YAHAYA BELLO: AN ODE TO THE BREAKER OF CHAINS
It is common knowledge that we, as Nigerians, have lived under unjust rule a long time, so much so that we tend to be surprised at any sign of progress. For example, I am yet to meet any Nigerian who has not expressed worry at an inordinate stretch of time when electricity was available. We begin to wonder, is there something wrong with NEPA? You start to iron all your clothes, charge all your appliances and wait for the eventual pain that must be the end result of such unsolicited, unsubstantiated enjoyment.
This is not normal.
It is however, what we have been faced with, and it has, in many ways, become our reality. We are in the year 2021, and in exactly two years and a month from now, we will be heading to the polls to once again, elect a new person to take charge of the affairs of Nigeria for the next 4, possibly 8 years. The question remains, have we learnt from the mistakes of the past? What do we do as a youthful generation to stop the reoccurrence of evil? What sort of leadership will ensure that we make more progress going forward than regression?
It was Pierce Brown who said and I quote that “Man cannot be freed by the same injustice that enslaved it.” Much of this statement is what has put Nigeria where it finds itself today. It is difficult to explain, but Nigerians possess a sort of unjustified optimism for past leaders who ruled unjustly and corruptly, carefully repackaged by skilled political leeches, filled with empty promises and looking for a second chance to wreck more havoc on a country currently hanging on by a thread.
60 years after independence, I find it nauseating that many of the options we have remain these same people who have no record of human capital development, infrastructural upgrade and most importantly, unity amongst their people. These people did nothing to promote inclusive governance, shunning the youth and women despite statistical results showing that the bulk of their electoral votes originated from this demography.
As a “Soro Soke” generation, which we have called ourselves, it is time to speak up for what is right. People who benefit from the pangs of impunity have the most to lose, which explains their distaste for anybody who tends to try to destroy what they have benefitted from for so many years. Hence their continued barrage against someone within our age demography who has, with each passing day, demystified what it means to govern so much so that it has become clear that Nigeria is not difficult to rule, it only has leaders who have refused to rule.
I am of course, speaking about the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello.
Bello’s hat has been thrown into the clamour for Presidency not by his own personal desires, but by his actions that have revolutionized politics in his home State, Kogi. These deliberate actions initiated the call by well-meaning Kogites and Nigerians at large to encourage him to aspire for the highest office in the land. Much like his shocking rise to the Governorship seat in 2016, Bellos path has always trod along that of the supernatural putting him at the right place, at a right time in history to make a much needed change.
I think, as do many others, that Bello’s time for Nigeria is in 2023.
An inquisitive mind might ask, why Bello? I counter ask, Why NOT Bello? After all, all the facts laid out in plain sight point to the making of a man who has chosen to do the impossible, creating new, distinct ideas that will outlive us all. Yahaya Bello, famously and lovingly regarded by friends and supporters as the White Lion, has proven, time and again, that he ranks highest in any statistical analysis that will point to one who is determined to break the chain of unjust rule.
It is common knowledge that Yahaya Bello is the one of the youngest democratic Governors that Nigeria has ever had. He ascended into that seat at the age of 40, breaking the chain that seemed to have clouded the Nigerian political bubble. In a rush, the clamour for the #NotTooYoungToRun bill which I thought to be needless, as the youth do not need a bill to take charge of their fate had produced a rather early, yet unplanned victory. Bello rose to the challenge with courage and direction, and has his since put paid to the notion that young people are not capable of ruling, and ruling well.
Since then, Bello has set about breaking chains.
Kogi State and her citizens had grown used to seeing septuagenarians as their leaders in every sector of the state. With no offense to the older generation, it is difficult to rule a generation whose eccentricities you do not understand. No wonder there seemed to be a widened gap of understanding between the leaders and their populace until Bello arrived.
As we speak, Kogi possesses an average age of 35 years amongst elected and appointed officials across the state. This has sped up the execution of governmental projects, provided agility and dynamism in the States stance against insecurity and proved fruitful in creating new, progressive ideas which have rebranded and restructured the internal running of government.
Bello has also supervised an unprecedented perceptiveness to gender balance and an all-round inclusive governance involving people living with disabilities. People fail to realize the complete abandonment suffered by women and PLWDs in past governments in Kogi State. This culminated in a lack of prominent women in the annals of governance at the state level, and a distinct unavailability of women of Kogi state origin at the Federal level as well.
As soon as Bello’s first appointments were reeled out in his first tenure, it became obvious that he intended to correct that abnormality. Kogi currently possesses the only female SSG in Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Ayoade Folashade, and has women occupying other key positions within the state and Local Government structure. The Kogi State Head of Service, Aide De Camp to the Governor, 21 Local Government Vice Chairmen positions, at least 35% Councillorship positions, 21 Local Government Council Leadership positions, not less than Six women appointed as DGs of various ministries and Four women heading ten of the State and Federal Institutions in the state. This spells a fruitful future for women in the governance of Kogi state. PLWDs have also been given a voice with several appointments, while the famous Ogirima is a Councilor with an influence unlike any other within the government.
Another chain broken.
Until Bello’s arrival, no past Governor had ever appointed a different tribe into key positions in his cabinet. Bello not only broke this chain, he completely shattered it and replaced it with a better, working structure widely regarded as the EBIGO agenda. This agenda aims to break the age long tribalism that had bedeviled the Confluence state since 1999, and deliberately made key appointments in line with this new belief. The then Chief of Staff to the Governor and now Deputy Governor, Chief Edward David Onoja was the first in a string of appointments that broke the jinx.
Bello, himself and Ebira man, chose for the first time in Kogi state history, an Igala man to be his closest confidant. He further chose Dr. Mrs. Folashade Arike Ayoade, an Okun woman, to be his SSG. A seamless mixture of the three major tribes in Kogi state which has produced tremendous results. In one sweep, tribalism lost its hold, and the chain that many had thought to be synonymous with governance in Kogi state was suddenly discarded, never to resurface ever again. At the least, everyone knows the fastest way to get thrown out of government is to play the tribal card. We are all one, and that is the only direction for progress. Bello made it so.
Another major chain broken.
Not stopping there, Bello initiated the groundbreaking and construction of the first Government house chapel in Kogi State Government House. Kogi State, in her 28-year existence, has never been ruled by a non-Muslim. This prompted a segregation of sorts amongst workers and visitors in the Government house, with many Christians finding it difficult to find a place of worship. Bello, being a Muslim himself, decided to put a stop to this segregation, and promised to construct a befitting structure for Christians to worship within a year. The construction, which began in July 2019, was commissioned in December of the same year. The National CAN Chairman, Rev. Samson Ayokunle who was present for the groundbreaking ceremony, commended Bello for the courage to consider religious and ethnic harmony a priority.
How big a chain was that? Broken by this courageous young man.
Kogi, with her position at the epicenter of Nigeria and bordering 10 other states including the FCT, inhabits a plethora of tribes and cultures. Kogi remains the only state where major Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Nupe, Kakanda, Bassa-nge, Bassa-kwomu, Ebira-Koto, Tiv, Oworo and Fulani settlements can be found aplenty, apart from the three major tribes of Igala, Okun and Ebira. Kogi ranked high in tribal wars before Bello’s arrival, claiming an unaccountable number of lives and creating friction – friction which only a leader with the good of the people at heart could have solved.
Bello solved this by observing each tribes peculiarities and proffering solutions, organizing meetings between warring tribes, placing the responsibility for peace on each tribes leaders, and giving each tribe a voice by coronating a Traditional title holder for non-indigenous tribes who can speak for the people whenever they have an issue. An age-long chain of events brought to an abrupt end because of a man that cares. A man that has shown that he is ready to listen. A leader that is equipped to lead.
Chain? What chain? Broken!
Now I ask these pertinent questions. With 2023 looming and recent happenings in mind, who can we turn to? Who will classify each of our grievances as peculiar, and push to establish a country which will not be segregated by tribe, religion or class divide? Who will give women and people living with disabilities a voice in their own country? Has anyone bothered to push for reforms which will ensure that insecurity becomes a thing of the past? Is anyone courageous enough to face impunity headlong and come out victorious? Who, in the age demography classified as youth, has the standing to lead this country?
Who else, if not Bello?
The time has come for the younger generation to apply tact and reason in all our dealings. Bello, more than anything else, has come to liberate Nigerians and especially, the Nigerian women and youth from strongholds which have held us strong for decades. Instead of swallowing whatever it is we are offered on the internet, this generation is technologically savvy enough to check facts for themselves before making a conclusion. Every single attack is not aimed at Bello himself. He has proven himself to be capable, and has established a legacy which will outlive him and his childrens children.
Who they are actually attacking is we, the youth.
We must rise and make demands. These are demands that a demography that occupies 65% of Nigerias population should command. We must realize that we have been placed under a chain, and only a proven chain breaker and unifier can set us free and unite us. Rosa Luxemburg famously said that “Those who do not move do not notice their chains.” We must make moves by showing our seriousness towards taking back our country from those who would have us imprisoned forever.
Nigeria has a youthful, technologically savvy and progressive youthful core. Why should an older generation without the chain breaking mindset rule us?
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