Memorable, Proud Moment for an Underrated Titan
By Nafisat Bello
“We didn’t come this far to chicken out. We have arrived. And we are here to win.”
That was vintage Yahaya Adoza Bello on the biggest podium he ever mounted in his brilliant political career. Love him or hate him, he has made his mark. Even though he has won election twice in Kogi state as Governor, his spirited campaign for President is his biggest outing on the political stage.
The way he conducted himself and became the rallying point for youth and women in the course of his campaign has cemented his place among the political titans of contemporary Nigeria.
He weathered the storm put on his way by some bullies who tried to push him out of the race using all manners of subterfuge. He insisted that Nigerian youths and women as well as Kogites who are his sponsors deserve a representation on the stage at Eagle Square. Since he is not a Chicken, Governor Bello refused to chicken out. As the Lion that he is, he stayed the course and fought on until his traducers yielded the stage for him to address the Eagle Square gathering and tell the world the solid stuff he is made of.
True to type, he never disappointed. The charismatic though, sensitive Bello starting by asking the entire congregation at the convention to observe a minute silence for those who have been killed or kidnapped in recent national tragedies, from Kaduna to Owo and to parts of the southeast.
He started by telling the delegates to choose him as the party’s flagbearer if they want a quick end to the spate of avoidable killings going on across the country. According to him, based on his pedigree and what he did to eradicate similar killings in Kogi state, he was the best man for the job.
“Six years down the line, insecurity is becoming history in Kogi State. And not just that, the state is also known for religious tolerance. In fact, I am the first Muslim governor to build a chapel for our Christian brothers in the Government House, Lokoja.
“Today, we have millions of our students from various tertiary institutions across the country at home, not going to school. Their future is being threatened by incessant ASUU strikes. Since I assumed office, six years ago, no strike of any sort has been allowed to disrupt our academic calendar in Kogi state owned tertiary institutions . All students in our tertiary institutions are sure of graduating at the appropriate time.
“The problems bedeviling Nigeria today are the same problems we inherited in Kogi state and which we have dealt with, even with very little resources . Therefore, I am here running to become the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We might be playing politics today, but let’s think of the future of this country. We are the future of this nation. The younger generation and the youths of Nigeria that are here today and those that are watching us from their homes, from across the country and all over the world.
“When you are casting your vote, think of the road you plied before you got to this point. Think of the innocent people that were murdered in cold blood. Think of those that are troubled today. Women, youths and people living with disabilities are part and parcel our administration in Kogi state in terms of appointments and the kind of welfare support we give them. We will repeat this template at the national level.
“Let me use this opportunity to commend those that have stood very firm on the good side of history. First among them is the distinguished Senator Aisha Binani, who is now our governorship candidate in Adamawa State. Now, that is resilience. She faced a lot of stress, a lot of oppression. That is exactly what the younger generation of men and women are facing today.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, I doff my heart for you. I salute you. You thought of the future of this country and you graciously signed the ‘Not Too Young To Run bill into law. So, we didn’t come this far to chicken out. We came here to win.
“I am here to build on the legacies of the President and by the grace of God, we are here to make history. And this is the time for you to become part of that history. And I am very confident that after a clean, fair, transparent electoral process today, then I shall become victorious and I shall be the flagbearer for APC, who will go ahead to defeat People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
“And how did I do that in Kogi State? I inherited a PDP state when I assumed office and today the state has become 100 percent APC and by the grace of God, it shall never return to PDP,” he said to the delight of an enthusiastic crowd.
Watching Governor Bello dazzle the audience with his electrifying speech, I got carried away and for once thought I was watching Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, KO Mbadiwe, SL Akintola or any of the other orators and great thinkers of the days of yore. If he was not dressed flamboyantly in a white flowing agbada, I would have mistook him for Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.
Governor Bello may have lost the war. But he won the battle to register the challenges and grievances of Nigerian youths and women in the consciousness of all and sundry. He has raised the political stake of his favourite demographics and made every Kogite proud. Never will any of the big bullies in power seek to deny the Nigerian youth a voice or a space at the highest decision-making levels of the Nigerian polity.