From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Ahead of 2023 polls, Kogi State lawmakers paid a visit to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Wednesday, to lobby All Progressives Congress (APC) House members on behalf of Governor Yahaya Bello to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate.
The lawmakers said that it was time states in the North Central unite and work with the sole aim for the zone to produce the next president.
The high-powered delegation led by the Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Prince Matthew Kolawole, made the call when they paid an advocacy visit to the Kwara State House of Assembly, Ilorin.
The Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Engr Yakubu Danladi Salihu, said the agitation for power shift to North Central was a laudable move, recalling that the zone had yet to take shot as either President or Vice President since the nation’s return to democratic rule in 1999.
However, the Kogi Speaker told his host that the mobilisation drive for Governor Yahaya Bello to emerge as next president was due to some attributes in him as well as his contributions to the development of Kogi State and the nation since his election as governor.
Kolawole noted that Governor Bello had succeeded in addressing insecurity climate in the state, which was prevalent prior to his emergence.
He urged other zones in the country to concede the presidential ticket of the APC to Kogi Governor, saying that the nation would be in safe hand if Governor Bello is given the opportunity.
‘We are here to notify you about the plan ahead as regard 2023 election. We are here on behalf of Governor Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello. We want to thank him for the good relationship we have built together in the Kogi State House of Assembly. Apart from the synergy that we have, in the House of Assembly, we have passed into law between 67 and 70 bills since he assumed office as governor. He has assented to all the bills.
‘Before now, Kogi State used to be a den of kidnappers, armed robbery and social vices. And people cannot move freely. Since our governor assumed office, the first thing he did was to demystify the camps of all the kidnappers and demolish the houses of well-known criminals in the society. I can tell you categorically that my state is 80 per cent free from kidnapping and armed robbery. We equally saw our governor as being a youth governor, while many in his government today are absolutely youths.
‘So, by the time we put all this together, we looked at his capacity, ability, charisma leadership effectiveness and control, we in the House of Assembly of Kogi State passed a vote of confidence on our governor and at the same time, we went further to ask him to contest for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘We didn’t just ask him to contest. We equally looked at the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Four had benefitted immensely in the leadership of this country in terms of President and Vice President. We realized that North Central and South-East were left out of this powerful political position (President). As a result of that, we asked our governor, maybe the youngest governor in Nigeria. Because of his effectiveness and leadership control and the role he has played in developing our party in Nigeria, we said our governor should contest for the President, which he has finally agreed to run for.
‘And we cannot do this alone in Kogi State. As a result of this, we decided to pay advocacy visits and talk to our colleagues, who will be delegates from different States in a future election. We are here to appeal to you to support our youthful and pragmatic governor, who has really contributed to the development of Kogi State and APC in Nigeria, to run for the office of President and for him to succeed. Above all, we are advocating from Kwara State House of Assembly to join Kogi State House of Assembly in this crusade of North Central to produce President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,’ the Kogi Speaker said.
Speaking during the visit, Salihu assured that Kwara would support the movement for North Central to produce the next president.
The Speaker, who led the Deputy Speaker, Raphael Olanrewaju Adetiba and other lawmakers to receive the visiting team, applauded Kogi lawmakers for taking a bold step with the resolution for Governor Bello to vie for the presidential ticket of the APC.
He said: ‘In North Central, we have not seen the key actors of the country, which include President and Vice President [from] 1999 to date. And agitating for this is a plus to North Central. By God’s grace, as we start this journey, we pray that it should be a journey that favours the North Central Zone.
‘Kogi State has taken a bold step with your resolution asking an aspirant to go and contest for an election. And for the aspirant accepting your resolution, it is a plus, and it has shown the cordial relationship you have with the executive.
‘Honorable colleagues, I will say Alhaji Yahaya Bello (Governor of Kogi State) is in our youth constituency, though a senior brother. We have to give maximum support to the youth constituency. This move you are doing is a very big task. We will support the North Central move and put it in prayer for us to succeed. It is time for us to come together for the movement to be a success.’