Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Protesters in their numbers grounded activities at the headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Abuja, demanding that the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, must not contest the November Kogi State governorship election.
Displaying posters bearing various inscriptions like ‘second term ticket is death sentence for workers in Kogi’, ‘we demand freedom from the diabolic and wicked GYB’, ‘Presidency, save Kogi from Bello’, ‘Bello, stop giving guns to our youths’, ‘GYB, where is our money’, ‘Give us direct primaries’ and ‘Buhari, please stop Bello’, among others. The protesters also enumerated the sins of the governor.
Tragedy was however averted as shortly after the protesters departed the secretariat, Governor Bello’s men, in their numbers, armed to the teeth stormed the secretariat with police patrol vans and other unmarked cars, threatening to unleash mayhem on anybody protesting against the governor.
While ordering the security details attached to the party national secretariat to caution any other further anti-Governor Bello protest, they warned: “We have delivered our message and we won’t make noise about it any longer until we ….
“Nobody can stop Governor Bello’s re-election. All those opportunists that voted for Atiku Abubakar during presidential elections are now coming back to decide who will be the governor of Kogi. Why are they protesting in Abuja instead of coming to the state? These stupid protesters are lucky we did not meet them here,” they said, disrupting human and vehicular traffic at the entrance gate of the secretariat.
Speaking to newsmen earlier during the protest, the coordinator of Concerned APC members, Jubril Yusuf, said: “We are here to place before the Nigerian public the plight of the people of Kogi State since February 2016 when Yahaya Bello became the governor of the state. We have also came here to call on all men and women of conscience to put pressure on the leadership of our great party, the APC, to provide a level-playing ground for all aspirants on the platform for the governorship ticket of the party.
“This level-playing ground will be provided if the party organises direct primary for the governorship ticket. Since February 2015, payment of salaries and pensions has become optional and not a priority. As a result, workers and pensioners are being owed many months of paid salaries and pensions.
“It is only when workers are paid that other citizens in the state will be able to sell their goods and services. Consequently, the economy of the state is reeling on the ground. Many businesses have folded up and potential investors have been avoiding the state like a plague. Virtually all the indices about the state are negative. Among the workers of the state, cooperatives and thrift society contribution used to be a coping strategy.
“From their contributions, they borrow money to pay the school fees of their children, pay medical bills when necessary, repair their vehicles, pay their rents, etc. This coping strategy has been destroyed because when salaries are not paid, no deductions go to the cooperatives and therefore no loans, soft or emergency is possible anymore.
“Many parents withdraw their children from schools. Private schools in the state have had particularly tough times under this unwholesome circumstances; outright begging has become the lot of otherwise decent, hardworking and proud people of the state.
“In this circumstances, countless numbers of people have died untimely death, and many others have out of the nightmare they have been going through, become disoriented emotionally, some others have become vegetables just waiting for anything, any consequence,” he said.