Our attention has been drawn to a labour of fiction manufacturing by some disgruntled elements, who have been ceaselessly attempting to sail their ship on a shallow water in their attempts to impugn on the integrity of the Governor Yahaya Bello-led administration in Kogi State.
Having mastered their trend of scampering for sympathy every time a tribunal judgement is at hand, we would not have necessarily wasted our time responding to their falsehood. But we owe the Nigerian public an obligation to set the record straight and expose the fictitious pawn of the detractors, who assume everyone who finds himself or herself in public office would act like them.
The characters behind the campaign of calumny are in the least, disgruntled by the radical change in leadership approach in the State, in which the people, and not political dealers, are served.
These are leaders who have had the opportunity of being Governors, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, Commissioners and House of Assembly Members in the past without any iota of impact on the people they lead or represent. They were breeding thugs to win elections and use the proceeds of their representations and other fraudulent practices to build hotels and petrol stations in choice areas around the country in such a shameless and selfish manner. They did not add any value to the lives of the people.
It is heart-warming to note that the people of Kogi State have already read through their classic hypocrisy and evil intentions. Their sponsored attacks against a government that has institutionalized anti-corruption in the State is an antithetical opprobrium. The Governor is being hunted for blocking their filthy lucre through strict adherence to accountability.
As at the time of writing this report, no government official has been given official vehicles. The Governor has made service to the people priority over servicing his appointees despite the grave need of appointees to be able to move around in order to be able to carry out their duties effectively.
The renovation of offices and residential quarters in Government House was imperative to give the State a facelift. As the first point of call for investors and development partners, the Government House should represent our drive for excellence. Where government business is conducted matters to those who may wish to conduct business with government. It is gratifying that nobody has accused the Governor of renovating his personal house with government resources. The Kogi State Government House is not a property of the Governor, but that of The Kogi people. All the contracts for the renovation went through due process.
Against their antics, the following are some of the giant strides of the Governor in the different spheres of governance and sectors:
Ø The administration of Alh Yahaya Bello has been able to mobilize The Kogi people in an unprecedented manner, for a common action. Replica of his campaign tour, the New Direction Blueprint Team, went around the entire State to make findings on the immediate need of the people. This is the first time in the history of the State that such connection will be effected by the government with the people. Implementation of the document has commenced in earnest to take the State to new heights. The youth, women groups, artisans, farmers and many others now feel incorporated by government.
Ø Secondly, good governance has remained the bulwark of administrative excellence in a democratic setting. The administration of Alh. Yahaya Bello has institutionalized stringent anti-graft bumps to ensure transparency and accountability. Government spending is now based on adherence to budgetary provisions. Leading by example, the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello is angling the record of becoming the most transparent Governor in Nigeria.
Ø Similar to the second point is the respect for the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution. All the arms of government in Kogi State are given free hand to ensure effective delivery of governance. For the first time in the history of the State, the people are central to government decisions and policies.
Ø While many have continued to hail the Governor for the spread of his appointments since assuming office, other critical thinkers have read deeper meanings to the structure of the appointments. Sons and daughters of ordinary Kogi people now decide the direction of governance. The decision of the Governor to appoint people of capacity but without any affinity to powerful forces in the State, has no doubt, sparked a class war. In the past, appointment was based on favoritism, parochialism, ethnicity and godfatherism. The sharp departure from that ugly past is stirring power abrasion in the State.
Under the Governor and in loyalty to capacity, the Chief of Staff to the Governor comes from a different zone to the Governor. To underscore the impact of leadership by example, the Deputy Governor also appointed the Deputy Chief of Staff from another zone.
Aminu Kano of blessed memory captured the intent of Governor Yahaya Bello succinctly thus: “Nigerian will know no peace until the son of a nobody, can become somebody, without knowing anybody”. This is the story of Kogi State in the New Direction.
Ø Before the advent of the present administration, insecurity was frightening in Kogi State. The State was almost a jungle of anomie where lawlessness, robbery and kidnapping were the order of the day. The situation that led to the insecurity was created by some of the politicians crying wolf today. They armed our youth for election and abandoned them as soon as they won elections, leaving the youth to use their arms for criminalities while the political lords built hotels in Abuja and Lagos.
Governor Yahaya Bello has been able to stabilize the situation by beefing up security across the State with the unimpeachable cooperation of Mr. President to provide necessary logistics to combat crime in the State. Also, the procurement of about 110 Ford Vans, hundreds of motorcycles and many other crime fighting gadgets by the Governor, remains the heaviest investment by any government in Kogi State since 1991 on security. Today, though we still witness flashes of these crimes occasionally like any other society, the situation has stabilized.
From Idah to Okene to Egbe, these vans and security men have taken the fight to those who were antisocially threatening the peace of Kogi State.
Ø Agricultural development has been one of the strongest points of the Yahaya Bello Administration in the State. The Governor has initiated a number of agricultural program such as the Government House Farm, School Farming Scheme and a lot of others to express his determination to use agriculture as the springboard for economic renaissance. In no distant future, Kogi State will become the food basket of the nation.
Ø During his electioneering, Governor Yahaya Bello promised the people a reformed and more respectable civil service that will be efficient and disciplined. The crassness of the Civil Service inherited by the present administration cannot drive the dream of New Direction. More importantly, the Civil Service is over-bloated and top-loaded, a situation which made it impossible for government to do any other thing aside payment of salaries. As a Governor who will not be just a salary-paying Governor, removing unintended beneficiaries from the wage bill is inevitable. The staff verification exercise has exposed the rot of the past. But instead of the past corrupt leaders to apologize to the people of the State, they are busy sponsoring falsehood against the man who has taken it upon himself to clean the mess of the past. Thousands of ghost workers were discovered.
In the period of the verification, it became expedient for government to pause payment of salaries until genuine workers were ascertained. As soon as that was done, government paid all their outstanding salaries. Civil servants now call the Governor 8/8. Eight months in office, eight months’ salaries! How the dreamers came up with their arithmetic was not only baffling, but incredulous.
Beyond salaries, government is striving to reposition the civil service and make it pragmatic and dynamic to contribute meaningfully to the development of the State. The Governor is committedly growing the economy to make it attractive to civil servants and further reduce the wage bill of government.
Ø Furthermore, the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello has built an iron-cast synergy with the Organized Private Sector. The biggest economies around the world are private sector-led. Kogi State is blessed with world class mineral resources such as Iron Ore, limestone, coal and many others. The State has the potential of becoming the industrial capital of Africa. But this will not happen without creating an enabling environment for the private sector to help explore the mineral resources as well as our tourism potentials. Between January 2016 and now, many local and foreign firms have signed MoUs with the government to help develop some of these potentials. Quality leadership, global trust. The implications of a robust private sector led economy of Kogi State are numerous. Some of them are benefits from business social responsibility, employment, more revenue to the State as well as expensive market.
Ø Governor Yahaya Bello has been able to mobilize contractors back to sites in order for the State to witness development. Revelations from some of these contractors showed how some of those dreaming of coming back to govern the State siphoned funds meant for projects with direct bearing on the lives of the citizens. This prompted the Governor to be working on a Judicial Panel of Enquiry to unravel the graft which surrounded a number of failed contracts around the State.
Ø The Government of Kogi State under the leadership of Alh. Yahaya Bello has been able to improve on water supply to the people of the State. There are also collaborative efforts aimed at exploring the bountiful opportunities in some of the biggest dams across the State.
Ø Governor Yahaya Bello has turned around the face of Lokoja. In January 2016, Lokoja was one of the dirtiest state capitals in Nigeria. The roads were mere death traps. But today, the capacity of the State Sanitation Board has been raised to ensure a cleaner Lokoja. This truth is self-evident. Also, the township roads have been fixed for smooth ride across the state capital.
Ø As a part of the anti-corruption initiative of The Kogi State Government, monument frauds have been discovered at the Local Government Education Authority. Millions of naira were paid to people who sleep in the comfort of their homes without going to any office. With this, millions of naira has been saved to provide amenities to the people of the State.
Ø The Kogi State Sustainable State Development Goal team lead by Architect Ahmed Okara has also gone around the State to ascertain the development needs of the people. Having contributed her own counterpart fund, Kogi State is now set to start rolling out projects that will impact on the welfare of the people.
Ø The recent hosting of The Chief Justice of Nigeria Games at our Confluence Stadium in Lokoja is further testimony of the rising prominence of the State in national reckoning. Delegates from across the nation were in Lokoja to catch a glimpse of the beauty of our State and feel the direction the present administration has chosen. Successfully hosting a tournament of such magnitude within the first eight months in office shows the sign of greatness of the present administration.
Ø The directive of the Governor to all political appointees to always visit their constituents at least, twice a month, also serves as a revelation of the intent of the administration not to lose touch with the people at the grassroots. This has helped the administration built a chord with the people.
Ø The success story of The Graphic newspapers have shown the essence of great leadership. The appointment of a veteran journalist, Mr. Dayo Thomas as the Managing Director of the outfit has turned the fortunes of the paper around. The Governor no doubt, has eye for excellence.
Ø The landmark achievement recorded in granting Local Government Autonomy in the state has been plausible. The Governor, few weeks into his administration, announced full financial autonomy for Local Government Councils. He went further to cancel all obnoxious deductions from their allocations, charging the Councils to justify the autonomy by being accountable to the people they serve. Before the Governor’s assumption of office, allocations meant for Local Government Councils were knifed by the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. The advent of the present administration has led to the resolution of many litigations surrounding chieftaincy titles out of court. This has restored peace and harmony to rural communities across the state.
It is expedient to know that the people of the State are resolutely behind their Governor. He has pulled down the walls of ethnicity and replaced it with the rope of connectivity. He has stopped corruption. He has built a strong connection with the people. He has given hope to the hopeless.
Though this government is not under any illusion that it is there yet, but the momentum has given hope of limitless potential. Governor Yahaya Bello is gradually translating our potentials to realities.
He has provided pontoons on which the people of Kogi State can rely and work with to sail their ways to excellence.
The embossed ignorance of the godfathers who have lost out in the power game in the State remains an advantage to the people who are benefitting immensely from the blockade of the drains of the state’s resources.
Have they told us where they got money to build hotels with billions of naira whereas they entered politics poor? Have they told us where they got money to buy jets? How can people who are perennial cankerworms on the resources of the State turn around to attack a reformer? The people have refused to be fooled.
Trying to blackmail the judiciary as always by the same set of jesters has become monotonously disorienting. It failed at the lower tribunal, it failed at the Appeal Court, and it will surely not work on the respected jurists of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will determine the cases before it based on the point of law and not the peddling of falsehood. The little lesson for the Gathering of Failures is: Do not stick to a failed strategy. Try something new.
The government of Alh Yahaya Bello will not be coerced into giving the Commonwealth of the people to a desperate, failed few.
In the words of the Governor, “Kogi’s resources will work for Kogi people!”
The people of Kogi State believe in the administration of Alh Yahaya Bello to rebound the economy of the State and make it a catalyst for middle-level economic empowerment. He cannot afford to fail the people.
It is our year of Silver Jubilee and our people deserve nothing less than a Silver Lining through our Silver Bullet.
Kogi, it is beginning to be good here.
God bless the Confluence State.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kogi State