The frosty relationship between the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello and the 25 council chairmen of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in the state came to the fore in Minna recently when the party chairmen rejected the car gift to them by the governor.
The “embarrassing” decision by the party chairman has continued to dominate discussions around political landscape in the state, Daily Sun investigations reveal.
It was gathered that the governor had met with the council chairmen of the party officially for the first time in November since he assumed office two years ago.
After the meeting that lasted for over four hours, the governor was said to have offered each of them a Toyota Camry car, 2013 model as their official car to facilitate their movement in their various local government areas but the chairmen were said to have rejected the vehicles.
The party chairmen were said to have told the governor that they could not collect the cars because they did not have what it takes to maintain such “exotic car”, more so that the party executives at the local government had been completely neglected for the past two years, saying they therefore lacked the fund to run their secretariat not to talk of maintaining such a car.
The chairmen further said that accepting the cars which they don’t have money to even fuel, would not only portray them before the people as “wining and dying” with the governor but would definitely pitched them against the people.
They also expressed the concern that driving such cars in their various local government where” poverty is really staring the people in their faces with majority of them not been able to afford three square meal convincingly will not augured well.”
Some of the chairmen who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence expressed disappointment that the governor was meeting with them for the first time since he assumed office in 2015, adding that the governor’s car gift was nothing but a calculated attempt to pitched them against the people at the grass root, stressing that the car was not their priority at the moment.
One of the council chairmen said: “What the governor has done shows that he either did not know the problem on ground, or it is a deliberate attempt to set us against the people.
“There is serious hardship everywhere and you expect us to go and be driving this type of cars in the villages where people are starving of hunger. Apart from that, where do we get the money to maintain or fuel these cars?”
Another chairman said: “if the governor think that cars is our problem then he got it wrong. As I speak with you now nothing is happening in the party at the local government level.
“After the election, we have been neglected and abandoned such that most of the party secretariat at the local government is now deserted because there is nothing happening there. No money to even run the secretariat effectively”.
Daily Sun further gathered that when the governor undertook a tour of some local government areas of the state recently, some of the chairmen were said to have openly bared their minds on the fact that government seems to have neglected the party at the grass root level.
To worsen the plight of the party chairmen, it was further learnt, the various council chairmen in the state have completely distance themselves from the party at the local government level.
The chairmen are said to have gone underground because “there is no money to run the activities of their councils not to talk of funding the party as the meagre internally generated revenue could barely buy stationeries and fuel their cars.”
However, sources close to the meeting disclosed that the chairmen, apart from rejecting the car gift, were also bold enough to tell the governor that the government was still lagging behind in the area of developmental projects especially in the provision of water within Minna, the state capital and its environs.
The source also said that despite their grouse against the governor, they however commended him for his efforts in the area of security, but reminded him that with 2019 already around the corner, there was the need for him to go closer to the people.
Although the state chairman of the party, Engineer Mohammed Jibrin Iman could not be reached for his comment, when contacted the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on media and publicity, Mr. Jide Orintunsin said he was not preview to the details of the meeting between the governor and the party chairmen. He was however quick to add that it was not possible for them (chairman) to reject such a gesture if there was any.