By Dr. Yakubu Ozohu-Suleiman
The campaign against Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state over his second term bid has been so intense, and, I think, mischievous that, in my view, it calls for a discriminant analysis to distill truth from falsehood so that the voting public might be guided. A set of related questions needs to be answered in order to determine the merit of these campaigns. The questions are, 1). Who are those campaigning against Yahaya Bello? 2). what are their motives? 3). on what major areas are their campaigns? 4). what alternatives are they offering?
I will try to answer these questions, but I must state that everyone is entitled to his/her own questions to ask and answers to provide, which may differ from mine. I will depart from the premise that “there is no victory [in any venture, including politics], except from God; and that God is harmless to people, and that He gives His Kingdom to whomsoever He wills with no mistake and no injustice”.
Yahaya Bello’s emergence in 2015 as Kogi state Governor was believed by almost everyone, including Satan, as God’s overpowering intervention. Of course he (Bello) contested the election and emerged second to late Prince Abubakar Audu who won the APC state primaries. The election saw APC leading PDP and other parties in the state with wide margin that was going to end in victory for Prince Abubakar Audu, when suddenly death was announced of the Prince. After protracted legal battles, the Supreme Court backed Yahaya Bello as the appropriate candidate to bear the APC’s victory as announced by INEC in the state.
From the period of the legal battle up to the point of swearing in and afterwards, certain categories of Bello’s oppositions emerged. These include 1), those who think that an Ebira person is not fit and should never be given the chance to govern Kogi state; 2), those in opposition parties, who think they should have been declared winner of the election after Prince Audu’s death; 3), those who are aggrieved because they could not secure political appointment or state contracts; 4), those who are aggrieved because they were not given the chance to produce appointees that would represent their interests in Bello’s government.
After careful analysis, I discovered that majority of the campaign contents against Yahaya Bello that are shared on social media comes from the variant of oppositions described in 1 – 4 above. In answer to my first question therefore, those who are campaigning against Yahaya Bello are mainly those who are opposed to his leadership of the state regardless of his performance. They are the ones who generate campaign contents and pass on to others who share in bandwagon without fact-checking them. Ask any of Bello’s critics for reliable evidence over the claims they share on the media, and they would say, “Someone shared with me”. This is part of the larger problem of media literacy we really need to fix. Sadly, we are witnessing a growing number of online news media that simply manufacture news from their rooms and sell around political oppositions.
Following from the above, it should not be difficult to understand that the motive of the majority of those who are campaigning against Yahaya Bello is to address relative personal grievances against his government. Thus, their campaigns and criticisms are not actually defined by genuine interest in the well-being of the generality of the people of Kogi state, but by self-service. Any careful observer would have noticed that these campaigners and critics are beginning to vanish and becoming supporters. How did it get to this? I don’t know, but it should tell you that the campaigns and criticisms lack sincerity of purpose.
State workers salary has been the major area of the campaign against Yahaya Bello. The average critic would tell you “he has not been paying workers salaries in the state”. If this were a hypothesis, it would be rejected because incompleteness is not synonymous with absence, and with the progress Bello has made in addressing salary shortfalls in the state, including the ones he inherited, the critics have turned quietly toward contract awards and project completion. What exactly is the difference between the salary shortfalls in Kogi state and the salary shortfalls and non-payment of earned allowance by Federal government to University workers that has lasted for ten years? What is NLC saying about this? What is the Nigerian public saying about this? Don’t get me wrong please. I do not intend to justify any delay or non-payment of workers entitlements, because I am a victim of the Federal government here, but when mischief is uploaded into the issues, they get complicated and develop resistance to solutions. These mischief-based complications are the reasons those campaigning against Yahaya Bello are not able to offer any reliable alternative to him for the state governorship election coming up. So I am asking, what if God, who understands our problem and chose Yahaya Bello for us the first time, decides to return him for second term? Would you say God does not mean well for us?