A wise man once said, “Human praises are ephemeral. Today they shout ‘Hosanna’. Tomorrow, ‘crucify him’.”
While the wise man hadn’t the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Adoza Bello, in mind whilst making the above statement, the statement perfectly fits into timely advice for the lascivious governor who has become the chorus of every money mongering political balladeer in the land. No doubt, Bello enjoys the rhythms and chords of the music of his praise singers and loves to ‘gbe body’ to it. But how far will it go?
I have lived half a year in Lokoja, the Kogi State Capital, and had also made countless lengthy visits to Ankpa, a town that hosts one of the state’s tertiary institutions (Kogi State College Of Education), so I’m a bonafide Kogite.
From Ogugu to Okene, from Kabba to Koton Karfe, and all over Kogi state, one song reverberates with loud decibels, “Yahaya Bello has failed!”
Ironically, that is a completely different tune from the popular songs being sung about Yahaya Bello on the Nigerian media. If you travel through the Okene-Lokoja/Abuja highway or Ankpa-Otukpa/Enugu expressway or any other major road in the state, you will be shocked that Yahaya Bello’s Kogi is not anywhere near the ‘Dubai’ the media painted it to be neither is he the ‘Messiah’ his pipers are chorusing him to be.
Poverty is visible throughout the state; deathtrap roads, shaky bridges, rusty streetlight poles, dilapidated buildings are palpable.
For a man that was ushered into power by divine providence (the sudden demise of Prince Abubakar Audu, the substantial governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, PC, in the 2016 Kogi State gubernatorial election in 2015 – the debacle that led to the emergence of Yahaya Bello as APC gubernatorial candidate and eventual winner of the governorship election), Bello should ordinarily be the long-awaited Messiah of the state.
Moreso, he is the first Kogi Governor of Ebira extraction. But his perilous leadership style and paparazzi of governance have dashed such hope and expectations of million Kogites.
Kogi State despite being a natural industrial haven is unarguably one of the states with the most infrastructural deficiency in Nigeria. The state has no single airport, no functional industry, no modern port facility (despite being situated at the confluence of the two largest rivers in the country – River Niger and Benue). Lokoja the state capital and former colonial capital of Nigeria, cannot be compared to its colonial counterpart, Calabar in terms of infrastructural and economic developments. There is nothing to write home about Okene – Yahaya Bello’s hometown.
Ajaokuta the locale of the moribund iron and steel company is stagnant. Ankpa is still as squalid as ever! The state-owned industries are in comatose. For the past five years of his administration, Yahaya Bello is infamously inept to brick the infrastructural gap of the state. Instead, he has aggravated the economic hardship in the state by persistently splurging taxpayers’ money and resources meant for payment of staff salaries and development of the state on political jobbers and celebrities for his selfish and unrealistic presidential ambition.
Yahaya Adoza Bello has turned Kogi State into a ‘Mecca of free money’ for celebrities and political choir masters/mistresses who troop into his palatial Lord Lugard House ( Kogi State Government House) to fetch money from the ‘Kogi ATM’ just by posing with the governor or professing to endorse his presidential ambition.
“Has Governor Yahaya Bello successfully transformed the state he governs for five years that he is setting his eyes on the presidential seat?” This and many more are the questions currently spinning in the minds of million Nigerians who stumbled on such purported endorsements of Bello’s presidential ambition.
From wide-hipped drama doll, Destiny Etiko, to veteran actress, Ada Ameh, to “every Tom, Dick, and Harry” in Nollywood, to mixed martial artist, Kamaru Usman, to soccer stars, Mikel Obi and Kelechi Iheanacho, to football legends, Kanu Nwankwo and Jay-Jay Okocha, and even celebrity barman, Cubana Chief Priest, and other numerous celebrities and political jobbers (including his newfound musketeer, Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode), have all attended Bello’s ‘Big Money’ feast in Lokoja.
Like Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia who was squandering money on his birthday celebration despite the great famine plaguing his people, Yahaya Bello is feasting and hosting ‘outsiders’ to parties with the state’s resources while his people are languishing in poverty and incessant sanguinary upheavals.
The chorists singing his ‘Hosanna’ are only doing that for the benefit of their pockets. The proofs of his failure as a leader are in the public glare. Standing stoutly against Yahaya Bello’s 2023 presidential ambition is his legacy of failure in Kogi.
Sunny Green Itodo
Is an essayist and satirist.