Yahaya Bello: My Unforgettable Gov

By Onuya Daniel 

Yayaha Adoza Bello was elected as the 4th civilian governor of Kogi State, in 2016. 

Despite the political upheavals and efforts of some dark interests to mar his ascension, constitutionalism prevailed and he was officially sworn into office on 27th January 2016. He immediately drew a roadmap of what he intends to achieve in office. 

Bello stood out as a leader with a vision of changing the governance narrative in Kogi State. His appointment of competent hands led to the assemblage of capable hands into his cabinet to drive the trajectory he wanted at a desirable pace; and the first evidence of this was the swiftness with which the COVID-19 pandemic was arrested in the state making it one with the least reported incidence in Nigeria. 

Following the massive injection of funds into the health sector of the state, the Guardian newspaper reported that “today, every community in Kogi state can access basic healthcare delivery service within a 2km radius”.  

Apart from the construction and renovation of hospitals and primary health care centres, the post-COVID era saw the establishment of the Confluence Centre for Infectious Diseases (CCID) at Lokoja. Other projects conceptualized by Yahaya Bello includes the College of Nursing and Midwifery Obangede where he renovated and constructed new hostels and clinics, as well as zonal hospitals at Kabba, Idah, Okene and also a cottage Hospital in Kpakere. 

He also launched the Bello Health Intervention, which supplied consumables and essential medical equipment to Hospitals. Going further, expanded solar powered cold rooms were put in place to ensure storage of vaccines. 

In his time, state-wide measles vaccination campaign happened across the state and he collaborated with USAID, PMI amongst others to supply and distribute over 2.5 million free LLIN (Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets). 

Other achievements he made in the health sector includes the renovation and rehabilitation of general hospitals in Idah and the expansion of College of Health Science and technology, enrolment of the physically challenged and vulnerable into the Health insurance scheme among others. He also renovated and constructed the Nutrition House for Accelerated Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANPIN) and recruited more than 2,000 health professionals to fill the gap in skilled labour in that sector.

Bello’s administration also brought about the reactivation and completion of various projects that were abandoned by past Governors like the Confluence Advanced Medical Diagnostic and Imaging Centre, Lokoja (Banda) and the Koton-Karfe electrification project e.t.c

In terms of infrastructural development, Yahaya Bello who met a Kogi State that was almost inexistent in the infrastructure map of Nigeria, championed the construction of modern roads and drainages including flyovers and bridges across the state to ease traffic and increase productivity.

He subsequently awarded the construction of Idah-Umomi-Anyigba road, followed by the rehabilitation of Shintatu/Gboloko/Dekina road. Other notable projects under his administration were the construction of Iana-Ikeje-Ette road and the construction of the Ankpa township roads, Idoma road, SUBEB road, and a signature flyover at Ganaja Junction in Lokoja. 

Under His watch, Kogi State was a construction yard as it was one project flag off / completion after another.

While developing the urban enclaves, the people’s governor didn’t abandon the rural areas and people living there. He supported them in various ways. He cleared 1000 acres of land and established cassava processing mills at Ojapata, Osara. That is why today, Kogi boasts being one of the leading producers of Cassava in Nigeria. 

He made Rice production possible in Kogi State by establishing the Omi Rice Processing Mill. He supported small scale land owners by providing irrigation and fertilisation solutions. There is also the construction of 87 earthen ponds at Adavi stocked with 3000 fingerlings to kickstart officially the Kogi state government’s involvement in fishery amongst others.

He reformed the civil service by embarking on a screening exercise of all civil servants; thus ending ghost workers. Throughout his administration in Kogi state, the salary of verified civil servants was paid between the 24th and 27th of each month in accordance to the standing order he gave at the beginning of his tenure. He also approved the National Minimum Wage Scale for Kogi Civil Servants. One notable thing about the Governor is that in executing his policies, he is not autocratic in nature which is rare among people with power.

Before Bello’s administration, the state of education in the state was abysmal. He brought life to the sector by enhancing the quality of education from primary level to tertiary level. He promoted girl-child education and elevated ICT skills and STEM education in schools across the state. 

He increased to 30% the government’s budget allocated to education in each fiscal year from 2021 via which many other practical steps were taken to empower the sector such as the purchase of 1.2 hectares of land for the construction of the Technology Incubation Centre (TIC), the donation to a science school; a hybrid manual/electronic library facility in Dekina. 

Training sessions were organised for over 2000 school managers on ways to improve efficiency in the teaching and learning process. In February 2023,  3,979 additional teachers were recruited by the state government to enhance the workforce of the sector. Due to these efforts, Kogi state ranked 9th with the lowest number of out-of-school children who are 86,803 in number. 

In all, former Governor Bello renovated about 120 classrooms, improved the existing conditions of about 735 classrooms, distributed 35,000 customised desks and tables and built a 50 bed capacity hostels at Government Girls Secondary School, Obangede.

In his quest to light up the state, starting from Kogi East, the people’s governor provided electricity for the first time to the people of Abejukolo in Omala local government area and distributed power transformers to underserved locations in Kogi State.

On insecurity, the last long-lasting state of peace enjoyed in the state started under his administration through his dedication to safeguarding lives and properties. His prowess was officially recognized by former president Muhammed Buhari for his security projects. The president rightly said “I am impressed by the performance of Governor Yahaya Bello. He has done very well in the area of security and project execution in Kogi State. We are proud of him, and we urge him to do more for the people. I am appealing to the people of Kogi State to support him so that he can achieve and deliver more dividends of democracy,” 

It must be mentioned here that Bello built a Forward Operation Base (FOB) for the Nigerian Army with the provision of over 200 operational vehicles and hundreds of motorcycles for security officials in the state. This was carried out while still establishing the State Vigilante Service to cater for urban and rural security. He then created a joint task force which incorporated all the security stakeholders in the state. The next was the introduction of a whistleblowing policy to encourage state residents to inform and volunteer intelligence which further secured the state.

On the front of fiscal responsibility, one fact stands out and it is the truth that Kogi state under the administration of Yahaya Bello became the first state in Nigeria to return $4.6M to the World Bank. 

This show of transparency underscores his integrity and violates his connection to the EFCC probe that claims he withdrew N80 billion from the state; which is almost the equivalent of the state’s capital expenditure for a year. In a state like Kogi state, a withdrawal of the tune of this amount will definitely cripple economy of the state and would have directly affected the day to day running of government.

With the numerous projects completed across all sectors in the state, the state would be in serious debt and crisis which no one would need the EFCC to discover. 

Yayaha Bello is the best governor the state has ever had because he expended the state revenue visibly and left verifiable track records of his impact.

*Onuya Daniel sent in this article from Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State.

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