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From Marginal Aspirant, Hope Rises for Yahaya Bello

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From being considered a marginal aspirant for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello is increasingly engaging critical segments that may decide the party’s presidential ticket in his favour, writes Nseobong Okon-Ekong

Steadily the resoluteness with which Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello of Kogi State is approaching his interest to become President of Nigeria is becoming apparent to stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress (APC). From being considered a marginal aspirant for the country’s highest public office, he is increasingly engaging critical segments that can decide the party’s presidential ticket in his favour. His single-minded campaign for membership for the APC, which should be rewarded, was glaring during the window for registration of new members opened by the party’s Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.

It is true that Bello initially struggled with a lot of issues at the beginning of his administration. Mainly due to the circumstances of his emergence as governor, a couple of vested interests who could not have their way, as Providence clearly charted his path, resorted to make governance of the state difficult for him. But that was before he learnt the ropes. Like an artful pugilist, the Kogi Governor has since mastered the ring and began to inflict telling blows on his political opponents, while making visible advancement in development.

Under Bello’s watch, Kogi State has gone up the ladder of States that comply with the United Nations Millenium Development Goals in Nigeria. One of the areas that Kogi has improved vastly is in the area of gender inclusiveness. Sharing borders with nine states comes with daunting security challenges. It is still a marvel how Bello has managed to significantly reverse the trend created a lot of ungovernable spaces in Kogi. Apparently, he is alive to the fact the primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property.

Aware that he was carrying the hopes of many younger people, Bello, the youngest governor in Nigeria, has approached governance with the deliberate intention to change the long held notion that youths cannot handle that magnitude of enormous responsibility. Today, he is the toast of many leading youth groups who point to his exemplary leadership style and achievements in the governance of Kogi State. His record of youth participation in leadership is impressive, as many young men and women have been given a chance to prove their mettle, having been saddled with various positions of responsibility.

As intriguing as the religious, cultural and ethnic composition of Kogi State is, Bello has been able to strike the delicate balance in that multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual setting. How he is able to ensure peaceful coexistence of the people is a miracle. The difference in ethnicities has provided the Kogi governor an opportunity to practice inclusiveness in governance.

It is on record that the first three appoint- ments of the governor immediately after his inauguration on January 27, 2016, were spread across the three Senatorial Districts. Hon. Ed- ward Onoja from Kogi East became the first Chief of Staff in Kogi State to emerge from a zone different from that of the Governor. His SA Media was appointed from Kogi Central and his CPS from Kogi West.

“Bello is the man we have been waiting for. He is like a nucleus and he is a man who understands the dynamics of governance,” said an influential member of the APC in Kogi.

He said: “Kogi State has never had it so good and for Governor Yahaya Bello to achieve so much with the resources available in the state; he will do more if given the op- portunity to rule Nigeria as President after the end of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.”

Kogi State was previously divided along ethnic lines, corroded by disunity as politicians planted division in the minds of our people for their selsh political gains.

Among all the serving and former governors who are known to be interested in the presidency, Bello, arguably, is the only one who has managed to advance his case with the active support National Assembly members from his state. In Bello’s corner are Senator Smart Adeyemi, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, who was the Director General of his second term governorship campaign, as well as, two other members of the Senate from Kogi State: Senators Yakubu Oseni, representing Kogi Sentral and Isah Jubrin, representing Kogi East.

These Senators have been harping on the need to elect a young and energetic president in 2023 to lead the nation. According to them the governor has programmes and policies that are exclusive to him with which he will grow and develop the nation and thrusting Nigeria up among the leading countries of the world, adding that the economy of Kogi state since the inception of the governor in office experienced a tremendous leap for better.

This experience in successfully serving a complex society like Kogi State may prove very useful in his quest for the Nigerian presidency. Therefore, it is not totally surprising that more Nigerians from all walks of life are signing up for the Yahaya Bello Movement. He is now the beautiful bride, courted by professionals and discerning influential individuals. But the Kogi is also careful about his associates. For instance, he chooses to collaborate with journalists. A recent public engagement with the Fourth Estate of the Realm was the maiden GYB Seminar for Political and Crime Correspondents in Abuja.

Many critics were surprised that Bello could be so open; listening to and expressing his own opinion. He urged journalists to work in line with their mandates as they play a key role in setting the agenda for good governance. He said that having a more united and secured Nigeria from 2023 and beyond lies in the hands of journalists through responsible reportage. Bello added that any politician seeking any position is there to serve the citizens.

“How prepared we are for a better Nigeria depends on how we have to set the agenda for those in governance,” he said.

“Politicians seek to serve you which means you are hiring a servant, and so, you should be able to set the criteria and tone because those who hire dictate the terms.”

One of pressure groups that has canvassing Bello’s interest in the presidency is the Global Alliance of Public and Private Professionals, GAP3, for PYB.

National Co-ordinator of GAP3, Hon Ahmed Chikaj, said the group is a movement peopled by professionals and citizens across the country and it is aimed at bridging the divides in the Nigerian political space to also rally support for Governor Bello, who he stated has surpassed his campaign promises to the people of Kogi state, a feat, he said Nigerians are yearning for at the centre in 2023.

Chikaji said the group desires to kick-start the process of birthing a new Nigeria led by a young and visionary leader to take the country out of the woods of unhealthy ethnic relationship that he said has characterised the country in the past.

He called on Nigerians to support the governor for the presidency in 2023, Adeyemi averred that a leader like Governor Bello is rare, noting that he is a definition of humility.

Bello was sworn-in on January 27, 2016 as the fourth democratically elected Governor of Kogi State without a deputy having won the re-run election.

QUOTE

As intriguing as the religious, cultural and ethnic composition of Kogi State is, Bello has been able to strike the delicate balance in that multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual setting. How he is able to ensure peaceful coexistence of the people is a miracle. The difference in ethnicities has provided the Kogi governor an opportunity to practice inclusiveness in governance

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