• Friday, May 17, 2024
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Yahaya Bello: A white lion or a big cat?

Yahaya Bello: A white lion or a big cat?

By Dave Baro-Thomas

The contradictory symbolism of the white lion is both intriguing and instructive because, in some African cultures, it represents pristine leadership, pride, and royalty, and for others, it traps a deadly double-edged sword that bestows mythical status on the revered lions yet leaves them most vulnerable.

Since this democratic dispensation, only one white lion has trudged the political space with so much audacity and uncommon penchants with outcomes of his (mis)adventures now matters of heated national debate.

Yahaya Bello, the self-proclaimed white lion who became the youngest governor among his class of 2015 governors, is in the eye of the storm after ruling Kogi State with an iron fist for eight years. He traversed the length and breadth of the nation as a young, vibrant, and bold governor whose fear was the beginning of wisdom, such that politicians like Senator Dino Melaye and Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan can attest to how the lord and emperor of Kogi State misappropriated power and ruled as a demi-god as long as he held sway.

Read also: EFCC tightens grip on alleged N80.2bn fraud case, serves Yahaya Bello charges

Loved by his cronies and hated by political foes, the abysmal performance and allegations of over N80 billion, $750,000, etc, fleeced from the tills of the state treasury put to flight the white lion of Kogi politics. But amusingly for onlookers, the man with a bright-colored babaringa is hiding behind his index finger from the law enforcement agencies that have declared him wanted

The case of Mr. Bello, whose garb of Excellency seems tinted so badly that even a celebrated entertainer invited by the EFCC walked into their office, crossed his legs, had tea, and is back home about his lawful business until the next move by the agency- has advised the troubled white lion to stop meowing like a domestic cat because the agency does not bite, but ask people to account for their stewardship as the case may be for the ex-governor

The circumstances around attempts to arrest him by the EFCC are putting pressure on constitutional jurisprudence as court orders and counter orders are flying everywhere, leaving legal giants in fisticuffs, the media agog, and the ordinary man on the street is perplexed at such shenanigans and demands that the white lion brings “back our money” if he stole any in the first place.

The details of the entire drama are in the public domain, but it is laughable that such could be a national dilemma in a country gripped by poverty and worsening economic scenarios.

The Yahaya Bello saga has taken a completely different dimension as self-professed civil liberty groups and alleged concerned citizens are taking over the street corners, the media and besieging the courts to restrain the EFCC for its supposed excesses. For this group, the hounding and violation of the fundamental rights of their white lion is unacceptable. They premised their demands on the rule of law and respect for court orders. However, the animated vigor and fervor with which these defenders of the former governor hit the public space spark suspicion of likely inducement given the prevailing mentality of the average Nigerian – what is in it for me!

For circumspective Nigerians, the law is not only an ass, but in this country, some saddled with its interpretations and executions are worse asses. In the first instance, why would a man who held public office in trust and administered billions of naira ever get legal protection not to be called for questioning even if it means getting arrested for 48 hours to commence the process and ironically in the same country whose laws established a financial crime commission for that same very purpose? I hate to hear who did this to us, knowing that we are architects of the nonsense happening in the country.

Will Yayaha Bello be the first governor in this country to be invited by the anti-graft commission after leaving office to give an account of his stewardship? Even if the allegations are false, why is a former governor who should defend his innocence or otherwise be constituting a public nuisance?

We must commend the Inspector General of Police for mopping up those police officers who prevented the arrest of Yahaya Bello, and the DSS should do the same if its men were involved. This charade among security agencies must stop.

If Mr. Yahaya Bello is tired of maintaining the white colour of his “lionhood” and is prancing about and meowing like a big cat, he should come out clean with his current status. While we must not condone media trial and intimidation by the EFCC, it appears their actions are causal most times given resistance to arrest by the alleged offenders.

Read also: Yahaya Bello took $720k state money to pay child’s school fee in advance — EFCC boss

If the supposedly white lion had walked into the office and submitted himself to the EFCC as the roaring lion, Ayo Fayose, did after office, then the nation would not be distracted from burning issues like why is it taking Port Harcourt refinery forever to work, if Dangote could drag down the price of diesel, we can get better deals from NNPC, can the progress with the naira appreciation deepen further instead of one former governor acting rascally.

Unfortunately, it seems that the EFCC only drags about a very few past governors most times in a country where the governors are the bane of development. The current leadership of the EFCC talks tough and appears sincere with its remit, but time will tell if the agency will not suffer another leadership shame. We pray for them.

Interestingly, the learning curves are poignant, but will politicians understand that power is transient and the allure of political office is tenured? Power has turned many mad, and after leaving such high offices, they become like fish on dry ground. The other day, I ran into a first lady at the airport, and there she was with her daughter, PA, and an orderly, looking spent. Nobody seems to recognise her- what a tragedy.

But the irony in this saga is, why is the white lion running? Lions do not run but rather die than turn their backs, or was he a big domestic cat that fooled everyone for eight years with a rehearsed roar? May Mr. Yahaya Bello not walk alone, but this is Nigeria, and with the present governor of Kogi State, the troubled white lion today can become a Senator in 2027!