By Okanga Agila
The country still needs to figure out something about Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the governor of Kogi State. He plays the game of politics with finesse. Whether you like it or yes, he is a master of the game. The recently concluded APC gubernatorial primaries in the state that produced Alhaji Usman Ahmed Ododo as the APC candidate exemplify the Yahaya Bello finesse.
In some quarters, it has been argued that the decision to endorse and support Alhaji Usman Ahmed Ododo, the former auditor general for local governments in the state, was for selfish reasons. Yes, the APC candidate is of the Ebira ethnic stock as the governor, but that is not it. Those who know the dynamics of Kogi politics would see sense in the choice of Ahmed Usman Ododo. There was a lot at play. The case of Kogi state is not about ethnicity or religion but competence. And that is what Yahaya Bello has displayed in the choice of Ahmed Usman Ododo.
From the lot, Usman Ododo is the most competent. He is a silent achiever and one that knows his onions. Those who have interacted with him could attest to his prudence and eagle eye, as typical with auditors. To a large extent, he was the engine room of Yahaya Bello’s administration, especially in the second tenure, where efforts were made to correct the anomalies that caused the administration some untoward embarrassments. And it was on record that he delivered on the task.
Another quick fact about the Kogi state APC candidate is that he proved reliable and insisted on the right things to be done, especially with local government funds. What some might not know is that Usman Ododo was one of those that pushed and saw to the materialization of local government autonomy in the state. Usman Ododo was also at the forefront of holding local government administrators accountable to the people by scrutinizing expenditures, blocking waste and other activities that were inimical to the interest of the people and the state at large.
Therefore, it didn’t surprise some of us conversant with the dynamics of Kogi politics that Usman Ododo got the APC ticket. Yahaya Bello is interested in sustaining legacies rather than making one or two persons happy. Commonsense prevailed that a lot was at stake for a state that was in the doldrums for too long until the coming of Yahaya Bello.
I am not sure any right-thinking person would allow for a situation for legacies he laboured to institute to be sacrificed on the altar of ethnic or religious considerations. If that happens in Kogi state, I don’t think posterity would be kind to Yahaya Bello. I think those making insinuations along ethnic and religious lines in the state should rethink and take time to understand and appreciate the choice of Usman Ododo.
The transformation of Kogi state under the administration of Yahaya Bello is too delicate to be left in the hands of a mediocre. I think the emphasis on ethnic considerations should be jettisoned. People should take time to look for competence and capacity for the onerous task ahead.
It is understandable if eyes are raised regarding the ethnicity of Usman Ododo. But the question should be, is Usman Ododo capable of delivering on the task? The answer is yes because the APC candidate is not one whose stock in trade is grandstanding. He is different from the rest. He has never been associated with promoting ethno-religious segregation. As a fact, Usman Ododo is one of those few whose friendship cuts across the three senatorial districts. This much Yahaya Bello is aware of hence the less hassle in selling the candidacy of Usman Ododo to stakeholders in the state.
What Yahaya Bello has done is give the people of Kogi State a farewell gift. It is not enough to build roads, schools and hospitals? It is also not enough to improve the living standard of the people. It is essential to leave the state in the hands of a competent individual that would build on successes recorded so far in the quest to take the state to greater heights.
All well-meaning indigenes of Kogi state would agree that ethnicity and religion have not helped and won’t help anytime soon. Governor Yahaya Bello has highlighted the emphasis on competence and strength of character. Those fanning the embers of discord should have a rethink and, instead, commend the dexterity and foresight displayed by Governor Yahaya Bello in who succeeds him as governor.
We must appreciate and commend the governor for putting the interest of the state first. You might not like Governor Yahaya Bello’s face, but what you can’t take away from him is the fact that he is smart and highly cerebral. The people of Kogi should do well to trust his judgement.
Okanga wrote this piece from Idah.