When Alhaji Yahaya Bello took oath of office on 27th January 2016 as 4th executive governor of Kogi State, many people concluded hastily that the state may have finally fallen into the hands of a new breed spurred to ‘change’ its destiny towards ‘new direction’
Bello, 41, the first Ebira man in modern Kogi State to attain such political height came to power amidst political uncertainty that greeted the demise of the then APC gubernatorial candidate in the November 2015 election, Prince Abubakar Audu, while election results were still being collated.
Bello became Abuja’s preferred ‘heir apparent’ to APC/Audu’s votes. Faleke, late Audu’s running mate, lost out in a powerful game to succeed his then principal.
During his inauguration, Bello expressed the urgency of his vision: NEW DIRECTION, and how his humble background would shape his style of governance to meet the needs of ordinary Kogi people. During the speech, he broke down in tears, an act that earned him the title of a cry-cry governor.
Did you know a man who became governor by providence will turn his back on his people and waste the golden opportunity to create a we-can-do-it image for young Nigerians alike and the Ebira ethnic minority he represents?
The people of the state and sympathetic Nigerians are already ticking the below average performance box against his name. This is so because Bello hasn’t been able to live up to expectations. Governance under him has been lackluster and uninspiring, to say the least.
The state of infrastructure in Kogi is in bad and dilapidated shape and even the roundabouts built by late Abubabkar Audu, his fellow party leader and whose votes he inherited, were demolished upon his assumption office, citing unsubstantiated reasons like where Igala (dominant) ethnic group buried charms. That is illogical.
Since Yahaya Bello grabbed the mantle of leadership in the state, nothing has changed. It is hard for him to pay workers’ salaries. However, in a bid to secure the calmness of the judiciary and the lawmakers, it was alleged that he bought exotic cars for them in what has been described as a ‘welfare package’.
Governance is even much more than paying workers’ earnings. That’s basic. Building a world class society and advancing citizens’ desires in a competitive global community through provision of infrastructures is the tap root of good governance.
The majority Igala ethnic group who held sway for 16 years failed. Bello shouldn’t go down with them on that road, and it shouldn’t be reason for him not to perform.
Even though it took president Buhari almost one year to nominate/submit a replacement for barrister James Ocholi who died in a car accident last year along the infamous Kaduna – Abuja road, it is perceived, and rightly so, that Bello doesn’t really care about Kogi representation at the federal level.
Education has completely collapsed in the state. Most tertiary institutions are either on strike or on temporary break due to none payment of teachers’ salaries and other sundry issues.
Healthcare is in comatose. Last year when the governor clandestinely jetted out of the country to seek medical solution for his eyes, it became clear that our health system has failed.
I understand these things are not peculiar to Kogi state, but other state governors are making frantic efforts to ameliorate the sufferings of their people and residents in their domain. Fixing healthcare system isn’t rocket science. But the arrogance of those at the helm of affairs in Kogi state does not even allow for citizens’ engagement and contributions. That is why the governor, despite the challenging time, will go ahead to employ over 50 personal aides thereby contradicting the very reason for the never-ending staff verification exercise: lean workforce.
In the light of all these, governor Bello is expected to create a positive sociopolitical environment to enable him quickly as a matter of urgency unite, first, members of his political party in the state, then extend the same gesture to other ethnic groups who feel marginalised and angry in the ‘new direction’ of things.
While it will be disrespectful to suggest to the governor to take administrative tutorial at Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), one had expected that given his working experience at the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation & Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) where he rose to the rank of a Chief Accountant, Bello should have been schooled in administrative procedures. Governance shouldn’t, and can never be confined to the spontaneity and the dictates of his Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja.
I enjoin the people of the State to continue to keep faith and remain calm in the face of governmental provocations and abandonment; they should look beyond the moment and ensure that leaders who truly and sincerely care for them are elected in future elections.
Moreso, Governor Bello may be reminded that he embodies the image of young Nigerians and all Ebira on his shoulder and he should never let them down. They waited for this opportunity and now that providence has offered it through him, he should look beyond personal aggrandizement and make efforts to ink his name indelibly in the book of time.
Shehu Audu @IGONO
Indigene of Kogi State