By Shaibu Stephen Ojate
The Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has not had it so good when it comes to public perception. Since the inception of his administration, the public and cross section of Nigerian news media always portray him in a bad light as all manner of bad things are attributed to him.
The Governor has never enjoyed goodwill of the people of the State and Nigeria at large, as many tend to see him as one adding no value to the people of the State as all manner of punches are thrown at him in every given situation.
His lieutenants are not left out as they too also receive their own share of insult and castigation from the public. Many erroneously concluded that Governor Bello led government deserves no commendation from anyone.
Even the non-Kogi State indigenes are not left out in this regard as they believe all tales of bad news reports about Governor Bello and his appointees without any iota of doubt. This class of people have a general notion that Governor Bello and his lieutenants are misfit to the State as their glaring incompetence underscores the under development of Kogi State.
Irritating as it was, Youths on social media platforms have taken delight in his condemnation and even take criticism as a profession where they daily churn out negative news reports about his person and his appointees.
These destructive critics are presently being celebrated by gullible followers and their admirers. These irrational vocal voices have now become emergent social media platform celebrities who many ignorantly consider as mouthpieces of the society. Prominent Governor Bello’s front line appointees in person of Engineer Ohere and Pharmacist Abdulkareem Asuku have come under heavy hammer by the people too.
Honourable Ohere had at one time received insult and condemnation from some people who averred that he was shortchanging local government workers when he administered the affairs of local government ministry under the Capacity of Special Advisers and honourable Commissioner respectively.
The critics had alleged that Engineer Ohere was the mastermind of percentage salaries to workers across the local government areas in Kogi State. According to them, Ohere takes delight in deeping his hands in all the local government treasuries and the council chairmen could not raise an eyebrow because they were handpicked by his principal.
The damning accusation about Honourable Ohere termed to be false when he left the Local Government Ministry and was giving Works and Housing Ministry to manage on Governor Bello’s second term in office with the former office being overseen by another person. Yet the percentage and delay salary payment to local government workers still linger.
It now comes to the eyes of the public that Engineer Ohere who held sway as the Special Adviser and Commissioner at different times was not actually the cause. He was vindicated at last and that shows the extent of misinformation and misinterpretation among the people.
The later, Pharmacist Abdulkareem Asuku, Saka Audu and a host of others are still receiving punches from the public on one issue or the other till date.
Suffix to this, I will not be wrong to say Governor Bello nightmare in the State is not first of its kind as past Kogi State Leaders have had their own share of misinterpretation and misrepresentation from the public too. Recall that when late Prince Abubakar Audu held sway as Governor of the State, he was misinterpreted by some people just like the incumbent Governor of the State. To some, he was termed arrogant, self-praised man and ethnocentric in nature. The hatred for him was taking to high heaven such that many were ready to cut off his head on account of his little mistakes in some areas.
His deputy then in person of Patrick Adava was not spared too. While in government, many termed him as a sell-out and even considered him as having compromised the interest of Kogi central in the State. This mistrust was what infuriated the angry Youths to invade his private residence in Okene and set on fire.
The successive governments thereafter had their share of attacks from people too.
In the hit of clannish and societal crises at every corner of Kogi central, the then deputy Governor of Kogi State, Philip Salawu rarely came home because of fear of molestation and physical attack from the people of his constituency. It is instructive to note that whenever Philip Salawu sums up courage to visit his home town, he does this at night and leaves before day break. Passing through Okene- Ihima road to his house at Ikuehi was a no-go area for him and because of this, he rather opted to ply Obangede route to Ihima.
In total, the disenchantment of people about these leaders was due to ignorance and misinformation. Despite this odd, could one ever envisage that the likes of these former deputies Governor would ever be referenced for any good value in the Kogi central axis of the State?
Today, Prince Abubakar Audu and Ibrahim Idris’s administration has become a yardstick to measure Governor Bello led government in the State and their deputies being commended for adding good value.
Today, many give Philip Salawu the credit for facilitating the construction of Okene Ihima road, Okene Ege road and the creation of first class chiefs in Kogi Central.
The once chastised, neglected and mocked Philip Salawu now becomes a new bride of Kogi central people. Last week, social media users of Kogi central extraction throng to social media platforms and roll out drums to celebrate him on his 60th birthday.
Judging from the above, I will not be wrong to conclude that those unnecessarily condemning Governor Bello will roll out drums to celebrate him as great achievers in years ahead just like how we celebrate former Governor of Kogi State, late Prince Abubakar Audu.
I am not soothsayer but I have every conviction that after Governor Bello’s administration 90% of his present critics would come to realization that indeed, he and his appointees serve the people meritoriously and perform wonderfully.
We shall celebrate Governor Bello for the establishment and the eventual take-off of Confluence University, Osara just like we presently shower encomium on late Prince Abubakar Audu for the Kogi State University, Anyigba.
In years ahead, we shall commend and applaud Governor Bello for breaking the long age ethnic dominance and lay a new ground where everyone irrespective of where they hail from would see themselves as equal partners in running the affairs of Kogi State.
We shall hail Governor Bello for his giant strives in security. We should applaud Governor Bello for the network of road construction across the three senatorial districts in the State. We shall consider him as a reliable Nationalist and Patriot and even recommend him for another higher position in Nigeria.
I rest my pen till another publication.
Shaibu Stephen Ojate is a Journalist and Public Affairs commentator from Abuja. He is on facebook platform and operates a facebook page therein. He is reachable via whatsapp on phone number 09075716236. To directly receive subsequent publication of his to your whatsapp account, kindly message him.