The spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Council in Kogi, Mr. Okai Austin, speaks on the likelihood of his party reclaiming the mantle of leadership and the state of polity in Kogi state, in this interview with AROGBONLO ISRAEL
You said Engr Musa Wada stand a better chance to reclaim his political mandate. What gave you this impression?
The election has come and gone, and we won which you know. The whole world saw what happened in Kogi state on November 2019. It was even admitted that, "the number of bullets on ground were more than the number of ballot papers," as quoted from the words of Mr Solomon Soyemi who distributed the electoral materials during the election.
You saw that, for the first time in history, helicopters were seen pursuing people from polling units, hijacked the polling materials, went to one room and then submitted it for announcement. These are what happened. You were also aware of the desperate attempts of the governor (Yahaya Bello) and APC men in conjunction with INEC cancelled the records from the card readers and forensic examination.
We thank God for the Supreme Court who stood on the side of the law asked the tribunal to admit the forensic experts, the card readers, and other forensic materials. You heard the cases at Okene where 34,000 voters registered, 20,000 accredited, and they produced 112,000 votes. What they have was completely different from what was in the quota registered, and what was in the quota registered was completely different from what was accredited.
So, these are the issues that we are contesting against. Bello did not win, and I can tell you confidently that our principal (Musa Wada) has security votes to be the governor of Kogi state.
Is your principal truly the legitimate choice of the people in the last gubernatorial election in the state?
On the issue of being the legible choice of the people of Kogi state, of course, everybody knows Yahaya Bello have been in the news for bad reputation of not paying salaries of workers despite receiving billions of money.
As at last year November, Over 300 billion came to Kogi within two years. The governor (Yahaya Bello) could not commission a single classroom. So, these are kinds of things that showed people are tire of him. Look at it now, last month, he paid half salary with no COVID-19 case recorded in the state. The loan deduction has been stopped.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) palliatives that were shared among the 36 states, which Kogi state collected. The rice that was given to the state by the Federal Government was not shared out among the people, and now there is no coronavirus. So, why is Yahaya Bello still paying half salary? Having reduced the work force of Kogi state to almost 60%, he still paying half salary. So, these are what made the people to remarkably voted for Musa Wada in the last election before the mandate was upturned.
Imagine, the Inspector General of Police admitted that the state police overshadowed his men, and the National Security Advisory said Kogi election was national embarrassment. The whole world monitored the election because it was an isolated election. International communities among other civil societies condemned the election, and the Judiciary cannot do otherwise. We know Gov Bello by now would be putting them under pressure.
There are some information making rounds that they have copies of the judgment already while we still await the tribunal verdict. This a contempt of the court, and we are calling on the tribunal not to yield to the pressure coming from Yahaya Bello or external forces. There is nothing they can do about it but to ensure that justice prevailed. You are aware that Adavi, Ajaokuta, Lokoja, Okenne, Olamaboro, among other areas recorded all manner of ballot snatching while taking the ballot papers to some people's private homes were they dumbprinted them, and INEC accepted this result.
Even right away, there are some areas that could not even see ballot papers that complete the number of votes ascribed to Yahaya Bello. These issues have been reported to the tribunal, and they know what to do.
Following the recent expulsion of Mr Abubakar Ibrahim from your party. What's your take on this development?
On the issue of Ibro, that's the decision of the party, and we have no hand in his expulsion. It is in the best discretion of the party to discipline any erring member if found wanting. He (Mr Ibrahim) has appealed to the Appeal and Supreme Courts, and we are waiting for the date of hearing and possible venue.
So, it's a party affair, and we are not aware. You read it in papers that his ward (Olamaboro) is against him; they were the one that expelled him before the state executives assent it. Our mandate is to regain the mandate that was illegitimately stolen by Yahaya Bello. He is enjoying illegal mandate, hence, he can't be there because he was not duly elected into the office. We are hoping that the tribunal we take the side of the common man and bring justice to the state. These are the realities on ground.
Based on speculations that the Gov Yahaya Bello is only protecting his image by declaring the state COVID-19 free. What's your assessment on this?
(Laughs)... which image is he protecting? He is working on the ignorance of our people. You are aware that the APC led government do not handle the issue of coronavirus well. So, people are tire, and Yahaya Bello is only taking advantage of this by declaring a civil war against Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
This is their own internal affairs between him and his presidency. And if he is doing that so they can upturn the tribunal judgment in his favour, that cannot happen. So, he has risk of playing the game of not believing that coronavirus exist in the state. We are calling on the NCDC to do the right thing, Bello is not powerful than the presidency.
The NCDC should stop romancing with him (Yahaya Bello) but ensure they conduct intensive investigation as to what is really going on in the state. That is their own business by the way. Our concern is that he (Yahaya Bello) is enjoying illegal mandate, and the government in Kogi has no legitimate right to stand because Yahaya Bello was not elected.
We are calling on the judiciary, the hope of the common man to bring back the mandate that was stolen with the aid of the Federal might, and now is the time.
What is your advise for the people of Kogi state, particularly in this hydra time?
(Sighs)... We are using this medium to appeal to them (Kogites) to be more patient with the judgment of the tribunal that is underway. The mandate that's due to Engr Musa Wada would be gotten back by God's grace. So, we call them to be law abiding and take necessary precautions and instructions from the NCDC. They should not listen to Yahaya Bello because he never had the interest of the common people at heart. If he has their interest at heart as rightly claimed, he would not have been hiding the rice meant for the people of the state.