A pressure group in the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday moved against the re-election bid of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, averring that the governor is unsellable and should not present himself for the party’s governorship primary election in the state.
But governor Bello, through his campaign office, has also fired back, saying no shadowy group could intimidate him.
The group, Change Agent Foundation International (CAFI), an offshoot of APC’s Mandate Group that stopped the second term ambition of former Governor Akinwumi Ambode in Lagos, said it had taken over the party structures in Kogi and would in due course unfold its preferred governorship candidate in this year’s governorship election in the state.
Rising from an emergency meeting held in Lagos, the CAFI president, Mr. Dipo Okeyomi, told THISDAY that “APC must not pick Governor Bello as its candidate in view of the clear fact that the governor is no longer sellable to the electorate.”
According to him, the governor currently owes public workers 34 months’ salary, a condition which, he said, has scandalised the party in the state.
“It is inhuman to pile up such a huge arrear of unpaid salaries and APC should, in fact, suspend Governor Bello for acting contrarily to the welfare policy of our great party.
“At least, four senior civil servants have committed suicide as a result of hunger and frustration arising from non-payment of salary,” Okeyomi averred.
He noted that the CAFI would mobilise against the governor and ensure that he does not win the APC primary, either by party consensus, delegate election or direct primary election.
But in a swift reaction, Governor Bello dismissed the CAFI as an impostor, insisting that there is no such group in the APC.
In a statement issued exclusively to THISDAY on his behalf by the Director General (Media and Publicity) of Yahaya Bello Campaign Organisation, Mr. Fanwo Kingsley, the governor said, “there is no group within the APC known as Change Agent Foundation International (CAFI).”
The statement added, “Our attention has been drawn to a group of impostors who claimed fraudulently to be duly accredited to operate from within the APC as a pressure group.
“The fact that they chose to sit in Lagos State to articulate issues about Kogi State is an indication that they have no grasp of events in the state. They have chosen to be tools in the hands of people who are bent on destroying the state for the sake of their inordinate ambition.
“It is merely a group of political charlatans and political jobbers working for the money they collected to do a hatchet job on Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC in Kogi State, a job which is dead on arrival.
“The Nigerian Constitution, the Electoral Act, the APC constitution and sundry guidelines provide clearly how the flagbearer of a party emerges in every election,” Kingsley said, on behalf of the governor.
The governor also denied the allegation that he owed the state’s workers 34 months’ salary.
“CAFI lied. Governor Yahaya Bello does not owe workers 34 months’ salary. Currently, there is three months’ outstanding at the state, which is actually a carryover of the three months owed state civil servants.
“Nine months are owed teachers, with 25 months of accumulated percentages owed local government workers spread over the past eight years. Even the inherited three months’ salary will be defrayed in the weeks ahead,” the statement explained.
Besides, the governor put a lie to the CAFI allegation that no fewer than four senior public workers committed suicide as a result of hunger and frustration.
“Again, CAFI lied. We wait for them to publish the names and death certificates of the alleged suicides so we can properly engage them at the proper venue for fake news and cybercrimes,” Kingsley replied, for the governor.