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2023: As President, I’ll secure Nigeria as I have secured Kogi – Gov Yahaya Bello

Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has promised to secure Nigeria as he has secured Kogi and replicate the Southeast apprenticeship system across the country to fight poverty, if elected president in 2023.

Bello, a presidential hopeful on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who spoke in an interview published in Vanguard, also said he’s not afraid of Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the country’s vice president who are considered front-runners for the party’s ticket.

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The Kogi governor said he would be running for president on a broad political philosophy of progressive activism through social action and political reforms, while promising to build on President Muhammadu Buhari’s achievements.

“Despite the dire challenges facing Nigeria today, no one can deny that President Muhammadu Buhari has given our country the greatest achievements in public works, government housing and social services since this Fourth Republic began,” he said.

“In addition, this administration has invested heavily in our national security. The war against insecurity may be taking longer than earlier expected but President Buhari has ensured that we have the combat resources to keep hitting our foes hard until victory is achieved.

“It can also not be denied that under this APC government, Nigeria is pushing forward the most comprehensive proposals for restructuring since Independence. The sum of government policies, the Electoral Act and other statutes enacted and the ongoing amendment of our Constitution are fundamentally changing the way we do things.”

“For instance, the average Nigerian Governor has more powers today over matters of security, public transportation, taxation, fiscal federalism, mineral and agro resources, electricity, etc than at any other time in our history. These are the legacies of Mr. President. They will help the next president take longer and easier developmental strides, provided Nigerians make sure he is succeeded by one who is not out to discredit but to consolidate. I have proven time and time again that I am the only such successor in the APC’s line-up for 2023.”

Bello said he is running for president because he sees a bright future for Nigeria.

“I am running for President because I see a bright light shining at the end of the tunnel for our nation. I am not one of those who only see doom and gloom. It is my intention to take custody of that light, to illuminate every gap in our nationhood and to fix them. I will ensure that this light is handed over in due course to successors who will be trustworthy stewards of the great future which a federal government led by me will build for our nation,” he said.

Touting his credentials, the governor said has the capacity to deliver, having, according to him, achieved great feats as governor of Kogi State.

“Kogi State is a microcosm of Nigeria and possesses the same diversities that, often mismanaged, have caused us so much trouble in Nigeria. However, I mobilised my people and together we are working through our differences. The brutal personality cults, tribal clashes, farmer/herdsmen conflicts and religious upheavals we inherited have ceased,” he said.

“One of my most outstanding achievements as Governor, and one that I am very proud of indeed, is the dismantling of these age long dichotomies. Another is the elevation of inclusivity as a cardinal point in the compass of governance.

“We have achieved the 35 affirmative action thresholds for women, and 54 Nigerians from every state and the FCT have been appointed into our government ranging from cabinet seats to clerical and administrative positions.

“When we talk about inclusivity within the Nigerian context, our next leader must also recognize that it cannot be fully functional without Cooperation and Integration.

“Nigerians must be able to live and contribute anywhere in this nation with the guarantee that they will not be called strangers there one day. To achieve this we must make sure that place of origin’ gives way for ‘place of domicile’ in determining who is a son or daughter of the soil. Our citizenship must no longer be diminished by indigeneship. This is the next level in what it means to be a Nigerian which I will actively champion as President.

“If elected, I will ensure Nigerians of every extraction know what it means to be free of the principles of exclusion that currently demeans our very existence. All of us deserve to belong in our country without discrimination or marginalisation and to receive our full and valuable parts in the national scheme of affairs. I am Ebira and as a person who overcame the ‘minority syndrome with much difficulty to be where I am today, I want every Nigerian, especially the youth, to live in a country where no tribe or religion or gender is ever considered a minority again.”

The said he would be tough on crime and secure the country as he has done in Kogi State.

“A Yahaya Bello presidency, like his governorship, will be tough on crime. Crime is crime and all crimes are inexcusable and I have demonstrated strong capacity to neutralize crimes and criminals in Kog State. Most Nigerians probably do not know this, but we went from being the state where violent crime was most endemic in 2015 to become one of the safest states in Nigeria from 2017 to date. Our crime rate has been one of the lowest in the country for years now. Terrorism, kidnapping, banditry and other violent crimes will not be tolerated when by the help of God I am Nigeria’s President and Commander-in-Chief.

“I will not tolerate non-state actors who take up arms against the nation whatever their grievances but I will be willing to listen to all sides and address all agitations fairly, especially those which are borne out of genuine imbalances in the treatment of citizens by the system. I will put a stop to existential mistreatment of any people among us, provided that agitators are willing to give peace a chance and threats of harm to the Nigerian Nation and People are not brought to the table as leverage.”

Speaking about fighting poverty and creating wealth, he said, “The Buhari administration has a target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030. I will have an additional target of creating at least 20 million naira millionaires by the same year 2030, with the aim that each of them will employ or otherwise empower at least five other citizens.

“In this regard, we are going to learn a lot from the South-East. The apprenticeship model by which a boy, from an indigent or affluent background, is taken, trained and turned into a millionaire businessman in as little as 10 years is one we have to understudy and invest in. Harvard University already studies it and the Nigerian Government must do no less.

“I have personally observed that this model works on average 50 per cent of the time with a least five out of 10 boys who apprenticed with various Igbo friends of mine are millionaires today in their own rights. I also observed that it is not the line of business but the underlying principles and practices that work so well. This is because this amazing phenomenon is repeated sector after sector whether they deal in vehicle spare parts, electrical, pharmaceuticals, clothing or even foodstuffs, etc. This means it is a system that can be replicated. We will explore methods to do so.”

Asked if he is not scared of big names like Tinubu,Osinbajo and others, he said, “The answer is no because I trust myself and my capacity. I believe in my records and what I am going to do for the party and I know that I will win. I believe in my capacity, I respect the founding fathers of this great party starting from President Buhari who is the leader of the party, down to Senator Tinubu, one of the founding fathers of our party, among others.

“They are the foundation-laying fathers and members of this great party, one cannot ever have a building without a foundation and at the same time, that building will never be completed without roofing because the foundation alone is not a complete building. A beautiful building consists of a foundation, and roofing. We are building on what they have laid on the ground.

“I am confident that at an appropriate time if they cherish what they have started, they will look for the right young man who has a capacity for what has been laid down and I fit perfectly into that particular choice.

“Also, I know there are other champions in the race. If one wants to be a champion, the person should get ready to beat a champion. I believe I will beat other champions to become a champion. Politics, generally, is a game of numbers that includes democracy. I represent the majority as far as the politics of democracy is concerned.

“I represent the majority of the Nigerian youth, that is why they are saddling me with the responsibility to lead this great nation. It is not by mistake that the party chose me to lead the committee that drove over 41 million members into the party, which is also part of the record for us.

“We have recorded over 21 million Nigerians with their PVCs who are ready to vote GYB into the presidency for 2023. The records are there. These are facts that are verifiable. I don’t think whoever possesses these credentials and more will then be afraid to go into a contest. We are in this race to win, and restore hope to Nigerians.”

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