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Kogi: Real reason White Lion fears the zoo, by Ike Abonyi

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Kogi: Real reason White Lion fears the zoo, by Ike Abonyi

Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.” — George Bernard Shaw

The lion is unquestionably the king of the jungle. With his divine dominion from creation, when man takes over the tropical forest, the entire wildlife there is subject to his command and control. If at that point the lion still behaves uncontrollably, the human being brings his superiority to bear and he quarantines the beast to the cage in a zoo for proper control. At the point of trying to subdue the lion and relocate it from the forest to the zoo, it’s not going to be easy. Risks are involved, other animals might be harmed, but in the end, man’s supremacy prevails.

Nigerians are not new to the uncanny behaviour of some lionized politicians who get entrapped in the end. The drama around the immediate past Governor of Kogi State Yahaya Bello, otherwise known as “the white lion,” is not the first time Nigerian politicians are into such gimmicks and eye-catching novelty. Recall the former Governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, who was so powerful in office that he even installed most of the key operatives in EFCC and was so sure of himself when late President Umaru Yar’Adua was in control. He was the de facto Vice President, brought in one of his boys as the Principal Secretary at the Aso Rock Villa, ostensibly to dominate and sideline Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. Someday, President Yar’Adua suddenly died. Naturally, the tables turned and VP Jonathan was installed executive president [forget the surrounding drama for now]. Both the utility principal secretary in the Villa and Ibori were on the run. Unfortunately, for Ibori, the dirty cupboard he left behind as a youth in England had not been cleaned and the authorities in the UK were looking for him. When they heard he had left his natural habitat in Nigeria as a result of his friend’s death, to Dubai, England quickly activated the non-protection of criminals bilateral pact with the UAE and Ibori was arrested, sent to England, was tried, and jailed. This saved Nigeria the cost of hiring lawyers and feeding him both as a suspect and eventually as a prisoner. So, the journey the White Lion of Kogi is embarking on in his stratagem with EFCC has some resemblance with the above narration.

The same way Ibori was running from the system controlled by his own political party, the People’s Democratic Party is the same way Bello is running from his own ruling party the All Progressive Congress that made him the white lion in Kogi.

The same way Ibori miscalculated against Jonathan who later became the rejected stone that turned the cornerstone, is how Bello miscalculated in rejecting Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is the man in charge today.

The only conspicuous legacy on the negative side for him was his ability to brutally engage his perceived enemies whether in politics or traditional institutions. His drama with Dino Melaye, Senator Natasha Hadiza Akpoti and the late revered royal father of Ebiraland, the Ohinoyi, Ado Ibrahim, were conspicuous.

The cutting off of a road built by Senator Akpoti for her community still remains the weirdest political fight. All of Bello’s youthful exuberance was misdirected to fighting opponents, not in improving the living standard of his people. How he installed his blood brother as his successor in ensuring that the election never took place left all election observers in shock but Nigerians did not blink because they knew from where he picked his electoral misdemeanour with a coadjutant Mahmoud Yakubu still in the driver’s seat of INEC that conducted the bye-elections.

If not for the record left behind by Governor Peter Obi who was elected Governor of Anambra State as a youth at age 46 and turned out to leave an outstanding legacy, Bello would have been a terribly bad market for the youth agitations for political power. From another angle to Bello’s contrivance, shouldn’t EFCC and security agencies have saved Nigerians from the shameful drama that is now putting some of their operatives in trouble? Was Yahaya Bello not on the wanted list of the commission and was only waiting for his immunity to elapse? Was it not the same EFCC that trailed and caught up with the former Governor Willie Obiano when he left his handover venue and wanted to sneak out and was arrested at the airport?

Was Yahaya Bello not in Lagos to meet with President Tinubu? Even if the Commission did not want to arrest him as the guest of the President, did he not travel by either road or air to Lagos? Were the operatives attached to him signaled to arrest and bring him to Abuja and they failed?

Many Nigerians believe that EFCC was waiting for clearance and only got it after Bello met with the President which failed to yield any safe landing for the white lion. This gives credence to the strongly held view that EFCC is shy of official corruption which is their main job and only romances with celebrities and use of naira. Even with all the insults and humiliations faced by the Commission, and the swearing by the EFCC boss Ola Olukayode not a few still believe that Yahaya Bello’s case will end up like the others, dying down with the public kept in the dark when APC reactivates its practice of sin cleansing for its members. Why the Kogi White Lion is needed in the zoo for caging is not necessarily because he did what is abhorred in APC, but because in his youthful exuberance, he miscalculated in his political judgment and dived in the wrong direction when the penalty kick was taken in 2023. Nobody is holding his misadventure in governance in Kogi against him or his poor representation of his generation because he dutifully protected the ruling party’s dubious electoral interest which is paramount.But from whatever perspectives one may want to assess Bello and his eight years of disastrous tenure in Kogi State and the contemptuousness that is trailing him, it’s clear that in him fits the view clearly expressed by Myanmar’s opposition politician and the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” The White Lion may be a failure in governance but he is in the den of failures where performance parameters are no factors of reprimand. God help us.

Ike ABONYI is a Columnist, former Group Political Editor, THISDAY, former Deputy Managing Director of New Telegraph, and Media Consultant who lives in Abuja.

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