Editor’s note: The political battle between Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state and the senator representing Kogi west, Senator Dino Melaye is gathering momentum on a daily basis. While the former accuses the later of causing crisis in the state, the later alleges the former of orchestrating his recall from the National Assembly.
In an article sent to NAIJ.com, an Abuja-based social commentator, Bernard Balogun x-rays the genesis of the crisis between the two political actors and explains why issue must be nipped in the bud before it finally gets out of hand.
I had initially intended to continue with my conversation on the BiafraExit, which I began last year. However, the recent happenings in my home state, Kogi, do not offer me that luxury. Consequently the BiafraExit conversation has to take the back-seat for now. After all, “Charity”, they say, “begins at home”.
This is certainly not a satiric caption but a reality and a painful experience. Frankly, it is not the best of time for me. I am genuinely sad. I urgently need the wisdom of God to handle this explosive misunderstanding, of utter distrust and mutual disrespect between two brothers.
It is a fight that is already in the public domain and it is so bad indeed. The good and industrious people of Kogi state will be worst off, if this “roforofo flight” continues for too long. And this is my fear for which I have spoken with a number of Kogites leaving outside the state.
I respectfully call on the two gladiators to kindly bury their grievances against each other. This is not a fight for personal aggrandizement, or for self-centred superiority contest.
It is a misunderstanding between two brothers (an egbon and an aburo). In all of these, it is visible that these brothers indeed consider, cheerfully enough, their personal interest as being subordinate to the larger and superior interest of the state which is a commendable instinct from both directions.
Senator Dino Melaye represents Kogi West (representing my own place of birth – Lokoja) but I am fully an Ebira person. Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello (the current Executive Governor of Kogi state) whom God has brought to this Olympian height is from the same Okene Local Government with me.
Please, tolerate me, this is certainly not an advert stint but these references are necessary and it brings to the fore the fact that I wear two caps in this unenviable circumstance.
This is why I am particularly pained about this unnecessary dissipation of energy and resources which ought to have been converted into productive use for the benefit of the State.
I remember Dino and Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello were very close during the struggle for the actualization of Bello’s march to Lugard House on the platform of the APC.
This narrative is not about the role played by one person, or the other in achieving their respective dreams but a narrative to bring to the fore that these gentlemen have been together as brothers, collaborated with each other, and supported each other, ever before each of them occupied their present enviable positions, God helped them.
Around mid-November 2015, at the All Progressives Congress (APC), National Headquarters, on Blantyre Street, Abuja, Dino and one Senator (name deliberately withheld) visited the National Chairman of the APC to pledge his (or their) support for Alhaji Yahaya Bello ticket.
It was on a day that some elders from Ebiraland met with Chief John Odigie Oyegun to commiserate with him and the party on the sudden demise of Prince Audu Abubakar and to pledge their support and further encourage the National Chairman to give Yahaya Bello the Party’s ticket as Governorship candidate in the inconclusive election that was scheduled to hold in the first week of December.
It was indeed later that same day, after due diligence and wider consultation that the APC National Headquarters sent Governor Yahaya Bello’s name to INEC office in Abuja and ChannelsTV aired it, in its major news bulletin at 10 pm.
In fact, I recall, just as everyone else, that Dino was the MC during the Governor’s inauguration in January 27, 2016. They were that close. When and how did this distrust and misunderstanding begin?
The Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and Senator Dino Melaye are leaders in their own rights and they certainly have followers/sympathisers across the state. The two of them have demonstrated examples of good brothers ab initio.
Please do not only go back to that status quo but indeed promote such robust relationship and Kogi will be better for it. In politics, as late Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed and unforgettable memory said many years ago, “there are no permanent enemies but permanent interest in politics”.
This reminds me of an incident that happened many years ago. Permit me to incorporate it into this narrative. In 1979 in the days of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, SAN, a legal luminary of extraordinary status and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) led by late Chief Adisa Meredith Akinloye, also a lawyer from Ibadan.
Chief Richard Osuolale Abimbola Akinjide (SAN) was the Governorship candidate of NPN in the 1979 general elections conducted by the then Federal Electoral Commission (FEDCO). Chief Richard Akinjide is, of course, an enviable but humble son of Ibadanland and one of the earliest beneficiaries of the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Chief James Ajibola Ige (SAN), a native of Esa-Oka, in the present day state of Osun was the Governorship candidate of the UPN. That was in the old Oyo State, before Osun State was carved out. Chief Bola Ige, as was popularly known, was married to late Justice Atinuke Omobonike Amoke Ige, JCA, OFR (nee Oloko, of the famous Oloko family in Ibadan), who retired as Justice of the Appeal of Court before her glorious demise in April 9, 2002.
The Nigerian Television (NTV-Ibadan), a precursor to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), with Chief Yemi Farounbi, an iconic and ice broadcaster, w s the General Manager of the Station, organized a Governorship debate.
It was a live programme. The two governorship candidates were expected to come and sell their programmes to the electorates on air. The debate was hot, incisive, lively, entertaining and cordial, until it got to the point that they had to sell their respective education policy.
At this juncture, tempers rose, passion, emotion and sentiment took centre-stage, heated but lively elucidation. In all of these, there was decency, moderation in the choice of words, consequently mutual respect for their individual person. In the end, however, Chief Richard Akinjide had to angrily leave the studio unceremoniously.
That was politics, but not politics of hatred, bitterness or of dead. It is important to clearly state that Chief Bola Ige and Chief Richard Akinjide were very close friends and gleefully attended each other’s family functions, even after that memorable television encounter.
In fact, their disagreement was not personal but based on party ideology and nothing more. In fact, Chief Bola Ige recognised Chief Richard Akinjide as his in-law, having married to a wonderful Ibadan lady. The lesson here is, we may disagree on principles but that does not make us enemies. Let the present politicians’ key into such wonderful puritanical trait and hold strong unto it.
Chief Bola Ige won that governorship contest and Chief Richard Akinjide got appointed as the Attorney General of the Federation under the Shagari Presidency in Lagos. This story should be viewed in the realm of “politic without bitterness” – apologies to our revered late Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri of blessed memory.
There is another important lesson to buttress this conversation. When Chief Bola Ige’s first tenure as Governor was running out, his deputy (late Chief Sunday Michael Afolabi) wanted to succeed him as Governor.
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He went to Ikenne to brief Papa Awolowo about his ambition. Papa Awolowo commended him for his ambition but asked if he had discussed with Chief Bola Ige to know if he was not going for the second term. Chief S M Afolabi confessed he had not. Papa Awolowo then advised him to go and do so.
Instead, Chief Sunday Michael Afolabi (of blessed memory) returned to Ibadan to resign as Deputy Governor. Consequently he decamped to the rival party NPN. He wanted the governorship ticket at all cost. Of course, he did not get it.
The ticket was zone to Ibadan whereas Chief S M Afolabi hailed from Iree in the present state of Osun but at that time, Iree was part of the old Oyo State. That was how Prof Victor Omololu Olunloyo, an Ibadan-man proper, (“he is son of the soil”, do you still remember that slang?) became the candidate of the NPN in the 1983 general elections.
It is pertinent I add this too. Chief Bola Ige, after due consultation, appointed Chief Adebisi Akande as his Deputy, a former Head of the Civil Service of Oyo state. Chief Adebisi Akande later became the 2nd Executive Governor of state of Osun (1999 – 2003) under Alliance for Democracy (AD), consequently became the Protem Chairman of the current ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
What is the benefit of this background story? It has a correlation. The moral lesson was that Chief Sunday Michael Afolabi of blessed memory never ruled Oyo State. This was largely due to his impatience. If he had listened to wise counsel from elders at that time, he would have become the governor.
But it must be said of Chief S M Afolabi of blessed memory, and in fairness to him, that he was a man of strong principle, who was not selfish in his consideration in matters pertaining to his followers. He was a man of cheerful and friendly disposition and expressed himself without reservation.
I have made these references certainly not with the intention to vilify anyone but to appreciate each other’s worth and value and to draw the needed puritanical lessons from similar occurrences of the past as I have enumerated above. Let us wait for our turn. Let us share ideas with each other.
Let us never be afraid to communicate, whenever there is need to do so. In communication lies our collective strength, the strength to grow and develop to the glory of God and mankind. It is therefore right and proper to understand and appreciate each other’s peculiar challenges of office.
The person at the helm of affairs at the moment should be given maximum support to succeed in his current task and the Party will be better for it. As leaders of our respective groups, our body language and reaction count a lot and it should regularly be under control. Such body language, if wrongly transmitted, cold be misinterpreted by your followers/supports, who are indeed gullible.
Opinion, in my own view, is a natural expression of one inner feeling and everyone is entitled to it but there are opinions that naturally break joy. Therefore beware of such joy breakers and they are commonly found within the corridors of power.
Conclusively, each of you has offended the other as brothers. There is nothing wrong with that, we are human after all. My effort here is not to apportion blames but to look at the possibilities of genuine reconciliation and move ahead as if nothing had happened.
That is indeed the hallmark of a sound and people-based leadership quality. Lock yourselves up in a room, away from your followers and supports, look at each in the face, eyeball to eyeball, and iron out your differences. It is a possibility. Two of you have the humility and grace to so do and to so do in the overall interest of the larger Kogtes, home and abroad.
Finally, I respectfully invite our respectable royal fathers, the Ohionyi of Ebiraland and his counterpart, the Obaro of Kabba, to please call their children to a round table for discussion and kindly reconcile them in the best interest of peace, justice and development and in the larger interest of our people. Happily, this has not degenerated into a tribal coloration of “an Okun man versus and an Ebira man”.
As our distinguished royal fathers, you owe us this responsibility and as you do this, God shall guide you appropriately.
Kogi State can develop only in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
Ipinle Kogi koni baje lagbara Olorun Oba. Amin. (in Yoruba language)
Ete ekura Ikogi ayiononi oyinva vi ahaireku inu Obanyi Ohomorihi. Ose (Amin). (in Ebira language.
The land of Kogi State shall never be the theatre of war, by the special grace of God. Amen.
Bernard Balogun (BenPino) writes from Wuse District of Abuja and he could be reached via 0803.787.9275 or email@example.com
NAIJ.com had previously reported that an Abuja high court recently stopped the recall of the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye who is battling a recall crises in Kogi state.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
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In this NAIJ.com video below, hundreds of constituents queue to sign the referendum on Senator Dino Melaye's recall from the Nigerian Senate: