The recent attempts by governor Bello of Kogi state to ignite romance with northern religious leaders may have potentially predisposed the state to endemic religious crisis regardless of its pious look.
Governor Bello had invited the Sultan of Sokoto and the Emir of Zazzua alongside a renown Islamic scholar to commission an ongoing building in the state tagged as ‘Revenue House’. The building, according to some reliable sources was still an ongoing project at the time of commissioning.
Meanwhile, the invitation of those traditional leaders is seen by some pundits as a political romance aimed at covering Bello’s 365 days palpable failure and untold hardship which his weak and puerile policy wrecked on the people of Kogi state.
This is coming same day the state’s chapter of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC and concerned political leaders in the state lampooned the Governor and passed a vote of no confidence on him. According to them, Bello’s one year in office has further retarded the economic fortune of the state, having squandered over 220 billion tax payers’ money without evidential proof of any executed project .
Like the child who lost her mother to child birth, Kogi state has been languishing in sorrow, shedding endless tears since the inception of Governor Bello administration which is characterized by anti-people policy. To others, Bello’s endless staff auditing and verification exercise has made him a ghost governor.
While I do not nurse any grudge against his eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and the respected Emir of Zazzua as well as the Islamic cleric invited by governor Bello, because, they are respected individuals who have contributed greatly in sustaining the peaceful coexistence of the entity called Nigeria, but what flabbergasted my imagination was the lopsided approach employed in inviting them without considering other religion faithfuls in the state.
It should be on record that I owe these respected traditional rulers and the cleric a great deal of respect. However, the rationale behind their honouring Bello’s invitation remains eternally a puzzle and conundrum that cannot be unraveled.
Perhaps, they were not properly briefed of the situations of things in the state and that Governor Bello was merely using their presence in the state as a means of plastering and enveloping his awkward reigns and his gauche administration.
The very fact that other traditional rulers and Christian leaders were not part of Governor Bello’s scheme was another issue that requires proper dissection, given the secularized nature of the state.
Though Bello and his handlers may have failed to learn from history as, Kogi state, since creation, has never witnessed religious crisis nor attracted any acrimonious romance from any state, considering its secular nature; but for Bello to have extended his hand of fellowship only to Northern and Islamic leaders, without recourse to the secular nature of the state, where we have both Christians and Muslims, this indeed portends great disaster for the state.
It remains to be seen why other Christian and traditional leaders both within and outside the state were not deemed to be invited alongside Bello’s northern allies who only came as a cover up to his fiasco laden administration.
The visit of Bello’s Sultan and others has been seen by some analysts as a technical enslavement of the state to the northern Islamic leaders as it is widely believed that, the north orchestrated his ride to the throne, to pave way for their domination in the state.
However, this zigzag visitation has validated the unventilated thought of the people.
Like Nigeria, since creation, Kogi has been a secular state and no governor has given any religious colouration to its activities in the recent times.
Even those Bello tagged as gatemen governors, but who in all judgments performed credibly better than him, never resorted to this level of myopic religious romance.
The state has never experienced religious crisis. It is on record that, when Sharia law crisis was looming across the country between 2000 and 2001, it took the wisdom of President Olusegun Obasanjo to stop the spread in the country and the talismanic leadership display of former Governor Audu, to keep the state on the trajectory of peace. Never in the history of state has any governor favoured a particular religion at the peril of others.
In a secular state like Kogi, the discerning public will expect the governor to be devoid of religious sentiment and would have balanced such invitation by inviting the president of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and Cardinal Onaiyekan, a highly revered clergy man from Kogi state. A governor that respects equity, fairness and justice should have trodden this solemn corridor.
Better still, how justifiable does it sound for a project that is totally funded and sponsored by the government using public funds to be used as a platform of begging for spiritual blessings and garnering royal influence, even when the state workforce and the pensioners have not been paid for several months.
Apparently, however, those who advised Governor Bello to take this ignoble step may have buried his political career in the early grave as he has proven beyond any reason doubt that his wantons ambition of coming back to Luggard House in 2019 is making him to go all out and step out of his way to attract sympathy from the same north that aided his emergence.
However, a cross section of Kogites are asking, why such an uncompleted building should be hurriedly commissioned when it is obvious that so many things were still needed to be done on the building project?
This further showed that, Sultan and Co may have come to the state for other reasons Kogites do not understand. Maybe, the concealed reasons may be excavated with time.
Kogites want to know why such a project could not attract the presence and the visit of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo or any Federal Minister for commissioning, since it is a public project, and Bello would rather use tax payers money to host religious leaders without due and holistic approach.
Besides endangering the state to Islamic enslavement, this lethargic approach taken by Governor Bello remains the highest insult of the Century, since neither Governor Aminu Tambuwa of Sokoto state, where the Sultan comes from, nor Governor El-rufai of Kaduna state, the state of Emir of Zazzua, have at any time invited our respected Attah of Igala, who doubles as the president of Traditional Council of Kogi state, to commission projects in any of those states.
Since it has been rumoured that the northern political and religious elites galvanized supports for Bello’s emergence, Kogites will continue to watch, if this glaring Islamic enslavement of the state and squandering of the state’s funds to perpetuate a sinking agenda is Bello’s way of rewarding his unseen political kingmakers.
Since Kogi state is a secular state, as it is always expected of any egalitarian society, fairness and equity should be the watchword of public officials, in handling especially, those issues that bother the peaceful coexistence and unity of the people.
Governor Bello should therefore, swallow the bitter pill and explain to Kogites, why he snubbed Christian leaders while commissioning his yet to be completed Revenue House.
(Dino Melaye, a Senator representing Kogi West, writes from Abuja).