Presidential Primary: I have what it takes to clinch APC’s ticket — Bello
When Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state initially expressed interest in the 2023 presidential election under the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying he has what it takes to transform Nigeria, not many politicians took him seriously.
While some said he was simply deploying the usual tactics of politicians throwing their hats into a race only to use it later as a negotiation tool for appointment, others argued that the governor was only trying to play on his alleged closeness to the presidency to project himself.
However, subsequent developments have showed that Governor Bello, who is currently among the 13 presidential aspirants that have been cleared by the Chairman, APC Presidential Screening Committee, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to contest in the party’s presidential primary scheduled to hold tomorrow and Tuesday, may be among the first three contenders likely to win the ticket.
Bello will contest the APC presidential ticket with the likes of incumbent Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, National Leader of APC, Bola Tinubu, and President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, among others.
However, what stands Bello out in over six months of the campaign train for his presidential ambition is the level of support he has been able to receive from the segment of electorate that constitutes the larger percentage in the country, that is women and the youth.
Also interesting about Bello’s presidential ambition is the ease with which he secured the support of the media across the country irrespective of geo-political considerations or sentiments. He has followed up on his acceptance with the annual GYB training for crime and political reporters.
Dismissing the sentiment that Bello may not defeat the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who emerged candidate of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), if APC fields him as its candidate for the presidential election, the governor’s adherents said the strength of youth and women supporting Bello across the country alone is enough to retain the presidency in the ruling party in 2023.
Ahead of the primary election, which kicks off tomorrow, Bello urged the delegates to vote for him as the party’s candidate, adding: “As the next Commander-in-Chief, I will ensure every chief executive of various security units sits up and do their jobs. I will not tolerate any lackadaisical attitude or buck-passing to the centre. I will ensure that the various units are strengthened, so that they can take responsibility for whatever happens in their states.”
He also promised to give responsibility if elected as the Commander-in-Chief, saying the process must first start from the presidential primary where he expected the delegates to support him.
He said, “I will give responsibility. If I give you a task, I will monitor you and supervise you. I will give you credit when you perform and at the same time, I will punish you if you don’t do your job. In Kogi State, I ensured that every citizen is a law enforcement agency of himself or herself. They are intelligence agencies unto themselves.
“The police, the army and all other law enforcement agencies you see in Kogi State are not manufactured or imported. We didn’t import them outside to come and secure Kogi State. They are still the same personnel of Nigerian Police, army, Navy, DSS or Civil Defence. But because we as a people have chosen to live in a peaceful environment because we as a government opened our books, we made sure that we brought the government to the people, they owned it and they decided to protect the government and secure themselves.
“That is why any crime that takes place in Kogi state, in less than 24 hours, we don’t just detect it, we make sure we bring the perpetrators to justice. There are so many things that take place that everybody would not know but what is important is to let our people be secure and live in peace.”
Speaking on the presidential election, Bello said, “APC is a party with nothing less than 41 million members. And the party knows the body language of the nation today. APC is aware that the youth and women are clamouring for that person who is detribalised, who is coming to solve the insecurity challenges we are facing today.
“They are aware that the man is coming to build on the modest achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari. They know whom Nigerians are clamouring for and they know who is accepted both by the north and the south, Muslims, Christians, even non-believers. They know that man that is coming to turn the fortunes of this country around. They know that man that can speak the language of the youth and the younger generation. And they know that man who has performed well in his state within the shortest possible time he has been saddled with the responsibility.”
But what if the party eventually adopts consensus option? Bello seems certain that the party would not go outside him as the choice. He is also confident that if other considerations are put forward in the form of either indirect or direct primaries, he remained the man to beat.
He said: “I am confident and I trust God Almighty and trust the judgment of leadership and members of my great party, the APC. This time around is the time we must get over sentiments of where someone comes from. Today we are crying over the evils that are living in the country, yet, we still look at ourselves as different people, as Muslims and Christians, not as Nigerians. It is time to bridge that gap and cement the relationship and values that unite us more than what divides us. In me is a man that has practiced it; it has become part of our system in Kogi State. Now, I have put myself forward to be that man that is going to champion the new Nigeria where all these sentiments do not matter any longer. I don’t think we should continue to dwell on that which divides us. I happen to be an Ebiraman, I happen to be a Muslim and I happen to come from Kogi State or the North Central or the northern part of the country but most importantly, I am a Nigerian.”