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

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Aisha Buhari’s Value And The Cardless Cabals, By Yahaya Mohammed

If president Buhari was an amiable candidate in the 2015 electioneering campaign, the appearance of Aisha Buhari made him more salable and cosmopolitan, urbane and most of all a very social and secular person. Her appearance on the campaign trail brought a balance to his hitherto autocratic, religious bigoted personae.

The appearance on stage of Aisha, Buhari’s wife brought the whole nation to the comparison table, arguing and comparing her with patient Jonathan.

On the whole Aisha added a whole lot of value to the Buhari team, she spoke to the women, she balanced the Buhari dictatorial equation, in fact, president Buhari used her for campaigns, he said he will only have her as wife of the president as against the vivacious Patient Jonathan who was everywhere and overbearing to a fault as a first lady.

Aisha really added value, she gave the Buhari movement a spark, a shine and to crown it all she gave the patient Jonathan team a good run for their money.

Imaging if Aisha Buhari had not appeared on the Buhari campaign trail in 2015, the more secular southern voters would have used that to call Buhari a Shekau or something close to that, a man who hides women in the closet and deprive them their right to aspire and become great.

But Aisha like other Nigerians must have been made some promises before embarking on such a trip of campaign, Aisha left nothing to chance, she went to the nook and crannies of Nigeria convinced not just women but some men too, only for her to be relegated to “the living room, kitchen and the other room”while those without even voters card now run the show, they not only manage the entire house but have decided to shut out those who worked hard to build the house.

Aisha is not alone in this dilemma, about fifteen million Nigerians and the several other millions are all in her shoes. They are buying fuel at a more expensive rate than they were promised, they find it difficult to feed a day, jobs are getting out of their hands and every other day is becoming more difficult for them than the previous day, yet nowhere to go and complain because the cardless cabals have shut the doors they didn’t open nor helped to open.

Substitute Aisha with any of the so called “cabal members” and then compare the votes Buhari defeated Jonathan and let us see if Buhari would have emerged the winner.
The value addition of Aisha Buhari to the Vote was far above 5 million, while the defeated candidate Jonathan lost by a mere 2.57 million votes.

This only shows one thing that Aisha Buhari added more value than those who had no voters card.

Yahaya Mohammed,
Twitter: @boyemdee

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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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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 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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IG Ibrahim K. Idris: Why They Hate Him So Much, He Fights Corruption They Love It, By Yahaya Mohammed 

The commissioned campaign to bring the inspector general of police Ibrahim K. Idris down is daily becoming clearer, after reading the report filed by an online newspaper, it begs the question if some of us journalists and public commentators truly wish this country well.

It beats ones imagination that a medium that prides itself as a veritable and outstanding news media could descend as low as reporting on the place where ones family resides. It was reported in the hatchet job that Ibrahim K. Idris has a family in the USA. No doubt Nigerians do not care if the officer’s family lives in heaven or hell, but we care a lot whether the officer is really doing the work for which he is paid to do,

For the avoidance of doubt and for posterity, IG Ibrahim K. Idris is one hell of an officer whom one be rest assured of excellence when it comes to the discharge of his duties as a police officer, as against the the trivial reportage of trying portray him as a coward who hid himself when the Boko Haram insurgents attacked the Kano police headquarters when he was Commisioner of police in Kano.

He, Ibrahim K. Idris  got into combat mood, immediately took over an assault gun and led the operation to dislodge the insurgents, this singular act motivated his ever ready officers to fight harder and  immediately took back control  of the situation, and this is not the first time he is doing this, he did same even in East Timor as a United Nations envoy which earned him the United Nations medal of merit

Excerpt from a message to him on his emergence as inspector General:

“Coming first among several others is noteworthy, commendable and an indication of the bravery and excellent stuff you are made of, add that to your UN medal of merit won in East Timor, and we would have nothing to say than we are proud of you”

Ibrahim K. Idris is the first inspector general of the police force to have ever journeyed into the creeks of the Niger delta with a a strategy to curb the insecurity and return peace and orderliness to the region, he also visited the hot beds of Lagos and other volatile locations across the country.

Aside being a brave officer, of all the officers shortlisted for the position of inspector General of the police force at the verge of retirement of his predecessor, Ibrahim K. Idris was the most corrupt-free officer, a man who has held several positions in the service, owns only a very modest house in Minna  his state capital and a mortgage funded house he purchased in Abuja and still paying through the police cooperative society is a symbol of the  anti- corruption fight of this administration. While his mates own properties across Nigeria and beyond with a very fat bank account to go with Ibrahim K. Idris after a forensic audit of their bank account came first as the officer with the least amount in his account.

This is why the baseless allegation of auction of 30 vehicles is nothing but an attempt at pouring red oil on a Snow White cloth, my investigation into the issue has clearly showed that the author of the write up doesn’t know the police auction procedure, that is if anything were to be auctioned at all, the question is an officer who still uses the car bequeathed to him by his predecessor, why will he auction 30 cars to himself and to use them for what?

Allegations in our society are very easy and the “bring him Down syndrome” is everywhere in our society but in this case the allegation can’t fly, it falls flat on its face and certainly with the incorruptible and no-nonsense inspector general of police this allegation will be buried where if fell.

As a police officer who rose through the ranks, IG Ibrahim Idris should have cause to have worked with several officers but to attach him to one single officer especially a lady is to be unfair to a family man of his status, though that is the price one pays when he decides to serve his nation, especially with integrity and honor, this in my candid opinion should not deter him and should not make him soft pedal on his stance to weed the force of corrupt officers. With Ibrahim k. Idris I know the weeding has just started.

The hatchet Job commissioned and bankrolled by officers and men who made stupendous wealth from the police force but feel aggrieved over their retirement for corruption related cases is becoming clear by the day, while all the meetings held in Lagos and other parts of the country is handy and at the right time the world will see them for whom they are, I urge the new Inspector General to remain focused.

It is my belief that every officer ever appointed inspector General should clear the way for the smooth running of the organization and in so doing all those who are corrupt and superior to the officer so appointed should be retired, this is the precedence in a regimented organization like the police force and this is the same thing that happened at the emergence of the current inspector General of Nigeria police force Ibrahim K. Idris.
And that is why they hate him so much.

The Nigeria we are envisaging in the nearest future cannot and will not in any way accommodate or cover up officers who become billionaires through a corrupted system, it must also fight corruption in the police force by weeding out corrupt officers but we have seen how corruption fights back through all means, I am very positive with new inspector general of police that fight will sure be won fair and square.

Yahaya Mohammed
Journalist/public commentator.

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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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Governor Yahaya Bello Was Not Stoned At Jummat Mosque – Aide

Kogi state government has denied report that tghe state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello was stoned at the mosque on Friday.
There were reports that the governor at the Friday Mosque were prayers marking the 25th anniversary of the state were offered was stoned by some angry youth.
But the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Kingsley Fanwo in a press statement, Friday said the governor was not attacked.

According to him, “It was discovered that some sponsored miscreants caused a mild drama as they were caught with stones while one of them attacked one of the security aides attached to the Government House shortly after the Governor departed the area.”

He said “the gallant market women at the Lokoja Old Market accosted the perpetrators and stopped them from absconding from the scene in solidarity with the Governor.”

“The Governor wishes to thank the market women and security agencies, who rose to the occasion to protect lives and property at the scene of the unfortunate incident. No life was lost and no serious injury was recorded.”
“We can also confirm that arrests have been made and those arrested are already giving useful information to security agents investigating the politically motivated attack at the Mosque.”
“Governor Yahaya Bello has also urged his supporters to remain calm and not take the law into their hands as he remained committed to the cardinal ideals of his administration. Imported and sponsored miscreants, who have infiltrated the state from neighbouring states should know that Kogi is prepared to protect her citizens from desperate politicians who think they can turn the state to a war zone. The people of Kogi will be protected.”
“We are not unaware of scheming by change resistors to sponsor attacks against government officials. The staff verification exercise has come to stay because it has exposed powerful forces, who have been milking the state dry. Sponsoring attacks against the Governor will not stop our march to restore sanity to the polity.”
“The administration of Governor Yahaya Bello will soon publish the names of corrupt citizens of the state who are behind the Ghost Workers syndrome.”
“Governor Yahaya Bello thanks the people of the state for standing resolutely behind his administration to restore the lost glory of the state.”
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X–raying The “Dissenting judgment/opinion” In The Case of Idris Wada & Others Vs. Yahaya Bello & Others, By Shadrach Omeiza

Another legal conundrum was thrown into the sphere of already settled position of law in the case of Idris Wada & Other Vs. Alhaji Yahaya Bello & Others when Hon. Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya  curiously passed his “dissenting judgment” on the 4th August, 2016 at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, not minding the unanimous judgment of the remaining four Justices.

The dissenting opinion of the Judge in the twinkling of an eye “annulled” the governorship election of Kogi State and unceremoniously ordered a new election within 90 days after his opinion. This is based on singular reason that, Alhaji Yahaya Bello (the second Respondent) did not “fully participate in all the stages of the said election,” relying on Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2010 while resolving a monotonous issue of“Whether the Honourable Tribunal was right in holding that the 1st Respondent who did not participate in all the elections and in all stages of the election was duly returned as the candidate who secured majority of lawful votes casts in the election.”

With absolute due respect to the Honourable Justice, this is the most per incuriam judicial opinion ever formulated in the recent time. The dissenting opinion is smacked with needless academic exercise devoid of judicial depth and sound legal reasoning and application.

Before going further, it is pertinent to know that, a “dissenting opinion” according to Black’s Law Dictionary, is “An opinion by one or more or more judges who disagree with the decision reached by the majority.” A dissenting opinion is a minority opinion that does not form the judgment of the Court reached by the majority opinion.

In an attempt to x –ray the dissenting opinion of Justice Obande, the following issues which probably escaped the grasp and understanding of His Lordship will be canvassed:

  1. What is the proper context of section 141 of the Electoral Act considering the provision that, “An election Tribunal or Court shall not under any circumstance declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all the stages of the said election.”
  2. Whether or not there was more than one election in Kogi State having stated by the Honourable Justice that, “…the first Respondent was not a candidate in the election conducted on 21stNovember, 2015” without faulting the election held on the 5th December, 2015 which he accepted as a valid election with Alhaji Yahaya Bello as a rightful candidate.

On issue 1:

What is the proper context of section 141 of the Electoral Act considering the provision that, “An election Tribunal or Court shall not under any circumstance declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all the stages of the said election.” 

To understand this provision of the law entails the proper meaning of the following:

  1. Election
  2. Any person
  3. Fully participated and
  4. All stages of the said election.
  1. Election:

“It is trite law that the concept of “election” denotes a process constituting accreditation, voting, collation, recording on all relevant INEC Forms and declaration of results. The collation of all results of the polling units making up wards and the declaration of results are therefore constituent elements of an election known to law.” (see, Ogunbiyi, JCA in INEC &Ors Vs. Onyimbah E.C Ray & Ors.(2004) 14 NWLR PT 892, 92 at 123).

Also, Edozie, JSC in Chief Chukwuemeka O. Ojukwu  Vs. Chief OlusegunObasanjo & Ors (19 NSCQR 90 at 139 -140), held that, “I am of the view, that the word “election” in the context in which it is used in Section 137(1)(b) of the Constitution means the process of choosing by popular votes a candidate for a political office in a democratic system of government.”

  1. Any Person:

According to Section 8 of the Interpretation Act, “person” includes any body of persons corporate or unincorporated. By the virtue of this definition, a Political Party being a corporate legal entity is classified as a person.

  1. Fully Participated:

The law does not give what “full participation” in the said election entails. However, the concept of full participation in an election process is hinge on the primaries elections and eventual emergence of a candidate.

  1. All Stages of the said Election:

In the dissenting judgment page 10 -11, Justice Obande while buttressing the concept of “all stages of the said election” made reference to per M.D Muhammad JSC in the case of Yar’adua Vs. Yandoma (2015) 4 NWLR PT. 1448 at 177. He quoted the JSC thus:

“…an election is a long drawn out process with distinct stages ending in the declaration of a winner by the returning officer. It entails one’s membership of a political party, his indication of desire to be party’s candidate at the election, primaries for nomination of the party’s candidate, presentation of the party’s candidate to INEC, the event of the election, return of successful candidate at the election after declaration of scores and ends with the issuance of certificate of return to the successful candidate (underlining mine).”

It therefore follows that, the contextual import of section 141 of the Electoral Act contemplates the party and the candidate full participation in an election and all the stages in the said election have more to do with candidate in alignment with his or her political party, which of course Governor Yahaya Bello fulfilled. At this point, both the party and the candidate are inseparable. It thus follows that Governor Yahaya Bello fully participated in all the stages of the said election. The decision of the celebrated case of Amaechi supports this position. Therefore,Saying oth erwise is to give a different interpretation to the provision of the law which the Honourable Justice did in this case by his dissenting judgment.

Issue 2:

Whether or not there was more than one election in Kogi State having stated by the Honourable Justice that, “…the first Respondent was not a candidate in the election conducted on 21st November, 2015” without faulting the election held on the 5th December, 2015 which he accepted as a valid election with Alhaji Yahaya Bello as a rightful candidate.

In page 10 of the dissenting judgment, Honourable Justice O bande intoned that:

“Indisputably, the feuding parties are ad idem on the fact that the first Respondent was not a candidate in the election conducted on 21st November, 2015. In other words, it is axiomatic that he did not participate in it…….” This clearly shows that His Lordship predicated his dissenting judgment on the inconclusive election of 21st November, 2015. This is having agreed that AlhajiYahaya Bello was rightly and legally substituted and upholding the supplementary election of 5th December, 2015.

To all intents and purposes the 21st November inconclusive election was wrongly used as a premise for the dissenting judgment. The only election known to law in the proper sense of it is the 5th December, 2015 election.  His Lordship obviously turned blind eyes to this sacrosanct truth and thus commits a wanton judicial transgression that smells to high heavens.

 

In page 3 of the dissenting judgment, His Lordship labored to introduce the concept of an independent candidate; a concept diametrically opposed to the provisions of the Electoral Act and rudely violates every known judicial precedent. This he did when he opined that:

“At the end of the supplementary election, INEC added the votes garnered by the demised Prince Abubakar Audu in the election held on 21st November, 2015 to those earned by the first respondent and declared him the winner of the gubernatorial election of Kogi State.”

 

His Lordship unceremoniously closed his eyes to the plethora of judicial precedents that established the right of a political party to canvass and own votes cast and not the candidate and the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Agbaje Vs. Ambode (2016) 4NWLR PT. 1501 at 166 which held that no individual candidate can contest an election without its political party and votes cast thereat belong to the party.

 

His Lordship religiously used a key word “Shall” in the provision of section 141 of Electoral Act to passed his dissenting judgment because in his view “The word “shall” is deployed in the provision, which in the eyes of law signifies command on the court.” He quoted Ugba Vs. Suswan to support his position. With due respect, His Lordship erred because the word “shall” may not be construed as being mandatory, but being directory. It all depends on the context in which it is used. See, Obadina JCA in Kamba Vs. Bawa (2005) 4 NWLR PT. 914, 43 at 72.

Moreover, if we are to agree without conceding to His Lordship interpretation of Section 141 of the Electoral Act, that “any person” includes the Respondents, with due respect, His Lordship stumbled in his dissenting judgment by not considering the salient position of the law that such “any person” must pray or seek to be declared a winner in the said election. The Court as it were is not a Father Christmas but his Lordship appeared to be a Father Christmas in his dissenting judgment.

In fact, the right decision in tandem with the provision of section 141 of the Electoral Act is to declare or not to declare “any person” a winner and not to “annul the said election.” This is in line with the setting aside of the consequential order made by the Supreme Court in the case of JEV & ANOR v. IYORTOM & ORS (2015) LPELR-24420(SC). For all it worth, Honourable Justice Oban deFestus Ogbuinya’s dissenting judgment left much to be desired.

As the appeal go before the Supreme Court, we can predict with an accurate precision of an eagle that such dissenting judgment will be frown at and hastily thrown into the dustbin of forgetfulness and uphold the judgment of the majority of the panel of justices of the Court of Appeal.

Barr. Shadrach Omeiza, E.

 

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Yahaya Bello: An Epitome Of Transparency, By Kingsley Fanwo

In the many years of my journalism practice, I hold on to the natural opium of justice by fairness. Even the holy books enjoin us to dig into the truth and hold it tenaciously. Therefore, when journalism came up with the theory of balanced reportage, it is only aligning with a universal principle of justice and fairness to all.

I was recently at a gathering where an old man feted us with a riddle with dangling probabilities: If a mad man beats you, would you retaliate? Some said they wouldn’t, so as not to be tagged insane too. Some said they would hit back at the mad man to enliven the consciousness of pain in him. To me, both are correct and wisdom-fat.

Since the inception of the present administration, transparency and accountability have been the bulwark of its bond of trust with the people of the State. For the first time in the history of Kogi State , government came public on her bank accounts and graphic records of income and expenditure. Not out of compulsion but because of her belief in doing what is right.

Governor Yahaya Bello has put in place mechanism for stringent financial management by government to make the people the biggest beneficiaries of government policies. That is why when some insignificant characters tell some lies as faceless as they are, government officials wave it off.

For instance, it is laughable and ludicrous for these faceless characters to insinuate that the present administration collected N18 billion naira as allocations for 6 months whereas, the actual amount that came to the State in that duration was N13, 118, 150, 265.78. Their arithmetic fallacies show they are striving to squeeze truth from falsehood. Which is just ludicrous. Those who seek accountability must as a matter of principle come to the table with verifiable information and facts. Failing to do this renders the exercise carried out as an insult to the intelligence of rational thinkers and people of conscience.

It is also laughable to claim that N20 million is being deducted from the account of each Local Government Area every month and submitted to the office of the Chief of Staff to the Governor. In their confusion, the political desperados failed to tell the world that government has paid six months salaries within six months. The Local Government Councils in the State has accounting officers. The Chief of Staff to the Governor is not one.

Immediately Governor Yahaya Bello was sworn in as Governor, one of his first actions was the abolition of obnoxious deductions from the accounts of Local Government Councils. Local Government Councils now enjoy financial autonomy. The vehicles bought by the Council Administrators were on hire purchase, to be defrayed over a period of time. The idea was to ensure it does not take heavy toll on the finances of the Local Councils. There is no room for fraud under Governor Yahaya Bello.

With the dwindling allocations, it has become increasingly difficult for many states to pay salaries. The success of the present administration in securing the bailout fund is an indication of its compliance to due process and the mechanism for transparency.

If the blatant falsehood of the peddlers , it was quoted that contracts were awarded without due process and that the Agasa road project was virtually non-existent. Instead of joining issues with the mercenaries, it is normal to pity their brave ignorance and a badly executed campaign.

Every contract awarded in Kogi State since January 27, 2016 through due process. On the Agasa road, our evaluators have assessed the level of job done and discovered that the contractor has done more work than the funds released.

The lack of facts on the part of the hatchet jobbers also became manifest when they reversed their “no job” claims to “why we pay contractors when we are in court”. We cannot deprive contractors of their legitimate pay just because the Governor is facing tribunal cases. Case or no case, the people of our dear State deserve good roads.

The figures being bandied about concerning a certain account of Government House Admin are reflective of the degenerative state of those behind the allegations.

WHY THE FEROCIOUS LIES?

Those making these allegations failed to veil up their insipid intent by exposing their satanic desires. Political exigencies have made it unavoidably necessary they dance naked in the market place by exposing their ignorance.

The intent of the writer is to blackmail the judiciary and justify their ceaseless attack on the temple of justice for standing on what is just.

Like in the trend in the week dovetailing to the judgement at the lower tribunal, the desperate interests are trying to blackmail the judiciary. Who told them judiciary could be bought Those who are trying to change the change have forgotten that we are no more in the Dasuki era when government money became a bazaar. In the era of change under our dynamic anti-graft President, accountability is the hallmark.

We need to ask the detractors how they came to their weird conclusion that Governor Bello is trying to buy the judgement of the Appeal Court. One wonders whether their own attempts at buying justice rebuffed by the judiciary. If this be the case, they should understand that this is not because favorable judgment goes to the highest bidder but simply because our judiciary has been rejuvenated and repositioned as the last hope of the common man. The era of procuring judgement is over. Never shall Nigeria regress back to that time when the judiciary’s hands were tied to the back by unjust and arrogant Powers.

In line with the promise of Mr. President to make the judiciary independent, the Nigerian judiciary has been the bastion of hope for the common man and the defender of our democracy. They cannot be blackmailed into deciding against the rule of law.

Let me also say here that for some hitherto respected Blog sites to annihilate investigative journalism by reporting falsehood is pitiable. We imagine how much people are losing their credibility to the need to defend people who are doing everything to extend their political fiefdoms. What we have for them is pity.

The people of Agasa and other towns and cities know what projects are going on in their places. They laugh when they read some people are writing that such projects are non-existent, they laugh at how people have lost their sense of decency to commercial journalism. They laugh at how deep people can go to make a nylon sink!

It is no more news that the PDP misgoverned this state. They ruled without ideas. They ruled with the sole intent of promoting kleptomania. They ruled without direction. It was no surprise that Governor Yahaya Bello defeated Wada even in his Local Government Area during the supplementary poll. That is the level of rejection, not necessarily of Wada, but the party that drained our nation. We can never go back to those dark days of government irresponsibility.

The streets of Lokoja are waiting for the judgement. The Governor has goodwill on his part despite the politically motivated attacks on his person by people who messed up the system he is now trying to remould into his New Direction agenda.

That votes belonged to political parties is no news. It has precedence. The votes cast on November 21, 2015 belong to the All Progressives Congress. And since election was not concluded as at the time Prince Abubakar Audu died, Faleke was not known to law as a candidate.

The sound judgement by the lower tribunal has no doubt, jolted opponents of the Governor. The fear of losing at the Appellate Tribunal is causing the pedestrian approach of calling the judiciary a bad name to discredit the temple of justice ahead of the judgement.

Governor Yahaya Bello has shown great respect for the judiciary. Apart from upgrading the environment of courts in the State, he has ensured prompt payment of salaries to judiciary staff. Hunger could corrupt a mind.

Today, APC leaders across the entire North Central geo-political zone paid a courtesy call on the Governor, congratulating him for the statesmanship with which he resolved the Assembly crisis, ASUU face-off and recently, the NLC strike.

This is the story of a new Kogi under a New Direction. Faleke cannot be aspiring to rule Kogi from his Reps seat where he is representing Lagos. Aside the legal aberration, it is politically absurd and represent an insult on the people of Kogi State.

Recently ,the Governor called the opinion leaders across the state: party leaders, royal fathers, market women, economic drivers and artisans to open the account books of the State to the public.

WE ARE AHEAD OF OUR DETRACTORS.

The claim by some faceless groups as promoted by discredited blog sites that the State Government is owing six months salaries is laughable and smirks of gross misinformation. The Governor has paid salaries six times in six months.

The Lokoja township roads are wearing a new look while the previous state of insecurity inherited has been tamed with a strong political will.

I have apologized severally for the pains experienced during the staff verification exercise. It was a necessity to sanitize the system. So far, 18000 ghost workers have been discovered with a possibility to discover more. This will save the State about N16 billion naira annually!

Many investors are trooping into the State as the right environment is being created with Ajaokuta and Itakpe ready to herald the diversification revolution of the Nigerian economy. It is going to be better with unity and cooperation.

I have received many calls of raging commentators against the desperation of those who brought Kogi to her knees. We won’t go back to Egypt.

The judiciary is not on trial. What is on trial is the morality of liars.

Thanks and God bless Kogi State.

Fanwo Kingsley is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor

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Kogi State: State Of Affairs And Matters Arising By Governor Yahaya Bello

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The State Of Kogi State, By Governor Yahaya Bello

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE AT A STAKEHOLDERS INTERACTIVE SESSION HELD AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE LOKOJA

PROTOCOLS

INTRODUCTION

I welcome you all to this interactive session. It is a timeout for heart to heart talk amongst stakeholders in the Kogi New Direction Agenda. Everyone here is a leader at one level or the other in the State and while the buck stops at my table as the Governor, I choose to govern by only democratic precepts which require that consultations such as this one be frequent and frank. I called for this meeting because there is a need for us to tell ourselves some home truths.

Ordinarily, we should be slowing down for Sallah and allowing the muslim ummah to focus on their devotions and last minute preparations. However wisdom and good governance demand that we respond quickly and decisively to some recent events. I am therefore glad you could make this meeting despite the short notice. Your selfless response to this invitation is, in my opinion, a signal of your commitment to the prosperity and progress of Kogi State.

Chief among the ‘recent events’ I referred to above is the fact that our state is under attack from wicked people. Some of them are hiding in plain sight among us while others steal in from outside to wreak their havoc and vanish. Some act personally, others by proxy. In all cases, their main aim is the distortion of the actions of both the government and the governed in order to to cause mischief and disaffection. Their chief weapon has been lies and deliberate falsehoods.

We have handed them defeat after defeat and we will not stop. At the polls, they failed, some twice. At the Tribunals and courts, they failed a record 9 times in one week. In their brand of petty politics they have failed innumerable times as again and again as their stratagems collapsed. As you can all attest, ours is a divine mandate safeguarded by the Hands of the Almighty and our own iron will to contend with anyone or anything that tries to foist on us anything less than the Will of the Almighty. For as many times as they are foolhardy enough to come after us by any way or means at all, for so many times will they continue to lose with ignominy.
We have therefore summoned you today assure you that you are on the winning team and to arm you with the weapons of truth. When you leave here your questions will be answered, your worries assuaged and your capability to answer the questions of your constituents strengthened. After this speech, several key functionaries of the Administration will brief you on aspects of our governance that impinge on their portfolios and you can ask questions, any questions.

CIVIL SERVICE AND PENSION REFORMS

In my Inaugural Speech, Civil Service and Pension Reforms were a key promise. We knew the system had become very rotten and criminally bloated. The monthly wage bill was outstripping the monthly Federal allocations at a time Crude Oil dependent economies like ours were suffering from a global crash in prices. We set up the Screening Committee to tackle the menace of ghost workers, clean up the Civil Service and free up valuable funds for the business of governance.

We ensured that Labour had a front row seat in that Committee and we have treated them with the requisite respect up till now. At a point they reported problems with the first Chairman of the Committee and after we looked into their complaints, we found reasons to change him and fill his position with another candidate almost unilaterally chosen by Labour. The screening exercise is gradually winding down and I give you my words that it was worth every effort and resource we put into it.

There was no way our Civil Service would not have collapsed under the weight of the fraudulent outgoings it was overloaded with in past Administrations. It was only a matter of time before total non-payment of salaries and emoluments or the tiny part-payments which had become the norm in successive past administrations would have erupted in a massive uprising by suffering Civil Servants that would have crippled this state.

Our disappointment is that as we speak, the Labour leaders seem to have turned their backs on the spirit of camaraderie with which we started. There is supposed to be a strike ongoing in Kogi State called by the very same Labour leaders who we placed in the forefront of the screening exercise and who saw firsthand the corruption that was unearthed nearly everywhere by the exercise. I am glad to use the word, ‘supposed’, to describe the ill-fated strike because our workers turned up for work as usual while those not physically in the offices could be found at the screening centre or the participating banks putting their houses in order.

Frankly, we do not frankly understand the motivation of our labour leaders for trying to instigate an industrial action at this critical point, and we have tried really hard to understand their motives so that we may empathize and perhaps make amends. As at this moment, we still cannot find cogent reasons for it. Maybe they can help us clear that up today. I trust the Labour Delegation who were duly invited to this emergency meeting like everyone else will enlighten us on what we have done wrong as an Administration at any time during the Screening Exercise to provoke their anger.

Many Questions come to mind but we invite them to address these few:

1. Should we not have conducted the screening at all and let it be business as usual for the godless and gutless looters who have masqueraded as our leaders in the past? Should we have left these heartless murderers to continue in business at the expense of our people while workers and pensioners continue to drop dead from avoidable sufferings?

2. Should we have overlooked the daylight robbery we uncovered and pretended that we did not find all those conduits for siphoning the resources of our state through ghost workers by inhuman people who basically turned our Civil Service into personal ATM Machines for themselves, their wives, concubines and other privies?

3. Or maybe, like some ‘leaders’ tried to advise us, we should have learnt from the bitter lessons Labour taught past administrations and let sleeping dogs lie so that having discovered these acts of unpardonable criminality we should have taken our cut, looked the other way, and allowed the rape and dispossession of our people to continue unchecked?

Well, anybody who knows Yahaya Bello will also know that I cannot do any of these things. I was threatened, I was the subject of highly toxic calumnies but I choose to remain intrepid. I am undeterred and I cannot run from my duties, no matter the obstacles. I swore to always act in the best interests of Kogi State and by the help of God, that is what I will continue to do.

I will try to set the records straight and let our assembled people judge for themselves.

It is the sad situation of Kogi State, like most other states in Nigeria, that the monthly FAAC Allocations constitute the major bulk of our income. The money is almost entirely made up of the Federal Government’s Crude Oil earnings. The result is that now the global price of crude has slumped, there is also the inevitable slump in the monies that accrue to the constituent parts of the Nigerian nation. Everyone is feeling the painful pinch including Kogi State where the monthly salaries of about 24,000 Civil Servants is nearly twice the current monthly allocations – technically leaving nothing for the rest of our 3.5m residents.

A comparative analysis of the January to June allocations to Kogi State in 2015 with what we have received over the same period in 2016 paints the bleak picture more. In 2015 it came to a total of about N22.06bn while in 2016 it is just over N13.1bn. Our Local Government Areas got about 10.8bn in 2016 as against N15.1bn received by Captain Idris Wada for the same period in 2015. Anyone can see the harsh realities. The situation will suggest that we would be justified if we do only half of what those before us did, no matter how bad, but our mindset at all times is to not only do our best, but to make sure that our best answers the challenges of the times.

Do not think the temptation was not there to hide under the dirty skirts of the past PDP Administration in the state to start paying minor percentages of salaries or none at all. I certainly had the precedent left by Captain Idris Wada and others and could have had a field day at the expense of the workers. I just did not have the hard-heartedness required to do it. I sympathized with the plight of our workers while campaigning, promised them as much welfare as our resources could provide if I ever made it to Government House, how could I turn around to worsen their sufferings as Governor? That is certain to draw God’s punishment on anyone and his posterity.

Shortly after my swearing-in I started paying full salaries, even multiple times in a given month while we worked to get the bailout funds. Happily, our efforts paid off and we were able to access 40% of our Bailout funds a little above one month ago. Between Zenith and Access Banks we have been able to commence draw down on N20bn out of the N50bn approved for us by the Central Bank of Nigeria. As at today, there is no Civil Servant who will say he or she has not received salary payments. Some have received 3 or more.

To be more specific, we started payments with the the Judiciary and the Tertiary Institutions. They received 4 months salaries leaving only one month outstanding. All the Local Government Areas have paid staff 3 months salaries and are currently in possession of funds to pay another 2 months once the formalities are done. All MDAs have also been paid as at today. That means we have paid every category of cleared workers. Some may be in the bank waiting to access their monies but as an Administration we are done with our end and what remains are the normal banking processes between workers and their bankers.

Only Zenith Bank and Access bank stepped up to fund the bailout for Kogi State. Like we have reiterated many times before, the bailout funds are not a grant of money from the Federal Government to be spent without obligations. It is a loan which must be repaid to the financing banks within stipulated terms. What we do with it has implications for our future generations. This means the funds must be judiciously applied to purpose. For the records, we too do not completely like their conditions one hundred percent, especially the requirements for account openings, but everything dovetails into the Screening Exercise, and that is our priority.

Of course we could have rejected Zenith and Access and looked to other banks for the money but that means we may still be looking for now. It also means that as no other bank has indicated interest till now our workers may still be waiting endlessly for their money. Additionally, the Labour leadership could not guarantee that the long-suffering workforce was willing to remain patient if that were to be the case till we found other financiers, if at all. We did what we believed was best in the circumstances. We will keep trying to renegotiate the terms as the conditions change.

While genuine worker have their money in their hands, there are people who will never get our monies again. These are persons who have posed as staff, some for many years, who had no business collecting our monies even once for the simple reason that they are in the system fraudulently. They know that any attempt to show up for salaries after now may spell the last time they enjoy liberty for a while. Many of them have voluntarily disappeared but the security agents are on their trails. It is this category of people and their sponsors who have been scandalizing the Administration and trying to throw a spanner in the works. We are however undaunted and will continue to work till they are apprehended, reveal their accomplices and regurgitate what they have stolen and swallowed.

As an aside:

It has come to our notice that some banks operating in Kogi State lent active support to the failed attempt at strike action last week. Some of them actually ordered their workers to stay home in misguided attempts at solidarity. They also went so far as to illegal reprogramme ATM Machines in their premises to reject cards issued by certain other banks thereby throwing the populace into unnecessary suffering.

Their said actions amounted to an undermining of the apparati of State, as well as deliberate breaches of the Banking Regulations and operational codes of conduct applicable in Kogi State. Every other category of business in the private sector opened as usual, and remained unmolested by Labour. They are therefore without excuse. We shall definitely have a hard talk with them soon but in the meanwhile, I hereby direct any financial house still engaging in such ill-advised misconduct to retrace her steps immediately and desist from a repeat in the future.

May I also remind these banks that they have profited for long from doing business in Kogi State including carrying salary and other state accounts and the least they can do is give back in these difficult times. That will certainly be more proactive and profitable than sulking and instigating revolt. Our doors are open and we are willing to hold conversations about how to move forward together.

We also believe that Labour can help here by leveraging members’ mass market appeal to pressure some of these banks to do their bit for Kogi State. They ought to be initiating competitive products of their own which the Administration can access on the right terms to improve the lot of our workers and the generality of our people.

MATTERS ARISING

1. Tax Rebates: We have been approached to grant tax rebates and reduce the taxes payable across board but we have had to say a firm NO. Taxes are the way forward globally, and more particularly so in the present socioeconomic challenges in Nigeria. It is the the heart of our reinvented Internally Generated Revenue Policy. Anyone who loves the progress of Kogi State will not ask for tax rebates or exemptions of any kind now. Our position has not gone down well with some people and they have it clear. Their displeasure is noted, but the answer is still NO.

4. Continuing Strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), KSU Branch: This is very unfortunate to say the least, especially as Tertiary Institutions were the first line charge in the disbursement of the bailout. They have received 4 out of the 5 months of salaries outstanding, but they keep asking for preferential treatment which we cannot accommodate now. Other sections of the service need to be considered too. Happily, we have only accessed only 40% of the bailout funds approved for us. We will continue to proportionately revisit ASUU members’ entitlements as we access more, but right now I urge them to return to the classroom. Our children need to be taught. Money can be paid but lost lives and opportunities cannot and our students are in danger of both each day they remain out of the classroom.

5. 2015 IMPROMPTU EMPLOYMENTS: The past Administration does not cease to amaze us with her fecklessness in governance. How a government that could not pay her existing workers could find wisdom in further bloating the workforce in the twilight of her tenure is a major puzzle. All employments made in 2015 remain suspended till further notice. We will dispassionately review them in the light of the current realities and decide way forward with compassion.

6. LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTONOMY: We have granted autonomy to the 21 LGAs of Kogi State and there is no going back on that. Every lobbying to reverse this should be deemed a failure from inception. We have a firm handle on the Administrators and their Teams and will know if they embrace corrupt practices and we will deal with them appropriately.

CONCLUSION

This meeting was conceived to bring all participants of goodwill up to speed on the activities of government so they can interpret current happenings in the light of the facts and inform their constituents appropriately. By giving you information today, we expect you will be better positioned to make informed decisions about the programmes and efforts of government and communicate same clearly to your constituents so we can combat the pernicious lies peddled by our detractors together.

Thank you once again for coming.

God bless Nigeria.

God bless Kogi State.

God bless you.

HIS EXCELLENCY
GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO
4TH EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR
KOGI STATE
4TH JULY, 2016.

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