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February 27, 2024
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Former Kogi governor Yahaya Bello

X-raying Yahaya Bello’s stewardship in Kogi

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By Thompson Yamput, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

As former Kogi governor Yahaya Bello hands over to his successor, Alhaji Usman Ododo, analysts have continued to assess his stewardship in the eight years he led the North-Central state.

The posers are many. What will be his place in his history? What will he be remembered for? Is he a hero or a villain?

Bello, who was sworn in on Jan. 27, 2016 and served two terms, was favoured by providence to become governor following the passing of Prince Abubakar Audu, who won the off-cycle governorship election held in 2015.

He had contested for the All Peoples Congress (APC) ticket with Audu and lost to him. Audu went into the election and won but died just when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him winner.

That incident handed over the seat to Bello, then 40, thanks to his second position in the primary elections.

On assumption of office on Jan. 27, 2016, Bello met several uncompleted projects and opted to complete them and put them to use.

Among the uncompleted projects were the Ganaja Flyover Lokoja, Zone 8 – Paparanda Square Road (IBB Way), expansion of Kogi water project and Kogi Hotel.

Ganaja flyover

He also met a lot of security challenges and is credited with effectively tackling them.

It is to his credit that many of such criminals got neutralised, some arrested, prosecuted and jailed, while others fled the state.

It is, thus, to his credit that Kogi, in spite of being bordered by nine states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, is one of the most peaceful states in the country.

This feat earned him both national and international awards, including the “Governor Of The Year” award at the 2023 edition of Global Excellence Awards.The committee for that award described Bello as “an achiever.”

But, for many observers, Bello’s best moment was when Muhammadu Buhari, then President, inaugurated many projects he executed.

Among such projects were the Confluence University of Science and Technology in Osara, the Ganaja flyover, and the General Hospitals in Gegu and Isanlu.

Others included the Referral Hospital, Okene, Lokoja, three GYB Model Secondary Schools, Zone 8 – Paparanda Square Road, Lokoja and Gegu-Beki General Hospital.

He also upgraded the General Hospital in Idah.

Bello also executed many road projects across the 21 Local Government Areas, and lighted many rural areas with electricity projects.

Analysts have also observed that one area that enjoyed the most attention was the education sector, especially with the establishment of Model Secondary Schools to upgrade the quality of early education.

It is also to Bello’s credit that Kogi has three State Universities – Kogi State University, (KSU), Kabba which he established in 2023 after establishing the Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTEC), Osara in Okene.

The Prince Abubakar Audu University (PAAU), Ayingba, Dekina, had earlier been established by his predecessor, the late Audu.

With the establishment of KSU, which had its maiden matriculation on Jan. 15, Bello was able to ensure that each of the three senatorial districts of the state had a university.

Only Bello has that distinction in the country.

Another stride Bello will be remembered for, is the payment of N497 million registration fees for students writing the senior secondary school certificate examination organised by the West African Examination Council (WAEC).

On Jan. 23, 2024, Bello approved the payment of N115,000,000 to cover the cost of UTME organised by JAMB, for 15,033 students in public schools across the state.

The State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Wemmy Jones, who made the disclosure during a news briefing in Lokoja, said that the gesture is a further demonstration of Bello’s commitment to giving all Kogi children free access to education.

According to Jones, the action is a follow-up to the earlier payment of about N497 million to WAEC to ensure no student in Kogi public schools is made to pay a dime before writing any internal or external examination.

According to him, Bello’s vision is that no Kogi child should be deprived of the chance to be educated on account of poverty.

In December 2023, Bello achieved another feat when he presented 25 ambulances to all the local government areas and some tertiary institutions. He also presented fire fighting vans to the state’s Fire Service in Lokoja.

The gesture was part of efforts to further aid the smooth functioning of the state’s health sector and a quicker handling of emergencies.

On the same day, Bello also presented 40 SUVs and four Hilux vans to the state’s lawmakers and Judges to ease the execution of their mandates.

Analysts also credit Bello with sound economic policies and programmes that saw a 300 per cent rise in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Kogi.

Bello will also be remembered for creating a huge political space for women to thrive in the state after appointing most of them into various offices with.

He made it a cardinal policy by ensuring that all Vice Chairmen of the 21 Local Government Areas were women.

His ADC was a woman throughout his eight years as governor.

To Dr Joseph Ikani of the Centre For Public Accountability, Abuja, Bello’s achievements will be the bench mark on which his predecessors and successors would be judged.

“Key projects such as the establishment of universities, the Ganaja flyover, several roads and electricity projects will always tell his story.

“Today, we can boast of a reference specialist hospital in Okene that has been adjudged the best in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The Referral Hospital, Okene has world class facilities with qualified Doctors and Nurses.

“It is the only hospital that has a Citi Scan in the whole of Kogi and offers hope to Kogi people and the nine neighbouring States in the provision of basic healthcare delivery services.

“The ambulances he recently procured will help in the handling of emergencies within the shortest possible time towards an efficient health care delivery,” he said.

Reference Hospital Okene

Bello has, indeed, made it clear that promoting a healthy populace was his major concern.

“We have made the health needs of our people top priority under our administration. This is the reason the 2024 budget is basically aimed at employment generation for health care providers and consolidation of the available infrastructure that has made us a reference in north-central Nigeria,” he said last year.

He also spoke on the judiciary.

“It is also our avowed determination to ensure that our judicial officers are provided with the needed means to make them deliver justice without fear or favour.”

“Over the years, we have witnessed some fire incidents that could have been averted but for want of the necessary equipment. It is our determination that henceforth, we will, with the provision of the fire service vehicles, fight fire incidences promptly and efficiently,” Bello had also said while inaugurating fire fighting equipment.

The Speaker, Kogi House of Assembly, Mr Umar Aliyu, has also spoken on Bello’s place in history.

“Bello will always be remembered for being a proven advocate of the well-being and welfare of the legislators.

“Under his watch, legislators have witnessed unprecedented support which improved their productivity.”

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Usman Zakari, also spoke on Bello’s place in contemporary Kogi.

“Following a baseline and needs assessment carried out in 2018, the administration of Governor Bello employed more than 3,000 health workers and improved the infrastructure in all health institutions.

“I see Bello as a game changer in the state’s health sector.

“He procured ambulances for all the Local Government areas. This gesture has provided the opportunity to prevent maternal deaths and to be able to transport patients for emergencies, for linkages and referrals,” he stated.

“One of the last projects Bello inaugurated at the tail end of his administration was Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child 110-Bed Hospital at Iruvichonomi community in Adavi Local Government Area, Kogi. Generations yet unborn will remember him for this,” he said.

For the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Abubakar, Bello’s exceptional achievements have rejigged Kogi’s economy.

Abubakar, in a letter to Bello, said Kogi is more prosperous and transformed due to his (Bello’s) exceptional achievements.

Abubakar said: “It is a fact that your exceptional achievements rejigged Kogi’s economy. I wish to congratulate you on your notable strides since assuming office as governor.

“Your various infrastructural projects opened up the state as one of Nigeria’s main trade routes.

“You’re leaving Kogi more prosperous, developed and transformed as seen in your infrastructural projects such as the renovation of the Okene Reference hospital and the establishment of Omi Rice Farm.

“You have enhanced public services and facilities and have added value to agricultural production and rejigged Kogi’s economy.

“As your tenure winds down, I write to congratulate you and acknowledge the notable achievements of your administration during your two tenures as governor.

“During your time as governor, the various infrastructural projects you undertook significantly improved the state’s connectivity and accessibility as one of Nigeria’s main trade routes from the West and South to Northern parts of the country.

“The renovation of the Okene Reference hospital is a testament to your dedication to enhancing public services and facilities.

“Similarly, the establishment of Omi Rice Farm, one of the largest in Nigeria, is a clear demonstration of your administration’s commitment to adding value to agricultural production.”

Like Abubakar, many observers and analysts believe that Bello left indelible marks on the sands of Kogi and will always be remembered as the architect of its supersonic growth. (NAN features)

**If used please credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria.

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