It was a tortuous week of expectations as we await the judgement of the Supreme Court. It was the hearing first and judgement was fixed for August 31, 2020. What a whip of time and suspense! I knew we won the election. I knew we won fairly, freely and credibly.
But I also knew that technicalities could be so funny. It was my victory, our victory, Kogi’s victory. And the 31st August came. A lion day for a lion of a politician who was so fearless in standing by the interest of the people; a lion that institutionalized unity and confronted the hippopotamus of the cesspit of corruption that the civil service was prior to the cleansing.
The Justices did justice. Kogites poured out like ocean waters to celebrate the history of their hero. In the build up to the judgement, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in their characteristic strategy, attempted to drag us into their turf of prejudice. But the media team of Governor Yahaya Bello resisted the provocation, temptation and the torrent of psychological warfare.
The victory was delectable and delicious. But the governor immediately seized the initiative. That is why he is the Star Boy of the North. He told his opponents that the battle is over and stretched to them, a long, strong and sure hand of fellowship. He disarmed them with his humility, leadership and unimpeachable sense of sportsmanship.
His arrival to the capital City of Lokoja was a heroic one to say the least. Kogites stopped him to catch a glimpse of the man they voted en masse to return to the Lugard House. On Friday 4th September, the White Lion stormed his native Okene. I went ahead with some commissioners to be on ground for his arrival.
When he arrived, the atmosphere changed. The people couldn’t hold back their love for their hero. It was frenetic joy and unquantifiable adoration. They were lost for joy. On Friday, he was at the Mosque to worship the God who gave him victory. Muslim faithful thronged the streets and trekked to the Central Mosque.
Supporters walked many kilometres on the horses of joy. It was an unbelievable atmosphere. On Sunday, he went to the Christ the King Catholic Church to dance to his maker. His steps were like that of a thankful Evangelist. But wait, isn’t he a Moslem?
While dance in the church? One of the biggest assets of Governor Bello is the training he received from his late parents. He knows where to find God. He is a unifier; a unifier of ethnics and religions. Under Governor Bello, the lines of division were erased. From Ogugu to Idah, from Okene to Ogori, from Lokoja to Egbe, there is one hero they know: GYB. A friend asked me why people talked about “Tatatata” despite the thousands of supporters that came out to jubilate over the victory of their governor.
“Tatatataism” is the bullet against ethnic division; it is a metaphor for the annihilation of ethnic and religious bigotry. Kogi people refused to engage their reverse gear, but rather chose to move forward with Yahaya Bello.
The sea of heads that greeted the governor everywhere he went in the last few days testified to his immense popularity, not only in Kogi State, but the entire Northern Nigeria. Shortly before his election, we went to Kano and the people there were so excited and prayed for his return.
He is a different leader who connects to the grassroots like a super glue. Is he fearsome going by his White Lion appellation? No. He is the lion that has devoured division, bigotry, insecurity and underdevelopment in Kogi State. But with a white heart. He has achieved a lot in the areas of water provision, security, food production, infrastructural development and most importantly, unifying the people of Kogi State. His campaign slogan is “Doing More”.
And just seven months into his second term and despite the painful pandemonium of a pandemic, he is flying Kogi into greater heights. Kogi is hopeful and the team is ready. It can only get better.
Fanwo is the Honourable Commissioner for Information in Kogi State.