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THE INSIDER: Onoja the co-Governor, How ’emperor’ Yahaya Bello rules and ruins Kogi state



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Simon Achuba, the deputy governor of Kogi state, may be counting his last days in office.

The house of assembly has commenced impeachment proceedings against him while the All Progressives Congress (APC) has suspended him — predictably for “anti-party” activities, the standard accusation in political witch-hunts.

Achuba is not alone in the “crush to conquer” strategy of Yahaya Bello, the governor of the north-central state, who sees himself more as an “emperor”, according to government insiders. Not long ago, Nasir Ajana, the chief judge of the state, came under heavy shelling from Bello who wanted him removed for, allegedly, not kowtowing to him. Predictably, the house of assembly recommended that Ajana should be suspended for “gross misconduct” — but the National Judicial Council does not appear to have received the memo yet.

The loud whispers across Kogi state is that Bello, who at 44 is Nigeria’s youngest governor, has turned the state into his personal property and anybody who does not worship him will be cowed to submission by any means necessary.


The unquestionable Bello, Nigeria’s youngest governor

It is generally believed that Bello inherited a dying economy from his predecessor, Idris Wada, but insiders say he has succeeded in administering drugs that kill the patient along with the disease.

Before the N30.8 billion bail-out he received from the federal government in July, which his critics said was meant to help him win re-election in November, Kogi workers had not been paid for over two years. Pensioners and retirees are still owed. Dearth of infrastructure is an aching reality. That businesses are folding up in the state is no longer treated as news.

But the most tragic effect of Bello’s misrule is the destruction of all state institutions. When he came in, he did not hide the fact that he had no respect for institutions — insiders tell TheCable.

“It was obvious from his style of administration as he weakened all the institutions he inherited in order to manipulate them. He created new institutions in order to undermine the existing ones as it became evident in his elevation of the office of chief of staff even far above that of the office of the governor. That is deliberate, intentional, and tendentious,” an appointee of the governor told TheCable.

At inception, Achuba was brought in as deputy governor to add credibility and endorsement to the government after the election chaos following the death of Audu Abubakar, who was set to become governor. Achuba, an Igala like Audu, tried to maintain his independence — which is called “disloyalty” in political circles. With such “audacious” act from him, all efforts were made to reduce him to size but the office was badly affected in the process. In most public functions, the deputy governor would be ignored and his presence unacknowledged. At a point, the electricity and water supplies to his residence were disconnected while his salary was stopped.

He recently cried out that his entitlements of up to N800 million had been denied him, raising the alarm that there was a plot to kill him. Officials of the Bello administration have issued a strong denial on the assassination allegation, describing the allegation as “bogus and an exhibition of a blind rage by an angry suckling with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior”.


Bello is perceived to be close to Buhari, who recently approved N30.8 billion bailout for Kogi state

The efforts to completely destroy the legislative arm were hatched and perfected in the early days of the Bello government, according to insiders. The speaker was from Kogi central and Bello had a meeting with the house of assembly to effect a change because, according to him, it was not proper for both the governor and the speaker to come from the same constituency. It was a reasonable observation but the meeting ended in fiasco because the governor wanted a new speaker to come from the APC, the party that was then in the minority. And because the PDP members in the house insisted that things must be done properly, they were battered, harassed and their salaries were stopped for months while many of them had to run to Abuja for safety.

“The final outcome of the Bello style of leadership is the peculiar house of assembly that has been created for the state by the government. The type of house of assembly in Kogi state is a disgrace to democracy,” an insider told TheCable, while listing a series of other actions that weakened government institutions.

“The judiciary which ordinary should be the last hope of the masses has been castrated. Ordinarily, the commissioner for justice is competent and a core professional but he has watched helplessly as Bello destroyed the institution, making it the worst hit by the ravaging storm of the state. Deliberately, workers in the state’s judiciary are being owed over nine months’ salary.

“The ministry of lands has been reduced to a bureau just to make some peculiar interests to be accommodated. Waste management board, a parastatal under the ministry of environment, has been destroyed and incapacitated simply because the function has been taken away and instead given to a company known as Geemony, owned by a government insider.

“In the same manner, Kogi State Forestry has been given to individuals to manage, instead of the ministry of agriculture, though it has yet to be effected by law. At the moment, the amount being used to clean the government house and commissioners quarters by the commissioner of finance, Asiru Asiwaju, is higher than the budget of the ministry of environment.

“The local government as a third tier does not exist in Kogi state. Bello manages the local governments as if it is a unit under the ministry of local government. The councils no longer derive their powers from the constitution. For the past three and half years, government appointees have served as sole administrators in the 21 local government areas and are not empowered to administer the allocations. The traditional institution has also been destroyed by Bello. Traditional rulers have been reduced to mere domestic servants under Bello.”


Onoja, Bello’s chief of staff, comes across as a co-governor

One of the first institutions Bello crushed was the ministry of information. With the intention of controlling information flow in the state, Edward Onoja, his chief of staff and Man Friday, was said to have installed certain appointees. But Abdulmalik Abdulkareem, an old and retired journalist from Kogi central — Bello’s home zone — who was made SA media to the governor, resisted Onoja’s control. He was subsequently removed and posted to the ministry of information, while Kingsley Fanwo, then chief press secretary, was given a position that never existed — DG, media and publicity. Fanwo was in Onoja’s good books.

Bello then changed ministry of information and culture into bureau of information services and grassroots mobilisation. Abdulmalik became the director-general instead of commissioner.

“Bello destroyed the information ministry but still wanted to accommodate the interest of his kinsman, Abdulmalik, whom the chief of staff had made sure was removed as SA media. Onoja initially wanted Abdulmalik to be sacked. But for him to be kept in the system, a whole ministry was sacrificed.

Another institution that was completely destroyed was the ministry of local government and chieftaincy affairs. There was a commissioner from Okene. But for Bello to accommodate the interest of his friend, Abubakar Ohere, also from Okene, he undermined the ministry by appointing Ohere as the SA in charge of the ministry.

Though Ohere is an SA, he is more powerful than everybody else apart from the governor and the chief of staff, insiders said. Ohere is a member of the state’s executive council and has the most befitting accommodation at the commissioners quarters. Some commissioners live in two-bedroom flats in Lokoja. The commissioner of education lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Lokoja while SAs such as Ohere, Abdulmalik, Abdulkareem Onyekehi and others reside in the commissioners quarters.

It is the opinion of many of Bello’s critics that his government is being managed by misfits and incompetent hands. Aside the commissioners for justice, education, agriculture, and science and technology, the DG of private public partnership, the MD of Graphic Newspaper, SA new media and a few others, most of the appointees are said to be lacking in institutional competence.

Source: Cable
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Inside Story

NLC To Resume Kaduna Strike




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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has vowed to resume its suspended industrial action, if within the end of its five days warning strike, the Kaduna State government fails to respect the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with workers.

The NLC had on May 19 suspended its warning strike action in the state after three days, following the invitation of the Federal Government in brokering peace between both parties. Addressing journalists at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Tuesday in Abuja, President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the resolution to resume the strike action was reached after exhausting all avenues, including writing letters to President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige. Wabba further disclosed that all state councils and affiliate unions have been directed to begin mobilisation of members who have been placed on alert for a nationwide strike which would happen without any further notice. He said: “Whereas, the NLC has remained committed to the process of reconciliation following the intervention by the Federal Government, a MoU was signed and this MoU posited that there should be a 10 person Committee to be able to ensure that all processes and procedures in disengaging any workers conforms with our national law, particularly section 20 of the Labour law.


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Inside Story

Twitter Ban: Buhari raises ministerial panel to meet Jack, other company executives




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President Muhammadu Buhari has made a move to dialogue with Twitter over the suspension of the microblogging platform after weeks of stand-off.

Pantami, Lai Mohammed, Malami, others to meet Twitter on behalf of FG

Press Release

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the composition of the Federal Government’s Team to engage with Twitter over the recent suspension of the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria.

The approval was announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who will chair the team.

The Federal Government’s team also comprises the Attorney General of the Federation and Honourable Minister of Justice, Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment as well as other relevant government agencies.

Following the indefinite suspension of its operations in Nigeria, for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence, Twitter wrote to President Buhari seeking to engage with the Federal Government over the suspension, with a view to charting a path forward.

Segun Adeyemi

Special Assistant To The President (Media)

Office of the Minister of Information and Culture


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Inside Story

Those thinking that Nigeria will break up are dreaming, they will be disappointed, says VP Osinbajo




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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has declared that those waiting for Nigeria to break up will be disappointed, insisting that Nigeria will remain united as a strong nation to the frustration of those waiting to see the country broken into pieces.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the maiden edition of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressives Youth Conference, Osinbajo said the country is stronger together than in little parts.

In the area of disruption and disruptive innovation, the principle that we are stronger together than in little part is a sound principle and it is my respectful view that those who advocate the breaking up of the country are terribly wrong,” he said.

He added: “Our size is crucial for geopolitical and economic relevance. Our people will be better served by a large populous and diverse country. As with all big and diverse countries, our business is to make this union work; it is to give everybody a sense of belonging.

All of those waiting on the sidelines, hoping that this big country called Nigeria will break up into bits so that they can pick up the pieces, will be very sorely disappointed and I am very sure that those of you who are seated here today will prevent that from happening.”

The vice president acknowledged the need for all Nigerians to be guaranteed a fair chance at improving their human condition and urged the youth to be a part of conversations that will ensure this.

He asked the young generation not just to say it was time for them and for the older people to give way, stressing that such was unlikely to happen.

Osinbajo, however, stated that it was the strength of the ideas and the depth of the youths’ organisation and not age that would retire those ahead of them.

I am also frankly not very impressed with the notion that the role and power of young people are somehow postponed until elders have gone, or that there’s some kind of generational queue to which we all must subscribe.
Even if that was true at some point, today, that notion stands on very weak legs indeed,” he said.

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