Like him or hate him, Yahaya Bello, the Governor of Kogi State has come to be reckoned with in the contemporary Nigerian political realm. Within a very short span of his political sojourn, the Agassa-born Ebira politician has miraculously secured his name in history.
While many Nigerians express reservations about his style of politicking, including yours’ sincerely, his ability to challenge the status quo and penetrate hazardous Nigeria’s political environment within a very short period put him ahead of his contemporaries. Besides providence, his audacity to change the narrative and infuse fear in the minds of the acclaimed political gladiators in Nigeria requires special recognition.
The young politician has been viewed differently: some describing him as controversial and others seeing him as a role model, even as others regard him as an asset to the Nigeria.
But, from whichever side of the prism you view him, one fact that cannot be denied of him is that his name is resonating across the length and breadth of the country. However, it is very pertinent to quickly highlight some of his activities and actions, (though some may be controversial) that have pushed him into the limelight.
Mysterious rise to power: When the young politician declared to contest for Kogi State’s number one position in 2014, very few believed his competence. Some even described him as a political novice who had no experience and no single structure in the state. But he remained resolute and fought to secure the second but ended up with first position in the party’s primary. But six years down the line, certain circumstance threw him up as governor of the state, and such circumstance has remained a mystery to Nigerians till tomorrow. That alone, popularizes his name and boosts his profile.
Perpetual victory: The mystery behind Yahaya Bello’s political journey is numerous. When he miraculously became governor in 2016, most Nigerians never believed that the circumstance that threw him up will ever pass any judicial scrutiny. But alas! He did not only emerge victorious, but went ahead to defeat a round of electoral petitions filed by other political parties. Apart from the legal cum political challenges he fought and emerged victorious, numerous other hurdles he passed through cannot be fully detailed in write up.
Chorus re-election bid: Despite the fact that his first tenure was adjudged by some analysts as disastrous, coupled with the baggage of challenges facing his re-election bid, it was believed in many quarters that he will be a pushover. But the fearless politician bet his life to secure another term with even a wider margin. The rest, they say, is history as Nigerians bear witness to what transpired before, during and after that election in the state.
Bizarre Covid stand: When the virulent pathogen struck in early 2020, the world panicked. World leaders were on edge, too on how to properly handle the deadly virus. As the virus spread rapidly, leaders around the world adopted strategies used by countries which were first hit by the disease without considering the consequence. Lockdown. Restriction. Social Distancing among others became a global standard and recommended strategies for controlling the virus. But one man, in one enclave in Nigeria, vehemently refused to acknowledge the existence of the novel virus and also denounced the global measures for controlling the pandemic. In a now deleted viral video on social media, Governor Yahaya Bello described the reported virus in Nigeria as a grand strategy to scam Nigerians billions of naira by politicians and warned of the consequence of the global strategies of total lockdown.
As the pressure mounted on him, he retracted some of his statements, but maintained his ground about the adopted strategies against the virus and refused to enforce similar measures despite mysterious death across his state. As the negative impact of the lockdown emerged in Nigeria, Bello’s popularity swelled across the country as his message aligned well with many Nigerians, particularly youths who were increasingly becoming discountenance by the government measures.
Leadership style: There is no doubt that rising poverty in Kogi state among other leadership challenges have combined to becloud Governor Yahaya Bello’s unique leadership style in the state. His pro-activeness on security; his unmatched inclusive governance; his capacity to stabilize the hitherto volatile political environment in north-central Nigeria despite his age and experience; his exploit of political issues in Nigeria; his contributions to national cohesion and unity (especially the recently resolved South-North confrontation); and his exceptional application of intellect in handling political opponents and critics alike, no doubt endear him to many Nigerians and in turn, elevated him to the limelight.
Political audacity: Just like in 2014, when Kogi state’s assembly members announced in December 2020 that they have voted unanimously to support and sponsor their state’s Governor, Yahaya Bello to the contest for the 2023 Presidential election, Nigerians viewed it as a joke taken too far. But little was known that the fearless politician, Yahaya Bello had his eyes already fixed on the number one seat of the country. He took the call as a divine voice.
Fast forward, the energetic politician has made significant inroads into the hearts of many Nigerians despite a mountain of odds on his way. As a matter of fact, since the creation of the State in 1991, there is no single politician that had ever dared to make such an attempt. This alone echoes his name across the country and beyond.
Though the preliminary battle for the next president of Africa’s most populous nation may have been fought and won by the most famous aspirant, the young Kogi born politician, Yahaya Adoza Bello has ensured that his name is firmly featured in the history of Nigerian politics. And his contributions to the discourse of Nigerian project can never be ignored and will be remembered for generation unborn.
- Adavize, a Political analyst and researcher writes from Abuja. | firstname.lastname@example.org