By Hamza Yakubu
Humans are driven by the desire to be spectacular. We derive satisfaction from this innate aspiration for some sense of importance. Often times, this is the birthplace of our dreams, how we convince ourselves to stretch a little bit more just to achieve that goal. When people declare intentions for leadership positions, it is sometimes an attempt at fueling this ego. It is easy to misconstrue the responsibilities of leadership and pull your followers into a succession of promises coated with lies. True leadership has never been about lording over helpless subjects, or hoodwinking people who have chosen to place their trust in you. It is pertinent to know that those who want to conquer the world must first conquer themselves and those who desire to lead must first learn to serve. Leadership is an opportunity to connect with the desires embedded in the heart of a people and bond with them through a set of shared goals in a bid to fulfill these desires. We have seen empires rise and fall and history has taught us that true leaders are forged from the breast of empathy and refined by the will to strive against all odds. The emergence and evolution of democracy has maintained a level of civility in the process of choosing a leader. There is an empowerment of the populace in the enthronement and sacking of leaders. However, this doesn’t seem to have mitigated the probability to choosing leaders who end up becoming cankerworms in society. It is therefore phenomenal to find someone who understands the dynamics of leadership and readily offers himself to the service of the people who have elected him.
When the people of Adavi and Okehi Local governments in Kogi State were presented with the opportunity to choose who to represent their community, they knew they had to vote someone whose heart was open enough to welcome their plights and take every necessary step to solve them. On the 23rd of February, 2019, they unitedly voted a cerebral leader, politician, iconic administrator, business mogul, and governance czar to represent them in the 9th House of Representatives in the National Assembly. It was a mind-boggling victory! The campaign process had seen Hon. Asuku reaching out to everyone at the grassroot level, convincing them that this wasn’t the regular debacle concocted by desperate politicians whose sole aim has always been the fattening of their purses. The people saw his sincerity. They knew how hard he had worked towards developing their communities even before he declared his intention to pursue a political career. It was his large heart that won them over, opened their eyes to his brilliant strategies, to all the possibilities he placed before them. There was no doubt in their hearts as they marched in their numbers to the polling units for a man they truly believed in.
On his declaration as the winner to represent Adavi/Okehi federal constituency in the green chamber, the people went wild with jubilation. His victory was an answered prayer, an unveiling of a new chapter, filled with promises of better days. The entire Adavi and Okehi came to life, exuberance wafted through the land, heralding the hope ignited in them. However, his victory wasn’t without opposition. Revolutionary strides come with the zeal to wage through the storm. Positive changes do not happen without fierce oppositions. When his opponents filed a court case challenging his victory, he was pertinacious. He kick-started his tenure on a very high note, putting his hands to the plough. Even when the pressure worsened, he followed up with the court proceedings while also discharging his duties as a legislator. Eventually, the court declared him the winner of the election after examining all the evidence. The verdict and judgment on the case affirmed his victory, which he described as a testament to the will of the Adavi/Okehi people.
For Hon. (Engr) Joseph Asuku Bello, the call for effective representation and the overwhelming votes he received during the election testified to his acceptability in his constituent. He knew how much the people had trusted him and the expectations that lingered in the corners of their hearts. This was a chance to show them how right they were to stand on his mandate. When he began his duties as a legislator, every step he took was an intentional gesture toward addressing the most pressing needs of the people. Strikingly, his impressive start at the green chamber caught the attention of many Nigerians, including his colleagues and the leadership of the house as he was always contributing brilliantly to issues of discussion and proffering pragmatic solutions to problems and challenges facing the country at the plenary of the green chamber. A feat that was unreservedly credited by many across the country. People began to testify to his exemplary traits. He was that intelligent, humble, vibrant, amiable, ingenious, and charming law-maker.
The trumpeting of the jubilant masses and the validation of his galvanized colleagues were a reflection of his uniqueness. Hon. Asuku is an assiduous and astute leader and throughout his time as a legislator, his resplendent demeanour mirrored a servant leader. When we journey through his achievements as a law-maker, his one-time representation impressively dazzles the heart. Hon. (Engr) Joseph Asuku Bello invested in the development of his people, and his performance has been truly overwhelming. This is seen through the bills and motions, his facilitation of laudable projects to his constituency in education, health, agriculture, roads, empowerment, good water, and employment.
As a member of the legislature, it is necessary that a law-maker is profound in policy formulation and establishing laws that would ameliorate the hardship. Hon. Asuku Bello showed a high degree of competence in lawmaking as he has proposed developmental and issue-based bills and motions on the floor. Some of the bills he has to his name are:
A bill for an act to provide for the compulsory teaching of vocational studies in the syllabuses of secondary schools and for other related matters.
A bill for an act to prohibit the award of engineering works to unqualified person(s) and companies and for other related matters.
A bill for an act to convert and rename the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital comprehensive health centre, Ihima to the federal university of Lokoja teaching hospital, Ihima.
A bill for an act to provide for the inclusion of fire safety education in the school curriculum and other matters connected therewith.
A bill for an act to amend the criminal code act CAP C39 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 20044 and other related matters.
Accompanying the bills to his name, Hon. Asuku Bello also moved several motions that speak to national issues. Some of them are;
Motion on the need to inquire into the imposition of fees for renewal and replacement of national identity cards by the national identity management commission.
Motion on the need for the rehabilitation of Lokoja-Okene roads to ease the pains of the commuters.
Motion on the urgent need for federal ministry of interior to adopt computer based online methods to conduct promotion examinations and aptitude tests for officers and men of the paramilitary agencies under its jurisdiction.
The bills and motions were just a tip of an iceberg in the spectrum of what Hon. Asuku had to offer to his people. They say education is the bedrock of every society. As someone who loves education, his achievements in this sector is phenomenal and monumental. He facilitated the building and furnishing of two blocks of six classrooms in Okehi Community Secondary School, Ihima, two blocks of five classrooms in Government Day Secondary School, Iresuha, a block of two classrooms in Okehi Community Science Secondary School, Eika Ohizenyi, a block of three classrooms in LGEA Primary School, Osara. He also renovated and furnished a block of two classrooms in Community Secondary School, Egge. These projects were inspired by his zeal to improve the quality of education and increase the level of literacy in his constituency. In the same vein, he supplied classroom chairs and tables, textbooks, notebooks, school bags, sandals, mathematical sets, calculators, and other school essentials to over 40 primary and secondary schools in Adavi/Okehi Federal Constituency. He also ensured the provision of free JAMB forms to over 5000 students in the constituency, and scholarships (primary, secondary, and tertiary) to over 1000 constituents. These were feats that reiterated his commitment to the restructuring of the educational sector in his constituency.
Hon. Asuku Bello secured employment for about 100 youths in different MDAs and corporate organizations including the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Maritime University, Nigeria Security & Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), University of Calabar, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Federal Civil Service Commission, Public Complaint Commission, and Insurance Company
The dilapidated roads in his constituency were not exempted from his grand scheme. Hon. Asuku Bello facilitated road projects in the Etegoza-Obangede community in Okehi Local government and Ebogogo-Enyidudu and Inoziomi-Iresuha communities in Adavi Local Government. These projects have eased the transportation of constituents and reduced the rate of accidents.
Hon. Asuku Bello has always been particular about safe drinking water. Knowing that access to clean water is a problem bedeviling his constituents, he began the rehabilitation of abandoned boreholes and provided motorized boreholes to different communities in the constituency. One of these projects stood out due to its peculiarity. The rehabilitation of an abandoned borehole that had been in existence for over three decades in Adavi-Eba was nothing short of historical. After the rehabilitation, the borehole now serves over 1000 households. The motorized boreholes were also introduced to communities like Egge, Inorere, Eika Ohizenyi, Abobo, Usungwe, Ohuepe, Omavi, Obangede, Ikuehi, Obeiba, Oboroke, Okunchi, and many others.
True to his promise, Hon. Asuku Bello accomplished his power projects which cut across different communities. He was keen on communities’ access to power, especially those deep in the rural area. In lieu of this, he provided and installed 300kva/32kv transformer in Omavi and Uboro communities in Okehi Local Government. These communities had been in total blackout for close to a year before his intervention. He also extended this gesture to Anyoke and Osara communities in Adavi Local Government ensuring the provision and installation of 300kva/33kv transformer in these communities. He also provided solar-powered streelights in Oboroke, Ikuehi, Inoziomi, Ohueta, Ebogogo, and Iresuha communities.
Hon. Asuku Bello understands the importance of agriculture as a source of livelihood in any society. He worked fervently to ensure farmers are fully supported and well-equipped in Kogi State, particularly Adavi/Okehi federal constituency. He spearheaded the provision of capital to over 500 farmers in order to encourage macro agricultural practice. He also distributed agricultural products such as rice, maize, wheat seeds, and palm seedlings to farmers in Aku, Osara, Abobo, Irepeni, Iresu’are, and other farm centres in Adavi/Okehi constituency. Furthermore, he set up training programs to enlighten farmers on the most effective agricultural techniques and empowered over 1000 agric entrepreneurs in poultry, fisheries, snail farming, maize, and rice farming across his constituency. He also distributed fertilizers, farmers’ protective kits, spraying machines, and other items to 400 selected farmers in his constituency.
The development of the people is the biggest achievement any political officeholder can make. Hon. Asuku Bello knows the importance of investing in people, and this spurred him to provide motorcycles to 150 people in his constituency. He also established means for skills acquisition including training in ICT, catering, aluminum fabrication, tailoring, plumbing, and hairdressing. These programs had over 500 beneficiaries whose lives were changed drastically. Fifty thousand naira soft grant was given to 600 small business owners in the constituency.
As an advocate of quality health care, he was on the front-line in the movement for the restructuring of the health sector. The renovation of the model primary health centre in Adavi Local Government was another impressive feat by Hon. Asuku Bello. This was accompanied by the provision of refrigerators, beds, televisions, chairs, tables, and other medical equipment, and a supply of medical essentials and protective equipment to some selected health centres in the constituency.
Covid-19 was one of the most impactful eventful in years with so many people negatively affected. During the lockdown, food items and sanitary materials such as bags of rice, bags of semovita, cartons of noodles, Dettol soap, hand sanitizers, and other items were distributed to not less than 200 households in each ward in the constituency. A total of 4,500 households benefitted from this program. Also, a radio sensitization program that lasted for 8 weeks was organized across radio stations in Kogi Central, where medical/health professionals were invited to educate and orientate the people on the effects and preventative measures of the coronavirus.
This is the journey and stewardship of a man who distinguished himself as a paragon of virtue and a reputable political office holder. He has set a standard that his successors must live up to and broken generational barriers to bring his people into a new dispensation. History will remember his open arms, his soothing words, this man whose heartbeat resonates with the throbbing in the chest of his people. When we say the name, Hon. Asuku Bello, it will always remind us of how we found a miracle in a man.