From the moment his reelection was confirmed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello was ready to take on governance head-on as he has always done in all areas of his endeavours.
He had identified the pitfalls in leadership of the Confluence State through painstaking research, analysed available date and proffered short, medium and long term solutions and ready to consolidate with his reelection mantra; “Let’s Do More!”. He left no one in doubt about the preparedness of his government to strengthen the gains of his first tenure and avoid all the downsides of the inception of his administration.
One of the seemingly intractable problems of Kogi in the past and Nigeria till this moment, is that of inter – ethnic mistrust and religious disharmony. It is no longer the same as the people of the Confluence State now see themselves first as citizens of the state before their ethnic divisions and religious dissimilarity. Little wonder he was bold to admit in his inauguration address that uniting the rich human and natural diversities of Kogi State into a progressive and cohesive force for good was the main achievement of his first term and that it would remain a priority of his government going forward. “We shall not relent in weaving equity and equality into the fabric of our society and strengthening the bases for our coexistence.”
Despite high praises from those who knew what was obtainable before and what is being witnessed in Kogi State currently, the Governor was not oblivious of the fact rebuilding a people into a unified cohesive unit requires time and arduous work. He noted therefore that the battle for a united and egalitarian Kogi society was one which his government “must not only win, but sustain, and at the appropriate time, pass on to posterity.” He went further afield to urge citizens of the country to understand that what hurts one, hurts all, hence the need to begin to pool together for mutual protection and profit.
“Truly, if we do not urgently make greater effort to live together as brothers and compatriots, we will continue to perish together as fools.
“One small but significant achievement of our first term, and one that I am particularly elated over because of its uniting force, is the building of a beautiful Chapel inside the Kogi State Government House premises for the first time in 28 years. It is not so much the cost of the building, but the balance which we were finally able to bring in the seat of power between the two major religions in our state after such a long time which excites me. It may be a token, but it is a significant token.
“Of course, the rent-seekers who were beneficiaries of the old ways as well as their protégés came at us with Vengeance, like a Tsunami.
They twisted and turned our every word and action into all sorts of negative shapes before the world, especially through their captive media, and for a while the news only reported bad things about us, nearly all of which were false.”
You talk about the peace building after the elections and his inauguration that witnessed Kogites from different political backgrounds. Immediate past Governor, Capt Wada was represented by his former Chief of Staff. Former acting governor Clarence Olafemi, former attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Bayo Ojo and other stalwarts of the PDP graced the occasion. Hon Elder Leke Abejide of the SDP was also at the occasion.
As a positive history maker, the Governor did something that has never been witnessed in the history of the country’s democratic practice on the very day of his inauguration to show he was ready to get to work for the people of the state. He announced his list of commissioners on the very stage where he delivered his speech. In accordance with the charge he gave, the commissioners were swiftly screened by the State House of Assembly to show the level of harmonious working relationship between the executive and the legislative arm of government, working together to develop the state.
The new cabinet members, first among which were the commissioners and hardly were they able to settle down before Governor Bello charged them on the need to imbibe the philosophies upon which his administration is built. He mentioned transparency, fiscal responsibility, zero sectionalism, understanding and implementation of the New Direction Blueprint and open door policy. He described tribalism, nepotism, clan, class or religious sentiments as actuators of reasons to get them fired. “We have spent the last four years dismantling the division and distrust long engendered amongst our people by these evils and those who practiced them and we will never countenance the same in our appointees, neither will we retain anyone practicing them in our midst.”
Governor Bello had also informed the commissioners that the New Direction Blueprint is his roadmap for accelerated development of Kogi State in all her constituencies and charged them to study it, understand it and implement it. “The five thematic areas will remain but we are pulling out 4 former sub-thematic areas and making them full-fledged in this second term. These are Human Capital Development, Cooperation and Integration in Kogi State (EBIGO Agenda), Security and Agriculture. Bring your suggestions to the table and they will be given fair consideration, but run my Blueprint and not your agenda if you want things to remain fine with you.”
To further impose his readiness and in demonstration of commitment to reigning in accelerated improvement in all facets of lives of Kogi State citizens as fast as he can, the Governor had highlighted some of the achievements of his administration in the first four years and described it as the platform he hoped to build on future successes of his government. He noted during his inauguration that the overall mission in his second term is to develop Kogi State into Nigeria’s foremost and most secured emerging commercial hub through optimization of the state’s geographical location, natural endowments and human resources for a sustainable future.
To achieve the lofty goal, he said, his administration would embark on large scale Urban Renewal projects to further transform Lokoja into a resilient capital city with modern utilities attractive to residents and tourists alike. Even though upgrading the sights and sounds of Lokoja will be paramount, he stressed that the beautification project would extend to at least one major town in each Senatorial District.
“We will sustain focus on Agriculture for improved food security, mass employment and increase in Internally Generated Revenue. We will take the Agricultural Revolution which we started in the first term to the Next Level.”
One area the administration received a lot of kudos is in agriculture and it was refreshing to hear the Governor mention that rice, cassava, cashew, aquaculture and livestock would remain the bedrock of his government. He maintained that the state owned rice mill at Ejiba would work to see more rice mills built by private investors in the state, increase land under cultivation with rice and facilitate off-taker agreements for local growers. The target is to make Confluence Rice the dominant brand, at least in the home market. In addition, he promised to add 5000 new cassava farmers into initiatives of his government as Nigeria’s largest grower of the crop. His government also plans to build the nation’s largest ethanol plant in the State for the production of ethanol fuel from cassava to further expand the use of green fuels in Nigeria given that Climate Change has become such a dramatic concern globally. The administration also plans to fully utilize the advantage it has in other agricultural spheres and among cash and industrial crops.
“Outside of Agriculture, we are also going to pay greater attention to human capital development by investing more in training our people for enhanced relevance in a technologically evolving future. With Information and Communications Technology becoming such a big earner for individuals and societies, we will do our best to facilitate some youth with the relevant cognates and competencies to acquire further education in this area at leading institutions abroad.
Overall, Governor had defined good governance as the ability to unite the people, things, events and places within a leadership space in a wholesome, symbiotic relationship. “When approached with the above mindset, governance ceases to be a popularity contest and becomes a life-saving vocation requiring the leader’s best efforts always. Our governance objective in Kogi State since January 27, 2016 when we first took Office is to do the right thing for the present generation and for posterity without fear or favour. This objective will remain unchanged throughout my second tenure.”
A lot of key policy decisions have been taken under the three-week reign of Governor Yahaya Bello’s second term in office attracting support from even opposition party members.
Creation of Chiefdoms without following proper procedure has claimed many lives in the state before the recent one being the destruction of Akwu Community in Ankpa local government area of the state.
The Governor has banned creation of chiefdom by traditional rulers subject to proper constitutional procedure.
State’s owned tertiary institutions became safe haven for cultism and other criminal activities. The Governor summoned all heads of tertiary institutions and gave one month ultimatum to end the menace or resign their appointments. Within 10 days after the ultimatum, over 28 cultists have been arrested across institutions in the state.
He has also embarked on projects inspections with a sound warning to contractors to complete their projects within the contractual agreement periods.
Contractors handling ongoing projects in the state have been mobilised to sites today.
With such vigour and determination, the people of Kogi State will have more to benefit from Governor Yahaya Bello’s second term in office.
Onogwu Muhammed is Chief Press Secretary to Governor Yahaya Bello.