BY JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH, Abuja
Eminent monarchs from Kogi State under the auspices of the state’s Council of Traditional Rulers have presented Governor Yahaya Bello to President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office in the November 16 governorship poll in the state.
The traditional rulers and the governor met with the president at the presidential villa, Abuja, yesterday to seek Buhari’s support, amidst insinuations from certain quarters that the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was opposed to the return of Bello for another term.
Led by the Attah Igala and president, Kogi State Council of Chiefs, His Royal Majesty (HRM) Idakwo Michael Ameh Oboni Il, the monarchs requested that an indigene of the state be made finance minister in Buhari’s next cabinet.
Speaking to State House correspondents on behalf of the royal fathers, the Obaro of Kabba, Oba Solomon Dele Owoniyi, confirmed that they presented the governor to the president for the November governorship election in the state.
Oba Owoniyi said: “We had to reintroduce our governor to the president. Some people in the social media are already saying we are playing politics. We are being realistic. When you are realistic you say things as they are. This is not an endorsement, its reintroduction. We represented him to the president. He has already been endorsed in the state.
”We came to reintroduce our governor to the president and demand for his usual support since they belong to the same party. The issue of endorsement is not here; the people at home have already endorsed His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello for a second term. So, we don’t need to re-endorse him in Abuja. All we needed to do was to represent him to the president and commander-in chief of the armed forces of Nigeria. So, we are very happy that Mr President received us very well and the traditional rulers have reconfirmed their support for both the federal and state governments,” he said.
In their presentation to the president, the royal fathers urged Buhari to place priority on the Ajaokuta Steel project.
Oba Owoniyi said that it became necessary to draw the president’s attention to the steel company because it has the potential of fixing unemployment issues in Kogi State through direct and indirect jobs and transform into the industrial hub of Nigeria.
The traditional rulers also demanded for the position of the finance minister in the next cabinet of the president, saying they were not comfortable with the position of minister of state given to Kogi in the last cabinet.
They also sought the president’s special intervention for the federal government to take over or provide substantial support for the Project Power Kogi East (PPKE), which intends to light up 90 per cent of the largest senatorial district.
They also appealed that the state be given priority in special fund support for social and agricultural programmes.
Citing the Omi Dam power project as an example, the monarchs noted that as a vulnerable state along the shores of the Rivers Niger and Benue, the responses to flooding, prevention, relocation of victims and other matters connected to the state be of importance to the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and for the federal government to always support the people of the state.
Owoniyi said: “We are happy to announce too, because our governor announced it here, that the last tranche of bailout fund of about N30.8 billion has been approved. So, the issue of salary arrears, allowances and pensions will be put to rest by His grace before the elections.
”So, we are confident that we are going to have a good deal with it and by the grace of God since we are supporting Mr President, it is natural and normal for him to pay us back in the right coins.
“We are happy to announce to our people at home that Mr President has promised to treat us very well. Like the chairman of our traditional council said, we are not comfortable with minister of state. So, our status in the federal cabinet must be upgraded to a full fledge minister and by the grace of God, minister of finance.
”I’m pleased to inform you that Mr President has graciously alluded to most of our requests and has told us to go home and tell our people that he has us at the back of his mind and that he is going to approach most of these issues as they come,” the monarch said.
In his remarks, Governor Bello, who explained that he was not the leader of the delegation to President Buhari but the Attah Igala, said: “I did not lead my royal fathers here. The leader of the delegation is the Attah Igala, His Royal Majesty, Dr Michael Idakwo Ameh Oboni, the president, Kogi State Council of Chiefs.
”I am just a messenger who took the message to Mr President to secure this appointment and as their son I needed to accompany them on this visit,” he said.
Governor Bello explained that President Buhari, “in his usual manner of receiving everybody, gave them a warm reception as well as appreciated what the government is doing in the state.”