Ex- Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi on Monday received a heroic welcome from a huge crowd in his country home, Okene, after his eight years tenure as governor of the middle belt state.
It was reported that in what looks like a celebration of Bello’s triumphant exit from government, indigenes and residents of Okene in Kogi, trooped out in their thousands to welcome him back home.
The people treated the ‘White Lion’, as he is fondly called, to a heroic homecoming and turned the event into a colourful ceremony.
With loud cheers, pomp and pageantry, the jubilant residents heaped praises on the immediate past governor over his “sterling performance in office”, with different clans performing with masquerades amidst the crowd that thronged the streets.
Before Bello arrived Okene, a crowd of residents of Lokoja, the state capital, had assembled on the highway linking the former governor’s country home, to bid him farewell after successfully handing over to his successor, Gov. Usman Ododo.
They had lined up at the roadside and chanted “Well done sir”, “you did well” and “we thank you sir” for “successfully transforming Kogi beyond our expectations”.
Some of the citizens who spoke after Bello’s motorcade pulled over to acknowledge their greetings, said the former governor had left an indelible mark of achievements in the Confluence State.
Jimoh Hassan, a petty trader, said “we are celebrating our brother, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, for his sterling achievements, that have made us proud”.
Hajia Mario Ibrahim said: “You can see how I am jumping and shouting in joy over Oga Bello’s successful stewardship and his home return unhurt.”
When Bello’s convoy arrived at the entrance of Okene town, enthusiastic and proud indigenes/residents were seen waving at their kinsman in excitement.
As the motorcade journeyed deeper into the heart of Okene, the town erupted in jubilation as the former governor’s kinsmen, adorned in ceremonial attire, danced to rhythms of drums and trumpets, along the streets.
On arrival at his maternal ancestral home, special prayers were offered in honour of the memory of his departed mother, seeking divine blessings for him as he returned home.
Bello had, thereafter, stormed the palace of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, along with the new governor of the state, Usman Ododo, where he was given a rousing welcome.
The traditional ruler, Alhaji Ahmed Tijani, hailed Bello’s “transformative impact” on Kogi state’s infrastructure and economy and congratulated Ododo on his inauguration.
Meanwhile, Bello expressed gratitude to the people of his hometown and Kogi in general for the overwhelming reception accorded him.
He urged citizens of the state to support the administration of Ododo for the continued development and transformation of the state.
“I am filled with joy over this overwhelming show of gratitude, happiness and love. It further attests to the impacts our government has made in the lives of Kogites.
“I humbly return all thanks and praises to the Almighty God. He alone is the Doer of everything we can lay claim to have done in office as a government.
“Without His enablement, we would have been both helpless. To God be the Glory.
“Now, we can live with a clear conscience, confident that we did our best for Kogi people within the time and resources available to us.
“I have successfully handed over to Gov. Ahmed Usman Ododo. Ododo will need our support to succeed in the overall interest of the state.
“Once more, I want to thank you for this honour,” the former governor stated.