The emergence of Yahaya Bello as the Governor of Kogi State marked a new beginning in the Confluence state, and five years down the line, the people’s Governor has proven to be a round peg in a round hole.
Recall that Governor Yahaya Bello is the Director of Kogi Youth Arise Forum, a group that motivated the campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari in Kogi State.
He was also the managing director of FairPlus International Ltd. Yahaya Bello is the youngest democratically elected governor in Nigeria, who assumed his first office at age 40.
In 2015, Governor Bello was divinely prepared to rebuild Kogi state from the debris of the people’s frustrations occasioned by the laissez-faire approach to governance issues by the many years of the PDP. It was, therefore, not for nothing that the people yearned for change in the leadership profile of the state.
Prior to becoming the Governor of the confluence state in 2016 to begin his first term in office, no one knew that this man with a date with destiny would occupy the driver’s seat of the state.
The primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had been won by the late Audu Abubakar and Bello had accepted his fate that becoming the governor might be a mirage at that time, believing that there was always another time.
But the rest is history as Bello, having come second in the primaries of the party, was put forward to contest the governorship seat of the state after the sudden death of Audu Abubakar, when the APC was coasting to victory.
The deputy governorship candidate of the party then, Hon. Abiodun Faleke now became an issue as he insisted that he would have to replace Abubakar. But this was rejected on constitutional grounds as he was not part of the party primaries.
So, the party settled for Bello, who came second at the primaries and wanted Faleke to be the deputy, but the latter rejected this, preferring to go back to the Federal House of Representatives, where he was from Ikeja Federal Constituency in Lagos and fight the battle in a court of law.
Bello later joined forces with the likes of Senator Dino Melaye, who was his ally than to contest the re-run election.
Governor Yahaya Bello was sworn in on Wednesday, January 27, 2016, as the fourth democratically elected Governor of Kogi State without a deputy having won the re-run election.
James Faleke made real his threat not to present himself for swearing-in with the governor, and he later approached the election tribunal in the state asking it to declare him governor-elect.
He contended that the election had been won and lost before Audu died and that he (Faleke) should have been pronounced governor-elect.
Faleke repeatedly claimed that he was not consulted or taken into confidence by anyone regarding the choice of Bello as Mr Audu’s replacement.
But Faleke was still defeated by Bello as his prayers were not granted by the tribunal.
However, by November 2019, when Governor Bello was seeking a second term in office, the likes of Dino Melaye and some others have become his enemies.
But Bello’s records of achievements stood for him at the polls and the people of the state decided to give him another chance to continue his good works as listening and performing governor.
Now, Yahaya Bello wants to replicate his performances at the Federal level by gunning for the post of the President of Nigeria in 2023.
Bello will slug it out at the APC primaries with the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while on the other hand, he would face the likes of former Nigerian vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) if he is eventually given the ticket of the party.
According to a top member of the APC, who pleaded anonymity, “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.
“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 opportunity to rule Nigeria as President after the end of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.”
Prior to the advent of the Yahaya Bello’s administration, Kogi State was sharply divided along ethnic lines, corroded by disunity as politicians planted division in the minds of our people for their selfish political gains.
It was a fresh breeze that reshaped the mentality of the Kogi People. They were glad to have a unifier as Governor.
Under Yahaya Bello, projects are spread all over the state and the institutions of government were ushered into a new vista of development.
All the appointments under his administration were spread, a situation that has helped break down the barriers of ethnic jingoism.
Before Bello became Governor, insecurity was rife. Robbery and kidnapping were perpetrated with reckless abandon. The State gave up while the reign of terror continued.
But Governor Yahaya Bello has changed the narratives today. He provided over 200 utility vehicles for patrol and procured sophisticated gadgets for Operation Total Freedom established by the present administration to stamp out criminality in the State.
In Kogi State, farmers now produce more as they have no fearsome kidnappers might take them off and be demanding ransom.
The present administration in Kogi State is not operating on a guess board but on a well-thought-out agenda known as the New Direction Agenda.
Bello, who is the Youth Ambassador in Governance, has been focused on getting the job done despite the untiring efforts of political opponents to misrepresent the person of the Governor and his administration to the outside world.
The efforts of the State Government in crushing criminals, recorded a success when the state vigilante group confronted kidnappers on Okene-Lokoja and Abuja highways killing four of them while others fled with bullet wounds. This is in addition to hundreds of suspected kidnappers arrested by the police for prosecution.
The Yahaya Bello-led administration has equally mapped out various strategies aimed at engaging and empowering youths in various youth empowerment programmes.
It was, therefore, not surprising when Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello garnered several awards, including that by the Inspector-General of Police, for his unflagging dedication to the security of the people of Kogi state.
On healthcare, quality healthcare delivery has been one of the greatest achievements of the present administration in Kogi State.
The Healthcare Plus Program of the state government has been hailed as one of the best healthcare policies in the nation today.
He renovated and remodelled and re-equipped 21 existing Primary Health Care Centres (one per LGA) with solar-powered boreholes and electrification to help the success of the Healthcare Plus Programme.
Under the Bello Health Initiative, the State Government has also procured assorted customized pediatric drugs currently in the State Medical Store, through the Office of the SDG.
The administration has prioritized the success of the Kogi State Sustainable Drug Supply System.
He introduced Public Private Partnership into the health sector.
The Administration has been able to renovate Zonal Hospitals in Kabba (Kogi West), Idah (Kogi East) and Okene (Kogi Central). This has made it easy for people to access quality healthcare without necessarily besieging the medical facilities at the state capital.
The administration has constructed a Cottage Hospital in Kpareke.
The government has been strengthening the State Action Committee on HIV/AIDS and enlightening the people about the dangers of contracting the disease.
Agriculture has witnessed an unprecedented revolution under the present administration in the state.
The State Government keyed into the Agricultural Renaissance Policy of the Federal Government which was aimed at ensuring food security and promoting the non-oil sector for economic transformation.
Today, Kogi State has become the Agricultural Capital of Nigeria as the Governor has created the right environment and support to make agriculture the driver of the state economy.
The State Government has succeeded in facilitating loans for farmers to encourage mechanization and improved production of food.
It also cleared 1000 hectares of land across the state which were allocated to youthful farmers with farm inputs and agric machines services.
The State Government procured 375 Fergus Tractors with complete implements, three quantities each for Mini Harvesters, Planters, Broom Sprayers, Rice Reapers and other similar equipment to enhance agricultural activities and boost production.
The Bureau for Public Procurement was rejigged by Yahaya Bello’s administration.
Today, the Bureau has restored sanity in public procurement and has woven a water-tight net that has made corruption almost impossible.
The Bureau of Public /Private partnership has been repositioned to engage the private world in businesses that were used as conduit pipes to defraud the state in the past.
The government built and delivered a gigantic Revenue House, which has added to the aesthetic beauty of the capital city. Competent hands were employed and revenue administration became digitalized.
Electricity is pivotal to industrial development. In order to catalyze the economy of the state, Alh. Yahaya Bello-led administration has intervened to deliver the following electrification projects:
The government completed the Lokoja (Banda)-Kotonkarfe electrification project.
This has brought succour to the people of the area and sparked industrial development to promote products and generate jobs as well as improve the living standards of the people.
In order to improve the road infrastructure of the state, the administration of Alh. Yahaya Bello procured modern technology in road construction.