Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, on Friday, cleared the air on the controversy surrounding his relationship with the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 11 election, Usman Ododo, saying they are not cousins.
The governor spoke at the third edition of Governor Yahaya Bello Seminar for Political and Crime Correspondents/Editors in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Fight against insecurity: Achieving results in a challenging environment; the Kogi example.’
According to the governor, contrary to the propaganda by opposition political parties in the state, he has no blood relationship with the candidate, who he said emerged based on merit, through a keenly contested, free and fair election.
Speaking on allegations regarding the destruction of campaign offices of the the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Kogi Central senatorial candidate in the 2023 National Assembly election, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, the governor said the APC candidate remained the most popular and loved, adding that he would not engage in any act that might mar the poll.
“Ododo has endeared himself to the people of Kogi. How can you be the most popular candidate, positioned to win and still instigate violence? Ododo and I may come from the same place but we do not share any blood relationship whatsoever. Do your findings. He is a very compassionate, hardworking and competent fellow and those qualities spoke for him at the primaries,” he said.
Bello explained that part of his administration’s focus was to do away with ethnic sentiment that had set the state backwards before his emergence.
“Ethnic sentiments set Kogi back for 19 years and we must break away from that for competence. My administration has changed the narrative of ethnicity and has been appointing and working with competent people as against choosing people from tribes in the state.
“We raise people from different backgrounds, irrespective of their senatorial zones,” he added.
Speaking, Commissioner for Information in the state, Kingsley Fanwo, said no blood would be shed because of the election, adding that security remained key to the state and that the government would not be distracted from the path of peace.