The current dispute between Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello and Senator Dino Melaye who represents Kogi west Senatorial zone, has taken a new dimension after three persons were killed during a rally staged by supporters of Dino Melaye on Monday. Clearly, the bitterness between both men is plunging the state into a major crisis that will lead to further loss of lives and property.
The emergence of Yahaya Bello as governor was very divisive. The deputy to Abubakar Audu (who won the election but died before he was sworn in), James Faleke laid claim to the gubernatorial ticket but the All Progressives Congress, APC, had other plans. The party picked the second runner up at its primaries, Yahaya Bello as replacement for the late Abubakar Audu in the supplementary elections. Notably, Dino Melaye was a strong supporter of Yahaya Bello at this point. At Bello’s swearing in, where he was the master of ceremony, he called for all grieving parties to support Bello to unite the state.
Subsequently, the governor has been accused of failing to unite all factions in the party, making appointments from outside the party and sidelining those who worked for the party during the elections. His problems further spilled into the civil service with workers being owed salaries for up to 12 months due to a screening exercise to fish out ghost workers.
He also lost control of the party structure in the state as Kogi state APC went ahead to pass a “vote of no confidence” on the governor twice.
It seems Melaye took the side of the workers by calling on the governor to clear the backlog of salaries. Shortly after his call, there was an assassination attempt on the life of Dino Melaye. Unknown gunmen attacked his home in Ayetoro-Gbede, Ijumu local government area of Kogi state. The senator accused the governor of sponsoring the attempt on his life. The Ijumu Local Government Chairman, Alhaji Taofeek Isah was arrested in connection with the attempted assassination.
In a counter reaction, the government has denied claims of sponsoring any assassination attempt on Melaye. Kingsley Fanwo, Director General on Media and Publicity to the Governor of Kogi State says trouble started following the governor’s refusal to share the state’s resources with a few people. Also, the appointment of Taofeek Isah as chairman of Ijumu government against Dino’s wishes contributed to the tension in their relationship.
Between Yahaya Bello and Dino Melaye, the atmosphere in Kogi state is tense and in dire need of fresh air. The latest recall process purportedly backed by the governor as a good way to curtail the antecedents of the senator has seemingly backfired. Melaye’s attempt to test his popularity in a counter solidarity rally has not only led to loss of three lives but has worsened the situation. There are accusations that the governor is behind the process to oust Melaye from the senate.
In the light of these recent events one would expect that they should be rallying for peace but the reverse is the case. Melaye has called for a state of emergency to be declared on the state citing insecurity and anarchy. In turn, Governor Bello believes Melaye should be held responsible for the violence.
“Since January we heard the information and we had since petitioned the Presidency about the plan of Senator Dino (Melaye) to make the state a hotbed of crises. Now you have all seen what happened; costing people their lives. One person is already lying lifelessly,” Bello said.
It is clear that they are not willing to compromise in their quest to gain control of the state’s political structure. It seems as both men who should represent the people have not given much thought to the lives that this crisis has taken and will engulf if it continues. Small arms and other dangerous weapons are finding their way into the state, making it a hot bed for criminal activities.
As the security situation worsens, investor confidence will be low, depriving the state of the much needed revenue to pay outstanding salaries.
Right now Kogi state is in dire need of leadership. It is time for Melaye and the governor to call a truce in the interest of the state. Their reputation is at an all-time low and a return to dialogue will be a start in rebuilding the state.