Contrary to the claims by the Kogi State Government that Governor Yahaya Bello is healthy, investigations, on Monday, revealed that he had been admitted into a hospital in Germany for eye surgery.
The PUNCH learnt that the governor was in Dubai en route to Germany for the operation, which is expected to correct an eye ailment that had been troubling him for sometime.
Bello, who won the December 6, 2015, by-election in the state, was sworn in on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 without a deputy, the first of such development in the country.
The nature of the eye problem could not be ascertained on Monday, but a senior official in the state confirmed to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that Bello travelled with some close aides and officials for the surgery.
It was gathered that the state Commissioner for Works, Land and Housing, Abdulmumini Sadiq, who earlier travelled with Bello, returned to Lokoja, the state capital, a few days ago to run some errands for the governor.
The source added, “The governor is not missing as being speculated. The fact is that he has an eye problem and he decided to travel to Germany for medical treatment.
“He actually travelled with some close aides, including about two or three commissioners. He is expected back in the state within two weeks, after he might have recovered from the effects of the surgery on his eyes.”
It was learnt that the governor, however, could not wait for a formal handing over to his deputy, Simon Achuba.
The governor, it was further gathered, did not also officially notify the state House of Assembly of his foreign trip, contrary to laid down regulations.
Another source, who spoke to The PUNCH on Monday, stated that activities in the state had been grounded to a halt following the absence of Bello and some key cabinet members.
It was gathered that some of the cabinet members, including commissioners and special advisers, spent more time in Abuja, than in Lokoja, where they have their offices.
“The commissioners and special advisers were just appointed to do nothing, because no money was allocated to their offices for the implementation of the budget. This is due to the fact that Kogi State is broke,” a source stated.
The absence of the governor has generated anxiety in the state, leading to rumours that Bello was down with a deadly ailment.
Meanwhile, a socio-political organisation in the All Progressives Congress, Lokoja Integrity Group, on Monday, fingered those it described as people desperate for power as the brains behind the rumours that Bello was ill and might have died.
The Leader of LIG and chieftain of the APC in Kogi State, Alhaji Suleiman Abdulmalik, said these in a statement in Abuja.
He was reacting to reports of anxiety in Kogi State over the weekend, following the non-appearance of Bello in public in the last two weeks.
Abdulmalik, who described those behind Bello’s death rumour as “desperate politicians and power seekers in the state,” said, “The governor is hale and hearty, enjoying his well-deserved rest outside the country after 10 months of hardworking and rigorous activities without rest since assumption of office.”
He said the state was “in a precarious situation and bleeding before Governor Bello came on board.”
He added, “Governor Yahaya Bello is human and needs to rest so as to refresh in the task ahead. We are all mortals and every soul must taste death and power ultimately belongs to the Almighty God and who gives it to whomever He pleases. People must live with this reality, which derived mainly from the Holy Scriptures.
The governor’s spokesman, Kingsley Fanwo, had, in a statement on Sunday, denied that the governor was nursing any ailment, stressing that Bello was hale and hearty.
Fanwo, however, urged the public to discountenance “the rumour,” describing it as lacking any iota of truth.
“I want to state clearly here for the avoidance of doubt that the rumour lacks any iota of truth. It is a reflection of the depth the enemies of Kogi State have gone in their desperate angst against fate,” he had stated.