Governor Yahaya Bello has consistently managed to be in the news albeit not always for the right reasons. Since the advent of the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria, the Governor has received widespread criticism and knocks from different quarters. From his stance on the validity of the existence of the virus to his controversial claims that there is no infection in the state and his false claims of carrying out mass testing in the state while records showed massive under testing carried out by the state, the governor has certainly received his fair share of disapproval and of course, they were deserved.
His recent rejection of the coronavirus vaccine came off as absurd with the governor saying “Vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer, headache, and for several other diseases that are killing us. They want to use the COVID-19 vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us” which brought further negative criticism of the governor and for good reason.
Recently though, he was awarded “The Most Gender-Sensitive Governor in Nigeria” by The National Council of Women Societies (NCWS); a non-governmental organization that advocates gender welfare issues in collaboration with Global Gold Consult. According to them, the award “is in recognition of the purposeful and conscious effort of his government to place women in sensitive and strategic positions in the governance structure of Kogi state.”
A few persons have come out to question why the governor would be the recipient of such an award but you only have to look at his government to see why.
In 2016, the governor appointed a female; Petra Akinti Onyegbule as the Chief Press Secretary of the state which was the first-ever in the history of Kogi state. In December 2020, 21 women were sworn in as elected Vice-Chairpersons in the 21 local governments in the state as well as 21 female council speakers. Similarly, the Secretary to the Government; Folashade Arike Ayoade, and the Head of Civil Service; Deborah Ogunmola are women. Governor Yahaya Bello is the only governor who has a female Aide de Camp (ADC).
As further stressed by the NCWS who mentioned that “there are more than 70 women in positions in positions of authority in the state which include but not limited to Director General, Managing Directors, Chairpersons of Board, Commissions and Agencies. Some are Commissioner, Special Advisers, Personal Assistants, and Special Assistants.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Nigeria ranks in number 185 out of 193 countries on the percentage of women in the national parliament in figures released in October 2020 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
There has always been a constant outcry for the inclusion of more women in politics and in our country where women have been marginalized in leadership, the governor has through his inclusion of women in his government shown that he is indeed a firm believer in greater inclusion of women in politics.
He’s shown much more than in words but inaction that he trusts in women being capable leaders. Make no mistake about it, this was not just a simple decision because it is not a decision that would have gone down so well in some quarters and therefore the courage to go with it should be commended.
Others might want to take a cue from him and move from just talking about women inclusion in leadership as part of just mere political propaganda when an election comes; from promising an all-inclusive government just to bag votes to getting women involved in leadership positions at every level of governance.
In a country as big as we are, we very well have capable women that can lead us. America swore in a female vice-president and we witnessed Amanda Gordon make bold her claim to be president someday.
Take a bow Mr. Governor! You may not be the best-performed governor nor the most loved governor but in this one regard, you are certainly getting it right and you deserve accolades and not knocks.