I knew Governor Yahaya Bello was going to Kano. I also knew his minders would be having a herculean task managing the crowd that would want to catch a glimpse of their hero.
My fears were good fears. They have not seen him for a long time. They saw him last when the political space was full of smoke. Now the smoke are gone because the fire is on. They need someone to quench the fire come 2023.
A journalist thought I was in the entourage and was trying frantically to get through to me. I wasn’t there but I saw every bit of what transpired. It was an emphatic statement by Nigeria’s most strategic political city. They thronged the streets and demanded for a Messiah in 2023. They want a young President who has proven his mettle in uniting people with diverse interests and ethnicities. He has shown he is capable of ensuring security. He has shown he can trust young people like him with not just power, but decision weaving.
So, like phototropism, Governor Yahaya Bello has become what is akin to photo-politicalism. He has become the light in politics that is attracting the Nigerian people, the rallying point for hope and greatness.
When GYB came into power, he displayed traits that showed he is going to be the next Buhari in terms of cult followership among the people. PMB possesses the magic of attracting the people. The Talakawas of the North see him as a beacon of hope. He is their hero.
But his political son has added flavor to his inheritance. GYB has made social welfare the cardinal of his governance and leadership. He has concentrated more resources in serving the rural, hitherto forgotten areas than he has committed to the urban centres.
The billions that went into the Rice Mill at Ejiba, which now provides jobs for thousands of rural dwellers around the area would have helped in tarring all the major roads in Lokoja. The billions that went into giving electric power to the rural areas of Kogi East which never had power, would have built state-of-the-art schools in Lokoja. And travellers who may never get to Ejiba or Abocho or Abejukolo will hail him to high heavens. But GYB knows that Rural Life Matters.
Governance is about choosing your impacts and making them affect lives positively. He keeps winning Kogi for himself and others, because the people believe in him. They have witnessed in practical terms, the steel of his bridge across ethnicities and religions. They have seen him demolish the bungalow of class bias in Kogi. They have seen him build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructures, without noise.
In recent times, honest Nigerians have asked how GYB has been able to keep Kogi safe. We have 10 states bordering us. Yet, we are the safest state even when our neighbors have been pegged back by insecurity. The magic was made possible by a number of factors.
His youthfulness has made it possible for dynamic security architecture. He sits with security Chiefs for hours to analyze security situations. He researches into what happens and also proffer solutions to security challenges. He allows for free flow of ideas. Security meetings in Kogi State are strategic, confidential, dynamic and well coordinated.
From the drawing board, he spares nothing to secure his people. I once asked him why we were committing so much to security. He told me a safe soul can give us back what we have invested in security. He was right. Security can never be too expensive.
When some flash points were becoming too notorious for kidnapping, I watched the Governor lead a team of security operatives to the home of a notorious kidnap-sponsor. He was apprehended and prosecuted. He built the confidence of the people in him. He worked himself into cherubic heroism.
Today, no one is closer to the adorable heights of PMB like GYB. He wasn’t in Kano for campaigns, yet, the people of Kano wouldn’t allow such opportunity go untapped. They came out massively to pass a strong message to the next Buhari: Nigeria is waiting for you!
When the Governor retired to his abode in Kano, I was told he shed some quick tears. He is a lion in spirit and soul. He leads from the front. He is bold and courageous. But his emotions were defeated by the well of emotions of the Kano people.
My journalist friend won’t allow me rest. “What is it with GYB that the crowd always pour out for him? My answer is simple: The people see themselves in him. His story is their story. His ideology is unlocking opportunities for them. He is giving what they need in great leadership. He is in them and they are in him.
He wanted answer to one more question, a question I prayed not to face. But see how I had to face that: “GYB and Zulum are the poster boys of the APC at the moment. Who should be President between the two in 2023?
Governor Zulum is an excellent leader and a great man of great leadership qualities and convictions. He is doing a great job in Borno. He is developing the State. He is giving the people great hopes. He is leading from the front. And he has one more term to spend. The last sentence is so beautiful and a good one for the people of Borno and North East in general. May Zulum continue to succeed in Borno.
It a thing of joy that APC is parading an array of great Governors. It shows why many more are joining the party.
Congratulations to the people of Kano. Your hero will respond soon and he won’t disappoint Nigerians.
Kingsley Fanwo is the Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications