Home Opinion Yahaya Bello: A Price To Pay

Yahaya Bello: A Price To Pay

By Sam Aina

In the past one month, I have been reading rather ravenously.

I am trying to revive the infatuation I had with books when I was younger. I was so into books that I never used to watch movies because I believed, and still do, that no human being has the ability to replicate what my mind conjures when I read. As a story teller, I make images of fictional characters, and no matter how well such books are acted upon in real life, it just doesn’t feel right.

That is why I never watched the Harry Potter series in full, despite reading the 7 books in the collection five times. It is the same reason I fell asleep halfway into watching the screen adaptation of “Half of a yellow sun”.

A good movie is an amazing thing to witness, but a book on the same story has no rival. Much like Paulo Coelho’s line of thought, “a book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader”.

I wonder why our generation never read. It is the reason why we are easily deceived.

Amazingly, the motivation for this piece came from a few words I digested in a book about a two weeks ago. It became, to me, a fitting angle for what will come to be represented as the first year anniversary of my monthly political releases on the young man that put Agassa on the map.

I delved with gusto into “The Accidental Public Servant”, a story on the life of the current Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El Rufai.

The book details his experiences in the private sector up until his eventual nomination as the Minister of the FCT and his travails afterward. Even though I want to believe that I differ to a large extent on his principles, it is an interesting book that was written with gusto and pride: characteristic of the man himself.

However, in the thousands of words that were made available in fine print, only a couple of them have stuck with me and have been continuously replayed in my subconscious since the first time I chanced on them.

According to Rufai, they were words spoken to him by the former President of Nigeria and his boss at the time, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Obasanjo had told Rufai, when he started facing a barrage of political attacks, that he had three very visible problems.

The first, quite comically, was that Rufai was clever. Obasanjo had said that crooked politicians hated clever people, because they had the ability to see far ahead of their scheming.

The second problem, according to Obasanjo, was that El Rufai “looked” clever, which was another very terrible characteristic to possess in the Nigerian political clime. It was one thing to be intelligent, but according to Baba Iyabo, looking intelligent even brings you more enemies. Obasanjo further clarified by explaining how he was an intelligent person by every spectrum of measurement, but had been blessed with a rather dull look, which made people underestimate him.

El-Rufai had not been blessed with the same.

Obasanjo declared that Rufai’s third and final problem was that he spoke in clever terms. You can be smart and get away with it, you can also look smart and be lucky enough to be termed as a “technocrat” in politics, but in Nigeria, the fastest way to generate more enemies than you can number would be to have the temerity to speak disinterringly on pressing national issues – especially those that have benefitted cronies for so long; your expository outlook now threatens its entire existence.

Mind you, these observations, as propagated by Obasanjo on Rufai’s person, is his and his alone, differing rather largely with my personal observations. However, the context, which I find rather intriguing, will serve as a launchpad to today’s topic of discussion.

Those three observations raised by President Obasanjo is, to the ladies and gentlemen privileged to read this piece, a type and shadow of the perceptions made by those who have set themselves against the Presidential aspirations of the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello.

I am sure it has come to many as a surprise, including some people reading this piece, how Yahaya Bello’s presidential run has been attacked by many overnight political groups across the country despite his rising profile and popularity nationwide. Yahaya Bello’s character and daring nature has seen him labelled as persona non grata amongst the circle of fair weather politicians, and whilst it has earned him a lot of support, especially recently, it has, like Obasanjo prophesied to El Rufai some 17 years earlier, earned him a status which has been recognized, quickly enough, as non-beneficial to the perpetual milkmen of Nigeria’s ever succulent national cake.
For many, his ambition represents the blistering nature of his doggedness and drive that has come to define an astonishing political story.

However, even more concerning for them are some of his attributes which – if his Presidential run were to have a fruitful end – will shake the structure of what we have come to know as political racketeering; and position Nigeria well on the road to success.

If Yahaya Bello were to triumph, many people will have their food stolen from their mouths, and it is simply because of three “problems” which he poses to their laid down plan.

So I have, much like Obasanjo, carefully studied the man Bello, and have come to realize what he represents. Although this is often distorted by his representation in the media, the results of his stringent moves and opinions on issues of national importance are clear for all to see.

Unfortunately, Nigerians are not characteristically inclined to admit their mistakes, which is why an exposé like this is often required.

So I will grant this reader the joy of mental illumination.

ONE – A problem of “foresight”

Perhaps, this might be his greatest attribute, a fact which he hides successfully behind his bespectacled gaze. Bello often sees more than what is portrayed, which is why he has the air of being perceived as needlessly disagreeable.

In politics, especially amongst the masses, this is an attribute that crooked politicians dislike. Like a game of chess, politicians make moves, visible moves, with the eventual aim of hiding their original plan from an unskilled player of the game – the masses. For so long, Nigerians have always played along with these schemes and suffered the dire consequences thereafter. Bello however has amassed a reputation of speaking his mind to whoever irrespective of party, religion or sex.

I could paint a lot of scenarios.

At the advent of the novel Covid-19 virus last year, the entire world and her economies were advised to lock down and distribute palliatives. What followed was a spate of “donations” by many within the Nigerian elite which was designed to reduce the burden on the masses by providing the desired funds for the establishment of isolation centers, purchase of food items and other administrative requirements.
Of course, in what was widely documented nationwide, Yahaya Bello disagreed.

He saw through the obsequiousness of the decision makers in the Nigerian health sector in playing to the tune of the western world in order to attract the benefits that followed. He stated in the face of being considered a national pariah how Nigerians will have to learn to live with the pandemic in our own peculiar way, whilst proposing that Nigeria’s solution lay in restructuring her flailing health facilities, whilst implementing stringent policies that will not place too much a strain on a third world country like ours – all the while paying strict adherence to Covid-19 rules.

One year and nine months later, and even his greatest enemies will agree that he has been vindicated. Not only has the pandemic refused to go away, but new variants continue to rise each day with a deliberate attempt to label the new variant as African; placing further strain on Nigeria and Nigerians. Yahaya Bello had cautioned that the billions of naira spent during the early days of the pandemic should have been used to build many world class hospitals across the nation, whilst equipping the existing ones to enviable standards. Whilst the entire country refused to listen, he implemented his own advice, and has since initiated the construction of a world class teaching hospital as well as eight other modern hospitals across the state to cover for the nine federal constituencies.

Kogi is better prepared, Nigeria remains the same and the pandemic, according to “experts”, might require a third and perhaps, fourth dose of the vaccine. In other words, a lifelong affliction.


Yahaya Bello also cautioned in the past that no economic growth can be witnessed when the people remain in disunity. After all, the people are the economy, and if they are at loggerheads, nothing will flourish.

It is safe to say that whilst his own state, Kogi, continues to break new boundaries heretofore unseen in terms of human resource and infrastructural developments due to the priorities being laid on the deliberate attempt to foster togetherness, the rest of Nigeria seems to be in stark contrast with the uprising in the West, East and North West contributing to the destruction of an economy strained by an over-reliance on oil products; a stiff setback on industrialization due to her inability to revive the Ajaokuta Steel company; the operation of only one seaport at full capacity (Apapa) whilst the other five lay in ruins and the perception between many tribes and groups of nepotism and class divide – thereby creating havoc on a daily basis.

I could go on and on, but throughout his political career, his unpopular moves borne out of pure foresight has seen him revolutionize his domain. When people frowned at the Civil Service Reforms and called him all sorts of name, he simply went about his job and the state is better for it. When he proscribed ASUU from the state owned university, he was widely criticized but the students who have benefitted from a steady calendar in the years after without fear of impending strikes continue to blaze the trail. He has continued to make these moves, and the powers that be have watched him carefully, and realized that his Presidency might spell a new dawn of doom for what has often benefitted cronies.
He will see ahead of their scheming, and go another way.

Bad news.

TWO – A problem of “courage”

Billy Graham once described courage as “contagious”. In his words, “when a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” In my humble yet glaring opinion, Yahaya Bello characterizes what some might term to be ‘too much’ courage: a dangerous character to possess, especially to those that are used to controlling weaklings.

The Nigerian story has often required someone with the desired courage to take a stand against many of the injustices and backwardness that has bedevilled our people in times past. In our history, just a little bit of courage would have gone a long way in achieving our set goals and aspirations.

No one has had the courage to crush the insecurity in the North East once and for all. No one has shown the courage needed to have a sensible dialogue with the people with the aim of bringing an end to the agitations in the East and West. No one has had the courage to fully invest in a diversification economic agenda. No one has had the courage to solve our lingering electricity problems. No one has had the courage to elevate the statuses of our women and youth. No one has even had the courage to promote oneness and unity because of the political benefits that division provides.

A little courage is sorely required, Yahaya Bello seems to possess a lot.

When he assumed office as the Governor of Kogi state, it was a fertile ground for kidnappers and armed robbers. Yahaya Bello created the Vigilante service, and provided utilities for all the law enforcement agencies to thrive. However, the major reason why so much success was recorded was because he insisted on leading the charge, ensuring that his own home town was the first point of call. He often made himself available for raids, as well as paying unscheduled visits to the troops in the trenches to boost their morale. In less than two years, Kogi became, and still is, one of the safest states in the North.

Apart from a physical show of grit and fearlessness, Yahaya Bello has the courage to do what needs to be done to put Nigeria on the right track. Many things that have refused to work in Nigeria is not because of a lack of political will in many cases, it is simply a lack of the required courage. Many attempts have been made to ensure steady electricity in Nigeria, curb insecurity and promote oneness, but the absence of this benefits a lot of people: people who are willing to spend a lot to ensure that Nigeria remains the same – on a spot.

Yahaya Bello has shown, countless times, that he is unfazed by these attacks and focused on achieving his goals.

This was first brought to the fore when, just a few days to the Civil Service reform exercise in 2017, the room containing all the files of the civil servants to be screened was mysteriously tampered with. That was supposed to spell the end of the exercise in what would have been a win for those with hundreds of “ghost workers” whose names they had used to milk the state dry for years.

However, they met their match in Bello.

He ordered the duplicate files of every worker to be sent from every Local Government Secretariat in the state under heavy surveillance and security presence. In the end, the exercise was conducted and 18,211 ghost workers were fished out.

How many times has Nigeria failed to move forward because something was created to stall a fruitful process?

Earlier this year, the standoff between the Northern farmers and Southern marketers threatened to dissolve into anarchy in what would have resulted in a lose-lose situation for both parties – typical of the Nigerian story. Bello showed the required courage to step into a delicate situation, knowing fully that failure would have spelt doom for the people and even more critically, his name. In the end, he resolved the matter after a few meetings, and both groups have continued to do great business together.

It took great courage to make the unpopular opinion of raising women in Kogi politics, ensuring that all the Vice Chairman positions were occupied by women and winning the United Nations HeForShe award in the process. It took great courage to put a stop to activities that promoted ethnic and religious divide in Kogi state, becoming the first Governor to build a chapel in the Kogi state Government House in its 28-year existence, whilst also holding a thanksgiving service in his hometown church to celebrate his victory, even as a practicing Muslim. It took great courage to put the youth in charge of governance, in a sector that has always been controlled by the elderly. Yahaya Bello has the courage and the youthfulness to support it.

In Nigerian history, you either had the courage and lacked the youth or had the youth and lacked the courage.

This young man possesses both.

Bad news.

THREE – A problem of “will”
In a case of being funny but true, Harry Browne once noted that “no one had ever died from smoking marijuana, but millions of people have died believing politicians.” Do Nigerians still believe in their politicians? I doubt.

For Kogites, it is a different story.

If Yahaya Bello says he will do something, it doesn’t matter how bleak the chances, he will find a way around it. Like I said before, many Nigerian politicians go into offices with the aim of achieving some set out goals, but when they are faced with long standing problems and principalities, they fall prey to fear and toe the line of characters they once insulted. It is the crooked nature of Nigerian politics, another vast topic that requires an insight too voluminous to fit into an article.

Disunity was a long standing problem. Clashes between the different tribes that existed between Kogi’s walls was a long-standing problem. Insecurity was a long-standing problem, so much so that the Boko Haram had thousands of cells in Kogi, even controlling a mosque in Okene LGA. Infrastructural deficiency was a long-standing problem. Religious disharmony was a long-standing problem. These were all active and thriving before Yahaya Bello came along. He only possessed something his predecessors did not.


He said he was going to stop bank robberies. He said he was going to unite the state. He said he was going to make Kogi the safest state in the North. He said he was going to bridge the gap between the various religious bodies in Kogi. He said he was going to improve the educational standard and reform the civil service. He said he was going to make sure that Lokoja regained her lost glory. He said all these and people laughed in disbelief, because others had said the same thing too.

Yahaya Bello changed the game.

Now even criminals rush to surrender themselves once he promises to bring them to justice. Despite numerous attempts in recent times to paint Kogi as insecure, Bello’s will to prove them wrong has been outstanding, and will continue to be in the light of recent setbacks. There is nothing he has made a bold statement on tackling that he has not achieved successfully. It doesn’t mean that it was easy, it just goes to show how much desire he has to make sure that his word is his bond.

A rare trait to possess in Nigerian politics.

Nigeria is crying out for a leader who will say a thing on the campaign trail and actually mean it when they are voted into office. Nigeria needs someone who will face a problem head on, taking the pains that accompanies the desire to be different with ease. Nigeria needs a true leader.

Without mincing words, Nigeria needs Yahaya Bello.

However, these aforementioned “problematic” traits which he possesses continue to pose a stumbling block to his goals, and as long as Yahaya Bello refuses to stop having the foresight for good or the courage to do more or the will to reshape Nigeria’s regressive position in Africa, crooked politicians will continue to view a Bello-led administration as non-beneficial to their self-aggrandizement.

Thankfully, politicians do not make Presidents, the people do.

This is why we must all ensure that we do our duty as patriotic citizens by registering for our PVCs, paying closer attention to the aspirants on offer in the major political parties and finally making our choices based on the character which they have been proven to possess due to years of traceable, tangible results.

As for me, only one man has shown the capacity and capability needed to govern a multi religious, multiethnic terrain like Nigeria. He has the foresight, the courage and the will to make things right. Only he has shown over and over again how willing and ready he is to pay the price for Nigeria’s emancipation.

His name? Yahaya Adoza Bello.



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