A lot has been said and is still being said about the ill-advised visit to Ekinrin Adde by one of the aides of the Kogi State ‘governor’, Alhaji Yahaya Bello. The visit has attracted an avalanche of vituperations and condemnations, and so much was said to the point of making the Ekinrin Adde people out as a “nuisance and threat to peace” by Bello’s Senior Special Assistant on Electronic media, Mrs Petra Akinti Onyegbule through a Facebook post. This is not intended to engage with the ‘governor’s’ aide but to set the records straight lest we are misunderstood as a people, because when you make a lie big, simple and consistent, people will begin to believe it.
I personally do not see anything wrong in Kogi State government or its elected or selected representative making a donation to any community within its constituency, which in this case includes Ekinrin Adde. But this particular instance is wrong to all intents and purposes. Now, let me make my point clear.
The circumstances of Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s emergence as the ‘governor’ of Kogi State is not strange to any informed mind in or on Nigeria. Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, who ought to be the governor under normal circumstances, hails from Ekinrin Adde. And for emphasis, he is a direct descendant of Akinrin who is believed, especially among the Obile Ekinrin (Ekinrin Aborigines), to be the progenitor of Ekinrin Adde. He is also one of the many rising stars of that community, hence the massive support that Ijumu people gave to the Audu/Faleke gubernatorial ticket. He is therefore now in court to convince the learned justices why he should be the governor instead of Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
The project “commissioned” by Mrs Rashidat Bello (one of the governor’s wives) is one very close to the hearts of the community and we as a people have seen its metamorphosis from an ordinary dispensary to a clinic later to a Cottage Hospital and now a Primary Healthcare Centre. Let me explain this a bit further. Ekinrin Adde is a community that thrives on nothing but communal efforts. There has never been any deliberate government presence in Ekinrin Adde that did not first start as the community’s deliberate effort to build something for itself, including this clinic in question, which started over fifty years ago. I was born in this clinic a little over four decades ago. Most of the facilities in the health centre were sourced by the people themselves and every indigene of Ekinrin Adde with means, at some point or the other, has made a direct and/or indirect contribution to the existence of this health centre and this includes Honourable James Faleke himself. This also includes but is not limited to providing free accommodation for the hospital staff, like medical doctors, nurses and other healthcare assistants in the service of the centre, from time to time. Like some other self-reliant communities, we have built primary and secondary schools, a post office, telephone/local telephony services and other small scale industries by ourselves, which were subsequently taken over either partly or wholly by the government, including this healthcare centre under discussion.
The healthcare facility’s elevation to its present form happened between 2005 and 2006 when Hon. Funsho Olumoko was a Caretaker Chairman. And I believe Hon. Joseph Adeyemi Owotogbe commissioned the centre in 2007, when he became Chairman of Ijumu Local Government Area (LGA), with some further assistance from the federal government during the tenure of Professor Eyitayo Lambo as Health Minister. So if we are this resilient in Ekinrin Adde, why should we now oppose the present “effort” of the governor/government to add value to our communal endeavour?
For the records, we are not opposed to any government adding value to anything in Ekinrin Adde. We are development-oriented people. And we are not backwards in thinking, it is how the governor’s team would wish the world to see us; but all we are saying is this, which I consider quite simple: There is nowhere across modern democracies in which you can give good governance through bad politics. It is like putting wings on a horse and regarding it as an eagle. It won’t fly. Alhaji Yahaya Bello (AYB) and Hon. Abiodun Faleke (JAF) are in court over the latter’s mandate purportedly stolen by the former. And then the first official project commissioning to be carried out by the wife of the governor is of an already commissioned healthcare centre in Hon. Abiodun Faleke’s hometown. To me and any other analysts, this is bad politics, akin to cutting our nose to spite our face(s) as a community. No good is intended from such. If Yahaya Bello had good advisers, or if he himself had a good intention towards the people of Ekinrin Adde, I think he should have waited for the case in court to be fully determined (unlikely to be in his favour), then he can call for some truce by embarking on a project that will win the people of Ekinrin Adde, Ijumu and the Okun nation in general to his intention.
Furthermore, it seems to me that Alhaji Yahaya Bello seeks to use this as a deliberate means of testing the loyalty of Ekinrin Adde people to their son, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke. Why choose a hospital in Faleke’s town, even if his wife is idle and in want of what to do? This is because I know of no project that has been commissioned by Yahaya Bello or any one from his aides since being sworn in as governor of Kogi State. So why start from Ekinrin Adde? After all, the General Hospital in Ogori Magongo, the home town of his SSA on Electronic Media, Mrs Petra Akinti Onyegbule, is in worse state than that of Ekinrin Adde, going by the video documentary Mrs Onyegbule made available on her Facebook page during the threshold of the state elections.
Why send law enforcement agents to arrest Hon. Funsho Olumoko, with about seven truck loads of fully armed policemen, over a press briefing he held earlier to inform the world that the so-called renovation of the healthcare centre was nothing other than the mere painting of a facility that had already been commissioned many years before Alhaji Yahaya Bello dreamt of becoming the governor of the state? This same Funsho Olumoko was one of Yahaya Bello’s campaign directors before he lost out to late Prince Abubakar Audu. Was this a fallout of Funsho’s decision to work with Hon. Abiodun Faleke instead of still teaming up with Bello? The road to tyranny is said to begin with the destruction of the truth. What exactly does Yahaya Bello want from Ekinrin Adde? These are questions begging for answers. But while we wait for answers, I think the honourable thing to do by this ‘governor’ is to leave us alone, at least until the case between him and our dear son, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke is fully decided by courts of competent jurisdiction.
While others might pray that their loyalty is never tested, Ekinrin Adde’s loyalty to Hon. James Abiodun Faleke is not in doubt and can never be as shown, so Alhaji Yahaya Bello can now start to worry about other serious things.
By Dayo Babalola, a UK based commercial lawyer and arbitrator, is an indigene of Ekinrin Adde.