Yahaya Bello: We Saw What They Tried Hard To Cover* – By Sadiq Abdullateef

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FROM 2007 to 2023, there were only three northern governors I never had the opportunity of meeting face to face or had a sit-down with – one is Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, which is surprising, considering the fact that it is my state and I have a very good relationship with some top politicians there. The second is ex-Kebbi governor and minister of budget, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu and of course, the third is ex-Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello, GYB as he is fondly called, with whom a meeting was arranged three times and none materialized.

Therefore, everything I seem to know or hear about Yahaya Bello’s bid to transform Kogi state, were things I read on the pages of newspapers or heard from media associates or my few Kogi friends. In his first term, there was so much bad press. But I must admit that this changed considerably in the last two years or so. Still one would think that the many positive articles on his achievements being published on the pages of newspapers were actually not so, considering the fierce attacks by many opposition figures in Kogi State.

This was also my thinking until a few days ago, when I visited Kogi and my perception changed.

My visit to the state was at the behest of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Standing Committee meeting hosted by the state government from February 23rd to 24th. The encounter, arranged led by the commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo was an eye-opener for the editors.

GYB Model Secondary School Adankolo.
After the tour, it was a consensual agreement in the bus I toured with by the 19 editors in the bus, that Yahaya Bello’s achievements were even grossly under-reported and there seemed to be a deliberate move by some naysayers to sweep his administrative feats under the carpet for political reasons.

The tour started with the Muhammadu Buhari Square, where the old stadium was converted into a world class government square. We proceeded to the GYB Model Secondary School, Adankolo, an amazing institute that would have shamed any high school in Canada with a well-equipped laboratory and IT Centre.

The Ganaja Junction Flyover has a heart-warming tale. It was initially awarded for N4.9bn but the scope of work was reduced and the contract was re-awarded and N1.9bn was saved. If you ask me, that is government at its most prudent. The importance of the fly-over project cannot be overemphasized as it will tackle traffic congestion and ease the movement of road users and residents who use the township road to access other parts of the city like Phase II, Barracks and the road that leads to Okene, Obajana and Kabba.

Reference Hospital Okene
The Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara stands tall among the initiatives of the GYB administration. The 400-hectre land of the university is a huge construction site for the various programmes and sections of the university.

According to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdulrahman Asipita Salawu, besides other programmes that are already in session, such as Faculty of Science, Faculty of Computing and Informatics, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Engineering Technology and Faculty of Management Sciences, some highly sought after and needs-based courses in CUSTECH will soon start.

There is the Reference Hospital Okene. The-state-of-the-art health facility left the editors in awe of its size and equipments and there are other beneficial health programs, one of which is the Healthcare Plus concept that has been applauded as one of the best intervention schemes across the Federation.

Indeed, Yahaya Bello has transformed Kogi State in all sectors, ranging from health, education and security as well as women and youth empowerment. There is no platform or newspaper space enough to appropriately delineate the laudable achievements of GYB.

Ganaja Junction Flyover
Seeing is believing is an African proverb that holds water in Kogi state. While it is hoped posterity remembers the GYB era kindly, for me, it is a revelation on how not to play politics with good governance. The two are mutually exclusive. Opposition figures must learn to acknowledge it when there are tangible achievements, not seek to bring down opponents by denigrating their own state.

I know a lot of governors that will take 1000 days out of the 1,462 days of their four-year tenure to celebrate half of what Yahaya Bello has achieved in the state. It is no surprise that many political leaders who visited the state during his two-term tenure only had words of praise for Yahaya Bello, not only for his commitment to advancing the quality of life of his people with his landmark projects and making a difference that is unprecedented and hard to be equalled, but they all also acknowledged Yahaya Bello as an irrepressible democrat who has continued to demonstrate uncommon vision and rare courage in working for the Kogi people as well as advancing the unity of Nigeria.

Having spent a few days in Kogi, and I had the opportunity to speak to a lot of people in the state, from local hunters, to market women, civil servants, retired uniform men to students – no matter what the naysayers put out, it is my honest opinion that, in the context of good governance, Yahaya Bello has done remarkably well for the state.

We saw, first hand, what naysayers tried hard to cover!

March 1, 2024

Sadiq, a journalist, author and PR expert is publisher, News Point Nigeria online newspaper.

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