Governor Yahaya Bello has been described as a detribalized Nigerian “without religious bias”.
The Director General on Media and Publicity to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo stated this while fielding questions from journalists at Government House, Lokoja, saying the allegation that the Governor is planning to “islamize” Mission schools is “unfounded and another low by uninformed critics”.
“Having noticed the dilapidated structures in our legacy schools across the State and the dearth of first class educational facilities at those schools, the Governor decided to embark on massive upgrading and remodeling of the schools into unity schools. None of the schools will lose its name in the process.
“The people of Kogi State are happy that the legacy schools are about to be returned to their glory days. But beyond that, their populations will reflect the national character that they used to have. This is aimed at fostering unity across the state as well as foster ethnic integration and socio-cultural chemistry.
“The old Titcombe College, Egbe had students from all over Nigeria. Their products saw a bigger picture of a united Nigeria. That is the intention of government in the ongoing remodeling process”.
He said the critics have been dumbfounded by the “unprecedented educational environment that government is creating in those schools”, insisting that critics of the administration “have run out of critical ideas on governance and development”, hence, “the relapse to blatant falsehood and uncoordinated propaganda”.
“The promoters of the false story of Islamizing schools are completely out of ideas. They have forgotten that ethnic jingoism, religious bigotry and class honour have no place in the present day Kogi State under the administration of Alh. Yahaya Bello.
“No administration has clipped the fangs of religious bigotry as the present administration. Nobody asks where you come from or your religion of choice in modern day Kogi State. We are a united people”.
Fanwo said the detractors “were consumed by their own falsehood”, saying the Governor is performing more than their expectations.
“Their initial story was that the Governor is not doing anything. But having seen the world-class quality to which we are turning our Unity Schools, they have changed tone to the fact that the Governor is Islamizing mission schools.
“Our Unity Schools will have students across the state and even across the nation as a microcosm of the bigger Federal Unity Schools. We want our generation-next to cultivate the mindset of a united state that has no place for ethnicity or religious fanaticism.
“It is laughably ridiculous to think the Governor has religious bias. His first three appointments on the day of his inauguration had two christians and one Muslim. His choices are based on capacity and not religion.
“The Governor is building an Ultra-Modern Chapel in Government House today despite his religious status as a Muslim”.
Fanwo urged members of the public to disregard the “deliberate attempts by the sponsors of the comical falsehood to return Kogi to the era of division”.
In a related development, the DG Media and Publicity said the allegations raised by a former Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Clarence Olafemi is a clear “disregard of honourable lines of communication”.
He said: “I read the story today and how he made allegations against the Governor. I feel it is not healthy to act that way as an elder.
“Hon. Clarence Olafemi was an Acting Governor in the State and he understands the lines of communication in resolving his fears. For him to go to the media to condemn the Governor is unacceptable and unfair.
“Nobody is disputing the fact that Olafemi worked for the party just like other leaders did, but it will not be right to pull down the building you claimed to have contributed to building. Like the biblical wisdom, we will not allow the baby to be divided with a knife.
“Whatever the Governor or the party did on the Congress was in order. Everyone was invited for a Pre-Congress Stakeholders Meeting but some refused to come. Hon. Olafemi was not even in the country then and I am not sure if the party’s constitution has a proviso for delaying Congress for leaders who were out of the country to participate.
“The Governor is the leader of the party in the State and should be treated with utmost respect even as he is determined to carry all willing members and leaders along. He is the father of the State and has no grudge against anyone.
“Politics is about the people and it is played at the grassroots. The era of godfatherism and diaspora politics is gone. The present administration in the state will continue to deliver to the All Progressives Congress”.
On the allegation that the Governor appointed PDP members into offices, Fanwo said it is an “expired falsehood”, saying those making the allegations are actually hiding their plan to defect to the PDP after losing out in their bases.
“We are aware they want to defect to the PDP because their political godfather is warming up to defect in order to contest the Presidency. The people have moved away from the politics of stipends. Governor Yahaya has liberated the Kogi people”, he said.