Opinion: By Samuel Aina
YAHAYA BELLO: MISUNDERSTOOD
Many adjectives that can be used to describe this enigma that has, on his best days, served as an instrument of togetherness, tribal unity and the leader of a paradigm shift that shook Nigeria to its core and on his worst days, attracted such venom and hate, you might be inclined to think he is the beginning and end of Nigeria’s woes.
His only sin?
He dared to be different, He chose to do the impossible and treaded on toes that have long used our resources as an ever running tap for personal aggrandizement.
If you were to speak to a typical Nigerian, they would be conversant with the name Yahaya Bello. His name rings in the North; He is loved in the West and adored in the East. Never has Kogi State had a Governor that has commanded such respect and popularity nationwide. In issues of National interest, no major decision is made without consulting the young man from Agassa. However, this same man is seemingly never in the news for anything good, and is constantly used as bait for social media click baiting.
This begs the question, why then is he so adored if he was so bad?
Kogi State citizens currently enjoy the safest period since the creation of the State in 1991. A region that was once ravaged by armed robbery and kidnappings has experienced relative peace and tranquility since 2016 when he took on the governance of the state. This was accomplished because months after taking up the reins of government, he facilitated the purchase of over 200 Hilux vehicles for all the security outfits within the state, plotted a new and effective security architecture and fostered the creation of a 6000 strong vigilante group to curb banditry in the innermost parts of the State. Even in cases where the rattle snake has reared its head, he has times without number ensured that the menace of crime had its neck cut off.
Kogi also currently enjoys youth and women inclusivity in governance never before seen in the history of Nigeria as a whole. Just as he famously stated during the meeting for the Wives of Governors which held a few days ago in Abuja, women must be empowered deliberately through their inclusion in governance in a move that can only reduce the struggles encountered by gender based violence. He has kept true to his words, with all the positions occupied by the Vice-Chairmanship candidates for the upcoming Dec 12th elections filled with women in the 21 LGA areas of Kogi State. Women also lead from the front in the New Direction administration, with the Secretary to the State Government, The Head of Service and the Aide De Camp to the Governor all taken up by women.
Words backed up with action.
He has channeled his energy into generating record numbers as the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the State. Pre-2016, Kogi recorded figures between 300 to 500 Million Naira Monthly as IGR, while the New Direction Administration under the leadership of Governor Bello was pushing over 1.3Billion Naira on a monthly basis pre-Covid. This has been employed in the construction of a plethora of road projects in an equitable distribution in the three Senatorial districts of the state, refurbishing and renovation of thousands of schools statewide, construction of a 4-Billion Naira Rice Mill in Ejiba to foster revenue, implementation of a $25Million cassava plantation in Osara, construction of cashew processing plants in the Eastern Senatorial district and other major moves made to ensure an agricultural revolution in Kogi State.
He said all this, and he did it.
What again, I ask, is his crime?
Under normal circumstances, his move in 2016 to screen the bogus Kogi State Civil Service numbers to reduce the cost of governance should have been regarded as a bold and effective move. After all, it is common knowledge within the coffers of anyone with integrity in Kogi state that secondary school students, people living in other states and many others without a certificate in any stage of education were receiving salaries from the Kogi State government. What did he receive instead? Insults, reprimand and disapproval.
Under normal circumstances, the man who proscribed the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in 2017 after several months of needless strike action with a move to ensure smooth and definite learning process, implemented the establishment of another state owned University which will, in his words, be “deeply rooted in science, technology and mathematics” and has promised, starting with the 2021 ‘Budget of Accelerated Recovery”, to allocate over 20% of the annual budget to developing the education sector should be touted for further service to Nigeria and the world.
Under normal circumstances, the man who has brought relative peace and security to a State that once experienced 16 Bank robberies in 2015, was in constant turmoil due to tribal and religious disunity and was a hub for cultism and other vices will be hailed as the best thing since sliced bread. It is common knowledge that all these have been reduced to the barest minimum within five years, with Kogi experiencing just one unfortunate case of bank robbery within that time frame. The perpetrators have since been apprehended and are facing long spells in jail.
In another show of Nationally acclaimed accountability, Kogi State recently recorded a 100% score in the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) program for results in the 2019 Annual Performance Assessment (APA). The assessment, which covers an intense perusal of the generation and distribution of State finances, scored Kogi high in IGR collection; public debt management, biometric registration and Bank Verification Number (BVN) used to reduce payroll fraud, improved cash management and reduced revenue leakages amongst many others. After coming second to Kaduna in the 2018 assessment, methods to promote transparency were employed and Kogi has now topped all the other 35 States in Nigeria in another proof of the State Government’s determination to provide transparent governance to her citizens, and has won for herself a $20Million grant.
This is effective service, great show of problem solving and a cornerstone for what is sure to be, a penchant for greater tidings to come in Kogi State.
With the 2023 General Elections drawing ever closer, it is important to place upon ourselves, the Nigerian youth, the importance of doing proper research into the actions and activities of those who have been divinely appointed to lead. Now more than ever, we must only give our votes to those who have been tried and trusted in the business of delivering the dividends of democracy to their people.
A man who has successfully run a government consisting of over 90% Youth, promoted women in governance to record breaking numbers, ensured the security of the lives and properties of his people and has supervised the astronomic rise of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) has surely, shown himself worthy to vie for the highest office in the land. If he can do this in Kogi State within Five years of becoming Governor, he can definitely replicate the same performance on a National level.
Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello rose to prominence in one of the most peculiar ascensions since the beginning of democracy, and has, despite numerous challenges, made judicious use of scarce resources to carve a name for himself in the annals of Kogi, and Nigerian politics. He has proven himself ready for a greater task at a National level, and if the Nigerian youth do not rise to back one of their own, in what is destined to become a battle against the powers that be, then we would have lost a golden opportunity to assert our importance.
Bello is young, determined, focused and even more importantly, he is ready.
Ready for a United, progressive and secured Nigeria.
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