Governing successfully requires making a difference, and to make this difference, you must imbibe a specific quality not only to establish what makes you distinct but also to be competent enough to groom those who will take it to the next level.
Kogi under Yahaya Bello has witnessed tremendous growth in many sectors. To speak on the New Direction government is to speak with the proverbial contentment that a fresh palm tree provides, with the assurance of the palm wine tapper that no matter how many times he taps, fresher wine will be produced. To Kogites, the situation is well known, and to outsiders, the best way to properly describe what Kogi state citizens and residents enjoy is what I shall term the “Kogi First” agenda.
Yahaya Bello came with a vigor that had never been experienced before in past governments, ensuring that governance touched all and sundry. However, the sweetener to the New Direction cake has been his uncanny ability to push Kogi, her citizens, and residents to the forefront of every struggle. If the issues can be solved immediately, Bello will solve them. If it is beyond his constitutional powers, then you can be rest assured that Bello will ensure that Kogi is mentioned ahead of others in the pecking order.
Take the situation of Federal Government roads as an example: Roads within this territory could be best described as pitiable and over the years, several administrations were culpable of making promises without the bull’s eye political will to deliver a long-term remedy to this quagmire. The Kogi West region, which borders the states of Kwara and Ekiti, offers torturous travel experiences, sojourning to Kogi East is not any better, especially given the circumstances of the Ganaja – Ajaokuta Federal highway. The Okene highway in the Kogi central region could leave travelers trapped for days.
Unfortunately, this situation has dented the public perception of Kogi state and even though the current administration has made astronomic strides in putting her internal road network in proper shape, travelers often ply the Federal roads, and their sordid opinion has been hard to shake off.
However, what you can never accuse Yahaya Bello of is a lack of effort. Beyond providing short-term fixes at different times in many of these bad portions, he also made conspicuous efforts to direct the gaze of the FG, particularly the Ministry of Works to the people’s predicament.
On many occasions, the governor visited the former Minister for Works, Power, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to emphasize the need for prompt rehabilitation of these roads and alleviate the pains and sufferings experienced by the people, alongside resolving the accruing socio-economic disadvantages.
Kogi remains the entry point between the Northern and Southern parts of the Nation, and huge volumes of goods, perishable and nonperishable are conveyed daily between these two ends. Bello ensured that the entire world took notice when the 2022 flood grounded movements and businesses to a halt, using this opportunity to once again, direct the gaze of the Federal Government to the condition of these roads.
Unwavering in his belief, Bello always focused his efforts on what he could control in terms of establishing an enviable intrastate and Township road network, and just like the former Minister for Women Affairs, Her Excellency Pauline Tallen pointed out on her recent visit to Lokoja, she witnessed “a new Kogi” that has undergone a “complete transformation”.
Regardless of the lack of urgency from the Federal Government, Bello directed the deployment of the state-owned Kogi State Road Maintenance Agency (KOGROMA) to some portions of these roads, repairing some drainage systems, patching some amendable portholes and performing some other maintenance functions. In sympathy for the plight of travelers with the festive season fast approaching, the state government under Bello’s leadership flagged off the reconstruction of the 13.71km Itakpe – Kabba Junction roads, which although belongs to the federal government, has since become a total eyesore.
In the now-known manner of his person, Bello’s relentlessness in hunting down what he considers best for his people finally paid off, albeit recently. Not only did he get the ears of the new government, Bello, demonstrating his unbending will, literally dragged the newly inaugurated Federal Minister for Works, Engineer David Umahi to the state for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation on the ground. Once he got wind of the Minister’s desire to tour Federal Government roads, Bello laid his ambush to ensure one thing and one thing only: Kogi First.
During his visit, Eng. Umahi poured encomium on the governor for his dedication, passion, and genuine concern for the well-being of the people of the state and by strategic extension, the nation. Not only did the FG pledge an immediate intervention and long-lasting solutions to these critical road infrastructures, but the Minister promised that Kogi’s case would be treated as a priority when funds are made available by President Tinubu-led administration. All this is made possible because Kogi possesses a Governor who has kept the promise made seven and a half years earlier as he swore an oath to Kogites, never to renege on his commitment towards “serving the superseding interests of Kogi State to the best of his capabilities”.
This is why Kogites continually display their trust in the New Direction ship and its Captain, Yahaya Bello by constantly ensuring success at the electoral polls. Promise after promise ticked off a long list of achievements have made Bello and his army of mentees a force to be reckoned with in Nigeria’s political landscape. Test after test, challenge after challenge have only succeeded in bringing out the best in Yahaya Bello and his dynamic team, from which a capable successor has emerged.
Kogites have an unshaken belief in the nomination and subsequent ratification of the candidacy of Alhaji Usman Ododo, who has emerged as the best option amongst an enviable collection of emerging leaders under Bello’s wings ready to take the Nigerian political terrain by storm.
Among his many desirable qualities, Usman Ododo trumped others not only on his glaring competence, and humility but largely on the well-known belief within many quarters of his resolve to pursue every challenge to a positive end. Just like his principal, Ododo has fully imbibed and repeatedly displayed what it means to put Kogi and her people first.
While Governor Bello in seven and half years has consciously laid solid foundations of road infrastructures in the State, a consolidation and continuity government of Alhaji Usman Ododo will provide the best opportunity for such momentum to be sustained without the prejudice that always bedevils a new government as a result of divergent political ideologies.