Intimate details of how dispute over the appointment of local government caretaker committee brought Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and Senator Dino Melaye to open political combat have emerged.
The dispute between both men got to a climax this week after political opponents of Senator Melaye submitted 188, 580 signatures in support of a petition for the recall of the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District. Many of those behind it are believed to be political appointees of Governor Bello from Kogi West, who, however, swore that the governor was not financially bankrolling the exercise.
Governor Bello and Senator Melaye came from different tendencies in the Kogi State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Melaye had supported the late Prince Abubakar Audu who won the governorship ticket of the party against the aspiration of Bello.
Audu as the APC godfather in the state had also influenced the Senatorial ticket for Kogi West to Melaye. Kogi State governor, following the death of Audu at the point of victory in the November 2015 governorship election, Melaye subsequently adjusted, noting to associates that “Kogi people voted for Audu but that God voted for Bello.”
However, the cordiality between both men became fractured after Governor Bello insisted on appointing his local government coordinator for Ijumu Local Government Area, Taofiq Isah as the chairman of the local government caretaker committee, the same local government where Melaye comes from.
We learnt that ahead of the election that Bello had recruited 21 coordinators for each of the 21 Local Government Areas of the state with a promise to them that they would be appointed local government caretaker committee chairmen in the event he won the election.
Sources close to the governor said that Melaye, however, objected particularly to the appointment of Isahh even after the governor had proposed to the senator that he could produce the other four members of the committee in exchange for Isahh becoming the chairman. Melaye was said to have also rebuffed the proposal.
The governor was, however, hard put on the matter especially as Isahh was the coordinator of the coordinators for the governor in Kogi West. In a final offer, the governor it was learnt, offered to Melaye that he would compel Isah to submit to Melaye by making the appointment come from Melaye.
“Oga told Dino that he, Bello would tell Isah that he had turned him down but that he should go to Dino and beg him. The governor’s plan was for Dino to take the glory for the appointment, but then he still refused, and it was at that point that the governor slammed the door on him (Melaye),” a source close to the governor confided in Saturday Vanguard.
Senator Melaye, however, seriously disputed the account saying that his dispute with the governor has nothing to do with Isah’s appointment as chairman of the caretaker committee as he insisted that the administration was using the caretaker committees to siphon the funds of the state.
Insisting that he was fighting for Kogi workers and pensioners the lawmaker said: “Yahaya Bello collected N20 billion from the Federal Government as bailout fund. Still, he refused to settle workers. He also collected N11 billion from the Paris Club fund. Still, he refused to pay workers and pensioners.”
“The advent of Yahaya Bello as governor and Taofiq Isahh as local government administrator in the political history of Kogi State has brought this unfortunate socio-political paradigm shift,” the embattled lawmaker said.