Many followers of socio-political happenings in Nigeria were taken aback when they read that Kogi State Deputy Governor, Elder Simon Achuba, had enlisted the services of foremost legal luminary, Femi Falana, SAN to demand payment of his emolument running into many millions of Naira.
The embarrassing saga was even more surprising to non-Kogites who said they had never heard of the deputy governor.
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For Kogites, the development signaled a deterioration in an already bad relationship between Governor Yahaya Bello and Deputy Governor Simon Achuba.
I attempt to trace and put together a compendium of the less than ideal and unhealthy relationship between the occupiers of the two highest offices in Kogi State.
HOW IT BEGAN
Not many people can tell exactly when the problems between Governor Bello of Kogi State and his deputy began but signs of a crack were visible to the public when the campaign team for the general elections was constituted with the name of the deputy governor missing even though he’s an astute politician.
Kogites began to ask questions in a more demanding manner especially since observations had been made over time that the deputy governor was relegated and sidelined; as a matter of fact, until recent events in the media, which are highlighted here, only a few were sure Kogi State has a deputy governor let alone his name.
To douse the questioning voices, a letter written and signed by the protocol officer to the deputy governor surfaced informing the governor of his intention to go on a two month leave. This leave was to run from November through late January but it turned out to be a ruse.
You may wish to read these summaries by Tribune and Daily Trust. The Tribune piece even traced how Elder Simon Achuba came to be the deputy governor to Alhaji Yahaya Bello. https://tribuneonlineng.com/kogi-2019-bello-achuba-in-war-of-attrition/ https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/kogi-bello-achuba-face-off-worsens.htmlhtml
To Kogites, suspicion of a rift between Governor Bello and his deputy were incontrovertibly confirmed when in January, during a townhall meeting at Ibaji, the hometown of the deputy governor, the Chief of Staff to Kogi State Governor accused the Deputy Governor of the State of being responsible for the backwardness of the LGA by chasing contractors out of the LGA through demands for kickbacks. Responding through an aide however, the Deputy Governor wondered if this allegation which he called unfounded and an attempt to set his people against him the reason workers and pensioners were owed for many varying number of months or for the general backwardness in Kogi State.
Here is the link to the CoS allegation http://kogireports.com/edward-onoja-berates-kogi-deputy-governor-for-ibaji-backwardness/.
NO LONGER A PRIVATE AFFAIR
More people across the country became conversant with the crack in the relationship between the first and second citizens of Kogi State when Deputy Governor went public with his demand of his salaries, allowances and those of his aides through a letter written to the governor by his lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN. The state government of course said he had been paid for as many months as civil servants and other government officials were paid. They also accused him of demanding pay for no work.
A few days later, the Deputy Governor claimed that the Governor had plotted to kill him. In addition, he alleged that the Governor had unleashed thugs who brandished arms to intimidate people who didn’t sing the latter’s praises without restraint.
The Governor vehemently denied this with his CPS describing the allegation as “bogus and an exhibition of a blind rage by an angry suckling with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior.” http://saharareporters.com/2019/08/01/yahaya-bello-after-my-life-kogi-deputy-governor-cries-out
Next, Elder Simon Achuba was on Sunrise Daily, the flagship programme of Channels TV where he made claims to the effect that Governor Bello cannot account for N294billion of some of the funds that had accrued to the state in 3 years. He also alleged that owing workers was deliberate because the Governor believed civil servants were inconsequential. See link…https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/08/how-yahaya-bello-mismanaged-kogis-n294-billion-achuba/
Of course, the state government responded by accusing the deputy governor of working for the opposition to destabilise governance and asked for all his claims to be discountenanced.
Shortly afterwards, the APC suspended the deputy governor from the party. https://thenationonlineng.net/kogi-apc-suspends-deputy-governor-achuba/
In response, Elder Achuba scoffed it off and said they didn’t know what they were doing. That a suspension should have emanated from his ward up to his LGA before the state.
Following the suspension quickly, the state House of Assembly moved a motion to impeach the deputy governor… https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/345618-kogi-assembly-begins-impeachment-process-against-deputy-governor.html/amp/#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s
Elder Achuba laughed off this move by saying while he expected members of the House to be reasonable, they are not. https://guardian.ng/news/impeachment-kogi-assembly-lawmakers-not-reasonable-says-achuba/
Last week, Governor Bello was reported of stating that his government no longer owed workers salaries..https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/kogi-state-government-no-longer-owes-its-civil-servants-governor-bello.html
But in an interview with The Cable, Elder Simon Achuba said salary payment has become so muddled up that it cannot be resolved by the Bello administration. He also said there were no serious projects executed by the governor. https://www.thecable.ng/interview-yahaya-bello-hasnt-completed-a-single-project-in-four-years-says-kogi-dep-gov
SO WHY NOT RESIGN?
In an appearance on AIT’s Democracy Today, the presenter asked a question many have asked overtime “why not resign?”. In response the deputy governor said he was grateful to the governor for making him his deputy but things were not right and since he was not listened to in private he had to come out publicly to let the world know what was going on in Kogi State.
As things stand, there is no sign that these issues will be resolved soon or the direction the Deputy Governor will face in November what is sure for now is that the Deputy Governor doesn’t favor a return of his boss back to Lugard House for a second term.
With party primaries holding in the next few weeks (APC’s will hold on August 29), the politics in Kogi State are in top gear and it is certain that more events will continue to unfold leading to November election.
– Petra Akinti Onyegbule.
Former Chief Press Secretary to Kogi State Governor.