The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining _ John F. Kennedy.
The emergence of Yahaya Bello as the governor of Kogi State can be said to be a child of circumstance. The sudden demise of Prince Abubakar Audu, the winner of the 2016 Kogi state election before declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) brought into power the second runner-up at the primaries. This situational irony led to the emergence of Governor Bello.
Despite the ill-fated electoral experience, Governor Bello was received with cheers by the people of the State. Not necessarily because of his political acumen or dexterity, but because he was young and he did come at a material time when there was a unanimous call for young people’s participation in the pool of national politics. As such, Yahaya Bello emerged as the Governor of the State at the age of 41 which became an historical moment for the State.
The foregoing kickstarted the journey of the 8 years, and on the 11th of November 2023, another election will be conducted in Kogi State to punctuate the end of Bello’s eight years in power. Therefore, the question on the lips and hearts of many individuals, home and abroad is: so, 8 years of the GYB could actually come to an end? This is a kind of oxymoronic question considering the finite nature of 8 years. However, giving this question a deeper thought, one will see through the void and emptiness that engulfed the people for 8 years.
Governor Yahaya Bello who was a small man by physique indeed cast a large shadow on the state. And to crystalise this, he nick-named himself the ‘White Lion.’
Indeed, Bello was a lion but he had nothing to do with white. In fact, white is an aberration to Bello considering the celestial symbolism often accorded to the white colour which is antithetical to the dark shadow cast by Governor Bello. Well, the name itself has less meaning except that which one gives to it. Just as William Shakespeare has it “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That is, even if Yahaya Bello had called himself the lamb of God, his 8 years will prove otherwise.
However, critics have it that, Yahaya Bello gave himself the White Lion and went ahead to exhibit all the arrogance that characterise a lion.
Just like President Tinubu, from the first day in office, GYB hit the ground running and the people of his state hit the street crying. GYB started with an unending screening aimed at uncovering ghost workers but ended up claiming the lives of many workers in the state. Many indeed died of hunger from lack of salaries. Much more, became wretched of the earth— to quote Frantz Fanon — from half or percentage salary.
GYB’s administration kept on running. And whenever there is a hick-up, GYB, just like the bed of Procrustes, stretches or chops off facts to make sure they always fit. He will further crush individuals who will not accept facts to be what White Lion says it is.
As the days fold into weeks and culminate into months and slowly erode 8 years out of Kogi state and its people’s lives, individuals now wonder what GYB will be best remembered for. This question itself has variations and the response is based on who is responding.
If an Ebira man is to appraise GYB’s Eight years, he might speak from a heart full of ethnic jingoism or a celebration of the historical feet of the first Ebira man to be governor. If an Igala man is asked to speak on GYB, he may have to cry for seconds before finding an answer. His response, may also take ethnic coloration or enunciate his traumatic experiences with tongue-in-cheek in case there is any good. The same thing applicable to the Yoruba man.
However, if you ask the civil servants of the state regardless of tribe and religion, little to nothing palpable and befitting will be said of GYB’s eight years. Even though it is needless pomposity to admit that one Nigerian politician is of a greater sanity than the other but needful to affirm that sanctimonious devotion to GYB’s administration is indeed insanity.
In denouement, despite the gory and seeming ‘glory’ of GYB, the curtain of 8 years is about to be drawn. On Saturday, 11th of November, 2023 the electoral race of who becomes the next governor will be run. The people will go out to plant their votes again hoping to reap the harvest of a good leader. But then, it is worthy of note that those who wish Kogi state well and those who pray to such effect are allied on the state’s road to greatness. But then, whoever wins, should take a clue from the reign of GYB and remember how 8 years last for ‘eternity’.
– Samuel Ameh is a journalist and researcher.