Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State on Tuesday said he got into government with high integrity, and will leave with his integrity, hence his vow to not touch the state’s money.
Bello stated this while responding to questions from journalists on the allegation of misappropriation of the federal government bailout funds to the state.
The governor who described the allegation as a “joke taken too far” and misrepresentation of facts, advised the EFCC not to allow itself to be led on a journey of no discovery.
Bello explained that his government spent the bailout fund according to the agreement reached with workers in the state.
But Bello explained that his administration expended the bailout received for the state, according to the agreement reached with workers in the state.
His words: “My Information Commissioner and all those that are concerned with that lies peddled by the EFCC, I think they have responded appropriately. And I will urge each and every Nigerian to please go to Kogi state website and all the facts are there. The Banks have denied that we don’t have such an account.
“Besides that, the bailout fund that we obtained, we appropriated in line with the agreement and understanding between Kogi state government and the workers. All of these were done, we finished all of these in the year 2019.
“So first, there’s no N20 billion account, or N19 billion era, no fixed deposit account. So I don’t know where the lie is coming from.
“I think in the days ahead, you will hear exactly where the matter shall be resolved. That’s why I said that it’s a joke taken too far.
“I want to believe that either the officials of the EFCC may have misled the commission. Remember that we will not just allow this to lie low because Mr. President prides on fighting corruption.
“EFCC is one of the agencies that is being used to fight corruption. EFCC should not be seen to be going on a voyage of no discovery in order that the reputation of the commission and integrity of this particular government remains intact.
“As a person, I came into this office with my integrity high and I will leave this office of governor with higher integrity and all of my name that are ringing bell everywhere across the world today will know that actually I earned this beautiful name, not because of stealing.
“I will never touch one kobo of Kogi state, I will never and I will never allow any of my officials to do so.
“Today, Kogi state is among the first that has published all of our accounts online and all of these spendings have been put out there for the whole world to see from bank accounts to statements of account, to payroll, all of the documents are all out there. That is transparency.
“I challenge Nigerians to challenge all of those governors to publish that same particular bailout form utilisation and then you’ll be able to judge me whichever way”, he said.
He demanded that the EFCC unravel the mystery surrounding the said allegation and the orchestrators be made to face the law, even as he charged the Chairman of the Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, not to allow anyone to drag him into being used for political vendetta.
“Like you said, I am the very first not among the first to have congratulated Bawa for his appointment as EFCC Chairman as a young man and I appreciate Mr President for identifying a young man, a very young, vibrant, courageous man as chairman of the EFCC.
“I want to believe that those who may have orchestrated that phantom lie should be brought to justice as soon as possible so that the good name that EFCC has earned will continue to tower high.
“So I will continue to urge him, that is Bawa, to continue to do very wonderful job he has started.
“He shouldn’t allow anybody to use him, for whatever reason and I don’t think he will allow anybody to use him for political vendetta.
“He is a young man who has a very long way to go. Just like myself, and we should be able to guide ourselves very well in serving this great country”, he said.
Asked if he thought the alleged account freezing might have been triggered by the fact that he had indicated interest to contest the 2023 Presidential election, the governor said it will be a big mistake for anyone to be targeting him because of ambition.
He said, “Well, like I said, Mr president’s fight against corruption has nothing to do with politics. So whoever wants to probably attack my towering name and integrity because of 2023 is making a mistake because fighting corruption should ordinarily have nothing to do with political affiliation or political interest.
“So I wouldn’t want to say that because of 2023 I am being targeted. If you’re targeting me because of 2023, it’s a big mistake, you will not be able to get me.
“For 2023, I still say it is in the hands of God Almighty. Nigerians, millions, men, women, youth are all yearning that I should contest for 2023 there is still time to give an appropriate answer when the time comes.
“And I believe that when the time comes, we are going to give a very wonderful response that will satisfy Nigerians”