Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, on Friday, cleared the controversy on his relationship with the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the November 11 election, Usman Ododo, saying they are not cousins.

According to the governor, contrary to the propaganda by the 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.

He also said that since ethnic sentiments had set the state back for 19 years, “we must break away from that for competence.”

Bello made the clarification at the third edition of the ‘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.’

There had been insinuations that the APC governorship candidate is his cousin, an allegation which has continued to fuel serious criticisms from Kogites and the opposition.

Speaking on allegations regarding the destruction of campaign offices of the Kogi Central Senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 National Assembly election, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, the governor said the APC candidate remained the most popular and loved, and so would not engage in any act that might mar the poll.

Bello said, “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 explained that part of his administration’s focus was to do away with ethnic sentiments 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,” Bello added.

The Kogi state Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, said no blood would be shed because of an election.

He said security remained key to the state and therefore, the government would not be distracted from the path of peace.