*says corruption cannot fight corruption
From being the Chairman of the Transition Committee that saw to the smooth inauguration of Governor Bello, to alleging threat to life, a once cordial relationship between the Kogi State governor and Senator Dino Melaye has gone sour. In this interview with Vanguard, Director General, Media and Publicity to the Governor of Kogi State, Kingsley Fanwo threw light on the strained relationship between Governor Yahaya Bello and Senator Dino Melaye. Excerpts:
Senator Dino Melaye has alleged that Gov. Yahaya Bello is after his life, what is your reaction to this?
I also heard of the allegation and it is an embarrassment to logical reasoning. Governor Yahaya Bello is not competing with Senator Dino Melaye for anything. He is the Governor of the State, father of the State and the leader of the All Progressives Congress in the State. The Governor has no reason to be after Dino Melaye’s life. Governor Yahaya Bello cannot hurt a fly. The allegation is not only irresponsible and false, but represent the height of pathological lying. There is need for the Senate to call Dino Melaye to order. He should stop embarrassing our revered Senate. Anyone who is a serial liar, morally bankrupt and professional blackmailers should not be making laws for us. Senators should be societal role models.
Since the handover to Governor Yahaya Bello, Senator Dino Melaye has had loggerheads with him, how can you trace this strained relationship considering that Melaye served in the Transition Committee?
Senator Dino Melaye was the Chairman of the Transition Committee that ushered in the current administration under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello. He doubled as the MC of the inauguration and he made instructive statements. He said Governor Bello was anointed by God and that anyone fighting him is fighting God. He was so excited and hopeful of a new Kogi State under Governor Bello. The Governor also gave him the privilege of nominating a woman for the position of the Secretary to the State Government and he brought the current SSG, Dr Ayoade Folashade Arike. But the Senator spoke about “elephant sharing” at the Stadium that day, without knowing the avarice of the Governor to corruption and corrupt practices. He became enraged when the Governor refused to “share the elephant” to a select few, but rather decided to use the commonwealth for the common good.
Secondly, Senator Melaye was not comfortable with the appointment of Alh. Taofeek Isah, a grassroots politician as the Administrator of Ijumu Local Government Council. The Governor had selected highly competent grassroots torch bearers as his Coordinators during the campaigns. They were given elaborate orientation to help drive the New Direction Agenda of his administration. Alh. Isah was the Coordinator for the five Local Government Councils of Okunland. He was also the APC Chairman for Ijumu Local Government Council. Senator Melaye urged the Governor to drop Alh. Taofeek Isah but the Governor remained loyal to his commitment. The Senator felt bad about that. Senator Dino Melaye is fighting for himself. Not the populace.
Many political leaders have found it difficult to put up with the decision of the Governor to stop corruption in the state, hence, the campaign of calumny against his government and his person. Alh. Yahaya Bello will not be distracted. And his stance has lined the people behind him. The Governor is standing with the Kogi people.
You just said Sen. Melaye was as a matter of fact the Chairman of the Transition Committee and MC of the inauguration which shows the level of closeness he had with Gov. Bello. Do you think the relationship that has gone sour is all about who becomes the leader of the party in Kogi State or who becomes the next Governor, as it has been alleged that Melaye may contest the next Governorship election?
The leader of the party in the state is not in contest. The constitution of the party is clear about it. The Governor is the leader of the party in the state. On the issue of governorship, anyone who is legally qualified is free to contest for governorship. On the part of the Governor, he is not thinking of 2019 yet. He was elected to deliver on his promises and not to think of controlling the future. What happened in Kogi State in 2015 is enough to teach all a big lesson in divine decisions. Even Dino said it in his speech during the inauguration ceremonies that the people voted for the late Prince Audu but God voted for Alh. Yahaya Bello. If he wants to contest against the Governor, let him come out and tell the world rather than creating a wrong impression of the Kogi people. Kogi people are not thugs or rascals. We are refined people. We are not scared about who is contesting against the Governor, but concerned about what history will record for us. The Governor is rooted. The moment your son becomes a masquerade, be careful with him. God is on the side of Governor Yahaya Bello.
Dino Melaye has been a fierce critic of Governor Yahaya Bello, do you see it having any effect on the Polity in your State?
We are undaunted by the criticism. The Governor is focused on delivering democracy dividends to the people. Their intention is to discredit the State Government and make it look irresponsible and incompetent. But the Governor has kept his feet on the ground for robust administration. Governor Yahaya Bello is trusted by the people of Kogi State. The people are also taking stocks of people who are using their undeserved privileged positions to tarnish the image of the state and make it look investment unworthy. The time of reckoning shall come for the people to choose between the enemies of the state and those who wish the state well. 2019 will unmask their ugly faces.
The Governor is on the fast lane. The high temperature of political fears is as a result the rising profile of the Governor. He has dared to change the way the state conducts her businesses. He has confronted the monsters of ghost workers and now saves billions of naira which are going into constructing roads, schools, hospitals for the benefits of the populace. Governance is going smoothly in Kogi State despite their unrelenting garage politics against the government.
Heating the Polity unnecessarily isn’t good for a State like Kogi whose Governor is trying to fix the ills. Being that Melaye is in the same party with your principal, do you see any truce?
The party at the National level has set up a fact-finding committee to look into the crisis with a view to resolving them to give peace a chance. Let me say here the Prince Tony Momoh-led Committee is doing a thorough job. The Governor has great confidence in the integrity and purpose of the Committee. He has appeared before the Committee to present his own side of the issues. Without sounding prejudice, members were shocked by the Governor’s presentation because the Yahaya Bello painted by his opportunistic antagonists was not the one they saw and listened to that day. He is a peace-loving personality. We wouldn’t have responded to Dino Melaye if not for his unwarranted attacks on the Sultan of Sokoto and other highly respected traditional rulers across the country. The sins of the Sultan of Sokoto and other Royal Fathers was their acceptance to come and commission projects in Kogi State. Monumental projects. Dino Melaye and his co-travelers were jolted by the fact that their falsehood of non-performance was exposed. The Governor is a lover of peace. He wants the party to leverage on his giant strides in the state. If they are ready for peace, the Governor is also ready.
I read in one of the national dailies a comment credited to Sen. Melaye where he said that if an election is conducted today, he would vote Wada instead of Bello. What do you make of this statement?
He is correct. He once belonged to Wada’s party. He has traversed many parties in search for power. So, they are birds of the same feather and we sincerely wish them what they deserve in their future political endeavors. We are unperturbed by such statements.
Recently Sen. Melaye launced a book and Gov. Bello was noticeably absent. Can you fill us in on this?
I am sure he didn’t invite the Governor. He carefully chose the invitees and Nigerians are already reacting to the spirit behind the book. He has no moral justification to write against corruption. It was skewed to revolt against the anti-corruption war. The book launch showed corruption fighting back. He has never worked anywhere. He has no known companies. He is not a contractor. Yet, he flaunts wealth in a society of high poverty level. Who is deceiving who? Governor Yahaya Bello is an Apostle of anti-corruption like his political father, President Muhammadu Buhari. Nigerians saw the caliber of the people who graced the anti-corruption book launch, including Dame Patience Jonathan. The history of our generation will be interesting.
Message for the people of Kogi
We thank the people of Kogi State for standing by their Governor. It gives us hope that the people know that the reason the opponents are attacking the Governor was because he has chosen to use their commonwealth for the common good. Governor Yahaya Bello will continue to perform in the face of attacks. He swore to serve the people and protect their interest. When they said the State Governor was not paying salaries, we published what was paid to each worker between September 2015( before we assumed Office) to March 2017 to silence them. They are irrigating falsehood to sustain it. Falsehood will remain falsehood no matter the amount of painting given to it. Our opponents lack integrity. Sahara Reporters were good when they were exposing corruption in the past. But they became bad suddenly because they questioned the genuineness of certain certificates. Kogi people are fed up with the political play-act going on.