Why lawlessness must be stopped in Kogi – Achuba.||Anyigbaleft


In this interview, Elder Simon Achuba spoke on his recent impeachment as deputy governor of Kogi State by the House of Assembly, his relationship with Governor Yahaya Bello, the inauguration of Edward Onoja as new deputy governor, and the need to stop the reign of lawlessness in Kogi, among other things.

How would you react to your recent impeachment by the Kogi State House of Assembly and the swearing-in of Onoja as deputy governor?

What they have done is completely illegal. It is a shame and an insult to the people of Kogi State and the country as a whole.

If our democracy must grow, the entire country must rise to the occasion to ensure that this lawlessness in Kogi State is stopped at all cost. I remember that some years back, at the early hours of our democratic experience, the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) had a very strong outing in Borno and some other parts of the North. They had strong men they were using to win elections through thuggery. The party was in love with those people, thinking that they were enjoying the victory. Eventually, these same people turned into Boko Haram. What we are facing in Kogi is similar to that.

I want to call on the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all the security agents to beam their searchlights on Kogi State so that we don’t fall into such crisis that would be more deadly than that of Boko Haram. When we got the report of the panel, I sent it to the commissioner of police, the director of the Department of State Security (DSS), commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other persons I deemed necessary to have it. And I know they are literate enough to read and understand that I wasn’t found guilty by the panel. Their allegations were not proved against me. I am crying out to the nation to join me in this battle to bring down lawlessness and institute a lawful society. In building a virile nation, obedience to the rule of law is core. As soon as the rule of law is traded off, crisis begins, and only God knows the extent it can go.

Having been impeached as deputy governor of the state, where are you now? 

We are in court. We objected to the vacation of our objection to the impeachment notice. We have also filed more grounds of objection.

 Will you be ready to return to work with Governor Bello if the court rules in your favour? 

I have been working as deputy governor. And I am still the deputy governor, whether there’s court judgement or not. I will continue to be the deputy governor until there’s another election and a winner is sworn in.

What was it like working with Governor Bello?

 It was cordial when we started. Government policies and documents were fantastic. Things started going wrong when the implementation of these policies was not forthcoming. It was becoming very challenging for us as a government and a party. At that point, I started insisting on the legacies we could be remembered for. We cannot just be writing policies, only to abandon them. It amounts to nothing. The issue is that Bello has a lord, in the person of the former chief of staff, Edward Onoja. He lords things over the governor. He stays on his neck and he cannot turn without him. No commissioner or special adviser can function. Anything you do he would oppose it and insist until he has his way and the governor cannot do anything about it.

Are there instances where you made suggestions and Onoja didn’t allow it to scale through?

Yes, many times. I have advised the governor on many occasions and he would agree, but the moment Onoja came in, he would say no, and the governor would change his mind. For instance, there was a time I suggested we picked a few projects, complete and commission and show forth something as our achievement.

The governor agreed, but when the chief of staff came in, the story changed. On the issue of education, most of the secondary schools in Kogi State are not functional, so I suggested that we select one or two per local government area and make them functional.

I reasoned that putting one here and another one there did not show much effort and suggested that we harmonise them to make it more presentable. The governor agreed. No one brought a better idea than that, but because of the special interest of the chief of staff to favour some persons with contracts, the story changed.

Given your present ordeal, do you have regrets being part of this government? 

There’s nothing like regret; no action has taken place. There was no impeachment; I am still the deputy governor.

What role did your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) play in resolving the crisis?

 Individually, some persons intervened. I think, the national chairman, but the issue has not been holistically handled.

How did your choice as deputy governor come about?

 Everyone knows I’m a liberal politician who believes that governorship can come from any part of the state. As a result,  I supported the agitation of Ebira people. Secondly, because of my antecedents in the state as someone fair and just, the present governor invited me and said he would like me to be the deputy governor, and I obliged. I will continue to be grateful for that.

How would you react to the allegation that you were working for the opposition while you were in office, to the extent that you lost your ward during the general elections?

 I never decamped, and I didn’t lose my ward. What they have been doing is to fly a kite, that I was about to decamp to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or any other party. When they saw that it didn’t happen, they became frustrated. The issue is that I have been in politics since 1999. And one has travelled along many roads and lines where you meet many people. For instance, this morning, a former speaker of the state House of Assembly, Angulu, as well as Kizito, came to see me at my house. These two people are in the PDP and we have been neighbours all along. Does it mean that one is hobnobbing with the PDP? One’s relationship with others sometimes goes beyond politics. We are in various positions to render service, and service is not only meant for the APC.

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