By Kingsley Fanwo
Watching the anger of Dr Reuben Abati, former Presidential Spokesperson in the days of the PDP, was a new take. Though prolific when armed with the pen, I have always seen Dr. Abati as a gentleman right from his days in The Guardian newspapers.
So watching his angry reaction on Arise TV against the presumptuous feeling that Governor Yahaya Bello would accept the call from millions of Nigerian youth to step out for the 2023 presidency challenge. He got angry that the Governor went to meet with Obasanjo and even as far as alleging that the Governor is moving about like “small pox”.
As unsavoury as those allegations and conclusion are, I want to make bold here that they are not enough to make me lose the respect I have for a pen giant like Reuben Abati. After all we all have our bad day in office. It was just his bad day and I wont judge him just with that.
I received the video from over a hundred people. Majority of them wanted a fight with Abati. A very few said we should ignore. I have chosen to disappoint both dichotomies of thoughts. I wont fight but I wont ignore.
The Abati moment of judgement offers us an opportunity to enlighten the world about the Kogi magic under Governor Yahaya Bello. Reuben Abati was a victim of his limited knowledge about developments in Kogi State. It is not his fault to be ignorant of what is happening in the state. It is my fault not to have told him and many who share the same line of thought with him. To this end, I say a big thank you to Dr. Reuben Abati for offering yet another opportunity to tell the world about the phenomenal feat of Governor Yahaya Bello.
Kogi shares her borders with ten states, cutting across the South East, South West, South South and many states in the North Central as well as the nation’s seat of power. As advantageous as such nodal opportunities could be, it came with a hard crime nut to crack. Pre-2016, Kogi State was home to kidnappers, dare-devil armed robbers and hired assasins.
To make the matter worse, Islamic extremism found its way into the State. Some of the extremists were trained by the globally dreaded ISIS. And the state became the crime centre of Nigeria. The previous administrations were helpless as the criminals struck with recklessness. The people lost confidence in the capacity of Government to protect them.
On assumption of office in 2016, Governor Yahaya Bello launched a ferocious war on criminals and rejigged the security apparatus of the State. He launched the Kogi Vigilante Service and handed security to the locals. He also empowered security agencies with adequate logistics and motivation to crush criminality in the State.
Today, Kogi is one of the safest states in the Federation. A Governor made it happen. A Governor showed commitment to make it happen. A Governor led some of the operations personally. A Governor ensured his people are safe. That Governor is Alh. Yahaya Bello. Security is the peak of performance in governance. Nothing can happen positively without security.
The Kogi State Yahaya Bello inherited was balkanized along ethnic lines. There was no unity of purpose. A Governor came and ensured the State is united. The Governor didn’t mouth unity. He acted it and today, Kogi is better for it.
From being one of the filthiest capital cities, Lokoja now wears a new look of cleanliness and aesthetic beauty. Through the rejuvenated Kogi State Environmental Protection Agency, Lokoja has become one of the cleanest capitals in Nigeria today.
There cannot be good governance without a conscious effort by Government to get feedback from the people as much as the need for orientation and adequate sensitization on Government policies and programs. The “State Of Kogi” which is a live interactive program on Radio every Monday, is a meeting point between the people of Kogi State and their Government. The program is a testament of Yahaya Bello’s honest relationship with the people he was elected to lead.
Under his leadership, The Graphic became a paper of pride to all Kogites. He also built a magnificent The Graphic House, the biggest and the best for any state-owned newspaper in Nigeria.
No administration in the history of Kogi State has been as transparent and prudent with the management of state resources like the GYB Administration. The World Bank has given Kogi awards and high ratings for her commitment to transparency and accountability.
The administration has shown a pathway to other State Governments on how to deploy digital trainings to equip the youth for excellence. Thousands of youth have been trained on ICT and Digital Resourcefulness, without noise. The various sporting awards and trophies won between 2016 and now in different sports have shown how the Governor has deployed sports to engage the minds of the youth in the State.
Massive water projects across the State, many of which have been completed and put to use , show the loyalty of GYB to the Millennium Development Goals. The multi-billion Water Project at Osara is expected to finally lay to rest, the problem of inadequate water supply to the Central part of the state.
Governor Yahaya Bello will forever be remembered for reforming and repositioning the Public Service of Kogi State. The Service is not only digitalized now, but more efficient. Wages of State Civil Servants are paid regularly.
The Mega Terminal of the State which was commissioned without completion is receiving attention and will be put to use in couple of weeks.
The educational sector inherited in 2016 was in shambles. The Governor quickly prioritized the sector and made it the first of the thematic areas. Today, he has built over 400 blocks of classrooms around the state, fully furnished to make the learning environment attractive. Apart from that, he has turned our citadel of higher education into models for others to copy. To cap it all, the Administration has established the Confluence University of Science and Technology to provide manpower for the Iron and Steel Company at Ajaokuta as well as the ever sprawling industries in the state as a result of the abundant mineral resources.
As a veteran journalist, Abati should have asked questions about how the State was rated as the one that received the heaviest inflow of investments in the last quarter of 2020. It was because it is a well secured environment. It was because our tax administration is the most investment friendly in the country. It is because we are the real treasure of the nation.
In the area of Healthcare, Kogi has been rated as one of the best states. Apart from building state of the art hospitals, the State Government has remodeled the existing hospitals. The ongoing Referral Hospital, Okene will be one of the best in the country when completed in the next few months. The State Government is also building new hospitals across the State.
Under the Bello Care program, we have been able to give the indigent access to quality health without paying a dime. We are also one of the very few states to have started operating the National Health Insurance Scheme. The School of Nursing and Midwifery, Obangede as well as the School of Health Technology, Idah are today wearing a new look and have received state of the art facilities to ensure we produce the best health personnel from our health training institutions.
The Governor has been the number one Ambassador of the fight against Malaria. The Governor has been the number one Ambassador in combating Lassa Fever. Abati shouldn’t judge him on the highly controversial Covid-19. Authorities managing Covid-19 are yet to answer the very intelligent questions of the Governor. Bill Gates came out to reecho the intelligent position of the Governor.
Governor Yahaya Bello didn’t say there is no Covid-19. He said the so called pandemic was marketed and over-hyped above diseases that are real killers. He said we should concentrate on improving our hospitals like he is doing in Kogi State. He is saying we should stop hurting our economy because of Covid-19. Those positions are not only intelligent, but patriotic and bold. He has risked a lot to stand on the truth and the world know the truth.
Abati’s position suggests the following conclusions. “Intelligence is measured by one’s gullibility to believe Covid-19 is so so dangerous” , “How can you be President if you don’t believe in Covid-19”. If there is anyone who has displayed a chemistry of brilliance, Intelligence and courage on the issue of Covid-19, that person is Governor Yahaya Bello.
Come to Kogi State and move round Lokoja. You will see the transformation that has taken place and which are still taking place. Move to Ankpa and see the roads constructed there. Move round Idah and to Omala and Ofu to see good roads. Move to Ogugu and see what the Governor has done with the meagre resources of the state. The Kabba Township Road Project is kicking off and a massive Flyover in the troublesome Ganaja Junction is ongoing. In January, 2021, a whooping 4 billion naira was released to contractors for new and ongoing projects.
An ambitious multi-billion naira electricity project tagged, Operation Light Up Kogi East is close to completion. When completed, it will solve the power problem in Kogi East. The Governor is from Kogi Central.
Governor Yahaya Bello is creating a Green Revolution in Kogi State. Apart from setting up the Nigeria’s second largest Rice Mill in Ejiba, Yagba West LGA of Kogi State; he also ensured youth are trained and empowered with fish ponds around Omi Dam. He is creating young millionaires through aquaculture, poultry and mechanized farming. Tractors and other farm implements were procured and deployed to Local Government Areas to empower rural farmers. That has been our staying power as the number one producers of Cashew and Cassava in the country today.
In the history of Kogi State Government House, no Governor dimmed it fit to build a place of worship for Christians until Governor Yahaya Bello built an ultra-modern Chapel in Government House. He is the Yahaya that has built a Chapel for the worship of God.
Our youth are in Government and are making policies to empower the youth and women. Insecurity is not only solved by deploying arms, youth must be armed with livelihood and opportunities to prosper.
The youth are in power in Kogi. Women are in power in Kogi and they are doing well.
So would you blame Nigerians if they are clamouring for a unifier as the next President? Will you blame Nigerians if they want a proven security achiever as the next President of Nigeria? Will you blame Nigerians if they want the real Mr Infrastructure as the President?
The youth are poised for a showdown in 2023. It has to be then or never. They know their population.
They know their dynamism. They know it is Youth O’clock. They will take it democratically.
They are not asking for money from anyone. They are printing posters and banners and circulating them.
It is not about the richest but someone that can move Nigeria forward.
The youth listen to him. The women listen to him. The traders listen to him. Nigerians are listening to him. Nigerians don’t listen to failures. They know what he has achieved and what he can achieve if given the opportunity to serve this nation.
Thank you Mr. Abati for this wonderful opportunity once again.
Kingsley Femi Fanwo is the Honorable Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kogi State. He writes in from Lokoja.