Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State is one of the aspirants who should not have entered the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. Between 2013 and 2014, he was never a member of the coalitions that formed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Until 2015, he was a member of the then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Bello ran in the Kogi State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship primary, but was allegedly cheated out of the controversial process that produced the state’s current governor, Idris Wada.

Bello was forced to defect to the APC after the controversial Kogi PDP primary, which had defeated the ruling PDP and former President Goodluck Jonathan at the time.

Bello, by a divine intervention, ran for the APC governorship primary and lost to Alhaji Idris Audu, the late former governor of Kogi, whose running mate was James Faleke, the lawmaker representing Ikeja Federal Constituency in Lagos State.

Faleke is also a close ally of National Leader Bola Tinubu, a founding member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The APC’s easy victory in the Kogi 2015 governorship election was facilitated by the combination of Audu and Faleke, as well as the new federal power and influence the party gained as a result of its 2015 victory. Unfortunately, Audu died of a heart attack just hours after the APC was said to be in a clear lead and waiting for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare the results.

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Since it was a joint ticket, it was expected that Faleke, who was Audu’s running mate, would be sworn in as governor. However, a legal interpretation and party politics between Tinubu’s supporters in the APC and the perceived ‘Abuja Cabal,’ who do not want the national leader to gain control of Kogi through his crony, Faleke, began.

It was argued that Faleke could not take over as governor because Audu had not been officially sworn in. Bello, who finished second to Audu in the APC governorship primary, was sworn in by the anti-Tinubu forces.

Former APC National Chairman, Chief John Ogigie-Oyegun, and former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who emerged as Senate President despite Tinubu and his APC faithful pitted their tents against Bello, and the incumbent governor of Kogi was sworn in in the end.

It could be argued that Bello’s joining the APC in such a short time frame, as well as his eligibility to run in the 2015 governorship primary, was due to ‘divine intervention.’

The process by which he became governor, which began with the death of Audu just hours before the official announcement of the results, and the controversies that ensued, were both divinely orchestrated. The game’s politics were thought to be a divine arrangement in Bello’s favor.

Bello’s reelection in 2019, which some supporters claimed was largely based on credible four-year performance, paled in comparison to what some saw as a divine intervention.

By 2019, Bello, who had been a favorite of Saraki, Senator Demo Melaye, and other APC heavyweights, had fallen out of favor with the gladiators. Melaye, who allegedly helped the incumbent and the former Senate President get closer in the past, ran against him (Bello). Bello also defeated Musa Wada, the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate, who was considered a formidable opponent.

He was also said to have warmed the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is known for his toughness. However, political analysts are beginning to wonder how Bello, who is considered an underdog even within his own party, intends to win the presidential ticket, given the presence of Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi, and the sentiment that power must return to the south after Buhari’s eight years in office.

Another school of thought asserted that a candidate like Bello would find it nearly impossible to compete with former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, Senate President Bukola Saraki, and a slew of other strong PDP contenders.

But this doesn’t bother Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo, one of Bello’s most ardent supporters, who believes that the divine arrangement that brought him into the APC, arranged a governorship ticket for him on the ruling party’s platform, and eventually made him governor is still at work.

“President Buhari’s assertion that the next president of Nigeria should be someone who can secure the country is an endorsement of Governor Bello’s aspiration to become the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Ododo said, describing the Kogi governor as a perfect fit to succeed President Buhari.

The monumental achievements of the Kogi state government under Bello in securing lives and property are a clear demonstration of the governor’s mastery of both kinetic and non-kinetic instruments of national security, according to Ododo, who was referring to a statement made by President Buhari during a working visit to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

When Bello is elected President in 2023, Alhaji Ododo, who described Bello as the best candidate for the job, said it is only natural that he would replicate the same string of successes recorded in the provision of infrastructure and security in all parts of Kogi at the national level.

While praising President Buhari for resuming the military offensive against bandits and insurgents across the country, he urged Nigerians to support Bello’s presidential bid, claiming that he is the only candidate willing to take on the country’s current security challenges and infrastructural development.

This, he said, has been demonstrated by projects such as the construction of the Ganaja flyover, Okene Reference Hospital, and other health institutions across the state, as well as road networks in the state’s nooks and crannies and security interventions by Governor Yahaya Bello, one of which was the recent arrest of all 25 armed robbery suspects who attacked a bank in Egbe, Yagba West Local Government Area of the state.

Alhaji Ododo, who expressed satisfaction with President Buhari’s position on the expected successor, urged Nigerians to vote for a presidential candidate who has demonstrated the ability to secure Nigeria, given the strategic importance of security in national development.

He urged Nigerian youths to take up the challenge of securing the country by working to realize Governor Yahaya Bello’s presidential ambitions in 2023.

Recent events have even suggested that Bello may have gone beyond the recently disputed N20 billion bailout funds, which some political forces attempted to use to derail his ambition.

However, since the forces that propelled Bello to power in 2019 are no longer in place, the dream may require more than divine intervention this time.

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