With eyes completely red and tears freely flowing, an utterly emotive Yahaya Bello, called out citizens of Kogi State into action as he took over the mantle of leadership in a very colourful and massively-attended inauguration ceremony in Lokoja, the state capital, on Wednesday.
The absence of top party leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, however formed part of the noticeable features of the event, apparently due to the controversy trailing it as a result.
Regardless, it was a massive crowd that listened to the new governor, who was sworn in without a deputy, following the refusal by Hon. James Faleke, who insists even up till Wednesday morning that he was the rightful governor to join the government in that capacity.
Bello, who broke down completely at the start of his address, whilst going down memory lane, part of which was losing his father at an early age and being brought up by a widowed mother, regardless of which he still emerged as the number one citizen, attributed all the developments to God, quoting copiously from the Holy Koran to prove so.
Sounding quite conciliatory, the governor even gave credit to his predecessor, Captain Idris Wada, with whom he is currently in court over the outcome of last year’s election, which saw the initially presumptive winner, Prince Abubaka Audu suddenly dying on the treshhold of victory, even though it was later declared as in conclusive, praising him for his yeoman’s job in ensuring a smooth transition.
Outlining the texture of his government, the new governor said it would be modelled against Buhari’s inaugural address declaration of belonging to everybody and belonging to nobody, as well as zero tolerance to corruption.
He said: “I wish to reiterate that President Muhammadu Buhari, said in his celebrated swearing-in speech on May 29, 2015, I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody. This quote is a complete world view, which defines the purpose and methodology of my administration, and sets the agenda of inclusiveness, which I am determined will characterise my tenure. In this singular sentence, Mr. President summerised the restorative force of the change ideology with which our great party had shocked Nigeria. I now declare it our guiding principle for fair action and equitable governance in Kogi State.”
Even though conciliatory, the governor did not mention Faleke in the entire speech, at the occasion where both the APC National Chairman, John Odigie Oyegun and his counterparts in the neighbouring Benue, and Nasarawa states, Samuel Ortom and Nasarawa, Tanko Al-Makura, who were the only governors present, he did not mention the name of Faleke.
Blaming previous administrations for posting unimpressive performance in the state, which had led to low-level trust for government, Yayaya, said he was on the verge of correcting the situation and earn the desired trust, adding that the taste of the pudding would be in the eating.
First, he said he would commence the payment of salaries, while devising strategies for making the state better in collaboration with major stakeholders in the state in the new direction, which he said had come to the state.