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– As Yahaya Bello Chisels His Presidential BatonTHISDAYLIVE – THISDAY Newspapers

Eddy Odivwri
It had hit the political space with some shock, and not many had ascribed sincere seriousness to his ambition, But the young man seems determined to forge ahead with his inclination to become the number one citizen in the country. His name is Yahaya Bello, the sitting governor of Kogi State.
If nothing is known about this young man, most Nigerians know that he is the youngest governor in Nigeria. At 46, he is the youngest serving governor in Nigeria. This is his second term in office. That means he was elected governor at the prime age of 41. Not many people took him serious as he vied for the governorship of Kogi State. But his eyes were on the ball. And he won, to the chagrin of many.
His firm control of the affairs of the state has somewhat given a strong recommendation to the capacity of youths and the drive younger persons have in changing the ancient narrative that have continued to dull the shine of public administration in Nigeria.
Even though he should be stepping down from the governorship dais by 2024, Governor Yahaya Bello often hailed as GYB, seems determined to short-circuit that route by chatting a presidential lane come 2023.
Already, he appears to be one of the few early political risers in the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), who has thrown his hat into the ring. The young man wants to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
While many other interested political gadflies have clothed their ambition in the silhouette of “consultation” and choosing to read the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari, Yahaya Bello had long announced his desire to run for the highest office of the land, as he forms groups and coalitions across various parts of the country.
So, has he read, perhaps correctly, the said body language of Mr President? Is there anything to even read? Does Buhari intervene or interfere with democratic processes?
So, where is Yahaya Bello drawing his political energy from? Does he have the presidential nod? Or is he just trying his luck? Or does he just want to be later described as one of the also-ran? Insiders say GYB is close to Mr President. But would that translate to political endorsement for the highest office in Nigeria?
Then comes the issue of financial war-chest. On matters of financial capacity, would Saul be said to be among the prophets? Does Yahaya Bello have even a slice of the required financial muscle to run a presidential race? Kogi State is not one of the “big States” with deep vault. Even if it were, the wealth thereof does not really belong to the governor, per se. So where is the financial well from which GYB will fetch his required water to ‘wet the ground” for his presidential ambition? There is no doubting the fact that presidential race requires humongous amount of money.
Thus far, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the political Iroko of Lagos State, popularly described as the National Leader of the APC, appears to be the heaviest political weight to have stealthily walked into the presidential arena.
He’s been on it, albeit surreptitiously. All kinds of groups and alliances have long been formed. Tinubu seems poised to pour and exert all his energy and political acumen into the contest.
So, thus far, Yahaya Bello and Tinubu have shown their hands in the quest for the presidential seat.
But what happens to the issue of zoning? Yahaya Bello is technically from the northern geo-political zone. Kogi is somewhat in the middle belt. It is not a Southern state. If the present status quo in the party structure is sustained and the northern geo-political zone retains the national chairmanship of the party, would that not hurt and impede Yahaya Bello’s chances? Would the northern geo-political zone be allowed to produce both the national chairman of the party as well as the presidential flagbearer?
Is Tinubu’s doggedness at the race being buoyed by this geo-political calculation? When the politicians come down to brass tacks, would Yahaya Bello’s presidential sheaves still be standing?
Many Nigerians are however enthralled by the courage and determination of the young Bello to go after the number one office in the land. He is not fazed by the motley crowd of the issues facing Nigeria. He is sure he has the answer. He has recently vowed that he’d fix many of the problems facing Nigeria within one year of coming into office. Campaign, in a way, has started.
In matters of governance framework, GYB has shown a good and great example. Perhaps the most laudable evidence is his commitment to giving women a chance. Long before the cry for 35 per cent inclusiveness for women gained ground, Yahaya Bello had adopted women into his government with clear intentions. Not only is a woman his Aide De Camp—the only example in the country, his Secretary to State Government, often described as the engine room of the government, is occupied by a woman. What’s more, all the Vice Chairmen of the 21 Local Government Areas in the state, are women.
His disposition to women leadership clearly ticks the box of political inclusiveness. And that is a plus!
Perhaps one other leadership strength of GYB is his Nigerianness, His cabinet is filled with people from all regions and religions. There are Heads of parastatals from other states like Enugu, Kaduna etc, just as there are Permanent Secretaries from various parts of Nigeria in the Kogi State government structure. The clear absence of discrimination on the basis of geographical region is one governance virtue Nigerians have been clamouring for.
GYB has been largely described as a bridge-builder. Not only is he a bridge between the older and younger folks in the country, even the geographical location of his Kogi State is literally a bridge between the north and the south.
In terms of performance, GYB’s credential in this regard may well be the fact that the state which had been a haven for criminals and criminality has been largely weaned of that status. The state, given the statistics on ground, has reasonably become one of the safest states in the country. The avalanche of attacks, kidnappings, terrorism (Boko Haram used to have several camps in the state), have all been cleared off. Although a few cases of attacks have been recorded in recent times, it remains largely a safe domain for business and peaceful living.
This feat has even now become a major requirement for anybody stepping into the presidential office, given the mounting cases of insecurity besetting the country from all sides. Yahaya Bello appears to have cobbled together a valid crack team in securing the state from the activities of criminals.
If the model being operated in Kogi state is credited to the age-range of the operators, then there is a great sense in the quest for involving the younger folks in the business of governance. Kogi State government is populated and operated by largely young people. Young people have energy. They have drive. They also have technology-nourished vision. That explains why, for instance, Kogi State, under GYB administration, was one of the states in the country to use technology to clean up the state’s payroll wherein the huge number of “ghost workers” were cleared off the state’s payroll. It was one of the earliest signs of GYB’s determination to run a serious government in 2016 when he assumed office. At the end of the verification and screening exercise in the state, a total of 18,211 workers were discovered to be ghost workers and had caused the loss of N213 billion from the state coffers within the last 13 years. The ghost workers were in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) both at the state and local government levels.
In the months ahead, GYB’s presidential crusade will become louder as the struggle for the party’s presidential ticket will become stronger and fiercer. Will all his political and governance virtues speak for him? One thing sure is that GYB is not relenting. He is chiseling his baton and ready to do the race. His stead and presence in the media is strong and reassuring. And his confidence index is increasing. And Nigerians are waiting to see if Governor Yahaya Bello, against all odds, will emerge as the Knight with the shining armour.
180 Seconds with Desperate Gunmen
Eddy Odivwri
In a complex city like Lagos, there is a thin line between safety and danger. This complexity is even made worse by the twin factor of its population density as well as weak security presence. In a way, what Lagos gains from being shielded from acts of terrorism, it loses from highway attacks. Many years ago, one of the earliest things I learnt as a cob reporter is the presence of “Black Spots” in several parts of the city, as identified by the Lagos State Police command. So, if the Police have identified certain places as “Black Spots”, common sense would suggest that there will or should be increased police presence in such spots. But nay. The narrative seems to be something like: You have been told; so, take care of yourself in such places.
And that was my ill lot penultimate Thursday, when some three gunmen surrounded me and violently robbed me and my friend.
It was about 7.40 pm, November 4. We had run into a terrible traffic snarl at the 2ndRainbow area of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway. We were headed home in Festac Town. All routes and spaces were choked and blocked by trailers and tankers. Even “okada riders” were having a hell of time meandering between the vehicles.
We soon got helmed in and stranded. It was bad traffic. Very bad. Many drivers had turned off their engines and the headlights. We were on the service lane, few meters after the Tank and Tommy NNPC filling station. My friend had earlier expressed strong worry of being trapped in traffic at such spots, as “bad boys” often capitalize on it to wreak havoc. And it was not long after, that the havoc hit us. Some two young men soon appeared by the road side, making as if they were just walking by, pretending to be making telephone calls. They all wore black T-shirts with various imprints. They stood, surveyed the area and then left. We were not sure what they were up to, nor what we should do. The traffic persisted. About twenty minutes later, the boys were back, this time, with an additional young man, in his late 20’s. they conferred among themselves briefly, assigning themselves to who should attack who, and I saw their leader walk to my side of the car. He raised his shirt to show the bronze-coloured pistol he tucked into his trousers. He soon pulled it out, pointed it at me, yelling the order of “bring out all the money”. I had barely answered that I did not have money on me, when he pulled out an iron and smashed my glass windows. He was clearly under the influence of drugs. And I was bathed with glass smithereens, many of which were in my mouth. He was still barking the order of “bring the money or I kill you”, and I handed over one of my less prized phones to him. The other I had thrown under the foot mat before he came. He was not appeased. He soon smashed my face with the iron, breaking one of my tooth and my lips. Blood was all over me. Meanwhile and simultaneously, the other assailant had drawn out a very long dagger at my friend who sat beside me, robbing him of all his phones and cash. He dashed at the driver behind us and also robbed him quickly of whatever he could grab, and as he made to run off, he, again, smashed the window of the other side of my car. So both glass windows were smashed.
While we were being robbed, the driver of a red Toyota Camry car in my front was also being robbed, while one of them stood in the front of my car. The driver in my front was robbed of his laptop, phones, wallet, cash and yet stabbed deeply on his right arm. Barely three minutes after, they were done. They fled. The red Camry driver was bleeding profusely, his whole shirt soaked with blood. We had to look for handkerchief to tie the bleeding spot.
It was after the robbers had fled in a waiting motor bike that many of the other drivers came sympathizing with us, as we still were held down by the traffic. About ten minutes later, some soldiers (who watch over the NNPC filling station) walked up to us asking where the robbers were, as if we should know. Many of the sympathisers recounted frequent ordeals in the hands of highway robbers who often take advantage of traffic snarls to attack motorists.
The soldiers managed to direct the traffic in a way that we could escape from the traffic after some 20 more minutes. We drove straight to the hospital for treatment.
By the following day when we went to incident the attack at the Festac Police Station, we were assailed by the signature malaise of the Nigeria Police. Somebody had forewarned us that the police would demand money to incident the case. Thankfully they did not. But while they asked us to write our statement, they feasted on the meal of Semovita and Ogbono soup, right in our presence, washing it all down with sachets of ‘Pure water’ before attending to our complaint. The attitude was most sickening. They asked, whilst picking their teeth, if we were just interested in filing the report or we wanted an investigation. I told him both, knowing fully well that as I write this story, one week after the incident, the paper on which we filed the report must have got lost. To say they were nonchallant and manifestly unprofessional would be an understatement. But that is our lot in Nigeria!
In recent years, I have stopped seeing policemen who ride on patrol motor bikes on Lagos roads. Their presence helped to keep away these deadly criminals. Today, motorists are practically on their own, even as the menace of traffic snarls continue to plague Lagosians.
Can somebody tell the duo of Gov Babajide Snawo-Olu and Hakeem Odumosu, the Lagos state Commissioner of Police, that Lagos motorists are being attacked and even killed frequently in traffic. They should rise up and do something. It will only get worse as Christmas draws nearer. May the Good Lord save us!


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