By Elizabeth Chukwuma
Not many people were surprised at the frosty relationship between Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi state , on the platform of the Al Progressive Congress, APC, and Simon Achuba, , regarded as the most powerless deputy governor the country has ever produced over the last three and half years. The disagreement between the duo became noticeable baerly one year after the latter’s assumption of office in 2016.
The over three-year- old conflict between the two political gladiators in the state appear to have taken a new dimension as the governor was said to have mobilised the leadership of the state House of Assembly to commence an impeachment proceedings against Achuba , the deputy governor, without further delay in order.
Party sources believe that the continuous presence of the deputy governor in APC circles would rob the party of the chances of winning the November 16, 2019, governorship election in the state. There are indications that the state Lawmakers may have concluded arrangement to commence the impeachment proceedings against the Kogi deputy governor going by feelers from the House.
They had accused the deputy governor of plotting to dump the party at the last minute to work for the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, governorship Candidate in the state. The alleged visit to Bukola Saraki, a former Senate President and Coordinator, of Atiku Abubakar, the PDP, Presidential Candidate in the last general election may not have helped his case. This is because Bello and his cohorts saw it as an opportunity to work against him and to ensure that he is in the bad bok of the Presidency and the party National Working Committee Executive Headed by Adms Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo state.
The Value News findings shows that the disagreement between the two major political gladiators in the state have heated up the polity . This is because wherever two or three people are gathered in the state, particular, Lokoja, the Capital, the crisis of Confidence between Bello , and Achuba, the deputy governor and the planned impeachment of the later , on the orders of the governor by the state House of Assembly dominated their talks.
The embattled deputy governor believes that the resort To plan B by the governor to force the state House of Assembly to initiate impeachment moves against him was not unexpected because of the frequent meetings between him and the principal officers of the House at the Government House to fine-tune the arrangement.
Note that he had turned the heart of President, and Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the party against Achuba, that his Complaints to the President and the Party leader about the treatment he was getting from Bello was brushed aside. This is evident going by their lackadaisical attitude towards the conflict between the duo over the last three and half years. It was not surprising why the duo were not ready to call the governor to order to change his style of leadership in order to carry Achuba , his deputy governor, along in the running of the Affairs of the state.
The recent purchase of the party nomination and expression of interest forms with N22.5 million ahead of the state governorship election speaks volume. The question on the lips of most people was: where did he raise the money?.
Going by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, RMFC, records, a governor’s monthly basic salary is N185, 308.75 and a stewardship allowance of N92, 654.37. This is in addition to a monthly Constituency allowance of N370,617.50, thus bringing the monthly total package of a governor to N648,580.62 or N7.7 million per annum. This is a clear indication that the total salary package and allowances of the governor in the last three years of N23.3 million could not have foot the bill and other extra expenses. He may have dropped Achuba, his estranged deputy, for a new deputy governorship Candidate, described in party circles as the’’ unofficial deputy governor of the state’’, from Igala land.
Recall, that Bello never wanted to work with Achuba, regardeded as an over ambitious Igala born politician by his loyalists but had reluctantly bowed to pressure from the party leadership who imposed him. James Faleke, who ought to have replaced the late Abubakar Audu, who contest the , governorship election in the state was denied the opportunity and asked to still play the second –in Command to bello, the new anointed Candidate by the party but he he turned it down .
Note that Achuba , who may have bowed to pressure from the state power brokers and individuals from several other quarters including prominent Monarchs , to dump the PDP, and join the APC had done so barely four months after the 2016 governorship election had been contested and won by Bello, the APC flg bearer.
It was not surprising why he was Compensated with the position of the deputy governor of the state which was reserved for the Igala ethnic group, in the spirit of party Zoning of political offices in the state. The fallout was that Bello, who was selected by the party leadership to replace the Late Audu, and his cohorts, from the onset of the Administration in 2016 saw him as a stranger and had done everything within their powers to frustrate him to him to resign voluntarily .
Giving an insider information about the genesis of the disagreement between him and Bello, he disclosed that his problems started ‘’ when he gave his advice to the governor as a second in- Command on some of the burning issues that had reared up its ugly head in the running of the affairs of the state including the Administration’s Obligation to workers’’.
According to him, the governor rather than focusing on delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of the state,, he chose to vent his frustration on his perceived enemies, including him. An aggrieved Achuba , who could not hide his feelings said Bello and his cohorts believes he has ulterior motive to take over from him as the next governor of the state as they started working against him and kept him at a distance.
Note that the governor had stooped the payment of the deputy governors salaries and allowances. On ground that he was not working. An aggrieved Kogi East Senatorial district politician confirmed that for the past two years Bello, the governor had stopped payment of his salaries and allowances. The governor was said to have also stopped giving his office the usual monthly impress to further frustrate him.
A The governor’s action was giving Achuba cause for concern. This is because he people who depend on him for their monthly up keep attached to his office. ‘’As a deputy governor, I have staff, whose salaries come under my office , including mine and other allowances and impress to run the office’’. He confirmed that since 2017, the governor has refused to pay.
The Kogi deputy who could no longer take it had threatened to drag Bello to Court to force him to pay all his entitlement , amounting to N81.71 million which remained unpaid to enable him settle the salaries and allowances of his office staff including the labourers in his official residence.
He made do his threat as he was said to have engaged the services of Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, for the legal battle. The legal luminary, on the instructions of the Kogi deputy governor on July 17, 2019, was said to have sent a letter to the Bello, requesting him to give approval for the release all the statutory allocation due to the deputy governor’s office as signed by Law and approved by the state House of Assembly.
The governor, according to sources may have turned a deaf ear to the request to release the funds for chuba’s office, an indication that he was not ready for peace. He was said to prepared the mind of his legal team in readiness to meet Achuba in Court. There are fears that if he fails to settle the deputy governor’s entitlement and allowance and he wins the forth coming governorship election in the state, Achuba may find it difficult to get the money out from the state government as Bello is determined to deal with him.
An angry Kogi deputy governor may have shocked Nigerians, when he said his life was under threat by the killer gunmen in the payroll of the governor. He was said to have appealed to Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, to step in to save his life.
Many believe that the over three year-old disagreement between Bello and Achuba, could only be settled by Kogi voters who are anxiously waiting for the November 16, governorship election in the state exercise their franchise to vote the governor of their choice who would deliver the dividends of democracy to the state. Bello is riding on the back of Buhari and his unalloyed support for his Ruga pet project to win the November governorship election in the state.
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