By: Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
There is no doubt that Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State is a piece of amazement to many especially to issues that relate to youths and women empowerments in the state.
He has been in the vanguard of women economic and political emancipation, setting the pace in gender equality. And he has scored many firsts in this regard.
By his demonstrable abilities and commitments, Yahaya Bello in his over six years administration has given voice to many voiceless women, lifted many out of poverty and squalor and most importantly acts as inspirations and springboard in which many of these women gained prominence to show case their God given talents and ultimately fulfilled their destinies
For example, Governor Bello on assuming office wasted no time in appointing a female Secretary to the State Government in person of Dr Folashade Arike Ayoade, a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God who many regard as a bundle of talents
Governor Bello also scored first in appointing Mrs Deborah Ogunmola as the first female Head of Service ( HOS) nudging up another relatively unknown woman, Mrs Hannah Odio who succeeded Ogunmola after her retirement
Presently there are more than 120 women in positions of authority in the State with some of them appointed as Commissioners, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants, Personal Assistants, and Special Assistants and heads of corporations , boards and agencies.
And for the first time in the history of the state, the governor ensured that women were elected as Vice Chairmen to all the 21 Local Government Areas in the State while opportunities were also given to the women to contest for Councillorship positions with some of them currently Council Leaders of their respective Local Government.
He also appointed Mrs. Justina Abanida, a legal luminary to head the State Universal Basic Education Board, while a renown educationist and disciplinarian, Mrs. Deborah Osatimehin was also appointed after the expiration of Abanida’s tenure.
Again, Governor Bello made history in 2016, when he appointed the first-ever female Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor in the State, Petra Akinti Onyegbule, who was also the second-ever female CPS in Nigeria at the time she took office.
Of the six Tertiary Institutions in the State, two are headed by women with the Kogi State University Ayingba for the first time since it’s creation, now headed by a female Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mariatu Ohunene Tenuche while the College of Education Technical, Kabba is also been headed by a renown educationist, Dr. Victoria Jagboro.
Both of them are marvelously doing well in their various Institutions as both have attested in various fora that the feats they attained couldn’t have been possible without the support of the Governor.
Speaking with our correspondent, a top female politician in the state, Chief Comfort Ojo (aka Iyaloja) said there has not been any administration in the state that has shown more commitment to gender sensitivity or women/youth empowerments as the Governor Yahaya Bello Bello administration.
In her words:
“Indeed! in the last six years, Gov Yahaya Bello has been an inspiration to us, he is a reliable leader, father, husband and succour provider. We are only praying to God to bring a kindhearted man like him to succeed him so that the good works will continue” she said.
These fantastic efforts of Bello have however been acknowledged by various women and youths organizations in the country who have given various awards of excellence to him,notable among them are the National Council of Women Societies, NCWS in collaboration with Global Gold Consult who nominated Governor Bello as the “Most gender sensitive Governor in Nigeria”
The nomination according to the organisers was ”In recognition of the purposeful and conscious effort of gov Bello administration to place women in sensitive and strategic positions in the governance structure of Kogi State.
Similarly on Oct 28, 2022 Governor, Yahaya Bello at a colourful ceremony was also conferred with the Honorary award of Most Gender Sensitive Governor of the year at the Maiden edition of Social Justice Conference and Awards organised by the Public Complaints Commission.
The love of governor Bello to women was also demonstrated when he appointed as Director General of his Presidential Campaign Organisation the daughter of the late Chief Moshood Abiola, winner of the annulled 1993 presidential election, Hafsat Abiola-Costello when most of the presidential aspirants appointed men.
It is also worthy of note to mention that aside from all these ,the Bello administration has empowered thousands of youths and women through the basic skills acquisition programme held in the three senatorial districts of the state through the pet project of the wife of the governor, Mrs Rashida Bello code named Kogi Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (KOWYEF).
This pet project is currently training and empowering rural women who are less privileged and youths in the state under a scheme where they learn tailoring, hair dressing, soap making and many other hand work.
At the end of their trainings , Participants are empowered with instrument of their trade such as sewing machines, hair dryers, and other tools and are given a start-up capital of at least N100, 000 per each person.
The First Lady pet project has also made several donations of delivery items to pregnant women attending antenatal care at various health facilities in the state, and took care of those with minor complications.
On several occasions, governor Bello administration has also organised training and entrepreneurship support programmes for the wives of fallen heroes and other widows in the state to enable them soften the rigors of taking care of their children
Popular Nollywood actress, Mercy Johnson was also appointed by Governor Bello as Special Assistant to the Governor on Entertainment Arts and Culture who launched an initiative for youths and women in the state tagged“Governor Yahaya Bello Kogi Talent hunt”
Actress Mercy Johnson said the initiative was aimed at searching for Kogi youths with talent in acting and offering them the platform to feature in Nollywood movies to facilitate the actualisation of their acting dream.
For these and many other feats recorded by Governor Yahaya Bello within the last six years, an indelible mark has been made in the hearts of women in state and and beyond and there’s no doubt that history will be kind to him.