By Lizzy Okoji
Abuja, Feb. 27, 2021 Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi says national unity is critical in achieving peace, security and development as he called for a new Nigerian devoid of ethnic and religious divide.
Bello made the call on Saturday in Abuja after receiving an award of Excellence conferred on him by some former Super Eagles players for his excellent leadership in Kogi.
The players, led by a former striker, Augustine Eguavoen, included some of the National team that led Nigeria to the African Cup of Nations (Tunisia 94) and the Olympics (Atlanta 96).
Naija247news reports that the delegation includes Austine Okocha, Taribo West, Tijjani Babangida, Victor Ikpeba, Garba Lawal, Victor Aghali and Ifeanyi Udueze
According to Bello, Nigeria can become at par with developed countries and enjoy peace if citizens become united same way they are united while watching football, a game he described as a unifier.
He said that unity, cooperation, dedication, selflessness and sacrifices were the factors that made the Super Eagles to excel back in the days, wining at the African Cups of Nations in 1994 and the Olympics in 1996.
Bello said that the same opportunity for national unity was, however, being provided in the All Progressive Congress (APC) under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The governor urged Nigerians to use the current opened window to join the APC irrespective of their tribe or religion to advance national unity.
“Our people say if you do not know where you are going you should know where you are coming. We must at all times reflect on all of these and the time is now.
“1994, 1996 is just yesterday and what we would hope is that after the Tunisia 94, Atlanta 96, our hope would have been that we should have lifted the World Cup back to back but it is still a mirage.
“We hoped that by the year 2021 that we are in now, we should have a developed Nigeria, we hoped that by now we should have been competing with the United States of America, Great Britain and every other developed countries of the world,” he said.
According to him, as of 94, 96, those years, when you see your arch enemy, you will embrace him because the Super Eagles were winning.
“In those days, we do not care if you are a Yoruba man or a Fulani man, all we cared about was let the Super Eagles win at that time.
“You played in synergy, worked together, you created a synergy. You all seized that opportunity, the leadership of that moment that put you together.
“That opportunity is available now and it is being presented to us now and I want Nigerians, not only the citizens of Kogi State, not only the Footballers but Nigerians generally,” he said.
He said that what happened far back in 94, 96, not only for the Super Eagles that brought that unity, victory and development was available now in the APC.
“It is available under our leader, and our father, President Muhammad’s Buhari has provided that opportunity for us.
“You would not have been able to develop your self if you have not been given the opportunity. That is the opportunity the APC is providing now.
“In this country, we want unity, in this country we want peace and security, in this country we want development, in this country we are aspiring that one day we should be able to complete with the developing worlds.
“And, we must participate in the process that is on going to usher that great leadership,” he said.
He said that was the kind of leadership his government was providing in the state where more than 95 per cent of his Cabinet and government officials have never met him before.
“But what is important for me is your patriotism, your ability to serve and contribute to make our state develop”, Bello said.
Bello said that in a bid to achieving development, his administration built a state that was previously disjointed, disunited by ethnic divided, and a hot bed of criminality in the country.
He, however, noted that he was able to change the narratives by putting the already existing security agencies together, changing the orientation of the people to embrace peace and security and today
“Kogi State is one of the most secured states in the country,” he claimed.
Bello also lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for listening to the call of the youths by appointing Abdulrasheed Bawa as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said that as a youth he was optimistic that Bawa would change the narrative of the commission, with good leadership to curb corruption, a leading cause of underdevelopment and insecurity.
Bello said that the youths were ready to take leadership in 2023 and President Buhari had provided an opportunity for the next generation that would fix Nigeria
He said that he would not fail in the task given to him by the party to mobilise youth, women and People Living with Disabilities
Speaking earlier, Eguavoen commended Bello for the giant stride he had achieved in the state and beyond.
Eguavoen said that Bello had made great impacts especially in youth and women empowerment and they are proud to identify with his moving train.
He pledged the support of the ex-football nationals to his political ambitions as they called him to vie for positions that would make his good deeds even more beneficial to more Nigerians.