Kogi 2019: Oshiomhole’s all in with Yahaya Bello

If you want to make a difference, you have to break the rules. To break the rules you have to master all of them – culled.

I am very partisan when it comes to politics, especially of the political party brand, and I usually align with the body language or momentum and direction of the APC, having contested twice under the APC primaries (lost twice too). A friend asked me if I was a journalist or a political columnist, when he was nudging me on to write about the AFCfTA (African Continental Free Trade Agreement) and how it stands in the way of Nigeria’s industrial revolution when it is in full swing. I try to be as bi-partisan as humanly possible when I dwell on national issues, driven by a deep sense of patriotism and whatnot. In politics, ‘partyship’ is like a religion, and you keep by the books of what your party lays down, and try to build a relationship of commitment and loyalty to your party. It doesn’t however specify that the party is always right – just the way government isn’t always right or our ‘bubu’ isn’t always right.

Adam’s Oshiomhole has stood tall by the Govenor of Kogi State, Gov. Yahaya Bello. And were he to win the coming elections on the 16th of November, Yahaya would be thoroughly grateful to Oshiomhole for his unwavering support and commitment to his election. The party chairman has been blamed for the Zamfara loss of the APC, but then, Zamfara today is the better for it, with Bello Matawalle doing a fantastic job of the security situation in the state. So providence has a way of manifesting and Oshiomhole’s supposed goof, is Zamfara’s blessing in disguise.

If my recollection is accurate, Bello was a ‘replacement candidate of a governor-elect, as the winner of the 2015 elections died mysteriously just after his victory at the polls. I stand to be corrected, Yahaya Bello was if not the top, one of the top three in the PDP primary elections in the build up to the 2015 polls. Faleke, who was the late Gov-elects’ running mate, laid claim to the mandate as the Deputy-Gov elect, but as destiny will have it, Yahaya Bello graciously became the candidate and was returned or won as governor of Kogi state. Yahaya Bello was destined to become the governor of Kogi, and the architecture of his fate had long drawn up that conclusion. Bello is 44 years old, and perhaps the youngest governor Nigeria has ever had (democratically elected). He therefore represents a constituency of a teeming youth population in Nigeria that have been itching to occupy leadership positions and are anxiously awaiting ‘Godfatherly’ or providential beckoning.

I know there has been a lot of misgivings and upheaval over Gov. Bello’s first term in office, which is practically and totally similar to challenges most of the states faced right from the inception of 2015 administrations, from the federal to the state levels. Bello’s challenges were not isolated. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala did reveal that for three months, the federal government was borrowing to pay salaries! If so, then what more of the states? Utter penury I must add. So Yahaya was saddled with a threemonths backlog of salaries and only God knows the volume in billions of the unpaid gratuity and pensions as unpaid wages burden of the state government’s civil service. Inheriting a problem does not make you the cause, neither does it absolve you of complicity in the unpaid salaries and wages conundrum that has ravaged most states, and continues to haunt some. Yahaya Bello has finally offset those three months, but I see some Kogites lamenting salaries and wages under or non-payment. In Nigerian state governments’ administration, that article of governance is rocket science and perhaps only Lagos state has the ebullience to pay and overpay its workers if it deems fit. If states like Bayelsa and co. with 13% derivation revenue still have unpaid emoluments of civil servants, then what more if Kogi, with very poor IGR and limited federation account allocation?

The hallmark of Gov Bello’s tenure is that he has embarked on unprecedented agricultural revolution in Kogi, purchasing a whopping 1000 hectares of farmland, sharing the land to youths in the state, along with farm inputs and mechanised implements. This is in line with the Agricultural Renaissance Policy of the federal government, to provide food security and serve as a springboard for non oil revenue transformation. He has also purchased 375 Fergus Tractors with full implements and three sets each of mini harvesters, planters, broom sprayers, and, of course, rice reapers. 1500 Tillers were also procured and distributed to farmers in the state. This has contributed to the cultivation of 3000 hectares of rice and 5000 hectares of cassava. The state government is taking advantage of its nodal location and has set up a state of the art green house at Osara, for the production of tomatoes and other vegetables.

The few court cases, seeking the disqualification of Yahaya Bello, and the resilient Akpoti case, seeking a clearance to contest, are those apparent indicators that victory is in the path of Yahaya Bello, Kogi’s governor of destiny. Sen. Dino Melaye’s election has been slated for the same day as the governor’s election date, and it seems Dino will have more than a handful to contend with on the said date – a blessing for Bello, as he will coast to clear victory, outside Dino’s senatorial stronghold. Sen. Smart Adeyemi will be the one to slug it out alone with Dino – who is the only legislator surviving and remaining member of the renegade 16 senators in the defunct 8th assembly, that left the APC. Yahaya has youth in his corner, and obviously has youths by his side. He has matched most opposition toe to toe and has had most of them kowtow to his second term bid. This is his first real test, and from all indications has done his homework well. Quite a number of APC governors are willingly and vibrantly supporting him on ground, including Bauchi’s MA Abubakar, who is heading the secretariat engagement of the National APC in Kogi state. Bello has warmed his way into the stronghold of the Villa, having not only Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the VP, but of course PMB’s support for a second term. INEC is also readying and bracing for an anticipated security situation as highlighted by the Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu. All is set, and as an APC supporter, I can say Bello is set for a second term, God willing. May the best man win!

Tahir is Talban Bauchi.

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