Kogi State Governor: An Example of a Squandered Opportunity

Gov Yahaya Bello leading youths to celebrate President Buhari’s return to Nigeria

 Inaju U. Inaju

The truism that what an elder sees sitting down, a child cannot see even when the child climbs the tallest palm tree is no longer an adage in Kogi State but a fact.  Kogi State governor has proved this aphorism beyond any doubt with his public utterances in the recent past.

But for the seriousness of the situation, one would have considered it laughable that a failed sitting governor would have the brashness to go on prime-time television networks to request protesting youths to make him their leader. Whoever is advising the Kogi State Governor, assuming he has any adviser, should be examined. If the governor is incurring these reputational debts on his own, then it is time to send for his shrink.

If the governor has no serious public communication adviser, then it is time to appoint one because somebody needs to restrain, and if possible, train the governor in public speaking. Here we are hoping that H.E will eat the sumptuous and luscious Lugard House crab in silence and go quietly after eight years of ill-advised political sojourn, instead, the governor runs out naked into the street, not only to eat the crab in front of a microphone, but he is eating the crab in his birthday suit in front of the national television cameras. Na who do us this thing for Kogi State? Na who we offend for Kogi State?

I cannot help but wonder how the sitting Kogi state governor could hold his head high, shamelessly call a press conference and offer to lead the Nigeria Youth who are tired and frustrated with bad governance across the board, something the sitting governor of Kogi State personifies. The Nigerian Youth are dying on the streets, wailing, starving, and hoping against hope as they watch the promise made by their elders peter out before them without any hope of realization.

The Youth were told that they will be the leaders of tomorrow, but as they watch their parents grow old without leading anything, not even their own family, (or how can you claim to lead a family when you cannot provide for their basic needs), they know and understand that if they do nothing, they will end up like their parents. 

In Kogi State, Nigerian youth had their wish of being the leaders of tomorrow granted, albeit by the court.  However, with the emergence of this young man at the helm of affairs in Kogi state, the mythical nexus between youth and progressive leadership in Nigeria was shattered.

This governor has made a mess of youth in leadership in the last five years and will make it even worse in the next three years. As if the foregoing is not bad enough, the governor shamelessly presents himself as the leaders of Nigerian Youth in their struggle for a better Nigeria!  Talk about grandiose self-delusion and Kogi state governor become the dictionary definition of that phraseology.  Chai! Na who we offend for Kogi State?

A  governor who could not pay salary of his civil servants, a man who could not patch bad roads in his state capital,  a government who could not maintain even the meagre development that he met when he took over office, e.g Lokoja city water supply. A governor who has no roadmap on how to reduce poverty and increase development in his own state wants to help draw up a roadmap for the president of Nigeria. Please, Mr. Kogi state governor, first give us a roadmap on how to patch bad roads in Lokoja, fix the statutes you destroyed at Lokoja major junctions and let us know how you plan to create employment for the teaming jobless youth of Kogi state before you offer to help draw up a roadmap that will end Nigeria crises.

Here is a governor who is alleged to practically live in Abuja, and only pays occasional visits to Lokoja because the city has fallen into ruins under his watch, offering himself as the messiah of Nigerian Youth. Na who do us this thing for Kogi State? Na who we offend for Kogi State?

Recently, I was at Lokoja, the capital city of Kogi state and I saw the physical depiction of the meaning of embarrassment on government facilities. Most government utilities are now decrepit.  Civil servants have been reduced to beggars and businesspeople look forlorn. Looking at people, all you see is frustration, poverty and suffering written all over their faces. The city of Lokoja has become an embarrassment to every right-thinking scion of that beautiful state. Not only are there no more car worthy roads, but what the incumbent met has been allowed to fall into total disrepair.

I visited the Specialist Hospital Lokoja, and I almost cried at the level of decay. A drive on the old market road in Lokoja city would send any good car to the mechanic shop. Around Kogi Travels, both sides of the road need to be patched if nothing else. I do not want to mention the Ganaja village junction, even before the flood, we were driving on one side of a dual carriage way and I hear even the governor and his deputy use these roads!

As bad as it was under the last administration there was pipe born water in Lokoja, we had street sculptures, the roads were manageable, small business were surviving, but under this government, the people and the city look alike, dry, dirty and unkempt. I cannot help but wonder why the people endure this pernicious leadership.

 If one does not know any better, one would conclude that the people are suffering from collective hypnosis and maybe they are, otherwise, how can a people live with so much garbage on the streets. How can a people endure such level of poverty and penury, how can anyone work for 30 days and be paid less than half of his/her dues and they continue hoping against hope that the government would change? How long must a people endure before they reach breaking point and lash back at their oppressors.

The answer is flowing on the major cities in Nigeria of today. Kogi state government need to learn from what is happening nationwide.  It is bad enough that the people of Kogi state face and suffer bad leadership daily, but for the governor to be making unchecked utterances that make us a laughingstock in Nigeria is unacceptable.

The lethargy of the people of Kogi State leaves me wondering if Bob Marley was wrong when he said you cannot fool all the people all the time. Yahaya Bello seems to have fooled Kogi people for so long and succeeded spectacularly so much so that he wants to go national with his tomfoolery.

In all honesty, it is getting to that point where one can boldly say, “I am ashamed of Kogi State Governor’s lack of demureness” without fear of offending anyone, not least the governor himself. The reason for this is not because one disdains the person of the governor, but solely because each time the governor opens his mouth, he puts his own foot in his own mouth. As a scion of the state, this governor has become an embarrassment.

While Nigerians craving for youthful leaders materialized in Kogi State, no one expected what the young man is putting everyone through. His leadership is a mutation of the worst kind.  Today in Kogi state we have a group of young people with a copious monolithic sense of materialism.

All that matters to them is their vanity and worthless senseless sense of self-worth. Leadership goes beyond self-aggrandizement and public grandstanding, two things the governor has elevated to the state of art. Leadership is not about building a small cult of followers that live larger than life at the expense of the masses. The small cult of Yahaya Bellow’s followers has become so notorious in Kogi State that if you drive a good car, dress well and look healthy in Lokoja, the people refer to you as the “governor’s man”!

One will be forgiven if one posits that the incumbent Kogi state governor and his band of derailed cabinet members are a billion SARS rolled into one. Mr. Yahaya Bello and his cabinet are a monstrosity that outshines the worst of SARS. Think about the destruction of art pieces on the streets of Lokoja, the failure of the government to take advantage of its human resources to advance the state.

The unbridled culture of fear that has become mainstream in Lokoja. People now talk in hush voices and walk on eggshells in Lokoja. The once boisterous city is now a shadow of itself.  Fear of criminal elements, kidnapping, official arrest and brutalization is the agenda at all dinner tables in the state.

APC’s deliberate political acculturation has led to an unimaginable and unbridled political thuggery and the dearth of social decorum is now a valued art in the governor’s immediate circle.

Kogi state is, arguably, one of the most endowed state in Nigeria. Look at its rolling hills and valleys, the rivers, and faunas. Look at its people and the strategic location of the state. Kogi state is endowed with so many natural resources yet, it is riddled with the poorest people in the middle belt. I love Kogi State, but I must say that I am ashamed to be from that state in 2020. Maybe it is better to say that I am ashamed to call the sitting governor my governor. In effect, I am ashamed of my governor.

Here is a young man who was handed an opportunity that millions would kill for and everything he has done since he got that chance is to prove to everyone how unprepared he was, he is and he will remain.

Most primary schools in the state are now cow shades and our high schools are a ghost of what they were before supreme court gave us our governor. Our pensioners are dying of hunger and lack medical care because their pensions are not paid. We were all witnesses to the unending civil servants screening exercise that we hoped would usher in a new approach to Kogi state civil service working ethics. Everything in that state has gone from bad to worse.

We were hoping that we would be allowed to suffer the inglorious abysmal, dysfunctional, epileptic and monophyletic leader imposed on us by the sad decision of Nigerian supreme court in peace. We were looking forward to the end of the failed eight years of this administration, hoping that we will be able to live out our lethargy as we fail to demand what is due to us because of fear. We could not have been more wrong, this governor’s level of unconscionable utterances and heart wrenching public vituperations scar our collective psyche, his putrid puke of undigested ideas in public twist the knife he puts in our collective guts.

Governor Yahaya Bello’s time in office has become our collective shame as scions of Kogi State. He is now the poster child of a squandered political leadership opportunity.

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