Kogi state has been the ”confluence” of political intrigues lately. Yahaya Bello, the 44-year-old governor of the state, is crossed with Simon Achuba, his deputy who says the governor does not deserve to be re-elected. In this interview, Achuba tells TheCable the whys and wherefores of this unfolding drama.
TheCable: What led to the breakdown of the relationship between you and Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi state?
Achuba: Well, where people are gathered; where they are one or two (persons), the likelihood of offence coming up is not unlikely. And as the governor, offences will come. But the capacity to deal with offences is what leadership is all about, and when an individual does not have the capacity to handle offences, the leadership has failed. And that is exactly what happened. In my personal relationship with the governor, he never told me my offence. I have tried to know what the offence is and he never said what the offence is.
But I keep receiving negative responses that are not good for a leadership relationship. And of course, what I think is the offence …is because I have insisted that the right things be done….
TheCable: In what way?
Achuba: One is, if for instance, you have an issue with someone, instead of having dialogue to resolve it; you resort to fighting. It is not correct. Two, the issue of salary and pensioners’ allowances which is not taken seriously and that has been existing, and it is not the right thing to do. The third one is the inability to provide good governance by doing projects that will bring relief to the people. You flag off project here today; you go to another place, you flag off again; you continue to flag off projects without anything being completed, and you get back to meet these same people. What are you going to tell them?
He has just been able to accomplish a few (projects) and then say, ‘Oh, I am coming to yours. I am taking it one by one.’ It is understandable, but when you are not able to even accomplish one in four years, it makes no sense.
TheCable: So, you mean the governor has not completed any project since he assumed office?
Achuba: Essentially, that is what it is. There is no meaningful project that has been brought to 100 percent completion …that he started that has got to 100 percent completion…. No!
TheCable: The governor said recently that he has paid salaries up to July. Is this true?
Achuba: For your information, (those of) August, September, October, November, and December last year; they were paid 50 percent. That has not been levelled up.
Two, there were people that were remitted (sic) who were owed 14 months; some were 15 and some 20 and all that; those errors are backlogs that are waiting.
TheCable: Have that been sorted out?
Achuba: The salary issue has become so muddled up it is difficult to resolve under his administration. It is going to linger beyond him …because the lieutenants he has are even the ones…. (frustrating it), and whether he is part of it or not, I would not know, but as the head, when things are going wrong and you are not correcting it, you are part of it. You are part of it.
TheCable: Your suspension by the APC in Kogi state, what is it about?
Achuba: Well, the issue of my suspension is a laughable one. And as we are talking, I am just laughing. It is of no effect because in Kogi state we have two factions of exco (the party executive) and the issue is before a court of competent jurisdiction. And which faction is the authentic faction?
Secondly, if you are starting suspension, you start from the person’s ward, and then you move to the local government and then come to the state and all that. And of course, what they have done is like they are saying, ‘this man has given us so much heat. What can we do? Help us at least to hit him back and put him in bad light before the public. That is the reason why they teamed up with the announcement that I have been suspended. I have not been suspended at all.
TheCable: But do you think the governor is behind it?
Achuba: Whether he is behind it or not, it does not make any sense to me. The fact is that I am not suspended.
TheCable: Why did the state assembly move a motion to impeach you?
Achuba: I should have thought that the assembly would be reasonable, but they are not. They are not. And, of course, that also is the main issue because I have a right to express my view. I have it guaranteed in the constitution, and by the virtue of the oath that I have taken, I cannot see corruption and refuse to expose it.
TheCable: Do you think there is corruption in Yahaya Bello’s government?
TheCable: Yes. If I expose corruption, and they are suddenly saying that I am the (serpent) of government, then you are part of that corruption. Because if I say somebody has (so, so) amount, and that amount was enough for the man to pay salaries and have overhead and do projects even without screening, and I say with screening, you have (so, so) amount that can do projects and do all that we are crying for, without even the bailout, without the Paris-club refund and all that. And you say it is an impeachment offence, then where are we going as a nation? (Where are we going as a nation?) I thought ordinarily that being the watchdog of society (the state assembly) would conduct an investigation into what I have said. And it is an irony, indeed, that, I, who is exposing corruption, is the one being served an impeachment notice. Not the person that is corrupt, and for your information I have not been served the impeachment notice, and it is alleged completely.
TheCable: You are still the deputy governor of Kogi state?
Achuba: Yes. Very well.
TheCable: You alleged sometime that there was an assassination attempt on you?
Achuba: If you have listened to my interview, I was very specific about the importation of the military software, of how I saw people wearing police and army uniform standing by my gate and holding daggers and dangerous weapons, and all their attacks on individuals and groups that have been raised right from the time of senator Dembe to Natasha, and to every level of crime that is going on and the cry of even the people in APC and even the opposition. It is very worrying.
TheCable: What do you think is the biggest weakness and strength of the governor?
Achuba: His weakness is poor performance.
TheCable: Poor performance?
Achuba: Yes. His inability to delegate available human and material resources expected of governors. That is his problem.
TheCable: Do think he deserves a second term?
Achuba: It is not something that requires my personal decision alone.
TheCable: But in your opinion do you think he deserves a second term?
Achuba: The answer is no.
TheCable: Do you intend running for the office of governor in November?
Acbuba: No, at all, and as a matter of fact, I have my respect for the governor. I do not want to be seen as running against him; on moral grounds, no.