Bello: Task Before Kogi’s New Helmsman | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Bello: Task Before Kogi’s New Helmsman

Posted: Feb 23, 2016 at 9:54 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Until August last year when the governorship primaries was held in Kogi State, little was known about Alhaji  Yahaya Bello,  the new governor of the state, in the politics of the state.    Bello, became the  flagbearer of All Progressives Congress (APC), following the death of the party’s candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu in the supplementary election which held December 5. Subsequently he was sworn in on January 27 by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Nasir Ajanah at a colourful ceremony in  Lokoja, the state capital.

From Obscurity To Prominence

Prior to this Bello, who hails from Kogi Central senatorial zone, had contested the governorship primaries in August 2015 but lost to late Audu, first executive governor of the state.  Many observers are surprised how Bello who has little or no political antecedents could rise to the exalted position as governor of a state described by many as gateway to the Federal Capital Territory.
Judging from the history of past governors in the state who did not emerge from the blues, the question on the lips of many observers is  “who is Yahaya Bello?”  What then are the factors that influenced his emergence as the youngest governor of the state?
Youth- Friendly Chief Executive

Before his decision to contest the governorship election last year, Bello was popular among youths in the state through his non-governmental organisation, Kogi Youths Arise (KYA) . He had used the organisation to help many youths in the state and rallied them to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential election last year.  Some people believed that some leaders of PDP in Kogi State supported Bello in order to stop late Audu whom they feared was the only aspirant that could stop the candidate of the party and the incumbent governor at that time. Bello garnered about 703 votes in the primaries to come second. The speculations that Bello became a beautiful bride when the opportunity presented itself after the death of Prince Audu was hinged on his connection with presidency when he worked for the victory of President Buhari in the March 28 presidential elections.
He started his professional career as Revenue Officer II with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, rising to the position of Assistant Chief Accountant.  Bello had his big break investing in stocks; oil and gas, real estate, and more. His is popularly referred to as “Fair-Plus” due to the success of his transport company, FairPlus International Limited. The company is a transport and courier service company, which has expanded into the retail business with supermarkets.  At 40, he is the youngest democratically elected governor in Kogi State’s history.
But beyond the euphoria that heralded Bello’s inauguration on January 27, it is instructive to note that the new government is coming into power at a critical moment in the history of the state. The state created about 24 years ago, lacks behind in terms of infrastructural development and provisions of social amenities. For instance, Lokoja the state capital with its vantage location that host both rivers Niger and Benue lacks good roads and portable water. Residents of the town for a long time now have been moving from one end of the town to another in search of water despite the construction of a highly celebrated Lokoja Water project by previous administration.
One of the greatest problems facing the state since its creation is the inability of successive government to eliminate ghost workers in the state civil service.  It was alleged that the state with the population of 3.2million people according to 2006 census figures has one of the largest workforce of about 28,000 in the country. Several efforts made by previous administrations especially the government of Ibrahim Idris to eliminate the menace through engaging the service of a consultant in 2009 failed to yield positive result as labour unions in the state and other interest groups frustrated the project. Many indigenes of the state are waiting anxiously to see how Bello would be able to confront the big names behind ghost workers syndrome in the state and liberate the state. Analysts believe that if the governor could tackle the problem headlong and reduce the monthly wage bill of the state,  Kogi would witness more development .
Though the three major ethnic groups in the state, Igala, Ebira and Okun have been together before the creation of Benue State in 1976 when the Igalas and Bassa were excised to join the Tivs and Idomas in the newly created state, the three ethnic groups have been living in mutual suspicion of each other since the creation of the state.  It is an expected task for Bello to embark on the mission of uniting the different ethnic groups in the state
The Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, (CHRCR), Comrade Idris Miliki Abdul has also tasked the new governor of some major decisions to take. First, he urged Bello in line with the spirit of accountability and transparency, which APC government preaches to quickly declare his assets. “If his acceptance speech is anything to go by then the governor must declare his assets immediately because he promised to take a cue from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. President Buhari immediately he took over did not hesitate to declare his assets,” he said.  The Human rights activist also advised Bello to as soon as possible institute a judicial inquiry into the last administration of Idris Wada in the state. Abdul stated that there is no way the administration could take off effectively without conducting an enquiry into the last administration with the view of ascertaining the true financial position of the state. According to Abdul, Kogi was highly indebted under the past administration of Idris Wada, which had failed the people in many ways.
He expressed disappointment over the provision of N2b in the budget for Lokoja stadium project, which was completed over two years ago.   Also, for the governor to succeed in the task of transforming the state, Abdul further advised him to make wide consultations devoid of party affiliations. He claimed that the myriads of problems facing the state is beyond party politics which any leader interested in moving the state forward must put politics aside. He further lamented that despite the questionable way the state resources were managed by Wada’s predecessor, Ibrahim Idris, the people of the state were in the  dark as regard the true financial position of the state in 2012 when the last administration was sworn in.

Daunting Challenges Before Governor
However, judging by Bello’s inaugural speech, it appeared the new governor is not oblivious of the numerous challenges facing the people and is prepared to tackle them. In an emotion laden speech after he was sworn in at Confluence Stadium Lokoja, on January 27, the governor noted that the statistics of poverty in Kogi is not rosy and that as a result, his administration would take positive and decisive actions to rescue Kogi state. Though successive administrations, according to Bello, have not done well and as a result, the people of Kogi state do not trust the government, he would do his best to win back the trust.
The governor promised to pay salaries owed workers in the state since October last year and has directed that workers should be paid one month salary immediately. He also promised to rid the state of corruption, which has been principally responsible for the backwardness of the state. “I hereby declare and affirm that Yahaya Bello administration will have zero tolerance for corruption,” he announced.
Though the governor may be determined to change the course of things in the state, stakeholders are worried that multiple litigations arising from the election of the governor may derail his laudable programmes. Therefore they want the matter resolved urgently.