By George Oyedepo
The game of politics is always changing and it always boils down to interests. This is why politicians are considered untrustworthy, shifty and dodgy. When politicking, candidates are given allowance as politicians, immediately they win, the allowance goes and nobody accepts their politicking anymore. They have become government who must not twist or turn and who must be forthright including fulfilling their promises from the time of the twist and turn.
When campaigning and during elections, politicians consider self-interest or interest of political stakeholders relevant to them. When they win elections and form government, they are expected to do all they do and govern in the interest of the people. President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, have tried to change this system. They came to power in 2015 after campaigning, not on the interest of politicians but, on the interest of the people.
Though, there were many with them who were with them in their own interest, the country believed Buhari was only interested in the interest of the people. Four years after, people believe more that he is in the interest of the people. People blame APC’s misfortune and disorganization on a president who abandoned the party and politics for the people. A president who acted more as the leader of a nation than the leader of his party. This was frustrating for the politicians in his party, but he did not change. He did not interfere or speak till Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senator Shehu Sani and many others left the party and he still did not interfere.
When it was time for re-election, the party and politicians were afraid and some were telling him he made a mistake not to politick and pay attention to the party because it was in disarray and some had left and the support base was weak. The President refused to make appointments based only on allegiance to the APC. He did not award juicy contracts and oil blocks to party faithful. People were wondering where the money for election will come from when the faithful and party structure had not been oiled or “empowered”. But because he kept the interest of the people at heart instead of the vested interests in the party, he won election again.
President Buhari’s only stain on his “interest of the people” reputation is the albatross of Kogi State. It is widely believed that he brought Yahaya Bello to power and has sustained him in power. Bello proudly claims ‘sonship’ to the President and does not fail to remind everybody that everything he is doing has presidential backing. When the president returned from London, he was the only one to declare a Public Holiday. He frequents the Aso Rock Villa to visit the President.
The only blemish on the President and his family’s reputation in Kogi is why a father who is interested in the people does not call his ‘son’, Yahaya Bello to order? The only blame on the President in Kogi is that he has said and done nothing for almost four years that Bello has not paid salaries, inflicting untold hardship on the people and many have died on account of the suffering.
Is it that in Kogi the President chose politics over people? Is it that the cries and smell of death from suicide and sickness from non-payment of salaries do not get to the Aso Rock Villa? Is it that the President who feels the pains of civil servants in other states does not feel the pains and anguish of those in Kogi? Must all in Kogi die before their voices are heard?
Why is he seemingly supporting Bello when all are crying and begging him to save and rescue them from Bello? Why will the presidency allow the infliction of fear, hunger, sickness and death to continue in Kogi? Kogites accept their fate of weakness and fear of the presidency. But they have no fear or weakness of Yahaya Bello without the president. Yahaya Bello even recently told them that APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu respects him because he is a ‘son of President Muhammadu Buhari.’
Left to the Buhari we know, Yahaya Bello will not even contest primaries in Kogi. He will not be permitted. President Buhari said “he does not know how governors go to sleep without paying salaries,” but Yahaya Bello, his son is sleeping well under President Buhari’s protection without paying salaries. Is it because in Kogi, for the President, it is politics, not people? Or vested Yahaya Bello interest not people interest? Has the President given up the burden of the father of the nation in Kogi to make a choice to be father of Yahaya Bello? Is it that everywhere He is for all and belongs to no one, but in Kogi, he is for Bello and belongs to Bello?
The president has a good opportunity to show example by denying Yahaya Bello and telling him if he is truly a son, he will not disgrace and spoil his father’s name and so he should not contest. He should not contest not because there is fear he can win, but because there is fear presidency is behind him. He should not contest so that there will be no loss of life in Kogi.
Openly condemning what Yahaya Bello has done and plans, denying him the ticket is the only message from the presidency and APC that can be loud in Kogi. It is the only message that cannot be misinterpreted by Bello’s militia. It is the only message that can assuage the pain of many. It is the only message that can assuage the pain of the sick, and workers who have not been paid, some of them for years, the pain of children who have not been to school because teachers have not been paid and parents have not been paid; so no school fees for private school, to assuage the pains and sorrow across Kogi from East to Central to West; all over Kogi.
Mr. President, please prove those who believe in you right, prove those who say Bello has been lying that you endorse him and all his actions right, prove that like Katsina, the interest of the people in Kogi is paramount and above the vested interest of Yahaya Bello to you.
This is not the time to be silent. This is your legacy, Mr. President. The nation wants to remember you for rescuing people. It is time to rescue Kogi.
- Oyedepo writes from Lokoja, Kogi State