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2023 Presidency And Yahaya Bello’s Inordinate Ambition

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Less than one year into his second term as Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello has been nursing presidential ambition for 2023.

The governor assumed his second term in office on January 27, 2020.

Bello had said during his swearing in that “The “Let’s Do More” mantra of my electioneering campaign stood on three operating principles of Partnerships, Progress and Prosperity which will underpin my new term of office.

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We shall embark on large scale urban renewal projects to further transform Lokoja into a resilient capital city with modern utilities attractive to residents and tourists alike.

“Though upgrading the sights and sounds of looking will be paramount, this beautification project will extend to at least one major town in each senatorial district.’’

Shortly after he took over power, less than one year, the governor abandoned his ‘Let’s do more’ mantra. He abandoned the State and is gallivanting about to become president in 2023, despite fact that Kogi State is one of the poorest states in Nigeria.  Development in Kogi has been at the lowest ebb, yet its governor has been distracted by an inordinate ambition to replace President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

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Bello first flew a kite when lawmakers in the Kogi State House of Assembly called him out to contest the 2023 presidency. The 25-member house made the unanimous call at plenary on December 2, 2020 in Lokoja. It was day after Bello presented a budget proposal of N130.5bn for 2021 to the lawmakers. The document was expected to gain attention of the lawmakers when they reconvened Wednesday.

They, however, chose to delve into the uncertain waters of 2023 Presidential politics, asking the governor to throw his hat into the ring. The House in its plenary described Bello as fit for the office in view of his outstanding performances as Governor and in view of the fact that the North Central Zone has also not had the opportunity to be President. They therefore urged him to seek a higher Office in 2023.

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The House in a unanimous motion further urged that the office of the nation’s Presidency or Vice be zoned to the North Central Zone of Nigeria.

In the last few months or so there have been tremendous agitations over a shrouded presidential ambition. In fact some months after his second inauguration his posters for the 2023 presidential election appeared in Lokoja. Although it was debunked, the State has not known any dull moment since then.

Posters of  Bello have appeared in all North Central States canvassing for support for his ambition as governance in the State suffers. The Kogi lawmakers have been going round to garner support for him in some of the States.

The governor went as far as sponsoring youth group to demand that he vie for the presidency in 2023. The group, under the aegis of GYB2PYB issued a 14-day ultimatum to Bello accept its call on him to contest the 2023 presidential election,threatening that it would mobilize Nigerians to occupy the streets if he delayed to accept its request.

Members of the group marched to the Kogi State Liaison Office in Abuja, where they presented letter of their request to the governor. Speaking on their behalf, National Coordinator of the group,Amb. Oladele John Nihi, said their call was necessitated by what he referred to as the “exemplary leadership of the governor in Kogi State.”

Bello, through his commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, said he was being pressured to run for presidency in 2023.

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The governor’s ambition for 2023 is affecting things in the State. This informed a group lamenting the decay in Kogi State.

The group, Kogi State Youth Renaissance (KSYR) raised an alarm over what it called the extreme poor governance in the state under the watch of Governor Yahaya Bello. The group maintained that the quality of life has been reduced to its poorest state under All Progressives Congress-led administration in the past five years.

Chairman of the group, Hassan Mohammed, noted that “Governor of Kogi State in his insensitivity slashed the salaries of poor workers to as low as 30 per cent while he continues to flaunt his expensive lifestyle to the faces of deprived people of the state.

“Under Governor Yahaya Bello, healthcare has completely gone moribund with the Federal Medical Centre under lock and key after the attack by hoodlums suspected to be agents of the Bello administration. This administration has continued to pay lip service to health challenges in the state including the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to unexplained deaths.”

Former Senator, Dino Melaye accused Bello of deceiving and distracting people of the State, while cautioning Nigerians against taking the presidential ambition of Bello seriously.

The former lawmaker said Bello was using the presidential ambition to shield attention from the alleged looting of the state’s funds and failure of his government.

In a tweet, Melaye wrote: “Gov. Bello is deceiving and distracting all those who take him seriously on the phantom presidential ambition to shield attention from the colossal and unprecedented stealing and failure of his wasted years in Kogi State. At the right time we will burst his bubble.”

The Director of Research and Documentation, Peoples Democratic Party in Kogi State , Mr. Dickson Ocholi lamented that the persistent calls on Bello could be described as mere distractions which would not allow Bello to concentrate on state affairs between now and 2022 when presidential primaries will be conducted across the parties.

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Ocholi pointed out that the governor has enough work begging for his attention in Kogi rather than seeking higher office for now, calling on him to sit down in Lokoja, the State capital and restrategise in the interest of the people of Kogi State.

Yahaya Bello’s ambition seemed to gain more impetus during the APC revalidation and registration exercise as he was the chairman of the exercise. He used that period to subtly drum support for his ambition as he was everywhere. He even announced the coming into APC of critic, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Fani-Kayode is now the chief proponent of the Bello’s 2023 ambition. He has been following the governor around. In fact, Bello visited him in his house. Bello has also succeeded in drawing Fani-Kayode to Aso Rock where both held a press briefing on the blockade of food to the Southwest by northerns. Bello used that period to score cheap political goal. He and Fani-Kayode mediated in the crisis and it was resolved.

To further show that he is still pursuing his ambition, Fani-Kayode tweeted on Friday, March 26, 2021, saying Bello is unstoppable.

Political pundits are of the view that Bello, though qualified, is going nowhere near the presidency in 2023 as he could never get the ticket of the APC. Many asked Bello to pay more attention to the work he has been elected to do as a governor so that the people of Kogi would not suffer. Critics are saying that Bello has not done much for the State when compared to other governors

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Obasanjo condemns call for Nigeria’s disintegration

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday described calls for the disintegration of Nigeria as unmindful and insensitive to the plight of the minority groups in the country.

Obasanjo made the observation when he received the Tiv Professional Group (TPG) from Benue State, who paid him a courtesy visit in Abeokuta.

The former president recalled a discussion between him and “a military friend”  who, according to him, has described major tribes in the country as selfish and not sufficiently caring for the minority groups.

Obasanjo, who aligned with his friend’s opinion, expressed worry over what would become of the minority groups if the major tribes decided to secede and begin to operate as separate countries.

“If the Yoruba can stand as a country if the Igbos and the Hausa/Fulani can stand as separate countries, where do we want the minority groups to be?

“Now, by virtue of the present situation, they are a little bit protected, but if Nigeria breaks up, they will be oppressed and exterminated,” he said.

He recalled the meetings he had with a number of socio-cultural organizations in September 2020 and noted that nobody at such meeting talked about disintegration or breakup, saying that “all they clamored for was a change for good”.

The elder statesman stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to be mindful of the ethnic diversity of the Nigerian nation, adding that the country would not make any meaningful progress without such consideration.

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Obasanjo, who expressed hope that the rough times that Nigeria was going through would not last forever, urged Nigerians to be patient while the country gathered her goodwill and moved in the right direction.

The leader of the group, Prof. Zacharys Gundv, in a paper he presented to Obasanjo, highlighted the challenges of the nation, including insecurity, poverty religious intolerance, kidnappings, and banditry, among others.

He explained that the Tivs were worried about the skewed narrative of insecurity in Nigeria

Proffering a solution to Nigeria’s challenges, Gundv called on well-meaning Nigerians to be united in serving the country.

He called for intensified advocacy against nomadic pastoralism and an “All Nationalities Summit” to discuss and proffer solutions to Nigeria’s challenges.

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Buhari haunted by his coup plotting past- PDP

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What began as a rumour or idle talk – whispers of a putsch – yesterday gathered a life of its own as state actors kept giving life to the notion, which is turning and turning in the widening gyre.

First was the pledge by the military that it would not overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general and head of state whose government has come under strident criticisms over growing insecurity in the country.

In a statement issued by Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, the military said it has no intention of taking over power again in Nigeria. This, it said, is because it believes that despite tough times, democracy is the way to go and militarism is no longer fashionable. The army also warned politicians nursing ambition of ruling Nigeria outside the ballot box, saying it would continue to defend the country’s democracy.

“We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended. We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens,” the statement said in part.

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This statement was in reaction to agitation by some secessionist and opposition figures for a restructuring of the government, coming two days after the Department of State Services (DSS) also issued same warning.

Immediately after the army’s pledge of loyalty, the Presidency, yesterday, raised the alarm, warning of a subliminal plot by some past leaders working with foreigners to forcefully sack President Buhari from office. However, it did not provide names of the leaders and their cohorts.

The Presidency predicated its conclusion on what it described as ‘unimpeachable’ evidence made available to it by DSS operatives. It, however, warned of dire consequences of such plot, especially where the citizens have opted for democratic rule, saying the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections.

In a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the Presidency said: “The Department of State Services (DSS), on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.

“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.

“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.

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“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections. Nigerians have opted for democratic rule, and the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, which hold at prescribed times in the country. Any other way is patently illegal, and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.”

In response to the salvo fired by the Presidency, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the allegation that some Nigerians were plotting a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership, as a resort to blackmail in the face of failure. The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, asked Buhari to look closely at his past before accusing it of plot to overthrow democratically elected government.

“Perhaps, the Presidency has forgotten that in 1983, Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, led a military coup to truncate a democratically elected government thereby causing our nation a huge drawback on democratic governance.”

The PDP said rather than live up to the responsibilities of office by taking charge and securing the nation, “the Presidency is busy engaging in frivolous allegations against Nigerians.”

DESCRIBING the alarm as false and signs of a jittery administration pushing the panic button, a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked Buhari to quit immediately if the “kitchen has become too hot for him.”

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Bloomberg removes Bill Gates from billionaire list after divorce

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A few hours after announcing his divorce from wife, Melinda, Bloomberg has delisted one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates, from its billionaire list index.

Gates had, on Monday, announced that he and Melinda who are the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were splitting after 27 years of marriage.

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the duo had shared on Twitter.

“Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable people to lead healthy lives,” they added .

Immediately after making the announcement, Bloomberg, an international media conglomerate that provides financial news and information, research, and financial data, yanked Gates off its top billionaires’ list where he usually sits in the top four spots.

On May 2, 2021, Gates was fourth on the index with a net worth of $145 billion, having gained over $13 billion in 2021 alone.

Gates became the youngest ‘American Billionaire’ in 1987 and has been on the Bloomberg’s list ever since.

He has also been a permanent fixture on the Forbes billionaire index, often making the real-time billionaire list

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Gates and Melinda got married in 1994, after he was already named the richest man in America.

The divorce is expected to affect their wealth, but the extent to which this will happen is yet to be known as Forbes is also expected to make its position known in due course.

By Isaac Dachen…

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