A Brief Citation of Ibrahim Isah: Niger State’s Ambassadorial Nominee By Abdulberqy Ebbo

What diplomats possess more than the rest of us is practical understanding of affairs of the world. This is so because of their wealth of experience as first-hand witnesses to cultures, traditions and politics of other nations in their itinerant career.

Ibrahim Isah’s engagements with the foreign and international affairs didn’t begin with his employment in the nation’s foreign mission. He was educated to serve in this capacity, earning his first degree in International Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1982 and then Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy at the University of Lagos, amongst other qualifications.

Isah’s career in foreign service began as Third Secretary in the African Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1983, and tasked with responsibilities ranging from examining political and economic reports of countries in the Maghreb region of Africa and rendering appropriate recommendations to serving as Desk Officer for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He served in this capacity until 1985, transferred to Finance and Budget Department to serve as Assistant to the Executive Director until 1988.

This tasking foundation prepared the rising diplomat for an eventful career in the service of the nation outside the shore of Nigeria. He served as Head of Chancery, otherwise known as Second Secretary, at the Nigerian High Commission in Freetown, Sierra Leone, between 1988 and 1992.

On returning to Nigeria in 1992, he left the service of the African Affairs Department for a more challenging role at the European Affairs Department as First Secretary or Desk Officer in charge of the affairs of Spain, Italy and the European Union. He left this role to serve as Counsellor (Assistant) to the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs until 1998.

In February, 1998, Isah left the shore of Africa, settling down in New York to serve as Senior Counsellor/Head of Chancery at the Consulate General of Nigeria. He left New York in 2000 for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to continue in his management of the security and general administration of the Chancery at the Kingdom’s Consulate General of Nigeria.

He returned to Nigeria in 2002, this time engaged as Assistant Director at the Airport Protocol Unit, Presidential Lounge, Abuja. He was the Chief Airport Protocol Officer responsible for seeing off and receiving the nation’s topmost federal executive and legislative heads and also foreign Heads of State and Government.

He left Abuja for Beijing in 2007, taking up his new role as Deputy Director at the Embassy of Nigeria in the Chinese city. His range of responsibilities there included Nigeria’s economic relations with Nigeria, through investment promotion programmes, liaison with China Commerce Ministry to advertise Nigeria’s investment opportunities and potentials and also serving as the mission’s Protocol Officer who saw off and received delegations to China.

He left China for Nigeria in 2010, and was stationed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ National Assembly Liaison Office, first as Deputy Director at the Public Communication Division from January to March, 2011. In April, he become Director at the Division.

Since 2014, Ibrahim Isah has been at the Embassy of Nigeria in Ankara, Turkey. He started as Deputy Head of Mission from June, 2014 to August, 2015 when he become the mission’s Charge D’Affaires, a position he currently holds, with his name already on the list of ambassadorial nominees released by the federal government, representing Niger State.

Isah’s rise through the cadre of foreign service is a story of sheer diligence, discipline and commitment to serving the nation and protecting its interests home and abroad. His astounding achievements over the past 32 years of service is motivating, noting his earliest education: First School Leaving Certificate at the LEA Primary School, Ebbo, Niger State, in 1972; West African School Certificate at Government College, Bida, Niger State, in 1979; and and College Preparatory Course at Zungeru College of Advanced Studies, Bida, Niger State.

Isah had underwent professional training in Diplomacy, and has taken part in conferences and member of various committees as a representative of Nigeria in and out of Africa. He’s received local and international honours, including his recognition as Tennessee Ambassador of Goodwill in 1998 and Honourable Citizen of Nashville and Davidson County in 1999. He was also made an Honorary Member of River State Foundation of Nigeria, United States, in 1999. The well-travelled and accomplished diplomat is married, and has children.

May God Guide you in this new Office you are about to occupy.

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#KadInvest2016: A Reality Written? — Ahmed Rufai Isah

Few years ago, the current governor of Kaduna state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai wrote series of paradigm shifting ideas on how to develop Northern States. I followed the series religiously and kept asking why it was difficult to get people with such ideas to govern all states in the North? Well few years down the line, he is governor of Kaduna state and he has began deploying some of those ideas to moving Kaduna state to enviable heights.

In comes KadInvest2016. Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit comes up 6–7 April, 2016 in Kaduna. The aim of the summit is to open Kaduna state up for investment through reshaping state structure to suit private sector investment to bring about job creation and economic growth.

For many who followed that intellectual discourse of Malam Nasir El-Rufai , the realization of opening Kaduna for business isn’t new. For those who didn’t, it will definitely be fresh contact with this part of his thoughts. But more importantly, it is happening at a time in the history of this nation when national attention is shifting from the discourse of oil, to diversification of economic sources of income.

In December of 2015, Malam Nasir El-Rufai laid the foundation for this by signing into law a budget of 171.7bn Naira with 109.3b Naira channeled to capital and while 62.4bn Naira recurrent expenditure. This was a turning point for States in Northern Nigeria. By doing so, the former FCT minister painted a picture he wants the direction of his administration to take. Overtime, we have had governors who do nothing but share FAAC allocation coming from the Centre. It became a recurrent government of paying salaries with no ideas on how to move Northern States forward or create jobs for the teeming young Labour force.

With Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, Malam Nasir El-Rufai is not only looking at creating jobs for young entrepreneurs but also linking commercial-oriented SMEs to rewarding markets and facilitating the availability of information on investment. To make sure these is achieved, months back he set up an entrepreneurship program aimed at arming people with ideas with the needed knowledge and training. This was done in collaboration with some financial institutions who will provide needed finance to help young entrepreneurs establish themselves in a proper way. In the long run, we would see a Kaduna where capable, energetic and idea driven young people run successful business creating employment for many others and rendering quality services.

Wisely, the government has identified priority investment sectors in the next four years. This will help the government to focus on areas that need urgent intervention. Power (Renewable energy), Agriculture, Housing and Manufacturing stand out for me. If the government gets these things right, we would have a solid foundation to build on going forward.

Strategically, the summit will address financial topics, investment strategies and perspectives on Kaduna state economy. The summits aims at targeting international and local investors thereby persuading them with factual data to embrace Kaduna as their investment destination.

Kaduna Investment and economic summit is organised by the recently established Kaduna state Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA), hosted by Malam Nasir El-Rufai and co-host include The Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) and Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG).

Clearly, everything is been put in place to move Kaduna state forward. Kaduna Investment and Economic Summit is just one of Malam Nasir El-Rufai administration’s strategic moves and soon Kaduna a state will be great.

 

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

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Everything Is Wrong In Mutunji, By Isah Ahmed Rufai

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children’’ – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In the first week of November 2015, I took business trip alongside my brother to a town called Mutunji in Dan Sadau Emirate, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara state. Mutunji is town with no a small population and is not far from Dan Sadau. There, I saw a microcosm of the larger Nigeria society playing to my disgust all over again. Education, security, healthcare all in total collapse as poverty, crime and neglect reigned supreme.

What made me sadder was the sight of children neglected by a country that refers to them as leaders of tomorrow. As Dietrich has opined, a society’s is tested by how well it treats its children but I go further to add that the true test is how a society treats the children of the poor and those without power. This test is one that Nigeria has failed and in Dan Sadau and Mutuji the evidence is clear.

EDUCATION
At every stage of human history, the quest for knowledge have always been a constant. That quest is what has ensured man achieves civilisation and continues to strive for the growth of his society. The future of every society depends entirely on how much effort the current generation puts in to ensure the younger people get access to quality education.

In Nigeria, however, the reverse is the case. Access to quality education is the exclusive reserve of the rich and those in power. In Mutunji, education is in total collapse and the only primary school there is in tatters. There is no single secondary school between Dan Sadau and Mutunji.

There are thirteen primary schools in Dan Sadau Emirates without teachers. For many years, there are no available teachers to teach kids ready to learn and those ready find no one ready to pay for their work. No single child has finished primary school in Mutunji since 2005. Few months before our visit we were told, the community came together and made a decision to employ two teachers whom they are to pay 8000 Naira monthly to educate the children. To achieve that fee, they decided to levy every parent 100 Naira a child. This community initiative is what has brought education back to Mutunji. If this is not an indictment on our leaders especially the senator and house members representing these areas, nothing else is.

SECURITY IS LIFE
The trip from Gasau to Dan Sadau was long and torturous. Along the way, from Magami while approaching Yar-Tashar Yari, the driver turned to us and said we should expect the unexpected. The security of our lives from then on was up to us and God. Until we got to Mutunji, my heart kept beating faster than quick sound of breeze coming through the window. It is an anomaly for citizens to resort to depending on each other for securing their lives and properties. It is a big recipe for chaos because the power of humans isn’t one and same. Security of citizens’ life and property is the fundamental responsibility of the government. If government cannot secure the lives and property of its citizens, then there is no need for such government to exist.

Our visit to Dan Sadau Emirates revealed a total collapse of law and order especially in Mutunji. Forced marriages, kidnapping of little girls, murder, banditry, and arson are rife in Mutunji. Constituted authority turn blind eyes to the happenings and the stories hardly make it to mainstream media. Armed militia operate in the open, impose taxes and run open courts in villages like Dutsen Kura, Tasa, and Chapi.
In villages like Mai Awaki and Guru there is constant case of kidnapping of little girls, who are forcefully turned into wives. In Umguwar Galadima, about 200 hundred people were allegedly murdered for holding a meeting to find solution to the many problems bedevilling their community. No single word from the authorities or any sign of an investigation. In Kaduru, 40 people were said to have suffered the same fate. Villages like Mai Goge, Kalgo and Jesa could hitherto boast of thousands of cows but because of the activities of cattle rustlers like Madaka, Gajeran, Kauye they no longer own a single cow. These men and the likes attack the villages constantly, stealing their cows and selling them off in other states through the assistant of middlemen and couriers like Maikano Jesa.
The many crimes in this part of the country continue to go unpunished. Even when such criminals are arrested, they walk away free after a day or two at the police stations which are mostly understaffed, ill-equipped and corrupt.

ACQUIRING POWER TO FAIL
Power acquired if not for the advancement of citizens is largely useless. The reasons why people seek to assume political positions is centred around making better lives of people in their societies and to ensure such societies don’t result to chaos. This however looks different from what is obtainable in Nigeria. Increasingly, we have people who assume positions and result to self-aggrandizement forgetting the people who voted them. A policeman on uniform forgets the reason he/she was trained a police and result to extorting the citizens. A politician forgets why he/she was voted, the lawyer, the judge, etc. everyone in Nigeria seems to have forgotten the reasons they have power is to put the nation on a better path to development, leaving citizens to function as their own government.

Someone needs to remind Alhaji Lawali Aliyu, the chairman of Maru Local Government Area, Alhaji Abdullahi Maikano; the member House of Assembly Maru South, Alhaji Abdulmalik Zubair Bungudu, House of Representative member for Maru/Bungudu; Senator representing Central, Alhaji Kabiru Marafa; All Progressive Congress chairmanship flagbearer, Alhaji Salisu Isah Dan Gulbi, that the power they canvassed for votes for and won is best utilised for the good of their people. As leaders, the responsibility doesn’t stop at acquiring power; it actually starts after that. They must stand up and assist their people who are in their need of governance.

Finally, I advise the government at the federal, state and local government level to look into cases like the ones happening in Mutunji, wehere human lives have become worthless. Citizens vote so they can be protected and provided social amenities. As it is, neither of that is happening in Mutunji. Some few citizens have taken the law into their hands and are using it to punish the less powerful ones because there are no custodians of the law to checkmate them. Any further delay could be dangerous for that region of Nigeria.

@Sir_Ruffy on twitter

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#Kogi Decides: Why Kogi Women Should Vote APC, By Maryam Isah

Nigerian women constitute an oft-ignored demography, especially when it comes to the formulation and enactment of policies which are specifically targeted at improving the quality of life. We have one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, and there are many other societal issues which affect women severely but are either not being addressed at all, or aren’t given the level of commitment required to solve them.

It is no longer news that poverty in Nigeria is endemic; however, not enough people are aware of or acknowledge the fact that poverty hits women harder, as we are often the ones at an economic disadvantage due to perceived gender roles and acts of discrimination which set many women up for a difficult life. As bleak as the situation seems for the average Nigerian woman, there are certain states which have made considerable progress towards correcting these many ills and providing better opportunities for women and girls by making deliberate efforts to tackle challenges which are peculiar to us.

Life is the most important of all; no policies – no matter how well-intentioned – can be of any real impact to women if efforts are not made to improve healthcare, which has a direct impact on everything else. If maternal mortality, for instance, is not urgently addressed and reduced to the barest minimum, the number of women with potential to engage in economic activities will continue to decrease. Therefore, for women to be productive – both at home and in business – they have to be healthy, and this is one area where many APC states have made considerable progress.

Lagos, for instance, took a hands-on approach to maternal mortality with the establishment of well-equipped mother and child centres across the state. This improved accessibility to healthcare for pregnant women and infants, and the eight years of the Fashola administration saw a drastic reduction in the maternal mortality rate. Going a step further, that government also established skill acquisition centres specifically for women, with varying degrees of knowledge for different skills so that level of education would not be a barrier to learning how to make a living.

In a similar vein, Ekiti – during Fayemi’s administration – had the lowest maternal mortality rate in the country. Then, the state partnered with international agencies to execute a healthcare programme which reached women at the grassroots. This yielded brilliant results, and the state went even further with the Equal Opportunity Bill, which was the first of its kind in the country. This bill prohibited discrimination of any kind against any one, and by extension protected widows, the disabled, and all other groups of people who are often on the receiving end of prejudice.

Thankfully, to the women of Kogi state, the above listed will strike a chord. This is because, once, the state had a governor who invested considerable resources in maternal care and providing workable solutions to women’s challenges. Trading in the state was “modernised” with the provision of buildings for women who sold wares by the roadside to conduct business from, thereby also reducing the spate of accidents and making earning a living a pleasant experience, as opposed to a hazardous one.

Women are also the mothers of the society; the crippling effects of the non-payment of salaries in Kogi state affect us as equally as the unemployment situation. Those of us who are civil servants are either being denied their salaries or paid ridiculous percentages, and our siblings cannot find jobs; as a combined result of these and the poor state of infrastructure, our businesses are suffering.

On education, APC states have also taken deliberate steps to close the gap between boys and girls regarding school enrolment. Kano, for instance, established girls’ schools in order to encourage more girls to go to school and Prince Abubakar Audu also made considerable efforts towards this during his previous tenure.

Women have always played a key role in changing society and once more, the brave women of Kogi state must rise to the occasion and come together to save our home by voting for the APC candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu. The choice of Audu as governor is predicated on both his antecedents and the giant strides taken regarding women development in other APC states.

Kogi cannot afford to be left out any longer; we cannot continue to look on as others develop and lamenting our woes will not fix the situation. We all have to maintain the tradition of Nigerian women turning out en masse during elections, and use our PVCs to usher in a new era of change and development.

Maryam Isah is a member of the Kogi state chapter of the APC-Young Women Forum (APC-YWF).

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Twelve Years Of Failure: A Parasitic Relationship Between PDP And Kogi State, By Ahmed Rufai Isah

A parasite is as an organism which feeds off the flesh of its host. This is how parasites work; they attach themselves to a host and proceed to suck the life out of the unfortunate entity. No matter what this organism who is unwillingly entertaining this parasite eats or possesses or does, it never shows as the parasite is extremely adept at allocating all goodness to itself without its host’s permission. Farmers may testify to this, as a cow, for instance, infected with parasites looks thin and unhealthy irrespective of what it eats. There is no better way to describe the relationship between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Kogi state, than to term it a parasitic one, and I am sure that this is one situation that all Nigerians can relate to, irrespective of what state they are from.

I remember that as a teenager, I always looked forward to visiting my home state and meeting with family. Back then, there was always something different to look forward to – a newly paved road, pipe-borne water, a new school, the list was endless; I’m not so enthusiastic anymore as this state has been visited by a plague of inefficient leaders for the past 12 years. I recall having a discussion with my father (may Allah grant him Jannah) in 2003 about the electioneering process. I had seen a lot of development occur between 1999 and that period and I wondered why the governor at the time, Prince Abubakar Audu, had not been re-elected. The response he gave me then, reminds me now of a talk on “vested interests” delivered by the former CBN governor (and now Emir of Kano), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi at TEDx. My father was not exactly a politician, but he was a community mobiliser whom people listened to, and I asked him after he was done speaking, if he was certain that the decision made by these vested interests would not have terrible consequences on the state. The past twelve years have done nothing but confirm my fears.

The first person these interests installed was the PDP’s Ibrahim Idris – a furniture-maker with no prior experience in governance who had been called upon by these forces to manage the affairs of the state. Unprepared, he took over the reins of leadership and his 8 years in office did nothing to better equip him for the job. The achievements recorded during Audu’s tenure began to decay, but even then, the people had seen nothing yet. In 2011, he, in turn, installed Captain Idris Wada, someone who was equally unready to pilot the affairs of the state.

During these 12 years, Kogi went from having students on a foreign exchange programme to cancelling the payment of WAEC fees. During this period, infrastructure put in place by Audu’s ANPP government decayed, and virtually nothing was done to build upon his achievements. We went from having a leader who used his vast network to attract investments and create jobs, to a new set of leaders who had no idea what job creation entailed, and the people suffered as a result. Now, most of our youths are okada riders and fuel attendants, irrespective of what level of education they have attained.

The PDP has proven that they do not have a plan for the state. They have enthroned leader after leader without the drive or zeal to serve and many even consider Wada’s return as the party’s candidate as an insult to the people. This is a man who not only seems to have no clue about how to manage the state’s resources, but has been found wanting on several occasions. One of such occasions was when his convoy hit and killed a professor; this, to many, showed that not only was he reckless with administration, he had no regard for the people too.

Twelve years of PDP in Kogi State have brought nothing other than thuggery, unemployment, a breakdown in security and law enforcement, and a chronic mismanagement of funds – for this is the only likely reason for the state being unable to pay salaries and for the confusing decision to cancel the payment of WAEC fees for secondary school students. In fact, the latter proves, beyond any doubt, that the PDP and its set of leaders are not concerned about the future of the next generation of Kogites. While the rest of the country struggle to improve education and ensure that more Nigerians excel academically, Kogi state decides to stop funding WAEC exams.

Under the PDP’s watch, human capital has been grossly underdeveloped, infrastructure is rapidly decaying and no meaningful policies have been enacted to improve the situation of the state. Elections are just around the corner and one can only hope that people make the right choice and wake Kogi from this coma induced by bad leadership.

 

The writer, Ahmed Rufai Isah is on twitter @Sir_Ruffy.

 

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#KogiDecides: Abubakar Audu and the Campaign of Calumny, By Ahmed Rufai Isah

Few days back, I read an article that was dedicated to attacking the person of Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC flag bearer in the coming elections in Kogi State. I thought of writing a rejoinder immediately but decided against it. Why write a rejoinder when I can write a different article, to enlighten people and dispel the falsehood that many deliberately fabricate against Abubakar Audu? Before the APC primaries and after it, many of such articles aimed deliberately at misinforming the public got enough credence on social media. I finally decided to put pen to paper because the incessant attacks have clearly gotten out of hand, and all it takes for falsehood to prevail over truth is silence.

Prince Abubakar Audu was born in on 27 October 1947, to the family of his Royal Highness, the late Pa Audu Oyidi, Orego Atta of Igala Land and the paramount ruler of Ogbonicha-Alloma in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State. His impressive educational career saw him travel to London, where he studied banking and personnel management. Subsequently, the young Prince delved into administration and the history of his administrative career marked him out as an astute and efficient administrator. For about 25 years, he held different high ranking positions in different financial institutions, where he left his indelible blueprint of excellence. This excellence was to take him to the position of commissioner for finance and economic planning in 1986 in the old Benue state.

He later emerged as the first democratically elected governor of Kogi State and although he was governor for about a year before General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the elections, his full test as an administrator came between 1999 and 2003, after the return of democratic governance.

When he was elected governor of Kogi State in 1999, Nigeria’s experience with democracy was still at infancy. That notwithstanding, when Abubakar Audu came in as governor what he achieved is still unmatched in Kogi state till date. His four years as governor saw Kogi come to life; the first task he embarked upon was to improve the state of intra-state roads. Everyone who knew Kogi then would know how difficult it was to connect Kogi East, West and Central. The only road was the one through Okene which was in very bad shape. Audu Abubakar saw to the construction what is today known as the Ganaja road, which connects Kogi East and Kogi Central. He also saw to it that the previous roads that were in bad shape were all upgraded. This step improved by almost 60%, the state of business among the people of the state.

Furthermore, Abubakar Audu turned his attention to a sector that needed urgent attention. The educational sector at that time was on its knees, as primary and secondary education was so poor to the extent that students could not communicate in proper English. A relative of mine who visited us after her Senior Secondary School Examination couldn’t communicate in English. Those who had the means to, sent their kids to other states to acquire education. By the end of Audu’s four year term, new primary schools and secondary schools had emerged in almost all the communities in the state. Schools that were in bad shape were renovated, with new blocks of equipped classrooms constructed. He also established the Kogi State University, bringing higher education to the doorstep of the indigenes. The institution was, at that time, ranked amongst the best new universities in Nigeria.

As a result of all these and many more of his commendable initiatives, Kogi State opened up to new businesses, more employment opportunities for young people, growth for small scale businesses, and became a destination for investors. It is important to mention that Abubakar Audu’s business connections help secured one of the largest investment in the history of the state – the Dangote cement factory. The siting of the cement factory in the state did not only create jobs for young people, but also helped in further developing host communities and satisfying consumer needs.

On infrastructure, Abubakar Audu also established three different housing schemes for public officers consisting of over 1,500 housing units in Lokoja, and successfully transformed the Lokoja township with asphalt roads, street lights, aesthetic roundabouts, and the construction of inter-township and rural roads, with over 75 electrification schemes and 50 water projects.

To add to his long list of achievements, he ordered the construction of a new stadium, saw to the establishment of Kogi United Football Club, oversaw the completion of the famous Confluence Hotel, established the Kogi State Polytechnic, then television and radio stations (both AM and FM), and a state newspaper.

In spite of all these, many have resorted to attacking his person and rubbishing his achievements. In recent times, many of such people have taken to social media to carry out their despicable campaign of calumny against Prince Abubakar Audu. As data from the last general elections suggest, more young people have abandoned political apathy and have increasingly become politically enlightened. Thus, many of such people intend to poison the minds of young Kogi indigenes to score political points.

Hence, they have tagged Audu Abubakar alongside Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada as incompetent administrators. This is not only fallacious, it is also alarming. Anyone who has followed the political development of Kogi State closely without the intention to misinform the public, would agree that it is the two other governors who have entrenched mediocrity in the state. In their twelve years of failure, infrastructural facilities have continued to decay, the standard of education has nosedived, healthcare facilities have suffered from lack of care and unemployment has greatly increased.

To drive home the point, many have resorted to describing the state as a failed state. Recently, a friend described Wada as a governor who lacks vision and celebrates paying salaries as achievements. Unfortunately, even at that, he fails as Kogi is among the twenty four states owing salaries. It was these same governors who started the marginalisation of students from other parts of the state, especially students from Kogi West.

Abubakar Audu is a man who loves education. The truth to this is there to be seen by all. It was during his time as governor that the first university was established, alongside a polytechnic and primary and secondary schools witnessed tremendous improvement and during his tenure, there were no complaints about marginalization.

I write this because it is only fair to correct the impression people have of him. Many people who don’t even know the man personally have called him arrogant, vindictive and pompous, but it clear that this can all be attributed to the negative press he has suffered. Most who sell this name-calling narrative to the public are his political opponents and people who have no regard for laid down rules, and they continue to do so simply because they have no achievements to campaign with.

The truth must be told and this narrative must change. The PDP and their goons on social media continue with this campaign of calumny but just as they proved to have no plans or intentions of developing Nigeria while in charge of our nation’s resources, the PDP leaders in Kogi have also proven that they are clueless as to how to develop the state. It is imperative that the people of Kogi State key in to this message of change, and elect the leader who has displayed the zeal and commitment required to restore Kogi to its rightful place.       

That Prince Audu means well for Kogi is not in dispute, and as his previous tenures show, he has what it takes to do right by the people too. His allegiance is to the good people of Kogi state, and no amount of falsehood being peddled about him can wipe his achievements off the pages of history. It is important to seek facts and tell the truth, because only then can honour and dignity be maintained.

 

The writer, Ahmed-Rufai, tweets via @sir_ruffy

 

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Kogi Election: Jibrin Isah Echocho Declaration Speech

In the past four years Governor Idris Wada has been governing our state but come November 21st November, 2015 a fresh election for the office of Governor would be conducted as our constitution demands.
I want to be the recipient of the baton. This is not a decision I take lightly, but one that I arrived at after a careful and persistent consideration as well as the need for a servant leader who places people over politics and service above all else. I took the decision to run for governor of our state in 2015 under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after a great deal of thought. I consulted widely with my family, friends and close political associates in Kogi state and nationwide.

In April this year, I started a state-wide public consultation with leaders and major stakeholders in our party and state including traditional rulers, political pressure groups, youths and women groups across the state. Since then I have visited the 21 local government areas of the state, meeting leaders and the rank and file of the party at the grass roots, the heart and soul of the PDP without whom we cannot achieve victory. After many weeks of consultations, what began as a thought has now become a course of action, which I wish to pursue. And today I will step out to purchase the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for the gubernatorial primary election.

I am running for governor because I believe I can add value to the governance of a state I love so much. My love for the State and it’s people knows no limit. I love the diversity, the can-do spirit, the communal life of neighbour-helping-neighbour of the people; and I believe in what Kogi state can be. And my passion to serve compels me once again to stand for what is right for all Kogites, to make Kogi state what it can be. I offer myself as a Kogite who is concerned about the widespread unemployment that is destroying the very fabric of our society.

During the course of my consultation, I met with and heard from tens of thousands of fellow Kogites from across the three senatorial districts about how we can continue to build the Kogi state of our dream, with jobs and opportunities for every resident in every community. What I have heard over and over is that it doesn’t matter to the majority of our people where the person who provides these jobs and opportunities come from or the language he or she speaks. What matters to them is that there should be jobs and business opportunities for all.

Kogi State is blessed with abundant human and natural resources; such as solid minerals,vast farm lands, vast water resources, intelligent, hard working and talented people. For all of our state’s wealth, there should be no suffering in the land.
But I bet that in every family there is a loved one who has no job, many for years after graduation. And there are some others who are underemployed. I hear of university graduates who are working with school certificate because these are the jobs they could get. Others are riding okada and keke to offer transport services just to make ends meet and hold their lives together. It doesn’t have to be so.

Like most Kogites, I dream of a Kogi state where those who want to work will find appropriate jobs and those who want to set up businesses can do so without bothering about the infrastructure that will enable them to succeed. I dream of a Kogi state where our youths can look at us with hope and we see them as worthy future leaders. I dream of a Kogi state where our tomorrow will always be better than yesterday. I dream of a Kogi state where, where you come from and the languages you speak do not matter. I dream of a Kogi state where the interest of all is paramount and not those of the few. I dream of a Kogi state where you do not have to know a big man before you get what you deserve. I dream of a Kogi state of equal opportunity and no discrimination.
I believe that, through collaborative and inclusive efforts and participatory governance, all Kogites, working together as a statewide team can make this dream a reality in our life time.

The challenges we face going forward are enormous. We all know these challenges because we face them every day in our daily lives. Unemployment, general insecurity, corruption, rising food prices, housing shortage, broken marriages are some of the challenges we must overcome. They are formidable. But I am prepared for them. I believe that job creation holds the key to overcoming all these challenges. If we can tackle the problem of unemployment, all other problems, whether it is robbery, kidnapping, communal conflicts, broken marriages, prostitution etc, will be drastically reduced to the barest minimum because none of us is born bad.
It would have been criminal of me to look the other way when I know I can do something about these problems. That is why today I am asking my fellow Kogites to allow me to serve as governor for the next four years.

My earned experience as an investment Banker for 25years along with my firm grounding in our community give me a unique understanding of the critical issues of our time. I know how government works. I also know how the private sector works. I am ready for the challenge of building the Kogi of our dream.

I have an agenda for the next four years to meet the hopes and aspirations of our people. If the good people of Kogi state give me the privileged opportunity to be Governor, I shall implement a pan Kogi agenda that offer viable solutions that specially reflect the views and wishes of all Kogites rather than those of special interests. I will focus on job creation like a laser beam. These would not be public sector jobs but jobs that will be created mainly by the private sector, with government creating the enabling environment.

I believe that by building a strong and stable economy, a strong and secured society, a cleaner environment and changing our politics, the four point agenda christened as the four pillars of the House of Kogi of our dream, we can create the jobs we so badly need to strengthen our families and revitalise our communities.

Our dependence on the Federal allocation which has crude oil as the main source of revenue not only exposes our economy to foreseeable shocks, it endangers our security because unemployment is presently our greatest security risk. The petrol dollar made us to unwisely ignore every other sector particularly agriculture with its huge job creation potential, thereby robbing us of a source of massive employment for our teeming youths.

By acting decisively to restructure the economy of our state through massive investment in agriculture and rural economies, modernising and expanding our infrastructure including affordable housing, promoting tourism, entertainment and sports, assisting existing and moribund industries and encouraging new ones to set up agro-based industries, we can jump start job creation and achieve greater, more sustainable economic prosperity.

As we recreate our economy, it is also imperative that we secure and strengthen our society and protect the environment, and by so doing create the enabling environment to attract local and foreign investment.
Residents and visitors deserve to live in peace and safety, free from harassment, intimidation, vandalism and fear at home or on the streets of Kogi State.

We can transform our State and strengthen our society by providing better schools and better hospitals for our people. We believe that education and health care should be affordable, accessible and qualitative. I will work to deliver improvements in quality and capacity in our health care and educational sectors.

I believe in our youths. They are worthy future leaders. We must give them genuine hope that the future can be better. As Governor, I will create the necessary environment for the full realisation of their immense innate endowments in entrepreneurship, sports, entertainment or as part of the working class.

In recognition of the silent roles women play in our society as the solid rock of families, I will work tirelessly to enhance women’s rights, insist on 35 percent of women representation in our government and give them the responsibility for all development schemes relating to women affairs. We will up-grade and expand markets across the State because they are the traditional strongholds for women.

We will make our environment cleaner by embarking on a comprehensive urban renewal and regeneration programme to redress urban problems that include poor sanitation, inadequate transportation and traffic congestion.

This necessary transformation of our economy and society and protecting of the environment require new approaches and ways of doing things. We must change our politics and restore faith in government. I am committed to the principles of accountability, transparency, social justice, sustainability and inclusivity – of the whole of Kogi state and it’s entire people. These principles will drive our programme of action for the next four years.

Also in the drive to transform, we need strong institutions, as against powerful individuals. As Governor, I will work to strengthen the institutions of government through an agenda of rejuvenation. The civil service and local government administration in particular will be strengthened and empowered for better, effective and efficient service delivery.

As the next Governor Kogi state, I won’t kick the can down the road. I will confront every challenge that come our way because I understand the urgent need to diversify our economy, secure and strengthen our society and protect the environment to help create sustained economic growth and new jobs for our people. Doing all these will not be easy. But I believe it is do able. That is why I have decided to join the race to seek the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The current Governor and a few others are in the race. We are all qualified. We are all good men and women who mean well for our state. But I can do a better job of transforming our state and taking it to the next level of development. I need the support of everyone in the party to make this happen. Support me in the primaries because my candidacy will ensure easy victory for our party in the governorship election and thereafter, transform our state to the level thought impossible and through this living example make the opposition completely irrelevant in Kogi State.

I am ready to take up the unfinished business of building a Kogi state of our dream which began in 2011 and make Kogi state greater.
So join me. Together, we can make the new Kogi possible.

God bless Kogi State and God bless Nigeria.

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Kogi Gov Race: Isah Kutepa Joins Race in APC

Ahead of Kogi State gubernatorial election slated for October, 2015, a former Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party and a billionaire businessman, Isah Kutepa has joined the race for Lugard House on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.

Sources from the National Headquarters of the All Progressives Congress in Abuja which was exclusively obtained shows that the businessman who was a frontline governorship contestant on PDP’s flag in 2011 has formally registered with the All Progressives Congress, at Ward ‘C’, Yeshin Polling unit in the Kogi Central Senatorial District, Lokoja with membership number 459, registration number 03007619.

Further enquiry reveals that he was one of those behind the strategies that led to the victory of the APC against the ruling party in the state.

On his gubernatorial ambition, a young man who spoke under anonymity noted that the businessman cum politician just did his registration, but he has been supporting the party in a manner that puts him at a vantage position to go for any political office of his choice, “the former gubernatorial aspirant on PDP platform has been supporting the party, besides, he financed the party in the last general election and people tend to say look, why don’t you aspire for governorship of Kogi state on APC, and I think that is what convinced him now”, he submitted.

It would be recalled that he commanded large followership in the last elections that brought governor Idris Wada into office save for the power of incumbency even as the former governor, Ibrahim Idris was supporting the candidature of Idris Wada.

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