Elder Simon Achuba, until last week was Deputy Governor of Kogi State. His purported impeachment by the State House of Assembly is still generating controversy as the embattled Achuba has vowed not to vacate his office. In this interview with MUHAMMAD BASHIR, Achuba bares his mind on the issues surrounding the impeachment
Where are you now on the issue of your impeachment?
We are in court; we objected to the vacation of our objection to the impeachment notice. We have also filled more grounds of objection and the case will be coming up on 25th
You are in court challenging your impeachment. Are you ready to return to work with Governor Bello if the court rules in your favour?
I have been working as the deputy governor, and I am still the deputy governor, irrespective of whether there is court judgement or not am the seating deputy governor and I will continue to be until there is another election and winner sworn in.
Do you regret working for Governor Bello in view of what is happening?
Nothing like regret; no action has taken place. There was no impeachment. I am still the deputy governor. So there is nothing to regret about.
What was your relationship with and what went wrong between you and Governor Bello?
As it should be, it was cordial. As we are going, government policies and documents were fantastic. Things started going wrong when implementation of these policies were not forthcoming. It was becoming very challenging to us as a government and as a party. At that point, I started insisting on the legacies that we can be remembered for. We cannot just be writing policies only to abandon them. That will amounts to nothing.
What role did your party, the APC play in resolving the crisis?
Individually, some persons intervened. I think the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole did, but the issue has not been taken holistically.
Looking back, did Governor Bello pick you as his deputy or someone suggested you to him?
Everyone knows me as a liberal politician who believes that the governorship can come from any part of the state and I as a result, I supported the Ebiras agitation. They saw me as a liberal person who will be able to contain all that and secondly, because of my antecedent in the state as someone who is fair and just, so he invited me and said he will like me to be the deputy governor and I obliged, I will continue to be grateful for that
Is it true that it was Onoja that singlehandedly chose you to be the deputy governor?
Onoja didn’t know me that much. He knows me as an Igala man, not as much as people from the Central.
What was it like working with governor Bello?
It was not in itself bad. The issue is that he has a lord in person of the former Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja, he lords it over the Governor. He stays on his neck and the Governor cannot turn, without him. No commissioner can function; no Special Adviser can function. Anything you do, he will say no and insists until he has his way and the Governor cannot do anything about it
Has there been an instance where you made a suggestion and Onoja didn’t allow it to scale through?
Yes, many times. I have advised the Governor on many occasions and he will agree, but the moment Onoja comes in, he will say no, and the Governor will also change.
(Cuts in) Such as…?
For instance, there was a time I suggested we picked a few projects, complete them and commission them and show forth something as achievement. The Governor agreed but when the Chief of Staff came in, the story changed. Also, on the issue of education, most of the secondary schools in Kogi State are not functional. I suggested that we selected maybe one or two per local government area, let’s have at least one or two functional school in each local government area, the Governor agreed, because putting one here, and another one there, does not need much efforts. Let us harmonise them to make it more presentable. The Governor agreed and no one brought a better idea than that. But because of special interest in favouring some persons with contracts of personal interest of the Chief of Staff the story changed.
How will you react to the allegation that you were working for the opposition while you were in office to the extent that you lost your ward in the general election?
I never defected, and I didn’t Iose my ward. What they have been doing is to fly a kite that I was about to decamp to PDP or any other party. When they saw that it didn’t happen, the issue is that we have been in this since 1999, and one has traveled along many roads, and along the lines you meet many people. For instance, this morning, the former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Angulu these two people are in PDP came to see me with Kizito. We have been neighbours all along. It does it mean one is hobnobbing with PDP. One’s relationship with others sometimes goes beyond politics, we are in position to render service and service is not only meant for APC.