Monday, March 1, 2021 11:27 am
By Richard Elesho/ Lokoja
Not withstanding the uncertainties over zoning formular and other issues surrounding the 2023 elections, politicians across party lines have continued with calculations on how they will emerge the next occupant of Aso Rock presidential villa after President Muhammadu Buhari.
One of such is Alhaji Yahaya Adoiza Bello, Governor of Kogi State.
Sure, Bello who leads his party’s mobilization committee, is yet to make a public declaration of his 2023 Presidential intention.
But all his recent actions and inaction are indicative of a man positioning for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
For one, Mathew Kolawole, the Speaker of Kogi House of Assembly has abandoned his legislative duties in preference for advocacy tours of the country drumming support for Bello’s yet to be declared quest to take over from President Buhari.
Also, youth and women groups have been falling on one another seeking Bello’s attention with awards and urging him to run for president.
Bello himself has more or less relocated to Abuja, the nation’s capital which is about two hours’ drive from Lokoja, where his office is supposed to be.
In Abuja, he has been in the news either receiving visitors or being guest at events organised by one stakeholder or the other.
On the last day of February 2021, the Kogi Governor intensified his consultations and meetings with Nigerian leaders, groups and other stakeholders over burning national issues and the 2023 election when he met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a closed door meeting on Sunday.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Muhammed Onogwu disclosed in a statement that Bello eulogized the former President for his statesman’s role, fatherly disposition and wealth of wisdom which he noted that young leaders are privileged to tap from.
In turn, Obasanjo, according to the statement, urged his guest to sustain his effort in providing leadership and security for his state noting Kogi is central to the nation’s peace and development.
Details of other discussions at the meeting were not made public.
But Bello’s meeting with some former members of the nation’s football team, Super Eagles, about 24 hours earlier was different.
The group of ex-internationals were led by Augustin Eguavoen.
Jay Jay Okocha and Victor Igali were also among the group of ex-players.
Speaking during the meeting, Bello noted that competence and not zoning should be the focus in the nation’s search for a president in 2023.
He also said the time was up for old politicians in the country.
“I pray that good reasons will prevail on our seniors to know that the time is up for them because I have been charged with the responsibility of educating, sensitizing, mobilizing strong, energetic, committed and patriotic new generation of men and women. I will not fail in that responsibility.
“I know that the youths and students are listening to me. We have spoken. We have communicated and we understand ourselves. We are ready to take leadership. We are not waiting to be simply called upon. We are saying, here we are. We are taking charge.
“By the special grace of God, I can assure you that come 2023, our party under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will provide the next generation of leaders who will fix this country. There will be Judases. No doubt about it. There will be gang ups. But we will overcome.
Eguavoen must have been impressed and overwhelmed by the speech of the Governor, who ironically had recently disbanded two football clubs owned by the state.
The Governor disbanded Kogi United and Confluence Queens because the players had demanded for better working conditions just days before the August visit of the ex- players
Eguavoen obviously was not bothered by the fate of the footballers. Instead, he reassured the Governor of support of his members for his future ambition: “The future belongs to the youth. We know that the most uniting factor in this country is soccer and when you call on us at anytime, we shall honour your call. We will be there. This is to show our solidarity and support that whatever your intentions are, we will stick with you because we want the best for our country. You are a dynamic young man.
Bello had also played host to some clergymen who prayed for him and pledged their support for his quest for the Nigerian presidency early last week.
The Christian group made up of men and women under the banner of Kingdom of Fathers’ and Mothers’ Global College of Bishops and Clergies Network international was led by Archbishop Dr. Peter Ogareki.
2023 may be far away, but the Kogi Governor may have set out early and remains on the move.