He became a man with much love to hate. But, love or loath him, Bello moved on with the courage of his conviction that ‘the end justifies the means.’ Thus, irrespective of his public characterization, his efforts at securing the state and uplifting its infrastructure deficits gradually blossomed and cannot escape notice.
People of Kogi State would not forget Thursday, 27th Jan 2016 in a hurry. That was the day, their new youthful Governor, Yahaya Adoiza Bello, burst into tears during his inauguration, at the Olympic-sized Confluence Stadium, Lokoja.
Those familiar with the new helmsman’s emotional chemistry hinted that he wept in recognition of his ‘grass to grace story and the singular privilege to impact the sordid infrastructure narratives of the backend state. How time flies. Bello has since completed the first term and is now on the last lap of his second tenure.
For seven years, the Governor has been labouring hard to put smiles on the tearful eyes of his subjects. Not surprisingly, the early days of his sojourn in Lugard House were drab and not very inspiring. The circumstance of his emergence, a prolonged staff screening exercise and his desire to clean the Augean stable set him against critical stakeholders.
The Governor set tongues wagging when within a few days of his stewardship, he bulldozed Roundabouts in the state capital. Some of them have since been remodelled and reconstructed, while work is ongoing on others. Femi Fanwo, Commissioner for Information and Communication said the idea was “to change the face of the city in compliance with modern trends.”
Indeed, what Lokoja lost in the deleted Roundabouts, it has more than gained in its first-ever compact Overhead Bridge. Located in Ganaja Junction, a major intersection in the capital, the architectural masterpiece came complete with street lights and an elegant landscape.
In addition, every approach road to the bridge has been rehabilitated. Some roads have also been constructed notably in Okene and Kabba, the headquarters of Kabba-Bunu LG.
The administration has devoted a large chunk of its resources to education. At the GYB Model School, Adamkolo, both teachers and students are exposed to the new learning experience.
A Senior Secondary School student expressed joy at the rapid transformation of the school. “The Governor has changed this school to a private school. It is even better than a private school. We are happy and thank Governor Bello.” He said.
The Model Schools are established across constituencies in the state. They are finished to taste and stocked with state-of-the-art teaching sides, furniture, tiles and air conditioners.
The flagship of Bello’s New Direction attainments in education is the establishment of a new State University. The Confluence University of Science and Technology, CUSTECH, Osara commenced academic work in 2020. Formerly a campus of the Kogi State Polytechnic, it has metamorphosed into a giant construction site since the upgrading, this is even as infrastructure development in other higher institutions has not halted.
Bello’s boldest signage is perhaps in healthcare delivery. Despite his notorious position on the Covid-19 pandemic, the administration has ironically paid attention to medical facilities.
The Specialist Hospital, Lokoja which was established by former Governor Ibrahim Idris has been rehabilitated and expanded. The extension and Diagnostic Centre are ready for use.
Work is more than 85 per cent complete on another Specialist Hospital in Okene, the centre of Kogi central and commerce. The 300-bed capacity hospital was initiated to reverse the trend of medical tourism in Northcentral states.
The hospital is equipped with a 1.5 Tesla MRI machine, an Oxygen plant and a CT scanning machine among others. With the facilities, it can accurately investigate renal and coronary disorders, for which some people travel abroad. When fully operational, it will serve as CUSTECH’s Teaching Hospital.
It is instructive to add that Bello is also constructing Specialist Hospitals in four other towns including Gegu Beki, Kogi LG and Isanlu, Yagba East LG. This is aside from rehabilitating Primary Health Centres in more than 70 communities. The Governor said his health policies are propelled by his belief that health is wealth.
To boost tourism potential, the administration converted the old Lokoja Township Stadium into a multipurpose event centre, the Mohammodu Buhari Square, MBS. It is a big improvement on the abandoned Olusegun Obasanjo Square initiated by the late Abubakar Audu.
Strategically located at the heart of the State capital, MBS can accommodate 15,000 regular sitters and 600 VIPs. It can hold another 15,000 people in a well-spaced standing position. That is not all. MBS has a large-format LED display screen, a spacious and beautiful car park, convenience rooms, dressing rooms, a close circuit camera and commendable night illumination.
The infrastructure footprints of the Bello administration are not limited to the above. Befitting office edifices have been constructed for some parastatals. Among them are the Graphic Newspaper and Revenue House owned by Kogi Internal Revenue Service. The staff of the agencies now conduct their affairs in comfortable business environments.
Bello gave an insight into his motivations. “One thing with me is those that are not happy over my actions are the people I like seeing most. This is because I will continue to do the things I’m doing so that they can continue to be sad.” Ironically, good works uplift the spirit of citizens.
Either way, it is a win-win for the Kogi people.