The paradigm shift.
That is what it was called. A divine move that birthed the rise of thousands of young people in a region that had been populated by recycled politicians. A shift from the norm. A deviation from what was regular, lifeless. An unprecedented influx of ingenuity, defiance, dedication and youth.
The dawn of 2016 ushered Kogites into a period of uncertainty. Many could not contain their excitement at an apparent change in personnel, but even more so, they marveled at what could be achieved when the reigns of governance was held by a young man whom divinity had handed a lifetime opportunity.
When Alhaji Yahaya Bello promised a paradigm shift in the lead up to the APC Gubernatorial Primary in 2015, many thought he was delusional. Here was a rather new face to the world of Kogi and Nigerian politics, promising, rather confidently too, to do away with tenets of parasitic politicking that had ensured that Kogi remained at the peak of developmental paralysis. Not only was he attempting to do the impossible, but he dived deep into a sea of politics that had, with the help of human principalities, constantly spit out politicians with a more seasoned resumè. Still, he pressed on, armed with a smile and a will and spurred on by one of the most dedicated and trusted ally known in recent times, his world famous “Siamese Twin” brother, Chief Edward David Onoja.
The outcome of that dream, as unrealistic as it sounded, is known to all.
Luck, it is often said, is when opportunity meets adequate preparation. While luck is a happenstance, the case of Yahaya Bello is a divine call that has evaded all known belief, supernatural and temporal. He was presented with a sudden opportunity, for which he has shown great preparation, tangible results and an unequivocal will to establish resplendent foundations that will outlive us all.
No one, not even his greatest enemies, will deny him the well afforded praise for his revamp of the Kogi State Civil Service. According to a piece by the Vanguard in July 2016, Kogi State was recorded to have lost over 213bn to the menace of ghost workers in the 16 years that preceded Governor Bello’s inauguration. A state which ranked low amongst the allocations remitted by the State Government, and was seemingly running short of ideas on how to ignite her dwindling economy, spent most of her resources servicing unknown, nameless and non-existent individuals.
In one full sweep, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello fished out every one of these names in a rigorous, tasking but altogether fruitful venture that has ultimately repositioned the Civil Service, and carefully rearranged the economy of Kogi State to a level that has ensured that the State beat Lagos to become the top investment destination for the third quarter of 2020, garnering an estimated $1Billion in investment capital in the process.
Progress? I think yes.
The “White Lion”, as he is fondly called by his teeming supporters, displays a rare ability to confront and eventually conquer tasks that have been tagged “impossible”. None more tasking than his determination is weeding Kogi of unscrupulous criminal elements after he resumed office, and famously leading many raids across the state, bringing down kingpins one after the other and ensuring the safety of his people.
Bello also promised, in early 2020 to initiate the “Operation Light Up” Kogi East, which was slated to provide electricity to over 200 communities in the Eastern part of Kogi State that had never seen illumination before. As we speak, all the equipments needed to complete the task have been provided, – despite the economic ramifications of the Nationwide lockdown and the scourge of the pandemic worldwide – whilst the project itself has progressed past the 50% completion stage.
Despite his numerous achievements, Governor Yahaya Bello insists that his most cherished accomplishment is the disengagement of the age long battle between the numerous tribes that struggled to co-exist within the state. Kogi State, due to its peculiar position, sits at the confluence of the two major Nigerian rivers, and borders Nine other states on every side. This has, in one way or the other, made the state a settlement for hundreds of tribes who have moved in from far and wide to settle at the epicenter – alongside the three indigenous tribes in Kogi State, the Ebiras, Igalas and Okuns. In other words, Kogi is a miniature of a larger spectrum, Nigeria.
In that regard, establishing a model which brings together all the classes and tribes of people in the state under an agenda which promotes peace, tranquility, equitable distribution of government appointments and equitable distribution of state projects has ensured, without question, that Kogi currently enjoys its calmest regime since the beginning of democracy. All tribes, even those without origin in Kogi State, have felt the touch of government recognition and are required to contribute their quota in placing the State at an enviable height. This therefore, brings me to my main point of this piece.
Gear two? Shift.
One thing is evident when all of these aforementioned achievements are looked at closely, and it bears the mark of a man who is not conditioned to take “No” for an answer. In order to govern a multi-ethnic and multi-religious State like Kogi, a strong resolve and a great deal of deliberateness must be employed to achieve goals which will outlive your tenure. He has been deliberate in attacking sectors of the economy which have lagged behind, and reformed them from the ground up to create institutions which will continue to fire Kogi’s fortunes on a positive spectrum. Bello still has close to Three more years in power and already ranks as the most influential and popular Governor the State has produced since it was created in 1991, a testament to the ripple effect of his progressive governance.
Nigeria needs a Unifier. A Nation bustling with 774 LGAs, over 300 tribes and at least 525 spoken dialects cannot afford to have another President who has no prior dealings where he/she has played a similar, distinct and peculiar role. It should have become evident to every lover of our great country that what has consistently held us back has been too much regard for baseless tribalism, encouraged nepotism, damaging religious disunity and a far-reaching gulf between the upper and lower classes. With 43.69% of the Nigerian population between the ages of 0 to 14, 53.67% between the ages of 15 to 64 and 2.74% of the remaining population being 65 and above, NO future Nigerian President ought to be older than the country upon inauguration. There has been a huge gap of understanding between the leaders and the teeming youth population.
This has to stop.
Long have we listened to Politicians who have made countless promises on the campaign trail, and have then made a volte face when it was time for the words to be put to work. Long have we prayed, wished and in many cases, cried for someone, anyone, who would consider all of our differences as peculiarities, and find a way to knit it all together in a manner befitting of a true President of the largest black nation on earth.
That person is Yahaya Adoza Bello.
His is a movement that has rocked the evil foundations that were laid in Kogi State, and has rebuilt it from the ground up to a level where no Governor after him can struggle. He has shown immense bravery in all of his ever expanding range of accomplishments, leaving dead long guarded beliefs and creating new, core strategies that will put Kogi on the map in a few years time. He has shown capability in the “Confluence State”, he will do it in Nigeria.
His is a paradigm that shifts.
First stop, Lugard House.
Next stop, Aso Villa.
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