Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State yesterday said he has no blood relationship with the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the state, Alhaji Usman Ododo.
Bello said contrary to insinuations by the opposition, Ododo emerged the APC candidate after a keenly contested, free and fair primary election.
The governor, who stated this at the 3rd Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB) Seminar for Nigeria’s Political and Crime Correspondents/Editors in Abuja, also said the November 11 governorship election would be the most peaceful ever held in the state.
There had been claims by the opposition in the state that the governor handpicked Ododo, a former auditor general for local government in the state, was his blood relation. Ododo hails from the same senatorial zone as the governor.
Dispelling the claim, Bello said the APC governorship candidate emerged APC candidate on merit after a keenly contested primary election.
He said; “Ododo has endeared himself to the people of Kogi. How can you be the most popular candidate, positioned to win and still instigate violence?
“Ododo and I may come from the same place but we do not share any blood relationship whatsoever. Do your findings. He is a very compassionate, hardworking and competent fellow and those qualities spoke for him at the primaries.”
Bello added that his administration’s focus was to do away with ethnic sentiments that had set the state backwards before his emergence.
“Ethnic sentiments set Kogi back for 19 years and we must break away from that for competence. My administration has changed the narrative of ethnicity and has been appointing and working with competent people as against choosing people from tribes in the state.
“We raise people from different backgrounds, irrespective of their senatorial zones,” he added.
On the forthcoming election, the governor said; “The election will be very secure. The police will do excellently well during the election and I want to assure you that the election will be free, fair and peaceful.”
He also gave insight into how he wants to be remembered after he leaves office next year.
“Anyone can choose to remember me for what I have achieved. I want to be remembered for that man who took up the challenge of leadership in Kogi State in areas of disunity, insecurity, poor dividends of democracy and in all areas of challenge, as one who came and laid a solid foundation for a new Kogi State to thrive,” he said.
Earlier, the Kogi State commissioner for information, Kingsley Fanwo, said no blood would be shed on account of any person’s ambition to become governor of the state.
Fanwo said security remained key to the state and therefore the government would not be distracted from the path of peace.
He said; “For us as a government, the issue of security is important, we have achieved a lot and we are confident that nothing will distract us from what we have achieved.”
In his presentation, the senior vice chairman/editor-in-chief of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, Mr Azubuike Ishiekwene, who spoke on the topic: “Setting Agenda for the November off-season Elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states,” tasked journalists to be conversant with issues in the states in the course of their duties.
He charged media practitioners to look beyond the activities of political actors and feel the pulse of the electorate in the states ahead of the elections.
In an earlier remark, the ace editor who thanked the governor for his consistency in organising the training for senior journalists for the past three years, charged the participants to do an impact assessment of the seminar and ensure its essence comes to fruition.