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Bello Standing Tall Amid Many Battles

Bello Standing Tall Amid Many Battles

Kareem Idris writes about the many political battles fought by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State since assumption of office in the Confluence state in January, 2016

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state obviously belongs to the school of thought that believes that for a man to be seen as accomplished, he must be ready to face any battle that comes his way and give it all it takes, not in a diabolical or violent way, but in a manner that allows destiny to take its cause.

So, each time an opportunity provides itself, the trained accountant-turned politician, is always ready to face the storm and fight it to the end.

From his school days to his years of working and going into business, to entering politics, Yahaya Bello, has never relented in battling obstacles and he has the grace of coming out victorious in almost all his life challenges.

Bello’s electoral career began in full fledge with a loss to the late Prince AbubakarAudu in the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primary in November, 2015.

In the titanic gubernatorial primaries, Yahaya Bello, who was the youngest among the gubernatorial aspirants, proved the cynics who did not give him a chance wrong.

He polled the second highest votes after late Prince AbubakarAudu.

Following the sudden death of Audu, fate and destiny brought in the young Bello as the fourth democratically elected Governor of Kogi State.

In January, 2016, the Okene, Kogi Central-born Bello was sworn-in as the governor of the state against all expectations, as he had earlier lost in the primary election of his party, the APC.

Bello had inherited the 240,861 votes polled by AbubakarAudu in the November 21, 2015 poll, which was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shortly before Audu died. Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the then incumbent, came second with 199,514 votes.

A supplementary election later took place in 91 polling units in 19 local government areas and Bello polled an additional 6885 to Wada’s 5363. Final score: APC 247,742, PDP 204,877.

The story of the emergence of  Bello, a multi-talented young man in the prime of his youth as the Governor of Kogi State is an eloquent testimony of a man entrusted by destiny and the unmistaken hand of God to salvage his people and generation at a critical and agonizing moment of the people’s quest for development.

Bello later began to govern Kogi State with wisdom and determination, which later resulted into developments in all ramifications in the state.

He shamed the critics, who thought he had very little to offer. Not only did he perform, he surpassed the achievements of all his predecessors put together.

On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the election of Bello as the governor of Kogi State, putting to rest, the controversies created by the death of Prince  Audu.

The apex court, in unanimous judgments in four separate appeals, agreed that Bello was properly substituted to replace Audu as the candidate of the APC in the governorship election on November 21 and the supplementary poll held on December 5, 2015.

This was indeed a deserved victory that enabled Governor Yahaya Bello to settle down to face the real work of governance, which he gave the people of Kogi State in full dose, ranging from infrastructural development to healthcare, education, employment, sports, youth/women development and empowerment, among several others.

After four years of meritorious service, Governor Bello was elected to serve for another four years in November 2019.

Bello won 12 local governments to beat his major challenger, Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who won nine local governments. In total, Bello polled 406,222 votes. Wada polled 189,704.

This was a remarkable success for the man the people of Kogi State believe has the capacity to make life better for them and continue what he started in 2016.

It was a moment of decision for the people of Kogi State, who were later convinced that they made the right choice once again.

Shortly after this, in December 2019, the world was visited with the dreaded COVID-19 that wreaked havoc in many parts of the world and in some parts of Nigeria after an index case was reported in Ogun State in February, 2020.

The pandemic became another battle for both the Federal and some states governments to fight.

On his part, Governor Bello did all he could to ensure that Kogi State was free from the ailment.

He was unrelenting in making everyone to realise that COVID-19 was not in Kogi State. This was another opportunity for the man that has now been known to be a performer to prove his sagacity.

The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, once said that Governor  Bello, was ready to take delivery of the AstraZeneca/ Oxford COVID-19 vaccines given to the state though he had publicly questioned the existence of the virus. 

He, however, said the state government would not force anyone to take a jab of the vaccine except for those who are willing.

Fanwo said, “The governor has said he will accept the vaccine in the state but he will not force anyone to take it. Anyone who may wish to take the vaccine can come forward and the person will be vaccinated but the governor will not enforce it.

“He had said it already that he will take delivery of the vaccine if they bring the vaccine to the state. We just don’t have any information about when the vaccine is coming in and in what quantity.”

Bello consistently dismissed the existence of the virus in his state and also expressed reservations about the vaccine for the disease on numerous occasions.

In a viral video, Bello could be seen discouraging a jeering crowd of supporters from taking COVID-19 vaccine.

“They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid!” Bello had said. 

It is on record that no case of COVID-19 was reported in Kogi State, while the pandemic lasted. With different theories coming out from the developed world to prove the politicisation of the COVID-19 scare and questions raised about the potency of the vaccine, Bello might have been vindicated at last.

Prior to the Presidential Election of February 25, 2023, which later led to the election of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the next President of Nigeria, Bello had dared to give the office a trial.

It is on record that Bello ran one of the best campaigns before he threw his weight behind Tinubu after the latter’s victory at the primary election.

Bello is a man that pursues any cause he believes in to a logical conclusion. He believed and still believes that the office of the Nigerian President is not exclusive to the people of certain parts of the country and he obtained the nomination and expression of interest forms of the APC to contest for the coveted office.

The Kogi State Governor was able to carry the youths along in his campaign and he had the best media presence before the primary.

On why he wanted to be president, Bello said he was running for the Presidency because he wanted to restore the hope of Nigerians.

This, he said, would be done by providing guarantees for security, unity and progress.

He spoke at the Eagles Square in Abuja, while officially declaring his intention to run for the Presidency in 2023.

The governor had promised to replicate some of his achievements in Kogi State across Nigeria, if elected president.

According to Bello: “I am running for president because I see a bright light shining at the end of the tunnel for our nation. I am not one of those who always see doom. What God has helped us to do in Kogistate, by the grace of God we will replicate the same in Nigeria.

“We are so blessed as a nation and yet it does not always seem so. I am running to restore hope by providing guarantees for security, unity and progress to all Nigerians.

“Our focus will be proper management of our great diversities, so that it can really be an advantage. We will foster more cooperation and integration amongst citizens and make sure that progress is made steadily across all sectors and indicators.”

There is no doubt that Bello’s campaign materials would be useful for the next administration as they contain some of the things that should be done to move the nation forward.

Another serious task Governor Bello was able to accomplish was the election of his preferred candidate in the party’s governorship primaries. He would be leaving the office in January 2024 after serving two terms permitted by the Nigerian constitution.

The events leading to the primary election of the party were as interesting as they came as a former Auditor General for Local Governments in Kogi State, Ahmed UsmanOdodo, won the election, which held in the State on Friday April 14, 2023.

Ododo, who scored a total of 78,704 votes, won the direct primary election with a wide margin to defeat six other contestants in the governorship race.

About seven other aspirants, including the state’s deputy governor, Edward Onoja, Governor Yahaya Bello’s Chief of Staff,  MohammedAsuku had earlier withdrawn from the gubernatorial race on the eve of the primary election.

Ododo is the candidate of Governor Bello, who he believes would continue his people-oriented programmes so that Kogi would keep occupying its pride of place in the country as a forward-looking state that is harnessing its full potentials.

Bello has proven that he can tread where others fear to follow and that with strong determination, nothing is difficult to achieve.

As the next governorship poll in Kogi State is slated for November, 2019, signs are there that it would be another opportunity for Bello to prove his mettle in politics.

Governor Bello did not allow the then insecurity in Kogi State to overwhelm him, when he took over power in the state.

He fought it on all fronts and ensured that the people of Kogi State could once again sleep with their two eyes closed.

The Kogi Governor revitalised the security sector such that criminals have no hidden place and had to leave the state in droves as many of them were apprehended and prosecuted.

With this, Kogi State became one of the most secured in the entire country and the Governor will be leaving a legacy of good governance on all fronts by the time he leaves office January, 2024.

-Idris writes from Abuja

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