By Akowe Itodo

Last Thursday being 22 August, the All Progressives Congress (APC) screened her aspirants for the governorship elections coming up in Kogi State in November. To some of us who are members of the APC but who do not exactly see eye to eye with the Governor, Yahaya Bello and his Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja, the first surprise was that all the 16 aspirants who bought the party’s nomination forms turned up for the screening at the party’s state secretariat in Lokoja.

One of the hardest thing for this writer to comprehend is how these people spent the better part of the last 3 years and 7 months telling us that Kogi APC can never be led by Governor Yahaya Bello only to surrender to his authority at the last minute. Why give people the impression that you held an ace up your sleeve when you had nothing? What happened to Abuja and her many hotels? We are pained.

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For 37 months we followed them as they told us how they held the reins of control over the party while Bello was merely a factional upstart with fringe and weakened following. Then on Thursday all of us watched in surprise as they all walked meekly into Bello’s brand new party secretariat around Ganaja Junction in Lokoja to prove who was the real leader of the party in Kogi State. They posed for pictures, smiling along with the with gap-toothed enfant terrible himself. Some of them even looked grateful for the privilege to be seen with him. After that they subjected themselves to the screening exercise, finally exposing themselves as zeroweights in the APC.

You have to understand our disappointment. Not only have we lost over 3 years of opportunities in out party, we are finding that some of these people, both aspirants and non-aspirants, whom we habitually follow in Kogi East will never change. They are still after their interest alone and nothing else. They have spent nearly 4 years promising to finally finish Bello in the next election. Even when it showed that the young man was no pushover politically, we still trusted and followed them. They were supposed to be in control from the moment the 2019 election cycle began, but if they can’t stop the screening from holding in Lokoja, or even in a neutral ground, the handwriting should be clear in the wall.

Truth be told, if the results coming out of the National Secretariat of the APC following the screening is to be believed, I believe they must have realised by now that they did themselves more damage than Bello could ever manage. From the reports, all of them from the Kogi East and Okunland axis of Kogi West failed the screening and will not proceed to the primaries. And ‘failed’ is the right word too. The process was free and fair. There was not one exchange of angry words anywhere. We all saw the pictures Edward’s data boys are sharing all over the Internet. Everybody was happy. So, even as Bello used them to shine, none of the Kogi East and Kogi West (Okun) aspirants can tell anyone he or she was victimised in any way.

From the final report, they all failed screening, but they failed based on their own errors.

How can an aspirant spend N22.5m for a nomination form and forget to sign it before submitting?

How can you have certificates from fine schools all over the world and forget to attach even one to your nomination form?

How can your declaration of age be titled in one court and be sworn in another court of a different jurisdiction?

How can your declaration of age and photocopy of international passport have two different dates of birth?

One of the juveniles who believe Kogi is a monarchy and they are the ruling dynasty only attached secondary school pictures in place of academic credentials. Who does that?

Maybe in the Part II of this write up, I will give details of each aspirant’s blunders, but for now, this is the final result from a very strong source inside APC National Secretariat:

1. Yahaya Bello – Cleared
2. Prof. Mohammed Seidu Onailo – Not Cleared.
3. Usman Oyibe Jibrin – Not Cleared.
4. Mustapha Mona Audu – Not Cleared.
5. Hadiza Iyoma Ibrahim – Not Cleared.
6. Yahaya Odidi Audu – Not Cleared.
7. Sani Lulu Abdullahi – Not Cleared.
8. Gen. Patrick Adenu Akpa (Rtd) – Not Cleared.
9. Alhaji Abubakar Bashir – Cleared.
10. Engr. Danlami Umar Mohammed – Not Cleared.
11. Yakubu Mohammed – Not Cleared.
12. Ekele Aishat Blessing – Cleared.
13. Babatunde Ayokunle Irukera – Not Cleared.
14. Rukkaya Ibrahim – Not Cleared.
15. Mohammed Abubakar Unekwu Audu – Not Cleared.
16. Hassan Abdullahi – Cleared.

In fact, if not that it seems too impossible to be true, I would have said all these people were working for Yahaya Bello to win the ticket. It looks like their eyes only cleared after the screening. They tried to use very powerful forces within the APC National Secretariat to hold the screening committee captive for at least 48 hours but in the end it was too little, too late. They already made foundation errors which cannot be corrected. After the NWC analysed the mistakes in their nomination forms, it was clear to even the aspirants themselves that if APC gives any of them ticket, we will just be dashing Kogi to the opposition through the courts.

Actually, their cases were so bad that even the honourable member among them who scaled through to the primaries only managed to do so because of his ‘family’ connections, not his merits. Big Sister who was a member of the NWC did everything possible to force the party to clear him. Even at that, the APC will find itself in serious trouble if he becomes flagbearer. As it is now, his errors in filling his form means he is now caught up in a possible certificate forgery scandal which may destroy his budding political career prematurely.

So painful that the people we have been following all this while just exposed their soft underbelly for a knockout punch in the first round. Everyone of us at home is confused now on the next step to take. All I can say is that we cannot lose for the last 4 years and come and lose for the next four years again. We are all APC and anyone who is in charge of the APC is our leader. It is not as if Bello has not been welcoming those who want to work with him. Since our leaders have done their worst, maybe we too should do our best. The next few days will tell.

Talking about our leaders doing their worst to us, let me say categorically that we saw all this coming long ago, but somehow we believed that they will g sther themselves for the sake of those who followed them. And this is the problem of the Igala and Okun man – leaders who won’t tell followers the truth for the common good. Haddi Ametuo told his Ebira people on time that fighting Yahaya Bello is no longer easy and today they are inside the government. Our own leaders kept telling us they have plans, but see the rubbish we are seeing. Are we now to follow them to all these mushroom parties for useless automatic tickets with no support base to fight a government in power at the federal and state level?

The sad thing is that what we are seeing now is the result of some people’s insatiable appetite for wealth and position. Instead of using their exalted position to expand our interest as a state and as a people, our leaders always play their personal game. Look at our national woman leader and people like Alex Kadiri for instance. Kadiri is always talking of how he will get the National Chairman, Mr. President, Asiwaju Tinubu or the Vice President to disqualify Bello, but he never does anything. Madam did not even wait to settle down properly in office before starting the fight to gather everything for herself and her family.

Even when it became clear that every time she grabbed something, she spoils something bigger for us in Igalaland, she still didn’t care. What didn’t she do to grab the Kogi ministerial slot our brother Stephen Ocheni was occupying? Is it bad if we have the National Woman Leader and the Minister at the same time? Is it not more opportunities for us?

But God is not man. After all she did to destroy Ocheni and pave way for herself, the position has now gone to Kogi West (Lokoja) as Mr. President simply dropped the 2 of them and went for somebody he is familiar with. Her schemings only helped to return the woman we once threw out as national woman leader in favour of her back to power and influence. Governor Yahaya Bello will always follow the President so today Hajia Ramatu Tijjani is the Honourable Minister of State for the FCT.

Me, I think people should fear God. If any Igala person should fight Governor Bello, it should not be Salamatu Baiwa or Hassan Abdullahi Baiwa. Bello singlehandedly made madam APC National Woman Leader. As for Hassan, he first made him Deputy Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly before making him a member of the House of Representatives. Can Hassan swear that he bought the ticket that took him to Abuja himself?

When Yahaya Bello brought this woman out of retirement on the recommendation of Edward Onoja and made her a member of the NWC, we rejoiced. We trooped to Abuja to vote her. To be fair to her she was good to our people when she was in FAAN, but it seemed politics has brought out the bad in her. She gave so many Igala aspirants hope, claiming she can get support for them from the national secretariat. They trusted her and spent so much to please her without knowing that she was only preparing the way for her younger brother who has now emerged the frontline candidate among the two persons from Kogi East cleared in the screening.

I don’t know if somebody can just open eyes and be deceiving people like that, but I cannot deny that the way her brother just appeared as the purchase of forms was ending with already completed forms is suspicious. It means all the while she was asking others to buy form to fight Bello and promising them support, she knew her brother was the anointed one.Well, people can plan, but there is a master planner. All that ‘arranging’ will mean nothing if Hassan doesn’t find a way to quickly resolve his Certificate forgery issues.

Then there is also the question of whether Hassan can withstand Bello in the primaries on his own. Some people believe big sister also thought that far already. They claim she recruited one little known aspirant who also surfaced at the last minute with her brother. Blessing Ekele from Olamaboro Federal Constituency who bought her form at the last minute then surprised everyone by successfully passing through screening. She will be at the primaries with Bello and Hassan.

Olamaboro is considered Bello strongholds. Olamaboro is where Bello’s Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja comes from. He has tried for his people and ordinarily, no one should contest for the delegates with him. On the other hand Lokoja/Koto has traditionally followed Bello. As Eng Bashiru who people claim is Bello’s man.Which I’m beginning to doubt as Delegates from the two constituencies are expected to give Bello block votes but now that they have indigenes in the race, maybe that will force some of the delegates to think home and vote their own. It improves Hassan’s chances no doubt, but it is only a nice plan if it works. But will it work now that Barr. Babatunde Irukera too failed screening and there is no one to break the votes from the Okun axis as planned?

Now that one is looking back at the whole thing, it seems madam NWL may have really planned the whole thing. Even the choice of Senator Hope Uzodinma as Chairman of the Screening Committee they claim she influenced. He is said to be a an associate of her Igbo husband Mr. Eluma. In the end, the Senator came through for her, and Hassan has been cleared. But if all this is true, it shows how she was giving other people hope while driving her own personal and family agenda and that is just unbelievable for a woman we all trusted.

The only hope of a Hassan Baiwa Abdullahi emergence as APC flag-bearer lies in the delegates. Whoever has the delegates list which the APC accepts has the ticket. Since Bello has control of the executives considered authentic by the national hierarchy, he definitely has the authentic delegates list and all he has to do is guard it. On the other hand, his opponents may try to change the list at Abuja but I don’t see the Baiwas pulling that one off though. Bello and Onoja may have started off as political neophytes in 2015, but today, they are certainly as good as it gets and I know they will not take their eyes off that list. We might as well start congratulating the Governor for clinching the APC’s ticket for the 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections. If you don’t believe me, Thursday is already here, let us wait and see.

For those of us who followed a bunch of uncoordinated Aspirants all these years, well, there is nothing anyone can do now except shine your eyes and go and plan for yourself. Nobody is thinking of any person’s interest. Me, I may not like Yahaya Bello, but I remain loyal to the APC so if my party interest demands it, and my demands are met, I will work for the APC. As for Hajia and her brother, they better have a rethink. Nobody in Igala land with any knowledge of politics will support Hassan. I know the delegates will disgrace him on Thursday. From now on in Kogi East, any greedy leader who thinks only their family is good enough for power and prestige will find out that we are not fools. The revolution starts now! We are sick and tired of all these Ajipu and family agenda nonsense.

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Intelligence, PoliticsAPC, Kogi east, Salamatu baiwa


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