By Onogwu Muhammed
When national, state or local governments make a concerted effort to solicit input from citizens and provide services to all of their constituents equally, they sow the seeds of stability and growth. When this is done within a framework of political and legal accountability, citizens increasingly trust state institutions to support and to treat all of them in an even-handed manner.
Governance is inclusive when it effectively serves and engages all people, takes into account all facets of personal identity and when institutions, policies, processes and services are accessible, accountable and responsive to all members of society.
Fostering governance that is inclusive is essential to advancing democratic values, including peaceful pluralism and respect for diversity, religion, human rights and equality before the law.
Governance affects how states manage complex challenges like inequality. Fostering governance that is more inclusive helps to ensure that responses to challenges at all levels leave no one behind. A focus on inclusion enables countries and states to unlock the potential of their diverse populations. This, no doubt, is exactly what Governor Yahaya Bello is doing in Kogi State. The governor is fiercely transforming into an ideal radical leader with rare transformational attributes.
First, he brokered what would have snowballed into a civil war when sections of the country took up needless arsenals against themselves. With no one to speak in leadership, he rose to the podium calming nerves and dousing tension. This week, he exhibited another ‘first’ by inaugurating a worship centre for the Christian community in Kogi State Government House, Lokoja. This would have been a normal development but for the reality that the man in reference is not a Christian but a Muslim! What would have prompted this rarity?
Answer to this wouldn’t be far-fetched, given the governor’s strides in responding to national issues. A case in point was when he intervened to avert the strike action by the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria. So swift was he in showing leadership to the precarious situation that would have spelt doom for the nation of recent. Groups and individuals took out time to pour encomiums on his proactive postures. Accolades and commendations trickled in from prominent bodies such as the Independent Petroleum Products Marketers, Arewa Youths Forum, Ijaw Youths Congress, Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide, Ikenga Foundation, Buhari Campaign Organisation and others.
Reacting to the governor’s decision to build a worship centre for Christians in Government House, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, described Governor Bello’s gesture as a demonstration of fairness, equity and justice which is quite rare in this part of the globe. He said it takes only leaders imbued with the spirit of godliness to build a house for God, especially in this era of mutual religious distrust.
Rev. Ayokunle, while describing Bello as a “Friend of the Church”, called on the federal and other state governments to emulate the Kogi State governor’s approach to ensuring fairness and balance in the affairs of governance between every religious sect in the state, alluding that such steps have guaranteed peace in the state and for his government.
Nothing guarantees trust than being open to others’ sensitivity, interest and aspirations. This, Bello has exhibited in his decision to cite a worship center for the Christian brethren in the Government House, a development alien to common norms in this clime. Since the creation of the state, about 30 years ago, no trace of such gesture has ever been muted. The move by the governor speaks volume of respect for aspirations and belief. And it takes governance anchored on fairness and inclusiveness for this happen. If not for anything, this leadership style must be engraved to serve as a reference template for other leaders and upcoming ones. The philosophy of leadership entails that whenever there is a problem, whoever that provides the solution becomes the leader.
The progressive spirit of Governor Bello gives an inkling of a radical and transformational leadership driven by change, developmental and democratic consciousness. His resolve to have a cathedral in the Government House has not only encouraged plurality of voices but collective advances. This kind of thinking anchored on team spirit and character is driven by sincerity of purpose and responsibility that promotes and challenges human development as well as transformational leadership that gives all a sense of belonging and participation. It is inspirational, progressive, democratic and purposeful drive to human freedom and justice. Whoever seeks the benefit of all is always development and change oriented.
Everything in life is ruled by the law of legitimacy and inherent self-power. You cannot give what you don’t have. It takes principles to guarantee a predetermined and precise outcome. The decision to have a convergence for the worship of God is a demonstration of leadership preparedness motivated by the highest ideals of love, character, vision, dream, responsibility and principles to advance human freedom, dignity, honour and progress. And with this kind of thinking, a new Nigeria is a reality and Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello is on the verge of leading that spirit of a new Nigeria.
•Muhammed is Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kogi State