Challenges Awaiting Kogi Governor-Elect, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello
07 March 2016
By A. S. M. Jimoh
The Kogi state gubernatorial election has come and gone, but the controversy
that trailed it has refused to die. The whole scenario of the election has
taught us important lessons. It has shown that power truly belongs to God, a
cliché often use by our politician but never live by it. Secondly, our effort
alone can never earn us our goal. We need a touch of the Divine.
While there are losses, angers, victories and jubilations, the man who smiles
most is one young Alhaji Yahaya Bello, born approximately forty years ago.
Following the death of Alhaji Audu Abubakar, him being the runner-up in the
primary was picked by the party through constitutional provision to be Audu's
replacement. He is now the Governor-elect. If Allah wills, he will take the
mantle of leadership of Kogi state on the 27th of January 2016.
Because of the triviality and complexity that surround Kogi politics, he will
be navigating a very turbulent water. He will be faced by ethnic distrust and
a comatose state with nothing to show in term of infrastructure and other
indices of development. Nevertheless, if he has the mettle, he will sail
through the troubled water to safety unscathed. For a man who deployed
enormous resources to campaign, make promises, went to primary and finally
winning the governorship, it is assumed that he has the vision to lead the
state out of its current direction to an intensive care unit. But recent
history has shown that many our politicians only invest in campaign, make
promises, pretend a vision and when he/she wins, he/she turns out to be worse
than a highway armed-robber and a pillaging army. Alhaji Yahaya Bello must
show he is different.
For Yahaya Bello to succeed, he must not and should never dance the rhythm of
it-is-our-turn drum, else he will end up more disastrous than Ex-governor
Ibrahim Idris, current Idris Wada and Ex-president Jonathan combined. He
should realize he has been elected to govern Kogi state, but not a particular
ethnic group. Fortunate for him that no one can thumps his chest that he made
him the governor. His mandate is Divine. If he would ever thank any human
being, it should be President Buhari who insists on the rule of law. By the
initial body language of powerful interest in his party, he stood no chance of
replacing late Audu even though he is constitutionally bound to be. The
appendages of such powerful interest have not rested on their oar to rock the
smooth take-off of his administration. Thanks goodness the era of lawlessness
is gone. The allegation of anti-party activity and cross carpeting to another
party would have been the alibi to get him out of the way.
Admittedly, Yahaya Bello has his shortcoming for not being active in his party
campaign following his defeat at the primary. He must atone for this sin by
recognizing late Audu and his political family who fought the battle for him
almost to the end before the undesirable happened. He should pay tribute to
Audu and try to surpass whatever good intention he had for the state before
his shocking death. He should not alienate Audu's political structure because
of their current anger and intransigence. Rather, he should explore all
diplomatic channels to reach out to them and make them have a sense of
belonging. This is because Yahaya Bello's success cannot be documented without
Audu dominating a significant chunk of the discourse.
The above background should be the reason why he should not squander away on
the altar of ethnic politics the opportunity afforded him by Allah. Across
Kogi state, no region is better than the other in term of infrastructure,
including the ones who had their people ruling Kogi state since its creation.
This is already an indication that ethnic politics is a politics of
underdevelopment. No one has ever benefitted from ethnics or sectional
politics. The entire North Nigeria, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN),
Bayelsa state and the Niger Delta are instructive examples of the bad showing
of it-is-our-turn politics.
Yahaya Bello should give each region and entity what it constitutionally and
morally deserves. The Igalas, Ebiras, Okuns and other ethnic groups in the
state are facing serious infrastructural deficit and unemployment. The
socio-economic and developmental issues in Kogi state are huge challenges to
any serious minded person for governance that frivolous issues of ethnic
politics will find no space in his heart. This mandate is not one for
However, we have to be frank with Yahaya Bello that for him to achieve the
goal of a reformed Kogi state and making it competing for development amongst
its peer in the federation, tough decisions need to be made. Such decisions
will elicit the noise of nepotism and tribalism from those who have been
benefiting from such kind of politics. They will lay for him stumbling stone
to tread on and fall. It should however not distract his focus. He should
follow the path of President Buhari who has remained focus, determined and
taciturn in his effort to reawake Nigeria in spite of all the insults haul at
him by those who brought this country to its knee. Yahaya should be ready to
mend Kogi state thoroughly.
The first of such mending is the highly corrupt and inefficient Kogi civil
service. He must exhaustively reform this sector that is the engine room of
any administration. The breakdown of governance in Nigeria, and Kogi state in
particular, is because of a corrupt, inefficient and usually bogus civil
service, peopled by incompetent and never qualified individuals. A touch of
technology for this sector will help him cut down the waste and corruption
there. He must reward hard work and flush out the logs and those who find
their way into the civil service by cutting corners. He should find out why
workers at both local government and state levels have become beggars, going
for months without pay. He should stand up against the brigand of local
government Chairs who have become mini emperor and who only breed thugs.
Education and health services should be competing for highest budgetary
allocation when his administration finally takes off. Health facility in Kogi
state is among the worst in the whole of the federation. Our hospitals and
health centers reek of odours that only aggravate the conditions of patients.
They are ill equipped with facility and manpower. The attitude to work of the
very few workforces is, to say the least, most sickening. As an example, in
Okene general hospital, his immediate constituency, there is a policy that a
theatre-bound patient must supply at least twenty liters of water before
he/she can be attended to. No matter how critical the condition of such
patient is, the hospital will prefer him/her to die than not getting that
water! Patients have died in hospitals while waiting for days for doctor to
attend to them. Therefore, he must check the witch-like attitude of nurses and
nonchalant attitude of doctors in our hospitals. His administration will be
confronted with public health centers of substandard drugs and even lack of
it. Diversion of the little equipment in public hospitals by doctors to their
privately owned ones and referring patients by them to such hospitals must be
Kogi state is one state blessed with very cerebral people. In the then
northern province, the people of Okun and Ebira were always the leading
candidates in regional examinations. And today, across the federation,
indigenes of Kogi are among the top students in the various educational
institutions, yet our education facilities in the state are one of the
poorest. Regarding Yahaya Bello's background, one analyst described him as the
first product of 6-3-3-4 to become a governor. If he takes a stroll now
through the site where he had his primary education, he will consider himself
lucky to have had a humble background. His school and the sleepy community of
Agassa who host it is now a humiliating background. Public schools across the
state are in the worst state any one can ever think of, and are thus in dire
need of attention. This is why education should be the prime focus of his
administration by providing modern infrastructure and quality teachers.
Coincidentally, a group of concerned citizens has already in the pipeline a
plan to bring to public notice the non-existence of public schools in Kogi
state. I wish his administration would see this as a call to action.
Water, environment and road reconstruction should follow suit in his
developmental agenda. No one needs to tell him the acute shortage of water
face by the entire people of Kogi state. I can confidently speak for the
people of Kogi central having been one of those kids who started at a very
tender age sourcing for water across Okene town, from Idare to Iruvucheba and
Idakoyivo. Ironically, Okene has the earliest Waterworks in the whole of the
federation. However, its dam is now an open toilet for the public and its
precinct a haven for criminals and drug addicts. Lokoja the state capital,
which also is the confluence of the two largest rivers in Nigeria- Benue and
Niger- is not in any way better. At the time he becomes the governor of the
confluence state whose people live by the rivers, he will meet us still
washing our hands with the proverbial spittle.
Our environment is directly related to our well-being. Unfortunately, the joke
in town is that Kogi has become the dustbin of the nation. It is filthy,
highly unorganized, hazardous and primitively rustic. Residential structures
are built on waterways and roads. Environmental sanitation, well-planned towns
and correction of distorted plan should be the thrust of his administration. I
had bemoaned elsewhere how our schools have been taking over by residential
buildings. I hope he will have the courage to demolish those structures and
reclaim our school lands. Roads in the state are in the worst state of
disrepair in addition to having thoroughly bad road network. The bad roads in
the state have become an easy mean for bandits to waylay unsuspecting
travellers, especially along the Okene-Lokoja route. Road redesign and repairs
will definitely need serious attention from his administration.
Unemployment and insecurity in the state are on all-time record high. The
consequence of unemployment is frequent youth restiveness, especially in Kogi
central. The lack of any functional industry in Kogi central particularly is
the reason for the frequent crisis in the region. Ironically, the state is
blessed with abundant solid and agricultural resources that any serious
administration can exploit to its advantage. What would have been the largest
steel industry in Africa is located in the state. It is a fact that a working
Ajaokuta steel and its raw material supplying company at Itakpe- both in Kogi
central- will provide employment for EVERYONE in Kogi state several times
over. The abundant palm tree in Kogi east if well harnessed will be a source
of employment and revenue for the state. It is therefore obvious that the
solution to unemployment and insecurity in Kogi sate lies within it.
Collaborating with the government at the center to ensure the immediate
take-off of these very important sectors will help his administration solve
the problem of unemployment and insecurity. Luckily, he will be meeting a
central government that is so much interested in diversifying our economics
through solid mineral and agriculture.
Beyond realizing that the mandate is a trust he holds for Kogi people, his
election to the state highest office needs him to prove many other things.
Among which is his age. It is on record that he is the youngest governor ever
elected in Nigeria democracy. By his age, he is within the age bracket of
citizens considered not to have been represented enough in government. Thus,
the way Yahaya Bello leads Kogi state will become a reference of sort in
whether people of our age bracket should have more say in governance.
It is good that he has campaigned on the mantra of a new direction for Kogi
rather than power-shift agitation, so comes 27th January, he should start to
show the people of Kogi state that new direction.
Wishing him and people of Kogi state the best.