Indications have emerged as to why the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is after the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
The commission had on Tuesday fingered Bello in an ongoing corruption case, following a fresh amendment which introduced a fresh count to the case that has been going on in court since 2022.
It accused Bello of conspiring with his nephew, Ali Bello, and his associate, Dauda Suleiman, to convert the total sum of N80.2 billion belonging to Kogi State Government to personal use.
While the Kogi State government described the development as laughable credible sources linked the matter to some powerful Nigerians who may not be positively disposed to the rising political influence of the former Governor who has been a towering figure in the rank of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria.
The sources who do not want their names in print alleged that Bello’s travails are not unconnected with his decision to challenge President Bola Tinubu in the APC presidential primaries of 2022.
According to them, “in the buildup to the 2023 general election, former Governor Yahaya Bello had thrown his hat in the ring by aspiring to be the presidential flagbearer of the APC in the primary election that eventually produced Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who went on to win the presidential election and he is today the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Although, the former Kogi State Governor has since aligned with Mr. President and earned his support during the Governorship election in Kogi State which was won by the APC’s Ahmed Usman Ododo now the Executive Governor of Kogi State, there are feelings that those who were uncomfortable with the stance of the former Governor against the zoning arrangement in the APC and the fact that he might still habour a presidential ambition come 2027 have not taken their eyes off the former Governor of Kogi State.”
The also adduced the reason for the ongoing EFCC move against Bello as his perceived ambition to become the National Chairman of the ruling APC.
LEADERSHIP recently reported that the posters with inscriptions suggesting that the former Kogi helmsman was in the race to take over the APC chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje surfaced in Abuja, which Bello distanced himself from them.
The sources told our correspondent on the condition of anonymity that; “Before the expiration of his second term in office, there were calls from a section of the party and its supporters that the former Governor of Kogi State should seek the office of the National Chairman of the APC.
“While he is yet to officially declare his intention to vie for the position, those who are or could be discomforted by the political aspiration of the former Governor are alleged to be ganging up to frustrate the ambition of the former Governor should he declare to run for the national chairmanship position of the party.
“Supporters of the former Kogi State Governor believe that the recent amplification of the trial of some of the former Governor’s associates may not be unconnected with his alleged interest in the National Chairmanship position of the APC.”
While also pointing at the convoluted party politics in Kogi as possible reason while the anti-graft agency is going after Bello, sources said, “the last governorship election in Kogi State came with huge collateral damage and cracks that reinforced deep animosity within the rank of the APC and tribal fault lines in the state.
“It is unsurprising that the former Governor has earned fewer friends in the aftermath of the election which saw elements in the APC actively supporting the opposition candidate in the state.
“Many of those behind the plot to deny the APC victory in the election are still uncomforted by the fact the former Governor is emerging as a power broker within the party hence the need for them to ‘cut him to size’ and reduce his influence in the party.”
The sources further alluded to Bello’s bold stance on the last year’s Naira redesign policy and 2020 COVID-19 national lockdown as part of his current ordeal in the hands of the EFCC as he longer enjoys immunity at the expiration of his tenure as governor.
“We all recall the exceptionally bold and nationalistic intervention of the former Governor of Kogi State to avert the national disaster that the naira redesign would have caused Nigeria in the wake of the shortage of bank notes in the country in 2022 to early 2023.
“Rather than accord the former Governor Yahaya Bello and his two other colleagues, former Governors Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State medals of patriot, the former Kogi State Governor in particular is being treated as a villain by powerful elements with vested political interest whose efforts to derail the democratic transfer of power to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu failed to materialise.
“This same gang have refused to take off their knees of the necks of Nigerians and they are hell bent on humiliating and undermining the influence of the former Governor especially as they anticipate that he may earn a position of national relevance in the government of Mr. President sooner than later.
“During the national lock down as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria in the year 2020, Kogi State was the only state that refused to shutdown businesses and commercial activities thus prompting national concerns from many who saw the stance of the former Governor as unbecoming.
“Events have since proven that the former governor was not wrong in his opposition to a national lockdown as that period of economic downturn is partly responsible for the economic recession that has failed to fully abate till today.
“Proponents of the national lockdown who benefited largely from the proceeds of that arrangement are still at cross with the former Governor of Kogi State and they remain unhappy with his emergence as a patriot of that struggle to mitigate the consequence of a total national lockdown,” the sources added.