By Usman Audu
The White Lion, as Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello is fondly called, has four things as his work tools: diplomacy, emotional inteligence, courage and influence. These has helped him to dare and conquer on many fronts.
The Wednesday’s announcement, that Kogi, for the first time, has received it’s share of monthly 13 percent derivation, during the weekly State Executive Council meeting at the Lugard House, Lokoja, closes an epic story of governor’s unparalleled and deft power of diplomacy, leadership acumen and emotional inteligence.
Though Governor Bello’s serial leadership wins had for umpteenth time, proven that wisdom is better than strength, the latest development marks the end of history in the evolution of Kogi’s trajectory. This is because, most likely, no event in the future can be more than enlistment of Kogi as an Oil producing State.
With this latest feat, Bello has once again demonstrated what’s possible, where a leader thinks transgenerstional possibilities; where a leader prioritises common good above pedestal and narrow interests.
Bello’s foray into politics didn’t mean much to many at inception. But as the old saying goes, time is the revealer of truth. As time goes by, it has become clear that Bello was on a divine mandate to fix and give Kogi back to Kogites. This is what the latest development underpines.
Those who saw nothing good with anything he does before, now celebrate, throwing him Toscanini complement “tenacious in battle, wise in councel and magnanimous all round victory.
In retrospect, Kogi’s journey to Oil Producing Status was characterised by tears, blood and sweat of the people of Ibaji, who daily laid down their lives to ensure that Kogi’s boundary to Ibaji flank, is not lost to Anambra state. Until Bello’s era, successive administrations in the State merely paid lip service to Ibaji plight and the brazen denial of Kogi state of what rightfully belongs to it.
However, with Bello’s ascendence in 2015, the struggle received renewed zest and impetus. Seeing the complication in the Kogi/Anambra contestation for the large shunk of the Oil deposit, Bello immediately oiled and deployed his power of diplomacy and emotional intelligence. Under Nigeria’s government structure, the authority to determine who gets what, where, when and how in terms of resources lays with the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation Development and Fiscal Commission (RMADFC). Thank goodness that Bello is not new to RMADFC, as he has had stint with the revenue. allocating Commission during his time in the public service.
The Agasa born politician realised early in his political journey, that though, no one fectches water because he/she wants to wash the cheek but it’s through the influence of the face.’ An African saying has it that, “a child who washes his hands clean, will eat with the elders.” Not undereatimating the power of influence and association, Bello began to positioned himself to court the admiration of who’s is who in the Nigerian polity. I stand to be corrected, today, there’s no cross generational politician like Governor Bello. He has successfully earned the trust of the older generation and court the admiration of the youth belt. In order words, Bello is a generational bridge of today.
Leveraging on this goodwill, the governor has attracted unphantomable development to the Confluence State. From federal government projects to interventions from World Bank and other multilateral institutions. A time-tested saying goes: ‘the taste of a pudding is in the eating”. Elsewhere, leadership exists in theory but the Governor Bello led Kogi State, leadership is with demonstrable results. That’s why the foes and critics of Bello School of leadership are having their tails between their legs. Because they mocked and underrated his capability from inception. Today, evidence is the end of arguments.
One remarkable leadership lesson to take home from Governor Bello is noiseless impacts. Doing so much, yet making little noise. For him, let the people judge. Or better still, “if the clouds gathers and the blind man does not see, he can certainly not deny it, when starts raining. For instance, he has been following up on commencement of payment of 13 percent derivation to Kogi, albeit, without fuss, now that the meal is ready, even his critics cannot deny the aroma.
With the issue of 13 percent derivation done and dusted, comes the fear of Oil curse. One of the sore points of Oil discovery and exploration in Nigeria, is the inability, lack or unwillingness of the governing elites to make Oil wealth reflect in the economic wellbeing of the people and accelerated development of the country. One can without bathing an eyelid, vouch that Kogi will be different. Kogi’s example will be so real like that of Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia etc. The reason for this broad optimism is based on Bello’s track records of entrenched probity and accountability in governance, for which he has been roundly commended and won many awards and commendation of the World Bank.
Let Kogi become the springboard for what good Oil money can do! Let the blood of Ibaji people, who died in this struggle not be in vain. Let Bello follow up with the setting up of Kogi Oil Producing Community Development Commission to accelerate the economic fortune of the area and Kogi as a whole.
In every steps of the way, Bello was never unmindful of the divine orchestration behind his emergence. Hence, he takes every decision as service and gratitude to God, to whom all power belongs.
The point those who criticised Bello from the onset missed was that, compassion for the people drives good leadership than long years of experience. When you have compassion and zeal to make things work and make life bearable for the people, nothing would be impossible for you. Its that passion that engendered the prevailing peace in Kogi State, despite bordering nine states of Nigeria and delicate ethnic balance. The spirit is the same. All appointees are held accountable for their actions and inactions. That’s why traditional leaders and local council leaders are the first line of accountability. In Bello’s political paradigm, ‘he who can hire can also fire, if a gap is noticed in expectations and delivery.
More than anytime in the history of Kogi State, no governmemt has made deliberate efforts to make youths centerpiece of societal transformation like Bello.
As Kogi joins Oil Producing States, it’s important, we assure Kogites that Bello posses the capacity to lay enduring foundation for optimal utilisation of the 13 percent derivation in such a way that Kogites and Nigerians in general will live to relish.
—Audu is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja.