The Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, tapped into the core of integrated marketing communication strategy to launch his bid for the presidency in 2023. Bello deployed youthful and popular sports stars with huge social media followers to market his presidential ambition to the Nigerian electorate. The governor presents a win-win marketing strategy for his proposition to Nigerians, while making his presidential bid reflective of the agitation of the youths for increased representation in governance across board.
Since the governor received a push from a large number of Nigerian youths to run for the office of the president, his presidential campaign has gained traction. He is trending on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. He will, most likely, continue to be a subject of interest to many Nigerians, especially, the youths whose interests he claims to represent.
As more Nigerians continue to support for his presidential ambition, political pundits predict that Bello may spin more political surprises, as the countdown to the 2023 general elections continues.
He is seen as the real ‘Audacity of Hope’ because he is from the North Central geo-political zone, and not a mainstream politician from any of the three major tribes – Hausa, Ibo or Yoruba; and represents the youths’ ambition to the presidency in a country where the youths are often relegated to tools of political brigandage. Bello has stated that his run for the presidency is not about his political ambition, but about giving the youths a chance to lead, and restore the dignity of the country. Interestingly, a number of Nigerian political pundits have fallen for his protestation. One of such political analysts recently stated that, “Bello’s quest to be president is not about grabbing power for aggrandizement, but about the Nigerian youths being at the helm of affairs in national politics and governance.”
Bello has not presented an intimidating or impeccable dossier. After all, his eight-year stewardship as the governor of Kogi State has been with a dearth of verifiable projects that can sway people to vouch for him as a veritable presidential candidate. However, he has chosen to reach his target audience plying the route paved with stars, who are loved by fans far and wide. He seems to be saying that, in supporting his run for the presidency, most voters will not give a hoot about his performance as governor, but will rather be swayed by the faces of their loved sports icons supporting him and campaigning for him.
Among the popular Nigerian sports stars that have visited the governor and declared their supports for his quest to succeed President Buhari are Daniel Amokachi, Mikel Obi and the Nigerian-American Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. Usman’s visit came few months after he defeated his challenger, Gilbert Burns, which extended his seemingly unassailable reign at the top of the (UFC) welterweight division. It speaks volumes of the kind of social media mileage and attention his presence in the company of the governor would generate across the country and in the Diaspora. Mikel Obi, harped on the need for youth leadership in Nigeria. He urged the youths to come out and take leadership positions across all boards for the betterment of the country.
If the governor eventually clinches the coveted presidential seat come 2023 it would be on record that he arrives at the presidency riding on the back of popular sports stars while tilting toward youth sentiments to market his humongous dream instead of rolling out his achievements to make issue-based electioneering campaigns