A man was asked what the first thing he would do if elected President of Nigeria to improve the country. He gave a simple response, but it was the most amazing of all the responses gathered. The man simply stated that he will eliminate tribalism. When asked how he plans to accomplish this, he gave a simple explanation. He stated that he would remove the term “Certificate of Origin” from all official documentation and anything related to the collection of citizen data. He also stated that he will prohibit the collection of any personal information that allows the filling out of a state of origin form.
The man explained that he will replace the State of Origin with the State of Residence and that people should be identified with their states of residence rather than their states of origin because this will kill tribalism and make people commit to wherever they live. This should also bring about unity in the sense that people who live in the same area should become one, regardless of the languages they speak.
Yahaya Bello’s leadership has followed a similar pattern. The governor’s cabinet includes Hausas, Igbos, and Yorubas. Bello’s government is a microcosm of a united Nigeria. His cabinet is a mini-Nigeria, in my opinion.
Because of his detribalized nature, Bello earned the title The Unifier. True, if a man can conquer tribalism, he can fix this country.
Beyond the unification of the Igalas, Ebiras, Okun, and Cacandas to form a unified Kogi State through equal political seat distribution, Bello’s appointment has been based solely on merit, with no regard for tribe or religion.
While our diversity has enviable beauty, there is no gainsaying we have enjoyed the beauty of our many tribes in this country. In short, tribalism has been a major infection that has weakened our dear nation’s immune system.
Then there’s religion. I’m not going to deny it. I am among those who believe that if proper precautions are not taken, religion has the potential to destroy this country. Nonetheless, the rise of people like Yahaya Bello, who are uncommonly known for religious tolerance, has rekindled our hope of living together as humans before our religious beliefs. How else can we describe the first Muslim leader to construct a Chapel for Christian worshipers in the Kogi state government house? It is the pinnacle of religious tolerance, and it was created by Bello. It is still the same state world Islamic scholars and leaders recently gathered to commemorate Maulud.
Governor Bello has established peaceful coexistence among different religions in Kogi state, and I believe that replication at the national level is required. I had been keeping track of Christian leaders who had visited Kogi since the emergence of Bello and what they had to say during their visits, but I had lost count. However, there was one memorable visit that I will never forget. It is that of Papa Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, in which our father in the Lord described Governor Bello as a man of faith while promising to pray for the uncommon leader.
It didn’t stop there; the governor, in turn, referred to the man of God as his mentor; how else could religious tolerance be demonstrated?
We learned earlier this year that a chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had endorsed Bello for the presidency in 2023. It wasn’t a piece of news that caught me off guard or made me wonder; I know what the governor has done for the Christian community in Kogi and what he could do if he is given the opportunity to lead the country.
In January 2022, over a thousand Nigerian Bishops, Pastors, Imams, and Sheiks organized non-denominational prayer sessions for Governor Bello’s presidential bid, titled ‘Once God has spoken, twice have I heard,’ to ensure God’s continuous guidance and wisdom on Governor. The events are not made up. But they could only have happened because there was a man who loved both Christians and Muslims.
There are approximately 10,000 distinct religions in the world, and approximately 84 percent of the world’s population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Judaism.
As sensitive as religion can be, if there are no men to harmonize all of the different beliefs and create a peaceful coexistence, the world may one day explode as a result of religious violence. Bello has been programmed to identify this critical issue as well.
According to a 2018 CIA estimate in The World Factbook, Nigeria’s population of religious affiliation is estimated to be 53.5 percent Muslim, 45.9 percent Christian (10.6 percent Roman Catholic, and 35.3 percent other Christian), and 0.6 percent other. Nigeria’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, and the country is home to a wide range of religious groups.
Who can harmonize the people if not Bello who had shown an example? Tomorrow is not far, there is hope in Yahaya Bello – its hope23.