Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, has reacted to Punch newspapers decision to tagged President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration a dictatorship and refer to him with his rank because of its alleged human rights violations and “disregard” for democratic institutions.
Bello while fielding questions from State House Correspondents after a closed door meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, described Buhari as the most democratic President he has ever met, saying that anyone referring to him as a dictator, wished to be a dictator.
He said: “Mr. President is the most democratic president I have ever seen. This is the first time we are seeing a former military head of state that is so democratic to the extent of allowing things happening in his home front to be democratized not to talk of things happening in the country.
“Whoever is tagging him to be a dictator, I think that person wished to be a dictator himself not Mr. President.”
On the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) scoring the conduct of the November 16 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states low, saying the “unthinkable happened” Bello said: “I think Mr. NSA, General Monguno must have been quoted out of context. I can say that because the last general elections reflected the wishes of the people.
“When you said unthinkable happened in Kogi State, yes of course my coming to power in Kogi from the very onset the unthinkable happened and God brought me on board. When you talk of unthinkable, yes of course because this is the first time the so called minority will contest an election in Kogi State won with wide margin. Unthinkable because this is the first time we are reducing the tempo of ethnicity in Kogi State. Unthinkable because this is the first time we are running a very transparent and digitalised government where we are raising the revenue, blocking every loopholes. Unthinkable because this is the first time a governor is appointing a chief of staff from a different ethnic group. Unthinkable because this is the first time after 28 years a Muslim governor is building a chapel in government house in Kogi State. So there are a lot of good unthinkables, the NSA must have been misquoted out of context.”
On the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), listing Kogi state as the most corrupt state in the country, the governor said: “You see, you have to look and read the details of that report before you can judge. You see, we shouldn’t just listen to somebody and quote him out of context. Like I said, in Kogi State before now, civil servants before you become a permanent secretary you must pay through your nose but this time around it has been merit based.
“Before you become local government chairman, or let’s take it from the political aspect, I am the leader of APC in Kogi State, no single person that obtained a form or become whatever will claim or is claiming to have paid one dime to any political leader. It is out of blocking the loopholes and leakages that we have been able to raise the revenue of Kogi State from pittance of N300 million to over N1 billion on monthly basis. If you look at the percentage then you can be the judge. So if anybody is saying Kogi state is the most corrupt state, then that person must have his facts wrong.
“Kogi state is the most prized state in the country and it is out of fighting corruption as well because, the little resources we have we are so managing it that we are developing the state and fighting insecurity. If corruption is that prevalent then that wouldn’t have happened.”
On how he was how far he has gone with the issue of reconciling all parties in the state, Bello said, “Kogi State as you know was slightly divided before now but upon assumption of office and until the last general elections, I have been making every effort to ensure that there is reconciliation and bringing everybody on board. That was what resulted in the massive victory of the last general election. Leaders and stakeholders of the state have been called upon to join in the new direction administration, so we are moving on perfectly.”
The Kogi governor said his administration in the second term will focus on “Human capital development, continue on infrastructure development and continue on the trajectory we are in now and ensure Kogi State is taken to the next level.”