By Amuda Dan Sulaiman Fab
Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello has reaffirmed his 100 percent support to the presidential project of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the vice presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The governor, who stated this in an interview with the Channels Television Sunday night, debunked the report in a section of the media that he had withdrawn from Tinubu campaign project.
A media house (not Blueprint) had reported that Bello withdrew from the APC-Presidential Campaign Council where he currently serves as the national youth coordinator.
The report said the alleged withdrawal was because Tinubu is supporting Hon James Faleke, the secretary of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) as Bello’s successor, a development the governor was believed to have seen as a threat to his political interest.
Expressing shock at the report, the governor described it as “most unfortunate and appealed to journalists to live up to their responsibility, as well as appealed to law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter.”
Taking a strong exception to the report, the governor called on the media house to tender a public apology within 24 hours or face litigation.
Bello said: “I remain very supportive, ardent supporter, mobiliser, campaigner and driver of both our leader and presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the flagbearer of our great party, the All Progressives Congress and my own brother His Excellency Senator Kashim Shettima.
“These are president and vice president-in-waiting. Of course, every Nigerian knows that and as far as this election is concerned, because of the demography I represent in this country even across the globe.
“Of course, you can come up with fake news, I don’t know why the media house should allow themselves to be dragged into this kind of messy situation.
“I expect the media house to retract that publication and tender public apology within 24 hours; else my lawyers are capable of litigation.”
He described himself as a major party stakeholder, adding that starting from when he became governor, he had diligently delivered on any task given to him by the party.
Bello said although he contested for the primaries but God Almighty gave it to the party leader, Senator Tinubu and added that he was one of the first persons to endorse the former Lagos state governor after his emergence.
He recalled mobilising 41 million members comprising youth, women and people with special needs.
He said: “I contested for this particular election and God Almighty gave it to our leader and president-in-the waiting and I learnt from him because he is a general of the game. Ever since that happened, I’m the first person that came out openly to endorse him, to start working for him even before he reached out to me….”
Bello said he had done so much for the party even in the task of mobilising youth across the country both “in the open and in the secret.
“Everybody knows that I travel by road in order to connect with the youth, in order that I connect with Nigerians.”
He stated that Nigerians believed in him because of his strength of character as well as his ability to stand on whatever he believed in.
The governor recalled how he “converted Kogi state 100 percent from PDP to APC” following his emergence as governor of the state, assuring that the candidacy of Tinubu and Shettima would be delivered overwhelmingly.
“It is going to supersonic and it would be a landslide for our candidates and for our party and all of our candidates across board from top to bottom,” he said.
Rivalry with Faleke?
He also dismissed the purported rivalry between himself and Faleke, saying he considered the federal lawmaker as a brother and would work harmoniously with him to ensure victory for the party.
Asked whether he would work for the lawmaker in the next gubernatorial election, the governor said “the election is still far away and when we get to the bridge, we will know how to cross it.”
Commenting on his query to the traditional ruler of Ebiraland, HRH Dr Ado Ibrahim, over the monarch’s absence during President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the state, the governor stated that the Ohinoyi is his respected and revered uncle, but that he had to separate personal relationship from issue of governance.
He described as incorrect the rumour that the royal father didn’t like him, saying “if a father doesn’t like his son, who else does he like?”
Governor Bello noted that those not happy with his administration and his numerous achievements were those labelling him an autocratic leader.
On the water crisis in the state, he said the state had lost so much infrastructure during the flood, adding that payment of compensation was still ongoing.
APC faults report
Also, faulting the report, the APC dismissed the reported withdrawal of the governor as false.
In a statement signed by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, the party described the report as the handiwork of opposition trying to create a row between the two political gladiators from the state.
The statement read in full: “Our attention has been drawn to a front page report in Sunday Tribune of today, January 22, 2023, that the Governor of Kogi State and member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, His Excellency, Yahaya Bello, has “tactically” withdrawn support for our Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu over imagined political permutations on the Kogi State Governorship election scheduled for November.
“The story is maliciously false and a figment of the imagination of its author and sponsors.
“Governor Yahaya Bello, who serves as the National Youth Coordinator of the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, is a solid, resourceful and committed campaigner for our Party’s Candidate, leading a massively successful outreach to youth voters across the country.
“This fake news, ostensibly intended to float an imagined rift between Governor Yahaya Bello and Honourable James Faleke, Secretary of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, is the desperate and disgraceful conjecture of opposition elements unsettled by our Party’s giant campaign strides. Both loyal Party men are unquestionably committed and working tirelessly for the resounding victory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in next month’s presidential election.
“We urge our Party compatriots and all Nigerians to disregard this fake news.”