2023: Gov Bello’s Presidential Ambition Dead On Arrival – Stakeholders, Kogites


When Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State officially stated that he was under severe pressure to contest for the number one seat of the country, many Nigerians including Kogites had expressed missed reactions on the true intention of the Ebira born politician ahead of the 2023 Presidential race.

DAILY POST in this report, takes a look at the political calculations of Gov. Bello, and the possibility of achieving his presidential ambition, as some analysts have maintained that his ambition is a gimmick, which is dead on arrival following his antecedents in Kogi State since he assumed power in 2016.

Since Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State came into political limelight after the demise of Prince Abubakar Audu in 2015, he has continued to maintain that his administration has witnessed tremendous achievements.

Bello, popularly called the ‘White Lion’ by most of his supporters over times has reminded Kogites that his administration put an end to God fatherism and has ensured that the old folks who do not believe in the Ebigo agenda ( Ebira, Igala and Okun) are sent into Political extinction.

The Governor who is running his second term in office in several press conference said he has improved the security network of Kogi State as residents now sleep with their two eyes closed, compared to the way he met it in 2015. In health care delivery, infrastructural development, education, worker’s welfare, Bello averred that no administration can beat his record. Does Bello’s statement translate to reality in Kogi State?

REASONS AND PERMUTATIONS BEHIND HIS AMBITION

Nigeria’s next presidential election is about 632 days from today going by what was released to Nigerians by the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in April 2021.

Though the election is still many months away, politicians interested in the number one seat of the country have started building forces, bracing old political slogans like the consistent call for restructuring, power shift and the unending quest for youths to be given the opportunity to lead the nation.

Potential aspirants have started testing the waters by sending out their foot soldiers, to start mobilising support for them across the 774 Local Governments in Nigeria.

One of the early birds for the 2023 Presidential race is governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya AlBello.

Governor Bello who was born on June 18, 1975 in Okene, Kogi State, the youngest of six children says it is time for the youths to take over the mantle of leadership in the country.

Bello, who strongly believes that he is a youth opined that, his style of leadership will help to transform the gains of President Muhammadu Buhari who is billed to vacate Aso rock in 2023.

As the youngest Governor in the current political dispensation of the country, Bello said his constituency, (the youths) wants him to serve and transform the nation just the way he has done in Kogi State.

In a recent interview with a national television, Bello affirmed this saying Nigerians, including the youths and women, are asking him to run for the office of the president.

“And I believe it is high time that we look into capacity, who can do the job, who is going to unify this country. And I think they are seeing something in me that they are asking me to come and unite and fix this country,” he said.

The country no doubt is facing the most horrific moment of insecurity since the end of the Nigeria Civil War in 1970. It is against this backdrop that some sections of the country are calling for secessions.

This according to Gov. Bello is a setback for the most populous black nation in the world as he emphasized that his Presidential ambition will not only bring together the broken pieces of the country but will also ensure that the citizens are given sense of belonging again.

Aside that, Bello according to sources is also banking his ambition on the support he is getting from the Presidency since 2015. Bello is a classmate, course mate and great friend of Aisha Buhari, the wife of the president.

The relationship between Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello of Kogi state and the current President of Nigeria is a tight one as no one could dare to dispute the reality behind it.

Bello has cemented his ground to the extent that no one could dare step on his feet without the intervention from above. Bello is a strong stakeholder of the APC.

Another calculation from the camp of Governor Bello is that it is time for the North Central to Produce the next President. To buttress this step, the current speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Prince Mathew Kolawole recently toured some northern States of the country begging for their support to give Bello a chance to pilot the affairs of the country.

In a recent meeting with the Speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly, Abok Ayuba, Kolawole and his colleagues solicited for their support for Bello’s ambition.

“Our mission in Plateau is to congratulate the Speaker, Plateau House of Assembly, Abok Ayuba on his election as the Chair of North-Central zone of Speakers Conference of Nigeria.

“We are also here to brief him and canvass support for his Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Governor of Kogi State, who is the youngest governor in Nigeria to run for president come 2023.

“In view of our relationship with our governor, as legislators, we have articulated all his achievements in the areas of security, women empowerment, youth inclusion in government, education and infrastructural development.

“We have found him to be suitable as he has performed creditably well.

“On this note, we decided on our own, to pass a vote of confidence on him and at the same time, pass a resolution that we want him to contest for the position of the President of Nigeria.

“The youths of Nigeria are also putting pressure on him to contest for the position of the President of Nigeria and he has finally agreed,” he said.

KOGITES REACT

Kogites have continued to react to the presidential ambition of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. While many are of the opinion that his aspiration will bring blessing to the people of Kogi State, others are of the view that the ambition of him becoming the president of this country will be a curse for the people of Nigeria.

While his presidential ambition is highly applauded by his political appointees, members of the All Progressive Congress, (APC), lawmakers, people of his senatorial districts, including the Eastern and the Western region, it is not the same for others who strongly believed that since the Governor came on board in 2016, Kogi State is now several steps backwards.

Speaking to DAILY POST on Tuesday, a resident who identified himself as Shehu commended Bello for standing tall among his peers to contest for the number one seat of the country.

“I’m very happy that our Governor is coming out to contest in 2023. With this, we are very optimistic that more development will be attracted to Kogi State. He is a unifier per excellence. He knows what it takes to be a leader and what should be done for Nigeria to come back to its feet again. No doubt things are very rough now, but I am confident that my Governor will change the narrative as a youth when he gets to power.”

Another Kogites Fatima Ademu in her view opined that Nigerians should wake up and not allow the country to be led again by those who have been holding power over four decades.

“We can no longer pretend that all is well when power is still recycled in the hands of these old, fraudulent and deceptive politicians who are out there for their own selfish.

“ It is time to say no to God fatherism and any other manipulation from these old politicians who have nothing to offer but giving us fake promises that will never materialize. We need a youth President like Alhaji Yahaya Bello,” She said.

Christopher Oni, an APC stakeholder in the state said in view of the Not Too Young to Rule and Political Paradigm Shift, Governor Bello is the best bet come 2023.

He explained further that “Nigeria has capable youths that could chart the course for a great nation but the challenge is that they have been abandoned. There is a lot to give us concern as a nation about the way our country is being run, because we have able and capable young men and women out there.

“ Gov. Bello is endowed with innovative ideas, an astute public administrator, a vibrant , forthright dynamic, competent, highly resourceful, a visionary leader, bridge builder and exemplary role model.

“GYB’s sterling and enduring legacies in governance in Kogi State is an eye opener and a pointer that young men should be entrusted with mantle of leadership in public governance”.

Others who spoke to DAILY POST had a contrary view. According to a Civil Servant who did not want his name mentioned, if Bello becomes President, Nigerian workers will be forced to lick his feet to get their monthly pay.

“I am a Civil servant but it looks as if I am not working. I have been collecting percentage Salary since Bello came on board. Many of us are suffering and smiling. We can’t say anything, else they will come after us. This same person is now telling us that he wants to become President. On what ground?

“Somebody that cannot manage one state which consist of 21 Local Government Area, wants to control 36 States which is made up of 774 Local Government Area and the Federal Capital territory. What will he say are his achievements in Kogi State that would qualify him to lead this country?

“Is it the bad roads, lack of electricity, abandoned projects, dilapidated structures, inconsistent payment of workers’ salaries, poor health services and many more. I think he is just a joker and knows within himself that he is not fit to become a Local Government Chairman in view of the suffering Kogites have witnessed since his administration came on board.”

Laughing over the recent move by Governor Bello to run for Presidency, another resident who identified himself as Ocholi Ahmed insisted that Kogi State remains the worst governed state in Nigeria.

He described Governor Bello’s ambition as the joke of the century and should not be taken seriously by Nigerians who truly know the political calculation of the country.

He said, “Whenever I see people campaigning for GYB to PYB I laugh. This is because this is the biggest joke of the century. I can’t imagine that our Governor will come out to tell the whole world that he is under pressure to contest for presidency. Who is pressurizing him? Certainly not me. May be his political appointees and those set of people enjoying him. They are the ones drumming for him to succeed President Buhari.

”I strongly believe that if you look deeply into the minds of many Kogites and Nigerians in general, he will be outrightly rejected. Look at the opinion poll recently conducted. It speaks for itself about his aspiration. They say charity begins at home. What does he have to show that he is truly qualified to run the affairs of over 200 million Nigerians? Whoever that is deceiving him should stop. He knows that becoming the President is not a child’s play.”

Leadership Style

Governor Bello, since he came on board in 2016 assumed the role of the leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in the State.

The governor according to political analysts in the state decides who and who forms his cabinet and who should be elected into various elective position both at the National Assembly, State Assembly and Local Government Area. Any individual who kicks against his philosophy will be booted out.

A political analyst who never wanted his name to be mentioned told DAILY POST that, “When Gov. Bello was elected in 2015, the then APC excos led by Haddy Ametuo was shown the exit door when they were not on the good book of the government. The current administration immediately ensured that the excos that will be under his control is constituted.

“It is still fresh in our memories about the ordeals of former Assembly lawmaker from Igalamela Odolu, Elder Friday Sanni Makama (although now in APC) who was beaten black and blue at the Assembly Complex.

“After that day, he couldn’t gain access to the chamber to represent his constituency. What about the immediate past Speaker of the Assembly Rt Hon. Ahmed Imam? We could still remember how he left that position. We can still remember how the former Deputy Governor, elder Simon Achuba was wrongfully impeached under this present administration in Kogi State. This are some of the few cases I could remember.”

DAILY POST, however, gathered that all the 25 seats at the State House of Assembly are members of the All Progressive Congress, (APC).

Also, three senators representing Kogi State at the National Assembly are members of the ruling All Progressive Congress, (APC). Over 80 percent of the house of representative’s members from Kogi State are members of the ruling party.

This was also replicated at the December 2020 council polls where all the chairmanship and councilor seats are all occupied by members of the ruling party.

Gov Bello vs Kogi Workers

During Governor Bello’s first tenure between 2016-2019 in Kogi State, he had a strain relationship with Kogi workers. Bello and the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) led by Comrade Onuh Edoka and the Trade Union Congress, (TUC), Comrade Ronti Ojo were at loggerhead over poor welfare of workers and pensioners.

It could be recalled that on Sept. 22nd 2017, the organized labour in Kogi State began an indefinite strike as the only lifeline left for the workers to negotiate their survival in the hands of the administration of Gov. Yahaya Bello.

Labour demanded among others, full payments of salary and allowances to workers being owed between two and 21 months’ arrears. The workers also demanded payment of outstanding leave, yearly incremental allowances and reinstatement of workers unjustly treated during the concluded screening exercise.

Labour bombarded the government for its poor attitude to workers’ welfare , saying that never in the history of the state had civil service recorded the massive hunger -induced deaths as being witnessed currently.

“Workers and pensioners are going through trauma, anguish, pains, sickness, penury, truncation of children’s education, huge unsettled house rent/medical bills. We must rise against these now or never,” the organized labour said.

Although the Organized Labour in March 2021, suspended its proposed strike over the implementation of the new minimum wage, the State NLC Chairman, Comrade Onuh Edoka in his May Day speech openly declared that Kogi workers are fully in support of the Presidential ambition of Governor Bello.

He, however, reminded the governor to address some of the challenges of State and Local workers ranging from poor remunerations, percentage salaries at the local government level, lifting of ban on union activities at the various higher institution, amongst other.

Stakeholders react

Meanwhile, some political stakeholders in the state have admitted that the presidential ambition of Governor Bello is highly suspicious. While some APC loyalist are of the view that the governor means business and won’t back out from the presidential race, others are of the view that Gov. Bello is only pulling out a publicity stunt to gain political relevance in 2023.

Deji Adeyanju, a popular Abuja-based activist, in a series of tweets which was published by DAILY POST on 29th March, 2021 pointed out that Bello was only tricking people into believing he’s contesting for the presidency.

According to Adeyanju: “Yahaya Bello is contesting for Ministerial position in 2023 and not president. I only feel sorry for those that have fallen for his tricks.”

A political analyst based in Lokoja, Isaac Amode aligned himself with the position of the Abuja based activist. Amode explained the Governor is only hiding under the guise of the youth but knows deeply within himself that he lacks the capacity to handle the affairs of Nigerians at this trying moment of the country.

According to him, “I’m not against the presidential ambition of his excellency. We just have to be realistic with ourselves. Does he have the capacity to lead the country now? To me, he is just pulling up shows simply because he has the money to do so. I would advise Governor Bello to channel his energy on how to make Kogi State move forward and not an ambition he knows won’t come to pass.

“To me, this is a distraction from his work in Kogi State. He can only get support from a section of the people in the state and not all. For him to think that he is the right man to lead this nation come 2023, somebody should kindly tell him to wake up from his dream.”

In the same vein, the opposition People Democratic Party, (PDP) described the intention of the Governor to contest for the President as not only laughable but appalling. A chat with the State Publicity Secretary, Bode Ogunmola queried that “this is a joke taken too far. How can you come out to contest when you have underperformed in your own State? What will he tell electorates that he has done that would make them vote for him in the next general election?”.

Also speaking, The Kogi State Chairman, Conference of Nigeria Political Party, (CNPP), Mohammed Kabir Abdullahi described Bello’s presidential ambition as a phantom project that is dead on arrival. He told DAILY POST that the Governor’s move for presidency was based on imagination.

“ The governor’s move on this phantom project is not achievable. It can’t go anywhere. The State is suffering. The State is seeking for attention of the governor. We seek his attention here in Kogi State than what he is doing. For over one year, the governor has not spent a full month in Kogi State. So his ambition is causing more harm in the state. His ambition is a trick.

“It is very clear. The founding fathers of the APC are clamoring for a good national chairman. How many Governors or people from North Central are with him on this project? How many Senators from North Central are with him on this project?

“It is just a gimmick. Apart from his few cartels, his Chief of Staffs, appointees and many more that are with him, how many notable Nigerians have come out to say we stand with Yahaya Bello apart from retarded celebrities, footballers, that cannot even make a delegate of their party. My brother, it is a gimmick,” he said.

An APC supporter in the state identified as Isaiah told DAILY POST on Tuesday that “Governor Yahaya Bello has distinguish himself for excellence in the comity of Governors in Nigeria because of his unprecedented achievement in security, infrastructures, youths and women inclusiveness in public governance, religious tolerance, community and human capital development.

“Based on his track records of impacts in Kogi State in term of credible, responsible and purposeful leadership, occasion demands that Governor Bello should be entrusted with the mandate to pilot the affairs of our dear nation, Nigeria come 2023”.

The Kogi State Deputy Governor, Chief Edward Onoja had reaffirmed the aspiration of Gov. Bello to contest for the 2023 Presidential election.

Speaking recently during the inauguration of Committee Members of the Chief Edward David Onoja for Governor Yahaya Bello to President Yahaya Bello (CEDO 4 GYB2PYB), the Deputy Governor said, the CEDO 4 GYB2PYB Project shares in the ideologies of existing support groups like the GYB2PYB, Bello Ambassadors Network (BAN), the North Central Youth Group, amongst many others, envisioned to reinforce the clarion call on the Kogi Governor for the national assignment.

Onoja added that there was a need to galvanize Nigerians across board to deepen the call on Governor Bello to replicate his lofty achievements in Kogi State on the national scale given his laudable antecedents.

He identified the core challenges of insecurity and disunity, which according to him, have led to increased poverty, and by effect, suffocates the chances for prosperity in the land.

He disclosed that Governor Bello has proven beyond reasonable doubts to the realization of Kogi People, his unshaken stance against insecurity and genuine efforts to unify them across ethnic, religious and class divides.

The Deputy Governor admonished members of the project to walk the talk, saying its uniqueness, asides raising consciousness through countdowns, lies majorly on effective communication, collaboration and networking with Nigerians to actualize the “Divine Project.”

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