The founding fathers of Nigeria had no doubt about the potentials of our nation to, not just the best in Africa, but one of the greatest nations of the world. We are blessed plentifully with mineral and human resources. The best of nature are here with us.
The founding fathers of our nation had no doubt that Nigeria was heading towards eminence. They laid a solid foundation on which our nation could high-rise without fear. The North was growing groundnut, the West was growing Cocoa and all the regions were in fierce agricultural competition. We had oil, coal, gold, iron ore and many of the mineral resources that have grown some nations into world powers. They left Nigeria with that bold vision of zooming into excellence.
But today, the vision is pathetically waning into a fading dream. Our nation, a giant, is crawling and running errands for little adults who chose to walk when they should, who capitalized on their endowments to become what they are today.
The Nigerian political class played their cards. They set the poor against the poor to make them poorer and condition their mentality to make the poor decision of choosing poverty over prosperity.
The poor began to think his friend-in-poverty is his problem. They killed the railways that could help the poor. They killed the public schools that the poor could afford. They killed the public hospitals that could save the lives of the poor. In their places, they promoted expensive air flights, expensive private schools and also very expensive public health institutions. They killed the poor!
If we continue to complain and lament, we will be here in 50 years to come. We need to begin the deconstruction and reconstruction of our nation. We need a mental revolution and the right choices.
To start with, Nigeria must elect leaders that can foster unity and development. We need a leader who can be trusted as a nationalistic bridge between ethnicities, religions and classes.
When you look at the Kogi State of today compared to what it was pre-2016, it is obvious that what Nigeria needs is the courage to enthrone quality leadership.
Yahaya Bello was sworn in on January 27, 2016. In less than two hours after his inauguration, he rang a change in the belief system of his people. He made three key appointments. The first from Kogi East, the second from Kogi Central and the third from Kogi West. It doesn’t take years to change people’s mentality. Unity is not just a word, it is importantly, an act.
Subsequent appointments were spread across the state. Former Governors who used ethnic campaign to win refused to better the lots of their people. It took a Yahaya Bello to redefine governance in Kogi State.
We no longer remember the Kogi State Governor hails from Kogi Central. We have no reason to believe that. He constructed beautiful roads in Kogi East. He gave electricity to over 100 communities who were hitherto in darkness in Kogi East. He remodeled the Idah General Hospital and turned it to a state-of -the -art facility. His footprints are everywhere in Kogi East.
He gave Kogi West the best Rice Mill in Nigeria. He is working on the Kabba Township Road. He is constructing roads and hospitals in many places in Kogi West. The Blue Roof Classrooms are in every community in the state. His projects are everywhere in Kogi East, Central and West. Ethnic division was demystified.
Businesses are booming in the State because he has made the state the safest in Nigeria. He has ensured transparency and accountability and his personality and policies have attracted lots of investments into the state.
Politicians know the best but they will never admit it. They want to win, even against the best. And like Governor Yahaya Bello keeps saying: “Don’t let the politicians set the agenda ahead of 2023”.
The power that democracy bestowed on the people is the power of choice, between political light and darkness; between development and underdevelopment; between progress and backwardness; between unity and division; between security and violence; between transparency and corruption; between shared prosperity and class colonization and between greatness and failure.
In 2023, Nigeria will have yet another opportunity to inflate her tyres and move forward or deflate those tyres with leaders with deflated ideas and retrogressive reasoning. No one owns Nigeria than Nigerians. It is time to get it right with leadership.
As we match towards 2023, we need to ask who can develop our nation. We need to head-hunt someone who can secure and unite our nation. We need to look at someone who will be courageous enough to identify with the poor masses and lift them from poverty.
Without mincing words, Governor Yahaya Bello has proven his mettle. It is easy for people with vested interest to wage a relentless war against the voices of the people. The fight against GYB will be ferocious and frenetic. They know that a GYB Presidency will restore Nigeria’s pride and prosperity.
Nigeria can win this.
Kingsley Fanwo is the Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications and writes in from Lokoja.