By Chinelo Obogo
The Kogi state government has lambasted a former chief executive of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, for advising to block Governor Yahaya Bello from securing the All Professionals Congress (APC) presidential ticket.
Lukman also alleged that Bello had yet to start payment of the minimum wage of N30,000 as advertised and that the workers were earning 25% of their salary.
The former DG also criticized the Interim Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by Governor Mai Mala Buni, accusing it of extorting aspirants ahead of the March 26 national convention.
In a statement released Monday, March 14, Lukman said, “How the party deals with corruption allegations against the leadership of Governor Mai Mala Buni will significantly determine the nature of new leaders to emerge. Many of the allegations against the governor are already public knowledge in the media. From Anambra to Ekiti and the Osun primary, there are allegations against the extortion of money from aspiring party leaders for governorship.
Of Governor Bello, Lukman said, “Beyond the new APC leaders that will emerge from the March 26 National Convention, how will the APC take action to prevent bad leaders such as His Excellency Yahaya Bello to emerge as the party’s flag bearer for 2023 elections?Bello’s case requires bold decisions by the APC as a party, which should include recognition that his actions as governor of Kogi contradict the party’s commitment to good governance as embodied in the provisions of the constitution and the APC manifesto.
But in a statement released on Tuesday and signed by Information and Communications Commissioner Kingsley Fanwo, he said Lukman’s allegations were baseless, adding that he should not “allow the frustration of his unceremonious exit while the director general of the PGF takes possession of his reasoning to the point of denigrating the party leaders.
Fanwo in his statement said, “The attention of the Kogi State Government has been drawn to derogatory statements attributed to a former Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) employee, Salihu Lukman regarding the presidential ambition of the Governor Yahaya Bello.
“It is unfortunate that Lukman was able to admit frustration at his unceremonious and embarrassing exit as the PGF Director General took ownership of his reasoning to the point of blaming Governor Mai Mala Buni’s Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee ( CECPC) to extort future aspirants. of the National Convention of March 26.
“It is even more saddening that Lukman decided to expose his main fear when he unwittingly revealed that the candidate to beat in the 2023 APC primary was my director, Governor Yahaya Bello. For the amateur politician , the unsubstantiated allegations against the administration of Governor Bello should sway the minds of Nigerians or party leaders.
“But asking the party to block Governor Bello, a top presidential hopeful, from getting the party’s ticket already signals that all eyes are on him to lead the party to victory in the 2023 general election. , which everyone knows will be hotly contested.
“For the record, Lukman’s anti-party activities while on the secretariat of the Progressive Governors Forum not only cost him his job, but also further ridiculed his already tarnished image.
“We are therefore not surprised at his recent outburst against key party leaders. However, we want to assure him that no one has a monopoly on caustic statements. Governor Bello only refrained from dignifying detractors with a response, venom for venom, because of his solid upbringing. But if Lukman were to allow frustration to completely take over his senses, then he should be prepared to face the consequences of his actions as we will leave no stone unturned in seeking legal redress. We will not see him continue to tarnish the image of our dear party as he has done.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Bello remains a key figure holding the party together and he has the support and approval of an overwhelming majority of party loyalists to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. Lukman should realize that his smear campaign will not diminish the love of APC and Nigerians for Governor Bello.
“We deem it necessary to inform the public that the historic and bold personnel audit exercise undertaken by the early Bello administration not only painted the payroll in the colors of integrity and transparency, but also ensured the efficiency of the service.
“Many involuntary beneficiaries were dismissed and the State immediately ensured that 100% of salaries were paid to civil servants.
“It is instructive to note that the personnel vetting exercise was conducted with the full cooperation and deep involvement of the unions who have always cooperated with the state government in its attempt to reposition and strengthen the service.
“Nigerians are properly briefed on the meager allocation shared at the last FAAC meeting. Many states have yet to pay their February salaries.
“Internally generated revenue was not at the level our administration had established following the economic downturn, due to the energy crisis that hit the country in February.
But as an administration concerned with the welfare of civil servants, the Kogi state government sat down with the union leaders and agreed to pay 75%.
“He has since been paid with the full implementation of the minimum wage. It was against the lies peddled by Lukman that Kogi workers received 25% of their former wages.
“Only officials at level seven and above received 75 percent. Civil servants in grades one through six received 100% of their salary with the minimum wage of 30,000. The Governor and all political office holders also received 75% in solidarity with our staff. For us, it is responsible and responsive leadership.
“We want to reiterate the Administration of Governor Bello’s administration’s commitment to the well-being of the workforce and that no Lukman-sponsored lie will stop Governor Bello from answering the call. popular of the Nigerian masses to serve the nation in a presidential capacity.”