Understanding the attacks on Dele Belgore By Funsho Mahmoud
With few hours to the Kwara PDP governorship primaries slated for Monday, some hawks within and outside the political party have increased their attacks on their primary target: Barrister Mohammed Dele Belgore, a senior advocate of Nigeria who in the past four years has been the consistent face of Kwara people’s opposition to the wanton misrule, corruption, diversion of public properties and ‘ruling-by-proxy. I define ruling by proxy as a political phenomenon where a singular individual other than the governor tele-guides the affairs of government for selfish ends.
Belgore and at least 11 others are jostling for the governorship ticket of the PDP. It has been a very competitive contest and this is ordinarily a very good development for our young democracy.
But what is not good, what is not acceptable and what is sad are the baseless negative campaigns, name calling and the evil gang up to which some of the aspirants have resorted to in desperate bid to either frustrate Belgore out of the race or discredit his emergence which seems a fait accompli because of his popularity not just within the PDP but also among the people of Kwara. Some of these conspiring aspirants have tried unsuccessfully to portray him as a usurper, even when there are no verifiable evidence to back their watery arguments. It has been suggested that some politicians left ACN in 2010 and left its carcass for Belgore. But wait, does it mean Belgore singlehandedly picked up ACN carcass, worked on it and went ahead to poll over 152,000 votes (in spite of the huge manipulation) to emerge second in the governorship poll? Then Belgore must be a phenomenon to have achieved such feat within just four months months – yes four months since the ACN governorship primaries held in January 2011 and election was April. Then the ACN carcass he picked up went ahead to garner votes two times the number of votes received by candidate of the so-called invincible structure spanning over four decades.
Where were all these aspirants between 2011 and early 2014, a period during which Kwarans were subjected to a whole lots of rape by the state government and Belgore was exposing and frustrating the anti-people policies of the state government?
Where exactly were these aspirants when Belgore was making a strong case for the welfare of the workers who were being denied their lawful pay, especially the minimum wage? So fierce was his criticism of the inhuman treatment of the workers that the state government repeatedly accused him of being behind the massive protests staged by Kwara workers to reject the antics of the government? Where were his opponents then?! Some of them were indeed in bed with the same government and the ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ tele-guiding it while many of them kept quiet while the people suffered.
Where were they when Belgore was shouting to the whole world – despite having lost his case at the supreme court – how characters within the Kwara government were mismanaging the resources of the state? Where were they when ‘hoodlums’ raided the ministry of finance and carted away documents that could have been used to nail the ‘leader’ – or is it dealer – who police affidavit showed to have diverted Kwara fund to his private business?! Except Belgore and the ACN he led at the time, who among these ‘freedom fighters’ stood up to be counted when it mattered the most for the people?
When hundreds died at the home of Bukola Saraki under the guise of alms giving, who among these characters, other than Belgore whose comments could still be read by a click of the mouse, raised their voice against the modern day slavery being foisted on Kwara people?
It is natural that Belgore has remained in the consciousness of the people of Kwara because he has remained with them since he joined the politics of the state. He has raised his voice anytime their interest is mortgaged. He has organised educational activities for the youth every holiday year. Of course, we read how the backward Kwara government has tried to frustrate his modest efforts. Some detractors have always asked what his contributions to Kwara is and I ask them what better contributions can anyone make to his society than to educate the people? Education, it is said, is the best legacy. I have friends who benefitted from his law scholarship. That Kwarans or Nigerians are not insulted with noise about how he grants such scholarship or gives to the poor – as the ‘dealers’ are wont to do – does not mean he doesn’t do anything. Indeed, we learnt as children that the best gifts are those given in secret.
Now the reason some people have targeted him for attacks is very simple. Belgore is a threat to the evil status quo in Kwara, a status quo that consciously promotes the evil idea of ‘one man rule.’ These attacks are disguised to look real and genuine. Many Kwarans know that like all evil assemblies, pharaoh-like rulers plant moles everywhere to leak information and plot evil. So there are a number of people in PDP today who stayed put in the party just to cause disaffection and do dirty jobs. They report to their masters in the dead of the night. They work from within the PDP to prop up candidates. But I guess the PDP hierarchy is very aware of this. The attacks on Belgore are to demoralise Kwarans and cause confusion so that no harm would befall the ‘crumbling empire.’
And nobody should be surprised anymore at the attacks on Belgore. It has become a routine for the APC-led government which sponsored numerous press briefings just to comment on the defection to the PDP of Belgore the legal luminary. They said he is insignificant. They said he is a ‘lone ranger’ with no support base. His defection was ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’, they said. Then months after the defection, the APC-led government said thousands of Belgore supporters have now ‘defected’ to APC. Subsequent months, they said again that another thousands of his supporters have again defected to the APC. Two weeks ago, they said thousands of his supporters were again ‘defecting’ to APC and were received by their ‘dealer.’ What! Where did Belgore the ‘lone ranger’ see these thousands of supporters who are now defecting to the APC?! Of course everybody knows in Kwara today that the single most dangerous politician to the current ‘ruling-by-proxy’ arrangement is Belgore. Any wonder then that the evil status quo would unleash all its war arsenals to ensure he doesn’t get the PDP ticket to challenge them? Common, we are aware of how pharaoh tried to salvage his crumbling empire and chased Moses and the Israelites to the Egyptian river only to perish midway. That historical scenario captures the many attacks on Belgore. So next time you read further attacks on the lawyer, situate it within the context of the pharaoh trying to cut down Moses. Kwara shall be free, even if the slave drivers object.
Mahmoud contributes this piece from Lagos.
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