Although the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, has not openly declared his intention to vie for the nation’s topmost job in the 2023 general elections, there are strong indications from close quarters that he intends to do so on the platform of his party.
At the risk of being immodest, by every metric of evaluation and performance appraisal of aspirants to the coveted seat, Governor Bello is eminently qualified and competent enough to be Nigeria’s President in 2023, all other things being equal and appropriately considered like the economists will say.
Of course, his winning the election, if given the ti et by the All Progressives Congress(APC) to do so, is exclusively at the discretion of God, for God is the one who crowns and installs a king; the Nigerian electorates, and the invisible factor of good luck which cannot be completely divorced from the life of a man.
Besides having the requisite qualifications to be elected a Nigerian President in terms of competence, academic requirements, mass appeal to the people, grassroots touch, topnotch emotional intelligence and many more, it is pertinent to state without equivocation that one rare quality stands Governor Bello out of the maddening crowd: his inexorable linkage to the Nigerian youth and incurable penchant for gender-balancing in his cabinet…
Of a truth, while the Governor might just have spent only six years in power as the chief executive officer of Kogi State so far, there is no denying the fact that the youth constitutes the epicentre of his administration, starting from the Deputy Governor, David Onoja, to the local government administrators across the length and breadth of the state.
Another fact: the inclusion of a preponderance of youth as the main drivers of the policies of his administration also goes beyond the shores of the Confluence State as there is Nigerian youth from the core north and down south serving at one level of administrative engagement or the other in the state. That is a demonstrated establishment of his pan-Nigerian mentality.
Fittingly and as the statistics speak to this reverberating reality, no governor or any current political office holder in the country comes close to Governor Bello in terms of actually engaging youth at the highest level of political engagement. If there’s any award to be given to the Nigerian patriot and leader who believes today is for the youth and no longer the elusive tomorrow which is a probable hope Nigerian leaders of yore used to deceive the Nigerian youth to extract their support in the past, then no any other person merits the award than Governor Bello. And this is without any prejudice to others as it is evidence-based.
Escalating the above further, one may not be far from the truth to submit that the impact Governor Bello has made in terms of inclusive youth participation in governance at the highest level in just six years of being in power surpasses the achievements of some other political grandees in the country who lay claim to have also empowered the youth in whatever capacity. These political warlords might have been in the loop of things for over three decades, nonetheless, Governor Bello’s electrifying record of empowering a multitude of youths to actualize and maximize their God-given potential far trumps theirs within a short space of time he has been in power. Imagine him staying for a decade in power or more than! The records can only be imagined.
Per Kogi State, before his ascension to the Lord Lugard House in 2015 and his subsequent overwhelming re-election in 2019 as the helmsman of the state, the highest level of involvement Kogi youth could attain was to be political hallelujah boys to the gerontocrats in power serving as their praise singers while waiting for crumbs to feed on from the table of the power holders. In the worst-case scenario, they were used as political enforcers also known as political thugs to rig elections or to intimidate political opponents. That’s the ugly recurring decimal in the state until Governor Bello came and dislodged the parasitic old order and brought about the youth revolution.
The good thing about Governor Bello’s knack for the youth is that most of the young men and women serving in various capacities in the state were barely known until now. None of them had a godfather rooting for him as the Governor himself had no godfather until he happened on Kogi State from relative obscurity. He only has God, the father and his reliance on determination and hard work as the pathway to success. In the not-too-distant past, the practice was that a godfather had to recommend you before you could secure an appointment as a personal assistant to a local councillor. It was total apartheid against the youth!
Apart from his enduring belief in the youth as the catalyst who can drive development and help a government accomplish its mission and vision for the period of its tenancy, the Governor is also gender-friendly. Since 2015 till date, the Secretary to the State Government has been a woman, which is quite unprecedented in the annals of the history of the state since it was created and has traversed both military and civilian administrations.
The Governor at the beginning of his administration also had a female chief press secretary, another first feat for him. His current aide-de-camp, against the usual convention, is a woman. Several women are also serving as special assistants, commissioners, advisers and even local government administrators. In a way, the governor could be described as a feminist as he is a firm believer of the fact that the place of a woman should not be relegated to the kitchen or pigeon-holed to the ‘Oza’ room in modern society.
Anyway, 2023 is drawing nigh and Nigerians have a choice to make between those who continue to regulate the youth who constitute about 60 per cent of the country’s active population to the background and women, who are primed as builders of the nation and those who give the combined forces of youth and women a sense of participatory belonging in the scheme of things. In all honesty, it should not be a difficult choice to make. The tomorrow we all crave is here. Governor Bello could be the dark horse who is coming to right all the wrongs and odds stacked against the Nigerian youth and women. Pass the message across.
Haruna Abdullahi Haruspice writes from Abuja