When Yahaya Bello was nominated governor of Kogi state in January 2016 by the John Odigie-Oyegun led APC, following the demise of the party’s flag bearer in the previous election, Mr. Abubakar Audu, little was known of the youthful governor’s abilities.
A time when Nigerians were strengthening their voices in support of the #NotToYoungToRun bill, it was kairos for Yahaya Bello who was just 40 at the time of his inauguration.
On the 22nd of May 2018, a little over three years into the administration of Mr. Bello, Kogi state chapter of Nigeria labour congress (NLC) made shocking revelations before men of the press, accusing the state government of owing workers eight to 39 months salary arrears.
Down South in Bayelsa, the Nigerian union of local government employees accused the PDP led government in Yenagoa of owing its members 10 – 19 months salary arrears.
Despite Bayelsa’s modest population and excess federal allocation, the PDP led state government was one of the firsts to reject the federal government’s 30,000 Naira minimum wage for its own workers, claiming it was on the high side.
Not even teachers in Bayelsa were left out of the salary crisis, as the NUT (Nigeria union of teachers) accused the state government of owing its members 3 – 7 months arrears.
While workers groaned in Bayelsa, for more than three years, it was unprecedented hardship for Kogi civil servants.
As the pangs of Nigeria’s recent economic down turn bit through their daily lives, hope remained far as several appeal to the Kogi state governor to consider the suffering of the masses fell on deaf ears.
In 2016, Yahaya Bello became Nigeria’s first governor to purchase the bullet proof Lexus LX 570, valued at around 120,000,000 Naira. There was backlash on social media, with people calling out the governor for his insensitivity but it seemed the average Kogite was less concerned about the governor’s choice of car.
By April 2019, ahead of the coming election, the governor’s office released a list of 110 achievements they claimed could be credited to Yahaya Bello. Among others, they include democratic humanist, epitome of power shift, unifier governor. Whatever the governor’s office meant with those lines, perhaps only Kogites understand.
On the 10th of October 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari requested the Senate’s approval for the payment of N10 billion to Kogi State.
The president claimed the money would be used by the state government to settle local debts it incurred as a result of the projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government. Few days later, 1,500 luxury SUVs arrived Kogi state ahead of the governor’s re-election campaign.
For nearly four years, there has been controversial as well as irrefutable evidence to support the notion that the governor of Kogi state substitutes the provision of public goods with handouts and political patronage.
As responsible Nigerians clamor for good governance in Bayelsa, we also call on Kogites to vote out the APC led government for the uncommon privation they have hammered on the confluence state for 4 years.
With an adult literacy rate of 62.8 in 2010, it is safe to say that Kogi state has got a fairly educated populace which we hope will influence today’s elections positively. However, the State’s tribal make up might still end up as the deciding factor in the outcome of the elections.
By Cephas Kadiri