenda Team is saying all hope is not lost if only we can consciously readjust our mindset from the way the perpetrators want us to begin to think. It is a deliberate design to use the revered traditional institutions of our people for their selfish political interests even against the will of the custodians. However, the people always win in a situation like this if only we can slow down in trading blames.”
He called on all the people of Kogi State to be wary of such drama, as many would still unfold, saying that if the people did not lose focus on the goal, victory is assured. He added that the enemies of the state would keep distracting them until November.
According to him, “I appeal to us to take it easy on our royal fathers but pay serious attention to the intentions of those who blackmail them into doing the things they do as election is fast approaching. We have endured enough sufferings. So, we must be very watchful and not to be distracted.
“Let me note here clearly that our royal fathers visiting the president is not a crime but it should not be politicized. Let our royal fathers make some political requests on behalf of the incumbent governor.
“On this note, I also want to ask President Buhari to grant all the people-orientated requests made to him by our royal fathers during the visit and leave all the political matters to our dear party, the All Progressives Congress and the good people of Kogi State to determine through democratic processes.”
As the drama continues to play out, Kogi State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked Buhari to see the visit of some selected Kogi traditional rulers as one aimed at satisfying their pay master against the maladministration and poor leadership the state has witnessed in the past three and half years.
PDP, in a statement signed by Bode Ogunmola, spokesman of the party, alleged that the traditional rulers had been conscripted to play the song of the governor, who has only realised that his time in Lugard House has expired.