New Telegraph

2023: Yahaya Bello inching closer to Presidency

F rom all indications, Kogi State Gover- nor Yahaya Bello has become a phe- nomenon in the Nigerian political space. This is because the two-term governor is one-man, whose political journey has become a reference point and a potential discuss for students of politics. For the records, Bello is the Director of Kogi Youth Arise Forum, a group that motivated the campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari in the state. Also, he was the managing director of Fair- Plus International Limited, which also implies that Bello is the youngest democratically elect- ed governor in Nigeria, as at when he assumed his rst oce at the age of 40. In 2015, Bello was divinely prepared to re- build Kogi State from the debris of the people’s frustrations occasioned by the laissez-faire ap- proach to governance issues by the many years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

It was, therefore, not for anything that the people ear- nestly yearned for change in the leadership prole of the state. The rst radically dierent policy of the governor, upon being sworn-in on Wednes- day January 27, 2016, was to unite the people. The advantages of the composite plural- ism of Kogi State which would have been har- nessed for its strength became the very repre- sentation of its disunity, distrust and mutual suspicion among the people.

But Bello was not prepared to preside over such chaos where each tribe thought of his own self only and maligned the other tribes. Prior to becoming the governor of the con- uence state in 2016 to begin his rst term in oce, no one knew that this man with a date with destiny would occupy the driver’s seat of the state. The primaries of the All Progressives Con- gress (APC) had been won by the late Audu Abubakar and Bello had accepted his fate that becoming theGovernor might be a mirage at that time, believing that there was always an- other time.

But the rest is history as Bello, having come second in the primaries of the party, was put forward to contest the governorship seat of the state, after the sudden death of Audu Abuba- kar, when the APC was coasting to victory. The deputy governorship candidate of the party then, Hon. Abiodun Faleke, now became an issue as he insisted that he would have to replace Abubakar.

But this was rejected on constitutional ground as he was not part of the party primaries. So, the party settled for Bello, who came second at the primaries and wanted Faleke to be the deputy, but the latter rejected this, preferring to go back to the Federal House of Representatives, where he was from Ikeja Federal Constituency in Lagos and ght the battle in a court of law. Bello later joined forces with the likes of Senator Dino Melaye, who was his ally then to contest the re-run election.

A reference from his rst inaugural speech buttresses his determination to wield the peo- ple together. In it, he refreshed the people’s memories with a line in the old Nigerian na- tional anthem: “Though tribes and tongues may dier, in brotherhood we stand…” And in his second inaugural speech on January 27, 2020, the governor rehearsed how he successfully upturned the table that had the four legs of godfatherism, tribalism, class consciousness and religious divides which, he said “had distorted social equity and equality among Kogites…” Bello was sworn-in on January 27, 2016 as the fourth democratically elected Governor of Kogi State without a deputy having won the re-run election. Faleke made real his threat not to present himself for swearing in with the governor, and he later approached the election tribunal in the state asking it to declare him governor-elect.

He contended that the election had been won and lost before Audu died and that he (Faleke) should have been pronounced gov- ernor-elect. Faleke repeatedly claimed that he was not consulted or taken into condence by any- one regarding the choice of Bello as Audu’s replacement. But Faleke was still defeated by Bello as his prayers were not granted by the tribunal. However, by November 2019, when Bello was seeking a second term in oce, the likes of Dino Melaye and some others have become his enemies. But Bello’s records of achievements stood for him at the polls and the people of the state decided to give him another chance to contin- ue his good works as a listening and perform- ing governor.

Bello eventually polled 406,222 to defeat the PDP candidate, Musa Wada, who scored 189,704 votes in the November 16 governor- ship election in the state. Indeed, Bello like the proverbial cat with nine lives, stooped to conquer and he has con- tinued to defeat the powerful forces that rise against him in the North Central State with his unrivalled and enviable performances as governor. Now, Bello wants to replicate his perfor- mances at the Federal level by gunning for the post of the President of Nigeria in 2023.

To right thinking Nigerians, Bello is a square peg in a square hole. Bello will slug it out at the APC primaries with the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice -President Yemi Osinbajo, while on the other hand he would face the likes of former Nigerian vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abuba- kar of the PDP if he is eventually given the ticket of the party. According to a top member of the APC, who pleaded anonymity, “Bello is the man we have been waiting for. He is like a nucleus and he is a man who understands the dynamics of governance.

He said: “Kogi State has never had it so good and for Governor Yahaya Bello to achieve so much with the resources available in the state; he will do more if given the op- portunity to rule Nigeria as President after the end of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.” Prior to the advent of Bello’s administra- tion, Kogi State was sharply divided along ethnic lines, corroded by disunity as politicians planted division in the minds of our people for their selsh political gains.

It is on record that the rst three appoint- ments of the governor immediately after his inauguration on January 27, 2016, were spread across the three Senatorial Districts. Hon. Ed- ward Onoja from Kogi East became the rst CoS in Kogi State to emerge from a zone dif- ferent from that of the Governor. All the governors before GYB had en- sured their CoS emerged from their Zone. Bello came and changed that. His SA Me- dia was appointed from Kogi Central and his CPS from Kogi West. It was a fresh breeze that reshaped the men- tality of the Kogi People.

They were glad to have a unier as governor. Under Bello, projects are spread all over the state and the institutions of government were ushered into a new vista of development. All the appointments under his administra- tion were spread, a situation which has helped broken down the barriers of ethnic jingoism. Before Bello became governor, insecurity was rife. Robbery and kidnapping were per- petrated with reckless abandon. The State gave up while the reign of terror continued.

But Bello has changed the narratives today. He provided over 200 utility vehicles for patrol and procured sophisticated gadgets for the Operation Total Freedom established by the present administration to stamp out criminal- ity in the state. Intelligence gathering became seamless and properties which were proceeds of crime were destroyed to serve as a deterrent to oth- ers.

The result is here: Kidnapping and armed robbery has dropped by over 92 per cent! In Kogi State, farmers now produce more as they have no fear some kidnappers might take them o and be demanding for ransom. The present administration in Kogi State is not operating on a guess board but on a well thought-out agenda known as the New Di- rection Agenda. Bello, who is the Youth Ambassador in gover- nance, has been focused on getting the job done despite the untiring efforts of political opponents to misrepresent the person of the governor and his administration to the outside world.

The eorts of the state government in crushing criminals, recorded a success, when the state vigilante group confronted kidnap- pers on Okene-Lokoja and Abuja highways killing four of them while others ed with bul- let wounds. This is in addition to hundreds of suspected kidnappers arrested by the police for prosecution. Besides the above, was another signicant breakthrough in the war against kidnappers, as three of such criminally-minded elements were gunned down, while two of their infor- mants were arrested.

The three kidnappers were killed in a gun battle on Lokoja-Okene high way by a com- bined team of hunters from Okene and Adavi local government area of the state. Items recov- ered from them included three sophisticated pump action, ries, bullets, mask and charms. Those found guilty are serving various jail terms in correctional centres. The Bello-led administration has equally mapped out various strategies aimed at en- gaging and empowering youths in various youth empowerment programmes. It was, therefore, not surprising when Bello garnered several awards, including that by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), for his unagging dedication to the security of the people of Kogi State.

On healthcare, quality healthcare delivery has been one of the greatest achievements of the present administration in Kogi State. The state government keyed into the Ag- ricultural Renaissance Policy of the Federal Government which was aimed at ensuring food security and promoting non-oil sector for economic transformation.

Today, Kogi State has become the Agricul- tural Capital of Nigeria as the governor has created the right environment and support to make agriculture the driver of the state economy. As the leading producer of cassava in Nige- ria and coupled with the guaranteed security of investors, Kogi State has been able to at- tract the biggest ethanol company in Nigeria known as Unicane.

The company uses cassava as its main raw materials, thereby sparking massive production of the crop. Kogi farmers have never been richer. On the assumption of oce, the governor granted the Board of Internal Revenue autono- my. It became the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service.

The government built and delivered a gi- gantic Revenue House, which has added to the aesthetic beauty of the capital city. Competent hands were employed and revenue adminis- tration became digitalized. Electricity is pivotal to industrial develop- ment. In order to catalyze the economy of the state, Bello-led administration has intervened to deliver the following electrication projects: The government completed the Lokoja (Banda)-Kotonkarfe electrication project. This has brought succour to the people of the area and sparked industrial develop- ment to promote production and generate jobs as well as improve the living standards of the people. Kogi State under the New Direction agenda is fast becoming the home of Beach Soccer in Nigeria. They were the Champions of the 2018 Edi- tion of Kebbi Beach Sallah Tournament.

The State Ministry of Youth and Sports has launched sensitization programs and cam- paigns against Drug Abuse, Cultism, Exam- ination Malpractices and other societal vices across the three Senatorial Districts of the state. The Bello’s administration has transformed Lokoja from being the second dirtiest state cap- ital in Nigeria to become the second cleanest capital in the country with better roads and streetlights among others. A number of road projects across the state have been completed such as the Ankpa Township Roads while others are in advanced stages across the three Senatorial Districts. Speaking on the achievements of Yahaya Bello, an analyst and commentator, Mr. Oluse- gun Alao, who hails from the state, said that he was impressed by his performances. Alao added that even the critics of the gov- ernor now agree that nobody does it better and that with the rate at which the governor is working, his records might be dicult to beat in the nearest future. While urging Nigerians to give the job for the best man like Bello in 2023, said that this is the best opportunity the nation could get at this moment. According to him, “those who might com- pete with Bello knows he has the capacity to rule Nigeria. This is a man, who came from obscurity to achieve man and whose records of achievements are veriable any day. “Everyone knows the worth of Yahaya Bel- lo and Kogi State has continued to be a topic of discussion all over the country since Bello assumed duty. “When the chips are down, people know who to go for and there is no doubt that Gov- ernor Yahaya Bello has what it takes to rule Nigeria and continue from where President Muhammadu Buhari will stop in 2023.

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