Dear Governor Bello, if it is not too late, may I still greet you happy New Year. I greet you sir, because if you noticed (which I doubt), you will know that I have not really criticised you this year. This is not because am tired of lashing out at you or because I no longer hear that you are still at your wit ends, I was just like an almost tired defender, ball watching; really hoping that God or your village deities (those you gave Venzas to, the other time) will at least knock some senses into your head.
Maybe by commission or omission, you will at least do something that will endear you to the people. Something that will make the people sing your praise for once, something that will serve as a legacy for your non-performing government.
Your Excellency, I do not intend to make this letter lengthy like that of our former President to the sitting President. I do not also intend to use any incomprehensible or big grammar for clarity sake.
Like a well-groomed Okun-Yoruba boy, may I quickly ask you how your family is doing, plus your cabinet members and all the people that are dear to your heart? I sure believe they are all doing fine, if so DOXOLOGY!
Without getting unnecessarily cranky, may I quickly tell you sir that the heat is getting too much on the people of Kogi State in general, there is palpable fear everywhere. The State’s economic situation is going from bad to worse, for me it looks as if the State is at the brim of a total collapse. Sincerely sir, if you run the state aground now, where do you want us to call home after your exit?
It is actually acceptable for you to harbour the thought of a second term, but on what premise do you want to hang your campaign in the first place? I don’t want to believe that you have such a short memory that even the present seat that you occupy presently doesn’t really belong to you. I don’t want to belabour your juvenile brain with too much history; I would have reminded you as usual of the events that led to such a calamitous administration of yours. Thank God that those who fanned the embers of greed and self-aggrandizement have since regretted their actions and have also joined in the fight for the redemption of Kogi State.
Your Excellency, every day you amaze me with the wrong foot steps that you take. Some people have argued that you were really not prepared for governance and that it was a sudden call but I had to remind them that it was you who traversed the length and breadth of Kogi State before the primaries seeking for election from the different delegates of different wards all over the state.
In fact, your rigorous, laborious campaign efforts paid off because for the first time, a young non recycled politician from the minority took second at a well fought primary. If they argued that you were hastily hurried to power, what was the fulcrum of your seeking to be the standard bearer of APC at that primary where you took second?
Sir, is it that you don’t listen to news or you just choose to damn everyone?
Honestly, some of us who sympathise with you and beg God to let you get it right so that the older politicians won’t call the bluff of the youths whenever we seek power are tired of the negativity oozing out of the state every minute.
The rate at which you goof either in your speech, action and deeds calls for proper check on you, although, I think I know that you are hale and hearty. Some of your hypocritical die-hard followers felt those issues we have with you are teething problems for a young administrator like you but I ask them, how long do they think you will fumble before you get yourself together? Do you need twelve years to put yourself together for a task you so coveted?
Despite the several bailouts, your much publicised raise in internally generated revenue yet workers and pensioners in the state are still been owed months of their salaries. Infact, local government staffs are the most hit by this salary non payment monster.
Yet sir, you have successfully held four jamborees which you tagged rallies advertently for your re-election and also to drum up support for your principal’s second term in office (PMB). It was through you that I got to know that people can start asking for voters support even before the umpire, INEC, lifts ban on political campaigns. It’s harrowing to think that all these rallies where organised with tax payers money, yet you don’t have enough money to pay the state’s workers and even some of your hungry appointees.
Your Excellency, it looks as if you have forgotten that you were the one who removed all the roundabouts in Lokoja the very week you came into power with a view to replacing them with modern world class ones [even though we heard the story surrounding your action but that will be kept for another day]. Two years and some months into your administration, we are yet to see those modern ones, except for the confusionist traffic lights you put at few junctions which will only work at will.
Lokoja, the state capital now looks dry, naked and unkempt because the state has an inactive young man who prefers to sit in Aso Rock and watch cartoon with the President’s grandchildren rather than sit at his duty post and get solutions to reoccurring issues that matters. No wonder you have now be dubbed the Aso Rock protocol officer.
It baffles me anytime I see you going to re-commission projects that were already completed and put to use before you came into power. One serious example is asking your wife to go and commission a maternity and dispensary home that I grew up knowing in my village of Ekinrin-Adde. A maternity that had served the community for over two decades, a maternity that even you were either not born or if you were you will still be a toddler when it was first built. A maternity that the community through self-help continually maintained to help her people, was what you painted and wanted to commission.
Even the half dead ambulance in that maternity was donated by your new house boy, Senator Smart Adeyemi when he was a serving Senator. So of what reason will your re-commissioning be?
Sir, the Ekinrin-Adde-Ife Olukotun road that you came to do the ground breaking for tarring has now become a very thick forest. Honestly, you will not even recognise the place again if you can take time and visit it now, contractors had left the site owning to non-payment of their mobilisation fee to commence the job. These kind of undone projects are scattered all over Kogi State, instead you choose to ignore them all for your merriment in Abuja at all times.
As if all these were not enough, just to please the President, you were the first to announce your readiness to build a cattle colony, you bragged that you have enough land to share with the herdsmen, while others, even those who were pro Buhari like you were running away from this deadly sect, you embraced them. You even threaten to dethrone any king that worked against them, you promised to dethrone such king including the king of your village, and you asked every local government chairman to get some chunk of land for your new found lovers. Alas! They struck. And did you and your family suffer anything? Absolutely no!
When I saw your response in going to the affected villages in the Eastern part of the state, my heart leaped for joy, at least, that you are beginning to wake up to your responsibilities and endearing Kogites to you. But like sour infested mouth which had turned to an incurable mouth odour, you open your mouth to address the people and the odour that came with your words spoilt your visit. Your speech was exceptional watery, it did showed how much backward you were in the governance of your state, every word that came out of your mouth betrayed who you are. For God sake, you did not have the information on what was on ground and you were never well prepared by your media handlers. What manner of media handlers were these or is it you that refuses to heed? Oh my God you goofed once again and I was downcast!
After seeing all these, I ask myself, when will my darling state be in the news for the right reasons? I can tell you how many states in Nigeria have paid for viewership time to showcase the ongoing projects and works in their state but not my Kogi State. Instead, you can only approved forty four million naira to publicise seventy-seven pages of responses on the pages of newspapers to counter information about non-payment of salaries, which indeed you know that you still own workers and pensioners.
People now refer to you as the chief protocol officer of Aso Rock, why won’t they when at every strike of the fingertip you are there in Aso Rock even for some occasions that you are not involved; that is how much you have unrepentantly dragged we Kogites in the mud.
Sir, don’t you think it is almost too late to redeem yourself? Don’t you ever think of tomorrow? What legacy do you want to leave behind after your soon to expire tenure?
As a brother, I feel though it is a bit late because you have created more mess that your remaining one year plus can ever solve but you can at least for the sake of your future, show some commitment, be remorseful and be ready to at least work. Kogites are a good people; they might be willing to forgive you but certainly not voting you back to power.
A certain Yoruba adage says, “won ni iwo ta loun gegi ni igbo oro yen? Oni oun age mo ni, won ni age mo re na loun ge yen”. The wood cutter who without consultations goes ahead to fell a tree from the forest of the deity will never have the chance to fall another one because the deity will strike him dead. Sir, even though am not God and no human being can claim to be one, I doubt your coming back to Lugard House. Those you put your trust in and the President you feel can save you will not be there for you when the chips are down. Your foot soldiers are not so popular in their various wards, if you doubt me please carry out a secret research on their popularities, not even your most trusted chief of staff.
Like I said in the beginning of my letter, that I do not intend to be verbose but your penchant for committing error made the length of this letter a bit beyond what I planned, I hope you will pardon. I know that a straying dog will not listen to the hunters whistle, I hope you are not one, sir. Though I still don’t expect you to have the time to read this epistle but as usual, I will be waiting for the fusillade of attacks from your foot soldiers, I know they are very good at that at least that puts food on their tables. But if they really mean well for you, they should help in putting you right not helping you to destroy yourself.
May I once again pray that God helps you in this onerous task of putting Kogi in the right perspective but don’t forget sir, that heaven helps those who help themselves.
Please accept my unreserved apology if I sound rude at any point in my letter, I trust that you know that it was the love for my state and feeling not to let you run the state and yourself down totally that propelled this.
Obafemi Babajide writes from Lagos