The leader of Kogi East Forum of the ruling All Progressives Congress and a chieftain of the party, Akwu Goodman, has accused Governor Yahaya Bello of planning to impose one of his proteges on the state in the forthcoming governorship election.
This is even as he alleged that the governor was behind the suspension of APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Murtala Yakubu, by the executives of his party ward.
The PUNCH reported that Yakubu was suspended over allegations that bothered on gross insubordination, anti-party activities among others.
But the matter took a twist on Friday when the same ward Chairman of his local constituency in Ajaka, Omale Danladi, who purportedly signed the letter swore that he knew nothing about the suspension.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Saturday, Goodman said that the governor was behind the attempt to frustrate Yakubu’s governorship ambition.
The APC deputy spokesman is among a number of young politicians hoping to take over the rein of leadership from the outgoing governor in November’s governorship election.
The race to replace Bello gathered momentum in January when Bello’s Chief of Staff, Abdulkareem Asuku; Auditor General, Ahmed Ododo and Commissioner for Local Government and chieftaincy affairs, Salami Ozigi-Deedat paid N50m to pick up their nomination and expression of interest forms at the APC national secretariat in Abuja.
Aside from the trio, sources also said that that Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Secretary for the APC presidential campaign council, James Faleke, and the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Smart Adeyemi, have also purchased their forms.
But Goodman made a case for Yakubu, who is also a member of the National Working Committee of the party, who he said has kept the hope of Igala people alive long after the demise of the late grassroots politician, Prince Abubakar Audu.
He said, “It is like the case of giving a dog a bad name just to hang it. The whole exercise was borne out of envy, jealousy and hatred for the rising political profile of Alhaji Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, the kid on the block.
“The last elections held in the state shows that Igalamela-Odolu constituency has the highest votes from the whole of Kogi and this is the local government of Yakubu. He did excellently well in all the elections, winning his polling unit, ward, council and senatorial district resoundingly.
“Yakubu was the hero of APC success in Kogi East and by extension Kogi State. We hereby pass vote of absolute confidence on his capability hence that we know his illegal suspension was done out of the fear of his rising political profile.
“We hereby call on the National Chairman of our great party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led executives to void the purported suspension as all the allegations are figment of imagination and hatred enveloped with fear of the intimidating profile of Alhaji Muritala Yakubu Ajaka. The motive is political witch-hunting.”
While claiming that what the governor is doing amounted to anti-party activities, he added that Bello was only accepted as governor after Audu’s demise.
“The Igalas while mourning the exit of their leader, the legendary Prince Audu kept quiet and accepted the shortchanging as an act and will of God.
“Governor Yahaya Bello has never hidden his intention to impose his protégé from his tribe as successor in November 11 state governorship election, which is a mission impossible. Because politics is a game of number and majority will always carry the day while the minority will always have their say.
“The Igala people, being one of the top 10 largest demographic groups in Nigeria, are forced to break our silence finally to stop the unbecoming and larger-than-life attitude of some privileged political minors that providence paved way for but have refused to appreciate God in totality.”
Efforts made to get the reaction of Bello’s media aide, Onogwu Mohammed and the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, on phone proved abortive.
But Fanwo replied to one of the messages, saying as a democrat and leader of the party, the governor would ensure that the constitution of the party is followed, adding that Bello is not after anybody.
“His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello is a democrat and as the leader of the party in the state, he will ensure the constitution of the party is followed in the emergence of his successor,” he said.
The commissioner also frowned at the insinuation that Bello was responsible for the suspension of one the numerous aspirants hoping to replace him.
While disclosing that an earlier press statement had been issued concerning the issue, he gave an assurance that the governor is not after anybody.
He stated, “Everyone in the party is his. He is not after anyone. He wants the party to remain united to continue the winning streak. The governor, as the leader of our great party in Kogi State, warns against bickering that can undermine the peace and unity that the APC has been known for under his leadership.
“He has therefore directed all aspirants in the forthcoming governorship primaries in the state to focus on their strengths in wooing party members and refrain from divisive tendencies in the interest of the party. Our party will ensure a fair playing ground for the best candidate to emerge in the primary election and together we shall win the governorship election, with a wide margin, in November.”