Yahaya Bello: Another well-deserved award for the peace-loving unifier, by Nafisat Bello.


Yahaya Bello: Another well-deserved award for the peace-loving unifier, by Nafisat Bello.

Nigeria is a conglomerate of nations with different peoples, cultures, religions, tribes, perceptions, and views with different expectations. Nigeria is a conglomerate of nations with different peoples, cultures, religions, tribes, perceptions, and views with different expectations. In their effort to create peace and unity among the citizens, successive governments have adopted various policies, some of which are still in place today. Nigeria's national symbols are designed to bind citizens together; the National Youth Service Corps allows intertribal marriages, and unity schools are used to help young people learn languages other than their mother tongue and become familiar with other people's cultures.

Nigeria, Kogi Confluence State is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states in the country. Disunity, distrust, domination, etc. are some of the words used to describe the state before January 2016.

Governor Yahaya Bello, however, in about six years of excellent administration, has changed the image of Kogi from a state divided against itself to a state with a unified purpose where Kogites now see themselves as one people with a common destiny. Governor Bello has not only united his people along the familiar fault lines of religion or ethnicity, but he has also placed the state at the center of the national discourse and made it a force to be reckoned with throughout the country.

The governor has shown himself to be a patriot who sees his role beyond the boundaries of the Confluence State by intervening in national affairs and finding solutions to problems that threaten our collective existence - as in the case of the northern meat and tomato vendors who went on strike and stopped the delivery of their goods to the southern part of the country because of the tension caused by the activities of Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, recently awarded Governor Bello the state's Grand Service Star of Rivers State (GSSRS) award for being a unifier and patriot.

Receiving the award in Port Harcourt, Bello said he was delighted to be so honored by the government and people of Rivers State, saying the recognition was a testament to Nigeria's unity across regions and tribes, which he had always fought for.

"I am pleased to accept the GSSRS state award that Your Excellency and the people of Rivers State have so generously bestowed on me," Governor Bello said.

Before receiving the GSSRS, Bello had already received awards and titles from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), various groups, and media organizations for promoting peace and prosperity during his two terms as governor.

How Governor Bello restored peace and unity in Kogi.

To put an end to the unnecessary, protracted ethnic rivalries, disunity, and religious tension for which the state was known, Bello invented the EBIGO policy, which stands for Ebira, Igala, and Okun. The policy emphasizes equitable distribution of amenities and balance in appointments so that no part of the state is disadvantaged in favor of another. Realizing that the unfair distribution of appointments and amenities that previous governments were known for was the major cause of ethnic tension and mutual distrust, Bello took a bold step to address the problem, and it has so far proved to be a masterstroke.

Kogi State is blessed with a large number of Muslims and Christians. Therefore, every time a Muslim becomes governor, a Christian is his deputy. There has been a proper mosque for Muslims in the Government House for decades, but over the years, the Christians' demands for a dignified chapel in that place fell on deaf ears of successive governors until Bello came along. In his typical effort to give the Christians a sense of belonging, the governor commissioned and supervised the construction of a dignified chapel in the Government House to the delight of the Cogites and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Governor Bello is the first in state history to appoint a chief of staff who is not a member of his tribe. Although Edward Onoja, who held the position in his first term, is now deputy governor, the governor made a big statement with this appointment. With this appointment, not only Ebira bigwigs had access to the governor, but all Kogitians who had something to say could approach him with suggestions on how to move the state forward.

When tensions between herdsmen and farmers peaked in parts of the country, Kogi was the only state in North Central that did not experience wanton killings, due to Governor Bello's excellent crisis management. The governor not only invited more herdsmen into the state when they were displaced from surrounding states, but he also created an environment that allowed them to thrive without disturbing the peace and livelihood of farmers. It takes a genius to strike this delicate balance and make both the farmers and the herdsmen happy!

The unity and peace of a state are fundamental conditions for its stability, security, and socio-economic development. And to achieve these basic conditions, the political leadership of the state must look beyond racial, ethnic, and religious prejudices in the management of its people.

Gov. Bello's open-minded approach to life and his generous, magnanimous way of governing must be an example to all.

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