Political analysts must concede that Kogi State holds a special place in the standings of the Nigerian political chessboard. The workings of statecraft in the north-central state have always led many to tip the hat to the transcendent alleyways of power. Even leaving aside the suspected metaphysical finger-writings on the wall, the current government has always given the media much buzz.
The most recent of this is an alleged silent war between Governor Yahaya Bello and Deputy Governor Edward Onoja. According to insiders, Bello inflexibly rejected the names Onoja recommended for key positions, after the governor unceremoniously cleared his cabinet, top and bottom drawers promptly cleaned out. In actuality, more shocking than the cleanout is the reported hostility between the duo.
A merry band like Mario and Luigi, Bello – from the Ebira tribe – and Onoja – from the Igala tribe – have been friends for as long as any onlooker can remember. Thick as thieves, as the saying goes, the inter-tribal siblings have been the envy of power in the confluence state. One to command, the other to execute, Bello and Onoja have taken large strides together, going from young voices in the struggle to frontline helmsmen.
Bello was declared governor after Prince Abubakar Audu died before the results were announced. James Faleke, the late Audu’s running mate, turned down the deputy governor role, leading to Simon Achuba coming on board as Bello’s deputy – allegedly on the recommendation of Onoja.
However, Achuba did not take well to being a figurehead, and the struggles led to a tumultuous impeachment process. Four years into the clichéd eight years, Onoja came to replace Achuba as the deputy governor. This has been described as a masterstroke of genius on the part of Bello, who is from the purported 20% tribal minority. He had, some reported, gathered to his side the over 40% majority to which Onoja belongs.
In any case, barely a month after his re-election, Bello conducted the cabinet cleanout, rejected the Onoja-sponsored appointment list, and allegedly effectively began side-lining Onoja. Are Bello and Onoja going the way of Caesar and his Brutus? Et tu, Bello? Et tu, Onoja? Is history being repeated? Is Onoja, like his predecessor, to expect an impeachment notice?