Kogi @25: Rebuilding The Stateless Confluence State, By Sheyi Babaeko
“Delay is the deadliest form of denial”. C.Northcote Parkinson
Fellow Kogites at home and abroad. As we celebrate the 25th years of existence of Kogi state, we must bear in mind that the unity and progress of the state should be our collective concern. We must look beyond tribal sentiments to build a formidable state our generation and future generations can be proud of.The mess and the dystopian condition my beloved state finds herself calls for our collective intervention. We must rebuild, reposition and rescue Kogi state from the cesspit she has been for the past 25 years. It is pertinent to address the issues pillaging us with ‘united force’ rather than focus on those sentiments that divide us, thereby disturbing the peace, and jeopardizing the unity of the state. The Igalas, the Ebiras and the Okuns must realize this as the way forward. The plagues rocking Kogi states are not new but they remain more disturbing than ever.
SECURITY: It’s needless to stress that unfriendly security climate precludes both internal and external investments into the State. Security should therefore not be seen as only constitutional requirement but also as a necessary factor for economic development in Kogi and of ‘modern’ Nigerian since Kogi State is macrocosm of the macro society called Nigeria. There must be urgent need to protect government infrastructures, lives and properties of citizens and eradicate KIDNAPPING which has posed great threats not only to commoners but also to the state officials and government personnel. Tackling Security issues in the state goes beyond physical policing or military deployment but through honest involvement of citizens in security issues, dialogue and conflict resolutions between clans and people.
FOOD SECURITY: There is no gain-saying the fact that Kogi State is an agricultural state with about 60% of her work force engaged in farming. It’s rather incomprehensible why a state like Kogi is still facing serious food crisis. The answer is not farfetched; most farmers in the state still use the old agrarian generation tools like hoe and cutlass to cultivate their lands. There is little or no mechanization of agriculture in the state, or how can any farmer achieve 5 to 10 fold increase in yield and production with such local tools?
EDUCATION: As repeatedly emphasized that “Education is the bed rock of any development and a gateway to the future”. Any State that under plays education cast its future to the realm of uncertainly and hopelessness. Education as a key unlocks human potentials and liberates the ingenuity of the mind. It’s therefore remains a fact that the wealth of any State is not only in her natural resources but the resources in the mind of her youths. The present state of education in Kogi, the confluence state is very pathetic and worrisome.Today, a larger percentage of our population is illiterate. About 20% of children between the school age (6 years above) are not enrolled in schools due to long strike actions embarked upon by teachers. Teachers in Kogi state are in pitiable conditions because their wages are not paid. Hunger, misery, and hardship are ravaging the academic community; some cannot even put ordinary ‘Garri’ on their tables again yet the government seems to be clueless on how to tackle this situation.Our tertiary institutions are not also exempted from these hardships. Our libraries are stocked with obsolete books, poor laboratory facilities (There are alarming cases where chemistry students are taught chemistry without chemicals), spasmodic power supply, poor toilet facilities that can neither be flushed nor maintained due to potable-water deficient system (No wonder some schools have now resorted to the use of pit toilet in this jet age), unstable academic calendar due to industrial actions (In fact, students from the only state-owned university in Kogi state just returned to class after weeks of industrial actions). It’s glaring we are suffering under a system that seems to be benefiting effectively from the mental deprivation of the citizens. Yes, these problems are not new, they are perennial and not peculiar to Kogi state alone, the more reason we should go beyond lamentation as stated in the words of Spinoza that“Ours is not to lament, but to understand”.
The era of lamentation of Jeremiah has passed. Now it’s time to strongly make demands in unity.Every right thinking kogite will agree with the words of Franz Fanon that‘’Each generation has a task to fulfill, and each generation must come out of its relative obscurity to discover its mission to fulfill or betray it’’. This is our time. This is our generation, and we have a task to fulfill both for ourselves and for our unborn generations.It therefore remains an incontrovertible fact, with a firm and unshakable conviction that collectively, we all stand upon the threshold of history and prosperity to build or break, make or mar, fulfill or betray our generational task in making Kogi state the land of our dream – a prosperous, peaceful and enlightened State.
Long Live Kogi State! Long Live Nigeria!!
Sheyi Babaeko, hails from Kogi state and a Masters Degree Holder in Conflict, Development and Security, From University of Leeds, U.K.