The Kaduna State State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and the Nigerian First Lady, Aisha Buhari, on Thursday, appealed to voters in Kogi State to forgive Governor Yahaya Bello for any perceived sins he may have committed against them in his first term.
Mr Bello is standing for reelection on Saturday. One of his perceived ‘sins’ is seen as his inability to pay several months of wages owed state workers.
Mr El-Rufai said this while addressing a crowd during a rally organised by the ruling All Progressives Congress at the Confluence Stadium in Lokoja, the state capital.
He said Mr Bello “who is a young governor is, however, bound to make mistakes”.
The rally had in attendance the First Lady, the wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo; the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; the chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, among others.
“Many people say Yahaya Bello is young; that he has fought many people. On his behalf, I’m kneeling down, to beg all of you to forgive Yahaya Bello if he has offended you,” the Kaduna governor said.
”For every one that the governor has offended, I’m asking all of you to forgive him. He is young; he is supposed to make mistakes. When you are young, you make mistakes but you learn from them.
“He cares about the people of Kogi State. He cares about this state. He has brought progress to this state; he has brought young people and women into government,” he added.
He also said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), during its 13 years of leading Nigeria “did nothing but brought burden to Mr Bello’s government.”
“He has cleared salary arrears that he inherited from previous governments. You must all come out to support him. I beg you all. Let us make history. The late Prince Audu did everything to bring progress to this state. Let us not dishonour his memory by allowing PDP to return to Lugard House.”
Mr El-Rufai also appealed to the people of Kogi State to vote Smart Adeyemi who is contesting the Kogi West Senatorial District against Dino Melaye of the PDP.
Aisha also apologises
Mrs Buhari also apologised to the people of the state on behalf of Mr Bello.
She urged the people “to forgive and forget.”
”Let me refer back to Kaduna State governor’s speech where he had to kneel and say the people should forgive and forget,” she said.
Mrs Buhari, who said her visit to the state was her first, also said the state “was unable to pay salaries to civil servants because of the verification exercise that was organised”.
She added that since the verification exercise ended, “payment has been ongoing regularly.”
Meanwhile, Mr Fayemi said he was there to repay the favour of Mr Bello’s efforts during the previous off-cycle elections in Ekiti State.
He described his visit as ”one good turn deserves another”.
”Ekiti would not forget his (Mr Bello) favour and the good deeds he did in the last gubernatorial elections in Ekiti State, he stood with us till the end.
“We are here fully with him, we are here irrevocably, we are here to support him without any hesitation and we are here in a manner that would make all of us celebrate on Saturday after we have claimed victory,” Mr Fayemi said.
Apart from the guber polls, the electoral commission, INEC had fixed November 16 for a fresh election in Kogi West Senatorial District.
The election is seen mainly as a battle between Messrs Melaye and Adeyemi.
The decision followed the Court of Appeal ruling invalidating the election of Mr Melaye and ordering a rerun.
The commission also fixed governorship elections for Bayelsa State. The elections will be held simultaneously in the two states on Saturday.