Governor Yahaya Bello will make corruption a taboo in Kogi State – DG Media 

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Whats The Big Deal In Iwobi And Iheanacho? By Aderonke Bello

Few months ago on my Facebook wall, in my usual manner of seeking public opinion about issues, I asked my friends about Iwobi whom I think is an average player.

What’s the hype around him? Just because he plays at Arsenal or because he is the legendary JayJay Okocha’s nephew? Seriously what’s the big deal with that….?

Concerning Iheanacho whom I once tagged a rough diamond in one of my recent articles, so, just because he is a Manchester city player and of course a FIFA world cup gold medalist….. is there any thing new about that? Whats the big deal?

Just yesterday, Nigeria played their first match of the ongoing FIFA 2018 world cup qualifier with these two young lads scoring the winning goals amidst their senior EPL counterparts, Ahmed Musa and Mikel Obi. That’s the big deal.

Iwobi and Iheanacho are young lads who grow right under our noses and are developing into fine players.  Their likes can make the super eagles great again if we can assemble young legs like them and look away from the old men with their fake age. With time, a replica of the 1994 AFCON winning super eagles squad will be produced. That’s the big deal.

Their youthfulness, consistency, skills, patriotism and humility unlike the now old guys with opposite attitude at their age is a plus and of course a big deal.

Iwobi is so fluent with his passing and good dynamism on the field of play, he also reads the game well for one so young; Iheanacho on the other hand, is a natural goal scorer who reminds me of Didier Drogba. I think he can find the net with his eyes closed. That’s the big deal.

Both guys minus injury are surely here to stay and we need to start searching for more young legs and unearth more talent,  rather than stop calling up old legs,  drowned in their ego and wealth. The youths are taking over the super eagles, lets rejoice because its a big deal.

Iwobi snubbed England for Nigeria and shining like a bright diamond unlike Ibe (hybe) who shunned Nigeria for  England and may likely not smell the England senior national team, Iwobi’s decision is a big deal.

Iheanacho started from the junior cadre like Kanu Nwankwo and fast growing into a fine player alike, no shaking. Iwobi scored his first ever international goal with many more to come without a doubt, that’s a big deal.

Iwobi and Iheanacho were denied appearances by Samson Siasia during the AFCON qualifiers – we did not qualify, maybe those guys would have scored and help the team, that was a big deal.

Arsenal is set to give Iwobi an improved  deal after his impressive performances, that is a big deal.

Iheanacho’s goal against Zambia is pure class, I’ve never seen anything like that before, that GOAL was a big deal.

The emergence of these talents give us hope for a brighter future for the Super Eagles, it becomes a big deal.

I can go on and on…….  You can also sing along and add your own big deal.

Thanks for reading….

Twitter: @Aderonkew
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Governor Yahaya Bello Flags Off N10bn Road Project

The Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello over the weekend flagged-off road constructions across the three senatorial districts of the state at the cost of over N10 billion naira.

The 18.3 kilometres long road network in Kogi Central include Agassa-Ahache-Upogoro road, Ogaminana-Ebogogo road, Itape-Eika-Kuroko road and Obehira-Ihima-Obangede road in Okene, Adavi and Okehi local government area of the state at the cost of N3. 819 billion naira.

Others are Iyamoye-Jege-Ife-Olukotun-Ponyan-Ejuku-Ijowa Isanlu roads, Ekirin-Ade-Ohun-Ifeolukotun roads all in Kogi West at the cost of N4 billion naira.

While in Kogi East, work is to commence at Ayingba-Umomi-Akpagidigbo-Ugwolawo-Ajaka road, Ankpa township road, Ibana-Okpo road and Ikeje-Ogugu-Ette road at the cost of 2.84 billion naira.

Flagging-off the road in Kogi Central over the weekend, the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Belllo in his address lamented the poor state of infrastructure, particularly road across the three senatorial districts of the state.

According to Bello, the New Direction blueprint of his administration had taken note of the infrastructural decay in health, education and road in the state, adding that frantic efforts would be made to rehabilitate dilapidated infrastructure in the state.

Bello explained that Lokoja, the state capital and other major towns in the state would be given facelift to the standard of 21st century cities.

He particularly expressed the readiness of his administration to complete the ongoing Lokoja township road with modern facilities to make the state capital be able to compete with others across the country.

The governor added that apart from urban roads, his administration would also rehabilitate rural roads and make them motorable to further aid economic development of the state.

According to him, since efforts were on to diversify the nation’s economy with agriculture considered to be alternative to oil, deliberate moves would be made to ensure that farm produces get to market through good road networks.

Also speaking with newsmen at event, the Special Adviser to Kogi state governor on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Arc. Abdulmumuni Okala assured communities in the state that henceforth they will be part of decision making on the types of project to be executed in rural areas.

Okara who spoke against the backdrop of underutilisation of projects by the people living in the rural areas of the state, said gone are the days when government officials sat in the comfort of their offices to decide for communities the type of projects to be provided,

He noted that investigation has revealed that most projects that are completed but not put to use by communities concern was due to lack of involvement of the people in decision taking before the projects are provided.

The Special Adviser also disclosed that governor Yahaya Bello has introduced what is called “end users report, pointing out that SDGs officials have gone round the 21 local government councils with a view to interact with communities on the type of projects they want, adding that by the time they go back to execute the projects, the communities will definitely utilise the project.

“The end users report introduced by the governor will enable the government have a comprehensive report on the projects executed before payment can be made and this will enable the government have check and balance.

“We have gone round the 21 local government council and based on our interaction with the people at the grassroots, we have discovered the type of project they needed which varies from one community to another, while some are in need of road, others declared interest in having hospital, water among others and by the time we go back to establish the projects, the communities were already involved and they will put such projects in use because they need such projects” Okala noted.

On the MDGs projects that had been paid for by the immediate past administration, but not completed, the Special Adviser declared that the contractors who handled such projects will be called back to site to complete the project.

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Kogi: Governor Bello Sets Up Judicial Commission of Inquiry To Retrieve Stolen Public Funds

The Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, today inaugurated a seven-man Judicial Commission of Inquiry to “probe, investigate, and recover misappropriated public funds, lost or diverted government properties, failed contracts and the existence of ghost workers by previous administrations in the state, between 29th May, 2003 and 27th January, 2016.

According to a press statement by the Secretary to the Government of Kogi State, Dr. (Mrs.) Ayode Folashade Arike, the Governor’s decision was in fulfilment of his promise to “clampdown on corruption and bring perpetrators to book.” This, the statement reads, is in exercise of the powers conferred him by Section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Law Cap 25 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria 1963 (as applicable to Kogi State), and other relevant laws enabling thereto.

The Commissioners approved to by the Governor to act on the Commission are:

1. Justice Wada Umar Rano – Chairman

2. Dr. Mohammed Aboki

3. Barr. Ameh Franklin Adejoh

4. Prof. Angela O. Okatahi

5. Chief J.O. Ajewole

6. Maj. Gen. H.G. Aminu (rtd)

7. Mrs Fatima Ojochenemi Audu

The statement also confirmed the appointment of Barr. Ajinomoh Pemida as Secretary to the Commission, while J.B. Dauda will serve as Counsel to the Commission.

The Commission’s terms of reference include:

1.    Collating a comprehensive and updated list of contracts awarded by previous administrations in Kogi State between the period under review

2.    The names of companies of all companies and business names involved in the above specified contracts awarded and their company directors and/or proprietors and owners

3.    The personal names of companies of all contractors, either local or expatriates, involved in all contracts awarded by previous administrations between the period under review and their business addresses both within Nigeria and abroad.

4.    Determine whether contracts awarded by Kogi State Government between the period under review to individuals or corporate organisations were in accordance with due process, and/or were in accordance with contract agreement.

5.    The contract sum of each project, the amount actually paid to the contractor, and the percentage of work done. Identify where contracts were executed contrary to agreement as a result of which government lost money, recover such money and make appropriate recommendations for such case.

The Commission has 12 weeks to complete its assignment.

In his speech at the inauguration, Governor Bello charged the Commissioners to be fair and incorruptible. He asked them to maintain their integrity and fearlessness throughout the assignment. The Governor compared Kogi State’s history and development to Dubai’s, concluding that the state has been underserved.

“Kogi State was created on 27th August, 1991 – a little over 25 years ago. 25 years ago, Dubai was a desert settlement in the middle of nowhere. Today, Dubai is a global megalopolis hosting some of the most advanced man-made technology and infrastructure on Planet Earth. Kogi State, on the other hand, still ranks low on the global development map, along with the rest of Nigeria,” he said.

“Dubai did not start out with significantly more resources than Kogi State, except perhaps the honesty and patriotism of their human resources. While the leaders of Dubai got creative about changing their society for good, ours became exponentially proficient in short-changing their people in the worst ways possible.

“In this time and age, it is unbelievable that we are still grappling with lack of every conceivable public infrastructure, unpaid salaries, benefits, pensions, gratuities, unpaid contractors, unfunded projects, inability to meet counterpart funding obligations to Development and other partners, to mention but a few.

“That conclusion would be a total fallacy, for the simple reason that our previous leaders did not account properly for the money that we did get.  While I am not saying that our state has made or received all the money she needs, I make bold to insist that our problem is not the LACK of money, but the THEFT of money. If what we did make or receive were used better this past 13 years, we would not have the current socioeconomic disaster on our hands.

“We too must put our dirty linen out in the public, albeit in a controlled environment like the scrutiny of a Commission such as this one, subject it to cycles of cleansing in the washing machine of truth and bring out the stronger fabrics and brighter colors of a thriving society.

“I pray for wisdom, knowledge and understanding from Almighty God to rest on the Chairman, My Lord, Honorable Justice Wada Umar Rano (RTD) and on each member of this Commission of Inquiry and to make them both fearless and forthright in the performance of their duties.”

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How Tinubu Nominated Osinbajo As Buhari’s VP – Bello

If the revelation by Secretary to Lagos State Government (SSG) TUNJI BELLO is anything to go by, President Muhammadu Buhari’s biographer Prof John Paden has created a distortion of historical facts in his book, “Muhammadu Buhari: “The challenges of leadership in Nigeria”.  The former Lagos Environment Commissioner said the American author got it all wrong in his claim that   the President chose Prof Yemi Osinbajo as his running mate for the 2015 presidential election above All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his successor Babatunde Raji Fashola. In this article, Bello, who was part of the process that threw up Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate, gives his account.

Nothing strengthens deceit more than silence. And on an occasion like this, one often wonders why some people twist events and history in order to legitimise a mission. While ruminating over why this should be, it is not impossible to embark on introspection by thinking out so many possibilities that politics is replete with. This line of thought is informed by laughable events of the last few days.

The news media have become agog with false story as to how Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came to be. During the launch of a book: “Muhammadu Buhari: The challenges of leadership in Nigeria”, a biography on President Mohammadu Buhari in Abuja on Monday, 3rd October 2016, Nigerians were fed with half truths by the author, Prof John Paden, on how Osinbajo became the Vice President of the country. I don’t know how the author came about his story, but he totally got it wrong because what he wrote basically is based on falsehood that reeks of deliberate misinformation and mischief.

I know how Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu picked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo because I was part of the process that midwifed his nomination. In mid-December 2014, it was a Saturday morning after President Mohammadu Buhari had been picked by All Progressives Congress (APC), at the party’s presidential primaries at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. I received a phone call from Asiwaju to see him that morning. On my way to his house, I discovered that a car at a reasonable distance was that of former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dele Alake, who was, ostensibly, heading towards Asiwaju’s house in Ikoyi. Asiwaju must have called him too for that task that could be explained underneath.

As soon as we arrived, Asiwaju quickly asked us to join him in his car as we headed to a Guest House. At the Guest House, the former All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, Prof Yemi Osibajo and one renowned pastor joined us.

At the meeting, Asiwaju related to us the urgent need to pick a vice presidential candidate for the APC. He advised that we immediately discard the idea of his being nominated for the vice presidential slot as it was no longer possible to pick a muslim-muslim ticket. This he reasoned made sense if indeed we were to be realistic in our bid to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election. He reasoned that what was important and imperative at that time was to look for a good Christian nominee to complement President Muhammadu Buhari.

I remember Baba Akande responded to his aversions that he would still have preferred that Asiwaju should be the running mate since it had been done before. Baba Akande was obviously referring to the MKO Abiola/Babagana Kingibe nomination. Asiwaju responded by distinguishing the political equation then from what was before us at that point in time. He foreclosed that scenario as no longer possible. We all voiced our opinions, and at the end of the day, it was resolved that we had to get a Christian candidate.

It was at this point that Asiwaju reminded us to be fast in coming up with an option because he felt other geographical zones are also jostling for same position reiterating the need for the Southwest to get it as a must. Asiwaju audaciously told us for that left for him, and if he were to pick anyone, he would suggest Prof Yemi Osinbajo. That Osinbajo, apart from being a brilliant legal luminary, is also a committed progressive and democrat. And having been married to the late Obafemi Awolowo’s grand-daughter, it would not be a problem selling him to the old political establishment of Southwest for acceptance.  He asserted that Alake and I, having served in his cabinet could attest to the great works he did as attorney-general during his, Asiwaju’s administration as Governor of Lagos State. He also reasoned that the second major factor in favour of Osinbajo was the fact that he is a strong Christian and one that he is already a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

READ: EXCLUSIVE: How Tinubu Outsmarted Amaechi, Oshiomhole, Others to Present Osinbajo as Buhari’s Running Mate

In the long run, Osinbajo’s nomination was well received by all of us at that meeting and Prof Osinbajo was asked to start detailing with us, further strategy sessions to which he brought out his laptop and we all commenced a brainstorming session. The rest of the discussion was to strategise on how to contain other likely opponents from the Southwest zone before proceeding to Abuja to battle other regional zones in the coming nomination.

The meeting did not finish until about 9.00pm when we returned to Asiwaju’s residence in Bourdillon. By the time we returned to his house, there were about six serving governors already waiting to see him from different parts of Nigeria.

What is particularly sad now is that the book launch of the president was deployed to create a make-believe story that puts the society at a disadvantage of history. One would have thought that now that the progressives, through an uncommon alliance in 2015, created an upset by defeating, for the first time in the country’s history, the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), it might be taken as given that the role of all active participants in the exercise would be correctly recorded. But surprisingly and painfully too, such an avenue was used to create a historical distortion of facts.

If a political adversary had done that, one would not have been disturbed. This is because at the end of the day under such circumstance, the goal is usually to create a make-believe story that puts the society on a wrong side of history. But now that the progressives, through an uncommon alliance in 2015, created an upset by defeating, for the first time in the country’s history, the then ruling (PDP), it might be taken as given that the role of all active participants in the exercise would be correctly recorded. But surprisingly painful is the fact that an historical distortion of facts is coming from an unexpected quarters at this early stage of progressive politics.

It becomes more of a matter of concern when a renowned intellectual writes a book and begins to redefine events in his own way by abashedly evading facts that are bellowing in the public space in order to re-create a world of make-believe for his audience. Sincerely, such an act understandably becomes a matter to ponder seriously.

Let us stop here. It is not all clothes that can be dried in the sun.

TheNation

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Governor Bello Has Started Infrastructural Revolution In Kogi – Aide 

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Governor Yahaya Bello Reiterates Commitment To Fight Corruption

Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has reiterated the commitment of his administration to make anti-corruption a “governance culture” in the State.

The Governor who stated this through a press statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Petra Akinti Onyegbule, said his administration will enthrone a systemic devaluation of corruption in the State.

Governor Bello carpeted corrupt leaders as “anti-people and anti-development”, calling on the people of the State to key into the anti-corruption drive of his administration.

“We are prepared to lead by example. Our government is putting in place institutional framework that will make corruption a sociological leprosy. We have given government officials our blueprint as our social contract with the people of Kogi State.

“An indispensable pillar of our New Direction Agenda is good governance. Good governance is about Synergy between our government and our people to do things right and govern with probity, accountability and transparency. We must always strive to achieve development.

“My administration will not only fight corruption in the system, but also in the minds of the citizens, in the minds of school children. I have directed the Ministry of Education to ensure we have anti-corruption clubs in our schools.

“Corruption is a thing of the mind. We must change our orientation against ill-gotten wealth. Our society must stop honouring those who steal monies meant for road constructions, drugs in our public health institutions and quality education in our schools”.

The Governor warns public office holders to refrain from yielding to the temptation of corruption, saying his administration will not only expose corrupt officials, but also ensure they are prosecuted.

He said it has become necessary to probe into why contracts failed in the State, saying any contractor who had been paid must return to sites to complete their jobs.

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Supreme Court Judgment Affirming My Election Long Settled In Heaven, Says Bello

Kogi State governor, Yahaya Adoza Bello has said that the decision of the Supreme Court, affirming his election, “has long been settled in heaven.”

He also called on key political actors in Kogi State, including ex-governor Wada and Faleke, to join him in rebuilding the state.

Speaking on Tuesday with journalists at the Kogi State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro in Abuja, the governor said he would take tough measures to restore the state to its former glory.

He said, “The decision of the Supreme Court has long been settled in heaven, the Supreme Court just affirmed it. I thank my great party, the All Progressives Congress, for giving me the opportunity to serve. I also thank President Muhammadu Buhari, the best President in the world, for being on the path of truth and equity. I will fulfil the great vision of late Abubakar Audu because his spirit is alive.

“I appreciate the Supreme Court for asserting its independence. I call on all Kogites, especially Idris Wada and James Faleke, to assist me in rebuilding Kogi State, which has bled enough since its creation 25 years ago. God has saddled me with the responsibility.

“Tough decisions will be taken to bring back the state to the right path. Please support me and I call on the restive ones to drop their violence because it will not take them anywhere. We should all join hands with the President to build Nigeria.’’

Bello said he would restructure the civil service because of the menace of ‘ghost’ workers.

Also, the APC has congratulated Bello on his victory at the Supreme Court.

The National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in his reaction to the judgment, told journalists at the party secretariat on Tuesday, that the party had sent its congratulation to the Kogi State governor.

He said, “We have congratulated the governor; we will soon issue a statement to that effect.”

 

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Supreme Court Upholds Election Of Yahaya Bello As Kogi Governor

The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed the election of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

The seven-man panel headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwata affirmed the election after listening to the closing statements of all the counsel.

The court in a unanimous judgement dismissed the appeal filed by Hon. James Faleke, the deputy to Late Abubakar Audu, candidate of the APC aand Captain Idris Wada of the PGP.

The court said it will give reasons for its judgement on September 30, 2016

The election petition tribunal of the state and the court of appeal had dismissed their petitions against the governor for lacking in merit.

The All Progressives Congress substituted Bello as its governorship candidate and retained Faleke as its deputy governorship candidate after Audu died at the conclusion of the first round of the election held on November 21.

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Prince Audu’s Brother Declares Support For Gov Bello, Unsettle Faleke’s Camp

The immediate younger brother of the All Progressives Congress, APC Governorship candidate in the November 21, 2015 Governorship Election, late Prince Abubakar Audu has declared support for Governor Yahaya Bello, in a move likely to break the ranks of the Faleke camp.

Prince Yahaya Audu was in Government House Lokoja after receiving a posthumous award conferred on the late leader by Governor Bello during 25th anniversary of the state’s creation. At the occasion, he said that the family were humbled by the honour done to them by the Governor, adding that it is only the present administration that has ever remembered the work of the former Governor.

Prince Audu commended the Governor for also naming the University after his late brother and stressed that the present administration meant well for the people of the state.

Audu who came in the company of some notable political associates of the late Leader said that what the state needed was unity and peaceful coexistence in order to harness and realise the political dreams of the first governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu.

The State has being agog following the declaration by the late political leader’s younger brother for Governor Bello. Prince Abubakar Audu was the Governorship Candidate of All Progressive Congress, APC in the 21st, November 2015 Poll in the state.

He died in the process of the election and his party chose Alhaji Yahaya Bello to conclude the process of the election.

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Kogi At 25 Celebrating Kogi’s Silver Jubilee, Silver Lining And Silver Bullet, By Governor Yahaya Bello

BEING TEXT OF A SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE ON 27TH AUGUST, 2016 IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF KOGI STATE

Happy Silver Jubilee, Kogi State!

Almighty God Alone deserves all the Praise today. Without the help of God, we will not be marking this day. For keeping our Nation Nigeria and for keeping our State Kogi, I thank God with all my strength and from the bottom of my heart.

I felicitate with each Kogite on this important milestone. The journey has been long, and the road was not always smooth but you stood your ground. You did not let challenges diminish your allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria or your devotion to a united, peaceful and progressive Kogi State. Happy 25th Anniversary, Great People!

I cannot hide my admiration for my father and mentor, President Muhammadu Buhari. I said as much in my Inaugural Address and I repeat same here today. I admire his ironclad will that saw him contest against incredible odds for the Presidency of Nigeria and win on the fourth attempt. Mr. President’s unbending determination to rid Nigeria of corruption continues to provide me with much needed example in a political terrain that is nearly barren of heroic personalities. On this 25th Anniversary of my state, I celebrate my boss.

On 27th of August 1991, Kogi State was created, along with Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun, Taraba, and Yobe States. It was the joyful reunion of a people who shared historical roots dating back to the defunct Kabba Province in the old Northern Region.

I was about 16 years old at the time and I still remember how Kogites erupted in spontaneous celebration wherever the glad tidings reached them. Everyone was excited by the promise of a new dawn. We were confident that with faith in God and handwork our new state would achieve unparalleled heights in Nigeria.

Kogi State appreciates former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida during whose tenure as Head of State our dear state was created. Every Kogite owes the colorful General whom Nigerians fondly call ‘IBB’ an undying weight of gratitude. Today as always we hail his remarkable courage, especially that singular exercise in which he carved out Kogi State from parts of Kwara and Benue States where we had been completely neglected. We wish our benefactor a long and happy life. May he live to see the emergence of a Kogi that justifies his founding visions for it. Allah Ya kara maka lafiya.

Many sons and daughters of Kogi State, too many to mention individually, also contributed beyond belief to the efforts that led to her creation. I speak of such eminent founders and fathers as General Salihu Ibrahim (former Chief of Army Staff), Alhaji Aliyu Attah (former Inspector-General of Police), and Retired General Theophilus Jemibewon (a fine officer and gentleman).

Others, equally as distinguished, include Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi (consummate technocrat), Late Dr. Stephen Makoji Achema (politician and community leader), Late Pa C.H.N Lapini (elder statesman), Chief P.S Achimugu (elder stateman) and His Excellency, Late Prince Abubakar Audu (First Executive Governor of Kogi State). The list is inexhaustible. I honor their collective achievement today.

Geographically, Kogi State is strategically located as the intersection of  all parts of the country. We share borders with 9 States and the Federal Capital Territory. This makes us the gateway to the heart of Nigeria.  The mighty Rivers Niger and Benue enter Kogi as individual flows only to find Confluence in our land. Likewise, Nigerians from diverse background find connectedness in Kogi, either as residents or travellers.

Demographically, there are about 3.5 million wonderful people currently living in Kogi. This large population help create multi-sectoral business opportunities, especially in agriculture, trade and commerce. With alluvial plains along the riverbeds and fertile uplands Kogi is a farmers’ haven, and modern Agriculture for the cultivation of numerous crops have proved very lucrative.

The State also boasts some of the most extensive solid minerals deposits in Nigeria. Our Tourism potentials are almost limitless. Innumerable historical sites, wonderful geological features and the incredible biodiversity across the State make it a very attractive tourist destination.

On August 27, 1991, our dreams of steering our own destiny became a reality. We accepted responsibility for our own success and our journey to discover greatness began. Everyone was full of great hopes for the future. Kogi State, with her massive endowments had no reason not to become a 21st century industrial and agricultural powerhouse, even without crude oil earnings, so our optimism was not foolish.

I would love to report today that Kogi State has lived up to her potentials. Truly, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to have the privilege of speaking to you today on how Kogi achieved greatness. Unfortunately, if I tried to tell you that Kogi State, after 25 years of existence, is where any patriotic Kogite dreams it would be none of you would believe me for a moment. In fact, you would laugh at me and dismiss me for a liar.

I am saddened by what we could have become. I imagine the long journey to statehood for Kogi State and the sacrifices of those who fought for that vision. Many of them, some of whom I have recognized above, laboured to plant this tree knowing they will never get to sit in its shade. Others are alive today, but unsung. It would be most disrespectful to them all if I claimed that the Kogi State we live in today is the one they envisioned. It is not.

The sad reality is that we are well below the expectations and capabilities we started out with. Some argue that Kogi State is not alone in that sad corner of under-performance. They would say it is a general reflection of the nation we live in. I disagree. It is time we owned up to our mistakes. We must stop the practice of comparing ourselves to any other under-performing states as an excuse for low achievement.

Fellow Kogites, it is far better to admit the harsh realities on ground so we can get creative about changing them than to live in denial and continue to wallow in squalor. Somewhere along our journey to greatness we were derailed, not by a mechanical fault but by deliberate acts of sabotage by those entrusted with the job of driving us to our desired future. The missed opportunities in Kogi State, and all over Nigeria for that matter, are traceable to poor and uninspiring leadership of the past.

We cannot be glad that we are not doing well like others. How is it any consolation to a wiseman that he is in the same leaky boat with others? If the boat sinks, everyone perishes. It is my belief that every state in Nigeria has had a chance to chart a course for herself different from the malaise of bad governance which permeated the nation, particularly in the last 16 years. Some states actually did and today they are way ahead of others in critical socio-economic indices.

The painful thing is that Kogi State did not join this league of visionary states. We seemed unable to find leaders who loved Kogi above self, family and friends. Thus successive Administrations posted lackluster performances leading to severe underdevelopment of the state and increased poverty among our people. If they had been merely incompetent their failures would not have been so terrible. Instead they added corruption and criminality to the mix. Simply put, some of our past leaders were utterly godless. They stole us blind.

This malaise is of course not limited to Kogi State alone. Nigeria itself was on life support when President Muhammadu Buhari came to Office. As it is, the President is still working hard to move it out of the Intensive Care Unit. Most Nigerians know this but only a few will admit it. A christian cleric recently reiterated the deep-seated wickedness shown to the people of this country, including Kogi State, by those who held power before the All Progressives Congress (APC). He lamented as follows:

‘Our past leaders, no, not…leaders, our past looters…embezzlers…have eaten the cake of this country and now everybody is suffering it…All the money voted for road constructions (and other public utilities) were swindled, eaten. Many of them became millionaires and billionaires in Naira, in Dollars, in Pounds, in Euro. Billionaires, when they have no workshop, no business centre. Somebody who has nothing he’s doing, yet he’s a billionaire, because he’s a politician…they succeeded in removing the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular systems of this country…paralyzed the neurological organs and handed over to Buhari, the new president, shambles, skeleton almost, a nation that is (comatose)…Kidnapping was a child of the past administration. They delivered that ugly baby, and that baby resembled them…’

I am one of those who believe that the The truth must be told as bluntly as possible. I am saying it this way now so that when I am no longer Governor, posterity can have my words today as a precedent to judge me. I want Almighty God and Kogi People to judge me harshly too if I follow the same path of wanton corruption and criminality while in Office. I want us to recall the past correctly so we can drop it in the trashcan of history and move on to capture the greatness which has eluded Kogi State for 25 long years.

The Change which swept the nation with the election of President Muhammadu Buhari presented us with an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and make great strides in Kogi. Mr. President’s commitment to the Change Agenda in Nigeria provides us with a role model for Change here. We are assured of Mr. President’s support as long as we act with probity and accountability.

This 25th Anniversary is therefore an opportune time to unveil a new epoch of greatness for Kogi State. Accordingly, it is my utmost pleasure to introduce the New Direction Agenda of this Administration once more. This is especially for the benefit of our esteemed guests here who may be hearing about it for the first time today.

When I began to nurse the aspiration to run for Governor, it was clear to me that Kogi State needed more than body fillers. A lot of engine work was necessary too. The state called for overhauling and thorough servicing to get it running effectively. Once that was done, it must be turned around completely to travel in a new direction. This simple premise became the foundational philosophy for our New Direction Agenda, and it remains the basis on which we have designed our Governance Blueprint.

We are convinced that good governance is a catalyst for quick development of our communities. The New Direction Blueprint, as promised during our Campaigns, is a Marshall Plan, an actionable proposal, for how we intend to reinvent Kogi state and activate all of our potentials. Beyond that, it is our roadmap to lifting at least One Million Kogites out of the National Poverty Index during the tenure of this Administration.

The needs are many and the resources lean which means we cannot possibly do everything. The Blueprint focuses on 5 thematic areas, namely, Education, Health, Job Creation and New Ventures, Infrastructure and Utilities, and Productive Public Service and Pension Reforms. These five focal points are designed to interlock. Each  Ministry, Department and Agency of Kogi State will find that one or more, if not all, of these five focal areas provide direction for their work.

My dear people of Kogi State, The New Direction Blueprint was designed with you in mind. It is not needlessly complex nor is it full of obscure, diversionary concepts. It is simply an inventory of priority projects with estimated dates of delivery. In fact, most of the projections came from your responses in the Questionnaires sent out by our New Direction Blueprint Team and your contributions at the LG  Town Hall meetings.

To enhance access to the Blueprint by everyone, we will place reference copies in libraries, schools and other public places. It will also be uploaded online. Government will rely a lot on your feedback to monitor compliance with the Blueprint by functionaries at Local Government and other levels. Accordingly, we are working to set up a Call Centre directly under my Office through which you can make inputs. It will be manned by Special Assistants properly trained in Customer Care and appropriate etiquette.

As I begin to conclude, let me say that my considerable business experience has taught me to take the resources available per time and do my best with it. I will always provide the political will for this Administration to consistently do the right thing. We will continue to ensure the totality of Kogi’s resources work for the totality of Kogi’s People.

There is no time to enumerate all our accomplishments over the 7 months we have been in Office. I will mention a few in order to give an idea of our commitment and our momentum. On assumption we focused on workers welfare. Over the space of two months, even before we got the the bailout funds, we managed to pay 3 month’s salaries. More has been paid since the bailout came. For the records, we have only accessed 40% of the Bailout Funds approved for us by the Federal Government. We will pay more as we access more.

We commenced a staff screening and verification exercise which has removed over 18,000 unintended beneficiaries from the the state civil service payroll. This will save the state N16.6bn per annum at the rate of N1.3bn per month. Affected individuals have also been afforded the opportunity to present their cases to an Appeal Committee. No genuine worker or pensioner affected for any reason will be denied fair hearing.

The screening exercise also revealed the level of complicity in the rot by all strata of the society. It was a conspiracy to rob the state. The involvement of clerics of both major faiths in these rackets was perhaps the most disappointing. I warn that people who by their calling are meant to be societal role models must endeavour to live above board. We will not hesitate to hand them over to law enforcement if need be.

We are now better able to focus on the welfare of genuine workers. I have directed the Commissioner for Finance and the 21 Local Government Administrators to pay at least 3 months’ salaries to all workers before the  Sallah Holidays. In line with our resolve to ensure our payroll caters for only bona fide workers, it goes without saying that only those who passed the screening exercise will be paid.

Once again, and I cannot repeat this enough, any person who believes he or she was was unjustly screened out should please reach to the Appeal Committee at the appointed times and places and present their case. Schedules have been sent out several weeks ago to all Local Government Secretariats and the State Secretariat so people can avail themselves of this opportunity.

In June, 2016, I trimmed the number of ministries in the state from 20 to 15, appointing the same number of commissioners. This eliminated the duplication of roles, cut the cost of governance and increased productivity.

In order to grow our Internally Generated Revenue, we granted autonomy to the Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue, moved them to modern premises and strengthened their operational capacities. There is currently a perceptible increase in our Internally Generated Revenue. It will surely grow.

We abolished the State and Local Government Joint Account, granted financial autonomy to the Local Government Areas and strengthened oversight of their activities. This is a way of boosting this administration’s resolve to govern with transparency and accountability.

We commenced construction of rural and township roads in the three senatorial Districts of the State. Some parts of the state which had been in darkness for 5 years or more have been provided electricity with several of such projects awaiting commissioning.

This Administration resuscitated the monthly sanitation exercise and it has gone a long way in cleaning up our cities and banishing the mountains of refuse and other health hazards which dotted everywhere when we came in.

The State Ministry of Environment spearheaded the planting of thousands of trees all over the State as part of efforts to protect our environment. This is part of a greening initiative that will ultimately see millions of trees planted during the tenure of this Administration. With lessons learned from the devastating floods of 2012 our flood and erosion preparedness measures are in top gear. We are confident that the steps we are taking today will help us manage natural disasters easier and make every part of the state safer for residents.

We came into office on 27 January, 2016. The Security Agencies informed me of 18 recorded incidents of kidnapping and numerous armed robberies in that month alone. We immediately prioritized security and took the battle to the criminals. By end of February we had only 5 incidences of kidnapping along with a reduction in armed robbery. We will not relent in this war. Any such criminal remaining in Kogi State is aware that he has signed his own death warrant.

I salute the gallant men and officers of our security forces – police, military, and paramilitary for their exceptional bravery. Also worthy of honorable mention are members of our revitalized Vigilante Services. Together, we have continued to checkmate the perpetrators of violent crime within our boundaries.

I am overwhelmed with the massive support we continue to receive from His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari in this area of security as well as others. His Excellency directed his Security Chiefs to render me full support in securing Kogi State. These officers have also gone over and beyond the call of duty to respond.

General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, took this directive very personal and have availed us of both their physical presence and the elite resources of their respective services.

I must at this juncture appeal to community leaders, parents and guardians to take deeper interest in the escapades of their children and wards. Mischief very easily crosses over into criminality if young ones are left to their own devices. We again admonish young ones to refrain from physically engaging security operatives on or off duty. By their training, law enforcement agents will perform their constitutional duties as circumstances may require. People, including youth, who do not have respect for the law will find to their bitter regret that the law is no respecter of persons.

We cannot grow Kogi unless we attract genuine business people and provide the climate they need to thrive. Security is key to creating such an investment-friendly state. This is why we have purchased over one hundred Police Patrol Vehicles to assist the agencies in combating security challenges within the state. These vehicles were commissioned before all of us not long ago as part of activities marking this Anniversary and distributed to the various Law Enforcement Agencies.

Kogi is open for business. The Administration is revitalizing bi- and multi-lateral relationships with international development partners as well as collaborations with Nigerian businesses. We have a preference for Public Private Partnerships and similar private sector driven investment portfolios. We are committed to fostering a business climate that attracts and retains all viable investment options.

Just this week I signed an agreement with a US consortium for agro-allied investments in Kogi State that will eventually exceed the billion dollar mark. In similar vein, an automobile assembling company doing business in Nigeria displayed the prototype of one of their SUVs to me in Government House today. They will be assembling those in Kogi State before the end of 1st Quarter of 2017. Soon my people, we will have ‘Made In Kogi’ vehicles!

Today, and as always, I celebrate the life and times of Prince Abubakar Audu, the 1st Executive Governor of Kogi State. He laid a good foundation in Kogi State and is the architect of this Change that we see today. I am here today because of his labours. ‘Allah (SWT) is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe; He leads them out of the darkness into the light.’ [Qur’an 2:257]. May our leader continue to rest in peace.

I have severally extended my hand to my opponents in the elections that brought me in, seeking their brotherhood for a greater Kogi State.  We are Kogites first and foremost. We must be guided by her best interests. Without prejudice to the cases in court, I repeat that gesture again today.

I urge those whose desperate resort is to foment trouble to rethink their actions. I guarantee them that misusing the media in vain attempt to paint my Government as corrupt or clueless has absolutely no effect on me or the Administration. A clear conscience such as I have, fears no accusation. They may unsettle some of the People some of the time, but the majority of Kogites have subscribed to the New Direction Agenda and can see such antics as the childish tantrums they really are.

We do not invite any media to do any cover ups for us. Conversely we will not tolerate further fake advertorials on non-existent sleaze against us. We have drawn the absolute last straw and are very willing now to test criminal and civil laws in this regard, notwithstanding any retraction.

We support a free Press, but we will no longer condone an irresponsible one. I sincerely hope that going forward our friends in the media will give factual reportage of events in Kogi State. I still believe that media ethics transcend financial rewards. A reputable media house ought not to publish anything that is an obvious lie, irrespective of the amount to be paid.

Dear Kogites, and all our Distinguished Guests, I am excited because today our celebration is three-fold – Silver Jubilee, Silver Lining and Silver Bullet. On this Silver Jubilee the New Direction Agenda constitutes a Silver Lining of Hope tearing apart the black clouds of longstanding misgovernance and using the New Direction Blueprint as a Silver Bullet to slay the monster of backwardness confronting Kogi State.

Today is not just a time to Celebrate, but also a time to Contemplate. In Psalms 90 verse 12 The Bible says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” When we take out time to contemplate and think over our lives and our choices, we can plan for the future better. It will be an abomination for our children to grow into adults and on the Golden Jubilee of our state find themselves face to face with our failure to prepare for their future.

In the Qur’an, Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Allah said: ‘The son of Adam hurts Me by abusing Time, for I am Time; in My Hands are all things and I cause the revolution of night and day.” (Bukhari 6/351; 9/583). May we be wise not to hurt Allah Himself by abusing the time entrusted to us.

We must start today to prepare for the next 25 years by doing the right things now. It is my prayer that if God wills for us to be alive to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Kogi State, the foundations we lay together in this Administration may contribute to making that day the Golden Jubilee of a vastly improved, truly developed and heavily industrialized Kogi State.

Once again I wish Kogi State Happy Silver Jubilee!

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

God bless Kogi State.

YAHAYA BELLO
EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR
KOGI STATE
27 August, 2016.

 

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Be Security Conscious, Governor Bello Tells Kogites

Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has called on the people of the state to be vigilant and security conscious by checking movement of strange persons in their neighbourhood  and report suspicious individuals to security agents.

The Governor stated this today in Lokoja at the Jumat Mosque Prayers  to mark the 25th Anniversary of the creation of the state.

Bello disclosed that some people have recruited some miscreants and imported them  to the state to cause trouble, warning the trouble shooters to relocate from the state or meet the superior power of the law.

He assured the people of the state that the law enforcement agencies are working hard to fish out the miscreants out of the state.

The Governor vowed to continue to ensure the unity of the state, adding that he is poised to lead the state through necessary reforms that will bring about even development in all sectors of the economy.

“I am conscious of the circumstance that brought me to power and will only be answerable to God and the people of Kogi State,” he stated.

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