Residents of Kogi State are saddened and embarrassed by the frequent visits of the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello to the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja.
Since Bello became governor of Kogi State three years ago, he has paid numerous visits to President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock. His regular trips to the Villa have become a source of worry for many Nigerians, especially residents of Kogi State.
Their major grouse with Bello is that he is fast becoming idle with little or no achievements to his name having failed woefully to pay workers’ salary in the state despite receiving bailout funds from the federal government.
Bello has been accused of not paying civil servants salaries for over 16 months, while he keeps arguing that he is indebted to workers because the past administrations of Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada were of the habit of paying ghost workers.
As a result, Bello decided on assumption of office to conduct a screening exercise to separate the wheat from the chaff. But unfortunately, the problem for most of the staff is that the exercise, which started at the beginning of his administration has not ended and is still on-going.
The situation is said to be so bad that some workers are so disenchanted and fragmented; they are crying out for help, while some have committed suicide, others have resorted to self-help. But the government insists the number of months are been exaggerated, members of civil society get reports almost on a daily basis on how people are wallowing in abject poverty as a result of non-payment of salary.
Many people have gone cap in hand begging for assistance because they can barely feed. Speaking with The Next Edition, a civil servant who pleaded for anonymity for fear of being victimized said, “I have a wife with three children. As I speak with you my children can no longer go to school. One of them is seriously in need of treatment right now because she is ill. Where is the money to buy food not to talk of drugs?” Asked how much he is being owed, he said, “18 months.”
Crime rate has increased in the state in recent times. Youths who are dependent on these civil servants to feed have now taken to crime to fend for themselves. Some have taken the most drastic measure: suicide.
An instance is that of a director in the Kogi State civil service, Mr. Edward Soje who committed suicide last year by hanging himself on a tree behind the mammy market at the Maigumeri barracks Lokoja, the state capital. Many have alleged that he took his life because the government owed him 11 months’ salary.
According to reports, the 54-year-old civil servant took his life one week after his wife gave birth to a set of triplets in a hospital in Abuja. It was gathered that the couple had been childless for 17 years before then.
Political analysts are of the view that Bello’s frequent visit to Abuja also has to do with the manner he emerged as governor of the state. He needed the president’s support to emerge as candidate of the party and is also relying on his support for re-election in 2019.
Despite the manner of his emergence as governor, Bello has not been able to win any stakeholder over to his side. Instead, the camp of his adversaries swells with each passing day.
It would be recalled that Bello became governor as a result of the death of Prince Abubakar Audu. Bello who is Ebira from Kogi Central became the first non-Igala to be sworn in as governor.
The All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in the November 21, 2015, election, Audu, who was leading by a margin of 41,000 votes, died after the election was declared inconclusive and Bello was nominated by the APC to replace him.
our reporter gathered from a reliable source that Bello spends most of his weekends in Abuja. He has also visited the Villa more than any other governor in Nigeria
When Buhari returned from the United Kingdom last year, Yahaya Bello declared a public Holiday in Kogi State to celebrate his return. Many felt that he went overboard with that.
Bello has also become a regular face at the airport whenever Buhari returns from his numerous trips abroad. Early this year, Yusuf Buhari, the son of the president had an accident and was flown to Germany for treatment. When he returned to Nigeria in March, Bello the not-too-busy Governor of Kogi was on hand to receive him at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and accompanied him to Aso Rock to meet the president. That act by the governor got many Nigerians furious, especially residents of Kogi State.
Many of them took to their Twitter handles to accuse him of sycophancy.
Mallam Malili with the handle @Iam_2gunz was appalled with Bello’s visit. He wrote “Bello travelled all the way from Kogi to Abuja to welcome Yusuf Buhari, a Private Citizen. When we are talking about incompetency, Yahaya bello should come first. He should be voted out.”
Another Twitter user with the handle @UMH_Manga commenting on Bello’s recent visit to Abuja said, “This yahaya bello can wash Buhari’s clothes and even sweep villa. Shameless Sycophant.”
Rilwan Abdullahi on twitter said, “Is there nothing going on in Kogi State? Since tGov. Bello is always in Abuja for one sycophancy act or other. Does he do anything as governor at all? He is always hobnobbing around Buhari.
A resident of Kogi State Innocent Agbenyo with the handle @Agbenyor tweeted, “Why are we so unfortunate in Kogi State. What’s Yahaya Bello doing receiving Yusuf for heaven’s sake when there are urgent state matters back home. Sad!”
He continued, “Other Governors are busy commissioning projects Governor Bello of Kogi State can only welcome the president son.”
Mahmud Abubakar, a resident of Lokoja said Bello has nothing to show since he became governor three years ago that is why he hangs around Buhari. Speaking with The Next Edition, he said, “The only selling point for Yahaya Bello is his loyalty to Mr. President. The man is always around villa. Buhari should realize that the more people from Kogi see him with Bello, the more unpopular he gets. Bello is a political liability. The presidents handlers should tell him before it is too late.”
At the time of filing this report, efforts to reach Kingsley Fanwo, the Chief Press Secretary failed. Phone calls were also put to Governor Bello’s Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja to get his reaction, but he did not respond. He also failed to reply messages to his phone.