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Yahaya Bello as ‘Poster Boy’ of APC

by Goddy Ofose
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Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, did a very brilliant cover-page advert for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in a few national dallies and the advert ran for days if not weeks during the party’s 2021 nationwide membership registration exercise.

The governor of the confluence state’s efforts at canvassing more members for his party on whose platform he contested for his second term in office should ordinarily attract commendations from party members and lovers of party loyalty. But his untoward antecedents began since he assumed office as the number-one man in the state following the tragic death of Abubakar Audu while the election results were still being counted.

Governor Bello, being a governor whom age puts in the youth category, has not done much to brighten the hope the younger generation working hard to take the reins of power from the class of the 50s and the 60s.

Besides, Bello who has succeeded in enlisting himself as the son of President Muhammadu Buhari has not only taken governance in the state on a downward trend, but has also in no small measure dimmed the chances of the youths he purportedly represents in attaining position of power in the country.

At the heat of the terminal disease that caught the whole world napping and gasping for breath, Bello persistently, albeit ignorantly, maintained that Kogi State is Covid-19-free. Even when the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) countered his unfounded conclusion, he insisted without any proof that his state was off the reach of the pandemic fast dwarfing the world population similar to the Spanish flu or influenza pandemic of 1918.

His re-election bid to the Lugard House, Lokoja, was yet another misguided outing by the Kogi State governor. The ‘taataa’ election, apology to Senator Dino Melaye, cast a very dark cloud on the viability of Bello as a vivid representative of the youth constituency.

So, when he chose to make himself the self-appointed ‘poster boy’ for the APC during the party’s registration exercise, not many saw him as the right face to intercede for the party in the court of public opinion.

On reading deeply researched articles on the same poser, one is forced to conclude that APC might have just shot itself in the leg by allowing the man with sinking prestige to interface for the party.

After reading Eniola Bello’s typically brilliant and virtually exhaustive treatise titled “Yahaya Bello: The Ugly Face Of APC”, you feel there’s little to add to the very illuminating discourse. This is one write-up which should be read and read again by lovers of Kogi State and followers of this geo-polity. Kogi is one state which keeps failing to realise the dreams of its people and the expectations of watchers of sociopolitical developments in the state.

Again if one probably also read Idowu Akinlotan’s “They Too Want To Be President”, the piece so succinctly x-rayed early aspirants to President Muhammadu Buhari’s office, including Yahaya Bello, who Akinlotan notes, has comically elected himself a son of Buhari, to underscore his desperation to succeed his ‘father’. Nigeria hasn’t yet become Equatorial Guinea where the father, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is President, while his son, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mangue is the Vice President by the way.

Giant billboards bearing Bello’s image with payoff lines conveying his presidential bid flash past your face as you commute on highways abutting the confluence state. In the estimation of his aides and associates, he either has transmuted from Government House, Lokoja to Aso Villa, Abuja, or he is waiting in the wings. So they churn out billboard after billboard.

Without waiting for any insider to buttress how much he must have expended on the publicity stunts, Yahaya Bello must have committed billions of Kogi taxpayers’ money on a project that is ‘dead on arrival’. I still find it hard to place who must have (mis) advised the governor to bite more than his public image can chew. 

Whichever part of the trans-national highways you access Lokoja, the state capital, your sensibilities will most likely be assaulted by the naked putrefaction that confronts you in the name of urbanisation.

If you are coming in from above the Niger River, the Kaduna-Abuja road, you drive past the naval formation, NNS Lugard in the sleepy village Banda, and thenceforth to the main approach into the state capital; it welcomes you with “Oshodi-style” bedlam. You will navigate man-sized potholes, striving with every turn of your car wheels to avoid collision with oncoming vehicles. On either side of the road, trailers are parked with reckless abandon, while restaurants, bukaterias, watering holes for commuters spill into the highway, and retailers of all manner of wares man their wooden stalls constraining the road on either side of the North-South highway.

Should you be unfortunate to be on the road on a “market day,” your pace and timing will be further impeded by the buying and selling at the self-styled “International Market” as you progress to the intersection which takes you southward towards Okene or Obajana or leftwards into Lokoja.

If you are driving northwards from the Okene-Osara or Kabba-Obajana sections of the country into Lokoja town through the famous “Barracks Road,” you will most likely drive through an earth road, long-designed as a dual carriageway, which remains a monument of neglect and dereliction.

Perchance your route takes you through the Ajaokuta-Ganaja-Lokoja road, popular with commuters from the South-South and South East of the country; you will have to endure a pitiably dilapidated road, further ravaged by the last rains which virtually severed the road from Lokoja on your route.

And from whichever of these three accesses you traverse Lokoja, you will be confronted by the same overwhelming spectre of abandonment, assailed by the rancid stench of decay, numbed by pervading stasis, disturbed by the prevailing despondency in a city which once hosted the seat of Nigeria’s administration during the colonial era.

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