The issue of unpaid salaries was a major focus yesterday when the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai took turns to beseech the people of Kogi State to forgive their governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello.
Speaking at the grand finale of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign rally held in Lokoja ahead of the November 16 governorship election and Kogi West senatorial rerun, El-Rufai who wore a big flowing white gown went down on his knees begging the people to forgive whatever wrong Bello had done and vote him back to power.
“We are here not only to campaign for the second term of Governor Bello but to bury the Peoples Democratic Party once and for all.
“The PDP had ruled Kogi for 13 years but what he (Bello) has done in three years, the PDP has not done in 13 years.
“People say Bello is a young man and a young can make mistakes and learn from them, so, I hereby beg you all to forgive Yahaya Bello.
“He loves Kogi; he has given the young ones better opportunity. He has empowered women; we must not repeat the mistakes of the past, we must not allow evil to prevail. We must not allow the memory of our great leader, the late Prince Abubakar Audu, to be in vain,” he said.
For Buhari, the governor was unable to pay salaries because of the verification exercise that was organised for civil servants in the state.
She said since the verification exercise ended, all civil servants on the government’s payroll had been receiving regular salary.
She therefore urged the people to forgive Bello if any of them was hurt.
“Let me refer back to Kaduna State governor’s speech where he had to kneel and say the people should forgive and forget.
“Also, my husband used to emphasise on salaries. It took a while before the Kogi salaries could be settled after a long time of verification.
“But this time, vote for him for continuity of payment of salary on time,” she said.
Thereafter, the First Lady invited the governor to the podium, saying to “talk to you about timely payment of salary.”
Addressing the crowd, the governor said: “We have been paying on time. “The civil servants can attest to that.
“Your Excellency, you directed, you supported and we cleared the salary arrears and we shall continue to pay on time.”
He urged the electorate to vote for him so that President Muhammadu Buhari would be happy that “his son in whom he is well pleased has been re-elected.”
In its reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said El-Rufai’s apology “is APC’s admission of Bello’s failure.”
“The PDP has observed that the public apology and kneeling by the Chairman of the APC Kogi state campaign council, Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufai, confirms that even the APC agrees that Governor Yahaya Bello does not merit a second term.
“The genuflection by El-Rufai is also a direct confirmation that the failed Governor Bello cannot lay claim to any genuine vote at the November 16 governorship election.
“The Edo State deputy governor, Philip Shuaibu, also knelt before the Kogi people to beg for Yahaya Bello which further shows that it is public knowledge that the governor misused the opportunity given to him to lead the state.
“Unfortunately, the apology is coming too late in the day and cannot be accepted by the people of Kogi state, whose lives, Yahaya Bello had turned into a living hell in the last four year.
“Moreover, Yahaya Bello openly confirmed that he is irredeemable as he stood without any sign of remorse while El-Rufai and the Edo State deputy governor begged the unimpressed scanty crowd.
“Governor El-Rufai and the APC ought to have counselled Yahaya Bello at the time he was busy suppressing, insulting, abusing and making life unbearable for the people of Kogi state as if there will not be a day of reckoning.
“The irreversible fact is that the day of reckoning has come. The people of Kogi state have moved beyond Yahaya Bello and the APC. They are already moving on with the PDP candidate, Engr. Musa Wada, in their determination for a new order in their state and there is no looking back,” said PDP spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan in a statement.
PDP advised El-Rufai to assist Bello in preparing his handover notes as “he will surely face a crushing defeat at the polls, come Saturday, November 16th.”