The age-long movement for equity in Kogi State pre-2015, otherwise referred to as struggle for Power Shift, from the dominant Igala tribe to either Okun or Ebira or other minority groups in the multi-ethnic state, and the crave for a youthful, vibrant governor in my favourite state had led me to the political camp of Alhaji Yahaya Bello in the run up to the August 2015 All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primaries.
So I supported him – Alhaji Yahaya Bello (AYB).
Sadly, he lost in that primaries, coming second only behind the late Alhaji Abubakar Audu. That was a big blow to my dream.
Divinely, on replacement as the APC candidate after that tragic incident of Audu’s death, AYB won the supplementary election. It was a dream come true especially when all hopes had been lost. May the Lord rest the soul of Prince Abubakar Audu. Since I am not a politician and not interested in the government largesse to follow AYB’s victory, but contented that at last, my crave for power shift and a young, vibrant governor had been achieved, I decided to step back and watch the trend as it unfolded. I felt I had played my part.
Soon, and sadly too, I found myself in the league of critics of the supposedly New Direction administration. I criticized Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB) very closely when things started going ways most of us his supporters did not envisage. Was it a mistake on my part? All that I needed to know did not come soon until towards the end of GYB’s first tenure and after I began to get myself interested again about the state of Kogi State affairs under GYB.
My experience when I started coming close was bad, very bad. Truth had been put on its head. The verifiable good job by the hardworking governor had been overshadowed by negative reports that put Kogi/GYB in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Real or indeliberate, with the aid of elements in the GYB government, hellbent to put clogs in the wheel of progress perhaps for ulterior motives or simply because they did not share his vision, I found out that the governor, as he would later admit, had fought a serious propaganda war and lost.
I saw the light and I made bold to tell anyone that the only way out was a total overhaul of the system.
I was privileged to meet the governor and he spoke on so many things. For the first time I had sympathy for him. It was a case of “if I knew right then all I was knowing now”. Nonetheless, no amount of criticism-constructive criticism, is too much for it strengthens accountability and democracy. I reiterated that the only solution remained the total overhauling of the organogram of the seat of government. The governor must do self-introspection to rid himself of bad influences, thereby rescuing his government for himself!
Going forward to this second term in office, I insist that putting the right people in right places is what the governor must do if Kogi under him must prosper.
It is gratifying that this is exactly what Governor Yahaya Bello has done starting from the last lap of his first term and is what has sorted us out in Kogi state from January 27, 2020.
The governor has shown that he has learnt his lessons and he’s learning more, and learning fast for that matter.
From the blast of his inauguration speech, he has shown glimpses of hope that things will be done differently, this time.
That the names of commissioners designate were reeled out in the speech and approved by the state House of Assembly in a record 48 hours without rancour from any quarters, is pointer that the governor did his homework.
Now, coming to the inauguration speech by itself, wouldn’t anyone be inclined to ponder if this is the same GYB or cloned?
Hear the governor: “We ran for a second term with the slogan, ‘Let’s Do More’, and made a strong case for reelection by showcasing our first term achievements while undertaking to improve on them. Kogi voters have reelected us with the most historic margin in a gubernatorial election ever seen in this state and it is now incumbent on us to keep our electoral promises – and we shall do just that…my primary allegiance as Governor will remain to Kogi State and her citizens, not to party or tribe. Everyone is my citizen and I owe everyone the protections and fidelities inherent in the office. I therefore call on all and sundry, friends and perceived foes, to put aside all differences of politics, ideology or affiliation and join hands with us to give Kogi State the best of governance. By the grace of God, the Oath of Office I have just taken is a pact to do right by all citizens as the 4th Executive Governor of Kogi State. In this second and concluding term of my constitutional tenures as Governor, it shall be the principal preoccupation of my administration to bring revitalised energy to bear in delivering refocused governance. It is on this note that I enjoin all Kogites to look forward to the next four years with optimism and great expectations. We will do everything in our power as government to make sure they are productive, prosperous and peaceful”.
GYB did not stop there. He went one notch to warn the commissioners that they only have one boss -him! The meaning is very clear to the discernible. I will not say more. He reiterated that henceforth, the wish and aspirations of the people/stakeholders from the various local government areas will count in appointments and his decisions on matters affecting the grassroots. This means a departure from the old practice whereby a few powerful government functionaries gather themselves in Lokoja and decide who gets what without inputs of the grassroots people.
He pointed to people who worked with him satisfactorily during his first term in terms of performance. Ordinarily, GYB mentioned that while he would have loved to have those people back in his cabinet this second term, that was not made possible for him because the arrangements in their respective local governments did not favour their return.
Again, this is the trait of a listening leader and a commendable demonstration of the spirit of rebirth.
His decision to reach out to leaders across various political divides indicate his readiness to run an inclusive government.
Now, this: in less than two months in the saddle, the Kogi State Open Governance and Accountability Systems (KOGAS), has been established. It is an online application designed to hold public office holders accountable under the GYB second term and to further demonstrate the governor’s sincerity to run an all inclusive government.
KOGAS, I understand, will be made available and open to the people of the state as an avenue to score each sector of the state based on its performance and to allow the people ask relevant questions thereby contributing directly to the governance of the state.
The people will be able to ask all heads of ministries, boards and agencies questions and answers must be provided within 24 hours!
A new Bello? YES! But he is no clone, either. He is the same Alhaji Yahaya Bello. The difference is God, and not man, is taking control of Governor Bello’s mind. Also, his words backed up with action show he has listened to good advice to turn up a new leaf. What he has done differently is simple-put the round pegs on round holes, beginning with his cabinet.
Should he continue this way, His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello’s rebranded tag as the people’s governor and all time best governor in the Kogi’s history is like a slow train coming, and I see it come down the track. Will he deviate? It is a trend to watch.
God bless Kogi state.
– Yemisi Oshaloto writes from Abuja