Ododo As Stubborn Fly Following Corpse Into Grave

Ododo As The Stubborn Fly Following The Corpse Into The Grave

*Usman Ododo kneeling before Yahaya Bello

As the immediate past governor of Kogi, Yahaya Bello continues the macabre dance of shame and ignominy that might drill the final death knell on his political coffin, the question on the lips of many political analysts is must his successor, Usman Ahmed Ododo sink with his godfather? From all variables, Yahaya Bello’s political boat is sinking and he is groping for available straws to cling to. Ododo by some weird calculations has laid his neck on the slab to be guillotined together with his indulgent godfather.

Granted, Yahaya Bello forced Ododo down the throat of Kogites at all cost during the last sham governorship election, but must Ododo be eternally beholden to the self-styled white lion-turned to white cat? In truth, despite glaring irregularities including falsification of results, bribery, over-voting and substantial non-compliance with electoral laws, Yahaya Bello at the height of his imperial tyranny in Kogi foisted his Ebira tribesman on the multi-ethnic state.

*Kogi firmly in the hands of godfather and subservient godson

The manipulations started from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries where the favourite contender, Senator Smart Adeyemi was crudely elbowed out for Mr Odo to emerge as the candidate by hook or crook. Many had expected that since Mr Bello’s palm-nut was cracked by a benevolent spirit when he came from total obscurity to become the governor following the sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu who won the election in November 2015, he would have exhibited gratitude to God and man by allowing power rotate to another senatorial district, possibly Kogi West that was yet to taste the Lugard House Lokoja seat. But nay, Yahaya Bello had his plan to install a successor from his clan who would cover his track for him. And so far, Ododo is living up to that dirty calling, not minding sacrificing his future political career.

Ododo has forgotten so soon that the main election on 11 November, 2023 that produced him as governor did not come and go without a serious contention. On the night of Sunday November 12, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declared Ododo as the winner of the keenly contested poll. He got 446,237 votes to defeat his closest rival, Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who was credited with 259,052, while Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) received 46,362 votes.

But the two main opposition political parties, the SDP and the PDP rejected the result of the election as announced by INEC, vowing that it could not stand. Speaking soon after Ododo was controversially declared winner, Ajaka alleged that the election was rigged in favour of Ododo.
Ajaka, who was on Channels Television’s The 2023 Verdict programme on Sunday night, said going to court to contest the results would amount to a waste of time as the INEC would assuredly appear in court as a witness to defend the outcome of the election.

“I have been around for the past 20 years. I know what it is. What am I going to court to do when the same INEC that did this is going to come as a witness to defend what they did? So it is a waste of time; except the party people because I’m hugely disappointed. If the INEC chairman allows this to stand, they are looking for trouble in Nigeria.

“You gave me assurances that the election would be transparent, you allowed me to waste my time, spend my money, mobilise my people, only for you to write the results. Even if I’m not sad about it, you expect my supporters to be happy. I assure you if they allow this to stand as they are allowing in all the states now, they are calling for anarchy in this country,” he warned.

Ajaka illustrated how figures were inflated in favour of Ododo, the APC candidate and the godson of the outgoing governor, Bello. He said:

“In Okene Local Government, they turned out over 130,000 votes. Haba! And INEC accepted that result and what is on the BVAS is less than 30,000.
“With all due respect to the person of the INEC chairman, if they don’t do a checklist and investigate their officials that went to Kogi State and allow this to stand, I doubt if there will be election in 2027. Because people will go into that election armed and I fear Somalia will be a child’s play.
“If we knew it would be the same old music, we would have played along with that old music by inflating the results from my area,” the SDP candidate added.

Speaking the day after on 13 November, 2023, the PDP candidate, Dino Melaye said, “What we saw on Saturday was not democracy. Mahmood Yakubu is the bane of our democracy in this country. He (Mahmood) has proven again that he’s not a repentant soul.

“This is not the first time I have lost an election, and I have never come out to complain like this. If I lose in a free, fair, and credible election, I will congratulate the winner. The election is not close to credible. The election is not about Dino being a good sportsman; it is about integrity; it is about the credibility of INEC.

“In 2019, Yahaya Bello wrote a result in Okehi local government of up to 112,000 for the APC and less than 1000 for the PDP. When BVAS appeared in the February (2023) election, the total vote cast was less than 40,000, and in the election on Saturday, Okehi alone voted about 150,000, and the governor was awarded 144,538 votes. So you can imagine the same local government that produced less than 30,000 votes in February. INEC is shameless; they showed the correct accredited voters, and we downloaded that already yesterday; by today, they started tampering with it.

“I challenge INEC with this document that I have. Registered voters in Okene LGA are 142,243, with the APC alone scoring 146,538. We had over 90 percent of registered voters. Even in the United States, which has the best democracy in the world, this cannot happen. And that is what happened to almost every local government in Kogi State. The result was completely inflated.

“There was over-voting in 17 local governments, including my local government. It’s so clear and open, so shamelessly done. It is institutionalized and scientific rigging, and INEC said in their press conference that they were investigating it but went ahead to declare a fictitious written result.

“I have shown you more than 15 documents, and they can’t lie. Yahaya Bello’s candidate was declared based on lies. In a just society, silence is a crime. We will not allow it. How can we call an illegitimate mandate and be comfortable?”

That was not all about the controversies that surrounded Ododo’s election. A few days to the election, the Kogi chapter of PDP through their spokesperson, Mr Farouk Audu Adejoh raised alarm over plans by the sitting governor, Yahaya Bello to compromise the election allegedly in cahoots with INEC officials and top security personnel in the state.

The PDP expressed concerns that the APC and the state governor, Yahaya Bello, had resolved to deploy already preloaded BVAS to some areas in Kogi State. The party also hinted that the APC led government in Kogi State had distributed NYSC and Police uniforms to civilians in order to perpetrate their evil plans of rigging the election.

In similar vein, the Kogi State PDP Secretary, George Daika, at a press conference, in Abuja, on Saturday 18 November 2023 in response to the controversial declaration of Usman Ododo as the winner of the governorship election said:

“Our fears were confirmed last Saturday (11 November) when before the governorship election commenced at the polling units, results of yet-to-be-held elections found their way to the public space. Some agents of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were also found with already written results of elections that were yet to be held.

“We, however, found it incredulous that the anomalies above notwithstanding, the State Gubernatorial Returning Officer after seeing clear evidence of over-voting and reports of electoral fraud declared Usman Ahmed Ododo of the APC as elected with some conjured votes which is totally different from the number of accredited voters among other factors.”

It is very disappointing that with all the baggage, including bitterness and divisiveness, that surrounded his emergence as governor, Mr Ododo is still attracting more hubris to himself by helping Yahaya Bello to evade lawful prosecution over sundry allegations of corrupt deeds including money laundering during his tenure as governor.

A Federal High Court in Abuja will on 10 May rule in the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Ododo’s godfather, Yahaya Bello who is facing a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.
And rather than allow the law to take its course, Governor Ododo has been aiding Yahaya Bello to escape appearance in court to respond to the array of charges.

On Wednesday 17 April Ododo foiled an attempt by the EFCC to arrest Yahaya Bello, at his 9, Benghazi Street, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja residence. Operatives of the anti-graft agency had stormed the street around 9.30 a.m. on Wednesday and laid siege to the former governor’s residence, preventing both human and vehicular movements. The EFCC operatives were, however, prevented from entering the compound by armed policemen dressed in black, with the inscription ‘Special Forces’.

The stalemate continued for hours as the EFCC operatives refrained from forcibly entering the house to avoid a looming bloodbath through violent clash with the policemen and other armed men guarding Yahaya Bello. The intention of the EFCC was ostensibly to maintain the siege for more hours or days to wear the hired armed mercenaries out through running out before storming the residence.

But then at about 2.30 p.m., the convoy of Governor Ododo, arrived at the scene, alongside several security operatives and hired political thugs. Ododo was ushered into the residence by his security details and Yahaya Bello’s guards. At about 4:20 p.m., the convoy drove out of the residence with Yahaya Bello hiding inside one of the governor’s tinted cars in the convoy.

Since that shameful escape of Yahaya Bello with the help of Governor Ododo, the former governor has gone underground with his whereabouts unknown to anyone except Ododo. Equally, that ignoble dragged the governor’s name in the stinking mud. He may not realize the extent he has plummeted in public perception until 2027 when he will go for re-election.

The time he would have spent to heal the gaping wounds inflicted by his acrimonious election, he is squandering rescuing a drowning godfather. Who knows the kind of deal or oath he might have entered into with Yahaya Bello that makes him so genuflecting to dobale for him at all cost.

But whatever dreadful covenant he might have sworn to, Ododo should remember that as the incumbent governor, he has the requisite arsenal to take charge and shrug off the stultifying yoke of Yahaya Bello.

*Unlike Ododo, Chris Ngige as governor, freed Anambra State from greedy godfathers

He should borrow a leaf from a former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chris Ngige who rebuffed his overreaching godfather, Chris Ubah despite swearing an anti-people oath of allegiance to the tycoon prior to the 2003 governorship election.
By that courageous act, Ngige did not only save his political career in the long run but liberated his state Anambra from the vice hold of avaricious political godfathers who are after the common till of the people.

Ngige became a hero through his audacity and pro-people stand. Although he lost the governorship in 2006, he meritoriously served as a Senator before holding the ministry of Labor portfolio for the entire eight years of President Mujammadu Buhari’s administration.

The ball is Ododo’s court to unhinge himself, and swim to safety or drown with Yahaya Bello. If he continues to cling to Yahaya Bello, he will be rehearsing the dirge of his political career. He will equally have his own date with the anti-graft agencies at the end of his tenure.

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