Kingsley Fanwo is the Director General on Media and Publicity to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. In this interview, he speaks on the chances of his principal in the November 16 governorship election; issues of unpaid workers’ salaries, indirect primary and other sundry issues.
Recently, Governor Yahaya Bello obtained the APC nomination forms for the governorship poll in Kogi. What are his chances in the party primaries against certain stakeholders who protested at the party’s headquarters in Abuja against indirect primaries?
Governor Yahaya Bello is a competitor and our party is a highly democratic space. We do not grant automatic ticket or give room for people to run away with materials meant for primary elections. We allow for competition under a democratic atmosphere. The governor won the ticket a long time ago because he stood by the party, bridged the differences and carried the party on his strong shoulders for three and a half years. He is only competing against himself.
Party delegates will choose him because he nurtured the party and led it into series of victories. November 16 will be another victory for the party and the governor. Those protesting against indirect primary are indicting themselves. They are only telling the people that they have abandoned the party. We used the model for nominating our candidates for the February and March elections. And now the State Executive Committee and the NWC have made pronouncements. Anyone who claims to be real APC should not be afraid of executives piloting the affairs of his party. Governor Yahaya Bello will win the primary massively.
There has been outcry over alleged poor governance by the Bello-led government. Why do you think the people of Kogi would vote him for a second term?
Simple. He has served them well. He has united them and collapsed the walls of division that limited the potentials of the state for 25 years. He has built roads; he has built schools; he has ensured their security and saved the state from the statistical notoriety of being the crime capital of the nation. He has built hospitals and improved healthcare. He has reduced maternal mortality and has received rave commendations from the World Bank Health Team and other national and international bodies for his commitment to healthcare. He has revamped the agricultural sector and under his administration, we are set for the Confluence Rice that will be sold across Africa. He has helped sanitize our environment. He has empowered the youths and women across the state. He won in February. He won in March. He will win in November by the grace of God and the support of the people of Kogi State.
One major issue against this government is non-payment of salaries to workers. What would you say is the true position in this regard?
That will soon be over. He recently told stakeholders in the state that the problem won’t cross to August. That is about to be fulfilled. The problem didn’t start with him. The immediate past governor of the state, Capt. Idris Wada, confessed that the problem started during his tenure. He applied for bailout to solve the problem. If there was no salary problem before GYB came, why did Wada apply for bailout? Bailout means: ‘I am in trouble with salary payment, kindly bail me out’.
Government is a continuum. Governor Bello inherited the problem and now he is about to solve it. He deserves commendation rather than condemnation. He has done well.
The endorsement of the governor for a second term by royal fathers and some stakeholders in the state has been described by the opposition as a sham. Do you think the people are really with the governor?
For the first time in recent history, an Obaro of Kabba was coronated and there was no crisis. Due process and fairness did the magic. During the last administration, a traditional father was kidnapped in Kabba/Bunu LGA and they had to pay heavy ransom to get him released. That is no more the case in Kogi under Governor Bello. The royal fathers now see excellent transformation and development. They have spoken for the people. And even the opponents of the governor know he would win.
Governor Bello has been described as being highhanded and insensitive in his leadership style. As your principal, what is your impression about him?
I have worked with him closely for close to four years now and I share the privilege of being one of his first three appointees alongside the Chief of Staff and the then SA Media. I can say with every sense of modesty that Governor Yahaya Bello is a humble leader. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to listen to diverse opinions before making his judgement. On Thursday, we were with him at a restaurant in Wuse where he mixed with Nigerians freely. He is humble, considerate, compassionate and responsible. Nigerians will see more of that great leader in the coming years.
What has changed in Kogi since the governor came on board?
We are a united people today. Before now, we were so divided. Ethnic mistrust was rampant and unchecked. Today, we are united because the leader of the state doesn’t promote ethnic divisions. His Chief of Staff is not from his senatorial district. That was the first time a governor of the state would appoint anyone into that office from another senatorial district. That was a big statement from the governor.
Also, he has changed the security narrative. Kogi is now safer than ever. He has also attracted a good number of industries into the state. Kogi is cleaner today than ever. He has also digitalized the civil service and repositioned it for more efficiency.
Today, Kogi is generally a better state.
The opposition PDP has maintained that it will reclaim power in Kogi come November 16. Don’t you feel threatened by their overconfidence?
PDP is dead in the state. They won only one Senate seat and only one Reps seat. APC won two Senate seats, seven Reps seats and all the 25 House of Assembly seats. President Muhammadu Buhari won here despite the fact that even those aspiring to be Governor today under our party worked for Atiku. Governor Yahaya Bello has killed PDP in Kogi with his style of leadership and political sagacity.