The re-election of Yahaya Bello as Governor of Kogi State has thrown up issues regarding how he won the election, especially in the circumstance where his emergence came as a surprise to the untutored mind in Kogi politics.
Indeed, it will not be out of place to properly locate the array or conspiracy of forces which made his re-election possible. Aside from the tacit resolve of influential leaders of the State for Bello to do a second term as a measure to consolidate on his first term as Governor, political watchers point at an emerging force in Kogi politics that played a quiet but effective role in the eventual success of the APC in the November 16, 2019, governorship election in the State.
Dr. Ramatu Tijjini Aliyu, Lokoja born elegant princess and Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory, literally threw her hat into the ring of political combat in Kogi State.
Deploying her rich experience in political alchemy, she initiated and drove a grassroot anchored campaign machine which anchored Yahaya Bello firmly in the hearts of the downtrodden in Kogi State. From Lokoja through Koton Karfe, the Urban Planner held sway at the ward anchor of the political chain, preaching the Bello/Onoja philosophy of inclusive governance and purposeful leadership.
As a continental citizen who holds the exalted position of President of Council of African Political Parties, she knew the language of electoral reward for those who enjoy the support of the electorate. Tirelessly, she mobilized the women and the youth through her Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Alyu Foundation. She dispensed with a novel medical outreach initiative which provided free medical care to those afflicted with illnesses such as malaria, high blood pressure and even eye sight challenges. Instructively, those who benefited from the scheme were drawn from the down trodden from different parts of the State who did not have the financial resources to afford such services.
As she paid attention to the challenges of the less privileged in the State, she equally deployed her boundless energy in courting the support of influential power blocs in the State, drawing strength from the knowledge that all politics is local.
As the great mobilizer that she is known to be, the minister rallied support of the revered traditional institution in the State conscious of their influential role in the grassroot base of the political vortex. She visited Royal fathers in different parts of State and solicited their blessing to ensure victory for both Governor Yahaya Bello and Sen. Smart Adeyemi.
Indeed, at the Palace of His Royal Highness, the Ohimege Igu Agabaido, Alhaji Abdulrazak Koto, she expressed optimism that the re-election of Governor Yahaya Bello and his running mate, Edward Onoja, would usher unprecedented socio economic development in the State.
“Voting for continuity in Kogi State would attract more federal projects, appointments and guarantee experienced governance that would ensure greater dividends of democracy to the grassroots”, the first APC National Woman Leader told the monarch.
In his response, an obviously touched monarch, assured her thus: “we are hundred percent behind you and as you go to the field to campaign, our ancestors will guide, protect and lead you”.
Unrelenting in her efforts, she soldiered on in the knowledge that victory is a laurel only won by those who are not cowed by challenges. Barely 48 hours to the election, no fewer than 58 registered political parties in the State, in appreciation of her tireless efforts, declared their unflinching support for the re-election of Governor Yahaya Bello. This singular master stroke completely altered the political narrative in the build up of events leading to the November 16, this year governorship elections in Kogi State.
Adducing reasons for the “political earthquake” in the State, the spokesman of the 58 party strong Co-alition, Mr. Frank Okonga, who is the National Chairman of the Democratic Alternative (AD), said the re-election of Governor Yahaya Bello would enable him continue with his good governance and consolidate on his achievements.
He told Minister Ramatu during the group’s courtesy visit on her that; “we are national leaders of 58 registered political parties under the platform of the United Political Parties for Good Governance (UPPG) to promote good governance and quality service delivery to Nigerians”.
He went further; “As national leaders of 58 political parties with structures and large followership in Kogi, we have come to mobilize our members and people of the State to give their unflinching support to Governor Bello in the governorship election”.
With such broad-based support that cut across party lines, it was therefore not surprising that Governor Yahaya Bello coasted home to victory in the governorship election in Kogi State. With the depth of mobilization orchestrated by the colorful mother of two chrildren, it appeared the electorate in Kogi State may have made up their mind to reward hardwork by returning Yahaya Bello as their Governor.
Little wonder, they also rewarded the Minister with victories in her Yagba Polling Unit and Kakanda Ward during the governorship election.
Indeed, it is becoming clear that with the emergence of Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu on the firmament of Kogi politics, the equation of the State’s political equation has been altered. Perhaps as events unfold, only time will tell!