Lokoja — Governor Yahaya Bello's recent declaration to seek a second term in office is being greeted with stiff resistance. This is just as some Kogi State elders and stakeholders of All Progressive Congress (APC) have asked the Adams Oshiomole-led National Working Committee of the party to out rightly deny the governor a second term ticket.
In furtherance of their plot to stop Bello, the national leadership of APC has also been called upon to adopt the direct primary methodology for the party's gubernatorial primary, noting that the governor was overtly tele-guiding a factional exco of the party that could snatch unmerited victory for him if the indirect primary was adopted.
Yet, as the November governoship election in kogi state draws nearer so many issues are beginning to play out. One of such issue that has dominated discussions in kogi state and beyond is who flies the ticket of the political parties. While the opposition peoples Democratic party is silent on who it's flag bearer would be aside the zoning of its slot to kogi east district which is believed to be the largest district in the State, opposing members of the ruling All Progressive Congress, (APC), are already daggers drawn as to the method of selecting it's flag bearer.
While stateholdere of the party are already divided on wether to use the direct or indirect process to select the flag bearer for the party, the party national leadership has said it was yet to come up with modalities for the primary, fixed for some times in August, 2019. The national Secretariat of APC had adopted the indirect primary in some states in the just concluded general election. Preparatory to the general election, the national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, said that the party opted for the direct primary for the selection of it's candidates to boost internal democracy. Speaking further he said, "We also note that direct primary is free from the vices associated with the indirect primary. Direct primary cannot be manipulated. It is not prone to corruption and we want to grow democracy. We want the party members to have ownership of the party. We want to give our members a sense of belonging."
The Constitution of APC tacitly recognises the three modes by which the choices can be made under the constitution of the party, which are consensus, direct and indirect primaries.
As the issue resonates in kogi state ahead of the November governoship election , a coalition of APC support groups and Kogi Save Our Souls group has called on president Muhanmadu Buhari and the National chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomole to save Kogi state from sinking further by adopting the direct primary for the selection of the party's flag bearer.
Addressing a protest in Lokoja recently, the leaders of the groups, Mall Abubakar Tanko and Suleiman Aliyu who claimed to be pioneer members of the party in their different speeches called on the president and the National chairman to adopt direct primary to ensure the emergence of a credible flag bearer for the party, saying that the leadership of the party in the state under Governor Yahaya Bello has failed the people and the party, saying only a credible election devoid of manipulations will help the party to maintain it's leading role in the next election.
In his reaction, the Director General on Media and Publicity to the Governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said that the governor as a party man and a foundation member of the party as well is willing to work with any decision arrived at by the party.
According to him, the Governor is quite familiar with the constitution of the party and the need to wait for the leadership of the party to discuss the modalities to use for the primary. "He is prepared to wait for the decision.
However, Tanko and his groups, insisted that the people are dying for lack of payment of salary and pension, adding that aside lack of physical development bad roads, epileptic hospital services and sorry states of the schools, Workers and pensioners are living in penury, noting that allowing Governor Bello to manipulate the primary to his advantage through indirect method would spell doom for the party, warning that only a primary that reflects the wishes of APC members would be acceptable to the group. They stressed that only a direct primary election of APC in Kogi state would enable the party members elect the candidate of their choice who will take care of their needs and wipe away their sorrow.
"We know Buhari to be a man of integrity and Oshiomole a man of his words who shares in peoples sofferings. We need someone who will emulate them in terms of road construction, provision of water, upliftmennt of basic education among other projects that has direct bearing on the life of the people. They maintained
According to the group, "the protest has become necessary because we have called on the national body of the party severally to come to the aid of the people but to no avail, so we decided to organized this protest to vent our anger and to the ettention of the elders of the party to the ills of the present government in the state . They noted that the governor and his cronies who they said have amass enormous wealth would subvert the wishes of the people through vote buying, if the indirect approach was adopted.
"It is through the direct primary that we the bonifide members of APC can elect any body that will represent us at the Lugard House. They maintained. Incidentally, while the Lokoja protest was going on another anti Bello protest was also taking place in Abuja. The message is the same. Bello must be stopped from flying the ticket of the APC. But those in the governor's camp have argued that APC can only the November governoship election with Bello as the standard bearer. They maintained that the results of the Presidential, national Assembly and the state Assembly elections in the state is an indication that Bello is very much incharge of the political pitch in the state.
But Fanwo while describing the group as hired protesters from Abuja, said, "We won't comment on anyone who is paid to do any protest. It is their choice to protest. Kogi people don't protest to elect leaders. They vote. And in February and March, they exercised that right to show their confidence in the leader of the party in the State.
"Governor Yahaya Bello has performed well and we are confident his mandate will be renewed in November this year, by whatever method that is adopted by the leadership of the party. More sponsored protests are expected by desperate politicians who supported PDP in February and March but want to be our flag bearer in APC today.
"But the people are unperturbed by their propaganda. This Governor has done well in providing infrastructure and diversifying the economy as well as providing security. We are already defraying the few months owed the civil servants in the State and workers have commended the genuine efforts of the government.
"Salary is not the issue with the detractors. Many states are owing and we are already paying what we owed. The main problem is that this Governor has removed the plugs of ethnic division to ground their perfidious ethnic jingoism.
"Our children no longer sit on the floor to learn in schools. We won't go back to Egypt. Have the protesters told their sponsors the roads and schools we have built? Have they told them about the water and agricultural scheme? Have they told them how thugs didn't attack them while they were rendering the protest service just because security has improved dramatically?
Publicity Secretary of the party, Abu Jibril, told Guardian that the sponsors of the protest are people that fears that if Bello picks the ticket, their candidate in their party (opposition) can not win. So they feel using protests as a bait will help to eliminate tedency of Bello's success. He said, that Governor Bello has made tremendous progress in terms of physical development as against the claim of the protesters. He listed the Achievements of the Governor to include the Omi Rice mill, Greenhouse farming, Various road projects in all three senatorial districts, Agassa road, Okene-Kuroko-Eika road, Ankpa Township road, Ejule-Idah road, Obehira-Ihima road, and many more Sura electrification projects among others.
"It is part of people's right to protest it is another right of the sane to decipher between sincere protests/protesters and paid protesters by overzealous and nil rooted politicians. Kogi State resident citizens have outgrown being sponsored by those too traditional to be transitional. Speaking further he said "Questions that need to be asked is, Are these groups registered and known by the Party? Is it true the Government isn't performing? Is the government paying salaries or not?
"Where were these sudden jamboree agitators when Bello was helping to rejuvenate our State that was in comatose? Tell me, has the Government been sleeping? Are they unaware of the meager allocation the Government has manage to pay and to ensure as much mouth watering developments? It is expensive for our Party and Government to invest money in rallying touts to protest when there are more important things to do with money. The baiters have the money to spend from the loot they made in the past, let them empower youths in their own way.
"As a Party in the State, we can assure you that, whatever mode adopted for the Primary election, we are ready to ride with. And we are as well promising to be as neutral as possible in ensuring a levelled playing ground for all Aspirants. There fear should stop dictating their gaze. I assure you, Kogi remains and will remain an APC controlled State event after 2024.
Governor while addressing State House correspondents recently, had boasted that no one can take the ticket of his party from him, regardless of what ever method adopted by the national leadership of the party. He described himself as the landlord of the party in kogi State, saying that he cannot be ejected by tenants.
Meanwhile the two factional leaderships of the ruling party have settled for direct and indirect primaru respectively. as adopted indirect method of primaries in August for the coming November 16th governorship election in the state. This was viewed as a way of checkmating some stateholders of the party who are clamoring for direct primary.The resolution followed a motion moved by the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt Hon Matthew Kolawole and seconded by the former speaker of the Assembly, Rt . Hon Abdullahi Bello.