[OPINION] Welcome to your house
It was one of the ever-busy Wednesdays. The Governor was presiding over the State Executive Council where critical decisions were to be taken.
He got a report that Kogi youth were at the gate of Government House in continuation of the #EndSARS protest. They wanted an end to what had ended!
The Governor told his Chief of Staff, the workaholic Pharmacist Mohammed Asuku Jamiu to immediately leave the EXCO Chambers to deliver an important message to the youth. The CoS left with the State Security Adviser, Commander Jerry Omodara (rtd).
Pharmacist Jamiu told the youth that their Governor was presiding over an EXCO meeting. They insisted they would wait until the meeting was over. They were playing their music and enjoying themselves.
On their return to the EXCO Chambers, the CoS briefed the Governor and the Governor agreed to meet with the youth. He asked Security agents at the gate to grant all of them access.
At that point in EXCO, only one memo was left. The Memo sought to abrogate a law which rewards ex-Governors and ex-Deputy Governors, handsomely. Despite knowing that he would join the ranks of ex-Governors from January 28, 2024, Governor Yahaya Bello said the interest of the people and constitutionalism must prevail. When they said he is the modern day Sardauna of Sokoto, I agree. But I also know he is a mix of Awo’s populism, Zik’s erudition and Buhari’s integrity. GYB is chemistry of modern-day leadership qualities. He supported the repeal of the Law. He said the State will wait to see what RMAFC will do on the matter before taking any further step.
Immediately after the EXCO Meeting, the energetic Governor moved out of the Chambers and joined the youth in front of his Office.
The youth thanked him for standing by them on the #EndSARS agitation and assured him the Nigerian youth are proud of him as their Ambassador in government.
But what caught my attention most amazingly was his first statement to the protesting youth: “You are welcome to your house”.
So the Government House is the house of the people? So we could have Governors who wouldn’t threaten the freedom of the youth to express themselves?
Yes, it is their house. GYB has broken so many jinx in Kogi. He has defeated ethnic distrust. He has brought religious harmony to the state. He has been excellent in building peace. He has defeated criminals and enemies of peace. He has shown capacity. And now, he has given back to the people, their HOUSE.
When he said, “Your House”, he didn’t mince words. It is beyond the White House of Lord Lugard. It is about governance. It is about their welfare. It is about their security. It is about the pride of being a Kogite. It is about rebounding the faith of the people in those who lead them. GYB has achieved all that.
When he became the Governor; he did what no other Governor had done before. He appointed a Chief of Staff from another Senatorial District. What that meant was that, even if the Igalas are not the Governor right now, the Lugard House is still their House.
His first three appointments were Chief of Staff (East), Special Adviser on Media and Publicity (Central), Chief Press Secretary (West). They were all appointed the day he took the Oath of Office. His was an Oath of Office to unite; not the “OAT” of Office to corrupt and divide. From his first day in office, for the first time in the history of the State, all ethnic nationalities in Kogi saw the Government House as their house.
For 28 years, the Seat of Power in Lokoja only had a Mosque. No place of worship for the Christians in Lugard House. A Paul was a Sole Administrator of the State, yet, no Chapel. It took a Yahaya to give the Government House a magnificent place of worship for the Christians. Today, the Moslems and the Christians see the Government House as their House.
The Governor spoke the language of the youth to deliver the message of an elder for caution and patience. The youth could understand his language because he is one of them. But he didn’t fail to deliver the truth.
“We work in a bureaucracy, therefore, it won’t happen overnight. The President has spoken and he will keep his words. I trust him and I believe in him. Let us be patient for the process to give us our demand.
“I was the first Governor to openly identify with the struggle. I am one of you. I also spoke directly to you in a live broadcast yesterday to let you know we appreciate your agitation and also believe in the integrity of Mr President. We are united in saying no to police brutality. Our rights must be protected.
“We have won the war. We must not lose the battle. It is time to climb down the protest and move on. I have moved on.
“From here, we are moving to the Old Stadium to commission our 100 brand new tractors which we will deploy to all LGAs to immediately key into our plan to make our state the food basket of the nation. As my colleagues, join me for the commissioning. Drop your placards. The protest is over”. And they dropped their placards and followed the Governor to break another record in agricultural development.
Nigeria is watching GYB.
So when some journalists started reporting “violent protest”, “Government House was blocked”; I laughed. No sane man will block his house. The house he has unfettered access to.
The press should not set this nation on fire with fake news. Fake news is a pandemic that can create chaos.
GYB has shown exemplary and exceptional leadership. He is the real deal.
Kingsley Fanwo is the Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications.
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