These comrades are going to be snatching regrets from their indecision after February 19th, 2019. When President Muhammadu Buhari must have been re-elected, a massive political osmosis would be rushing plenty Kogi plastic Comrades, cosmetic-bellè-infrastructure politicians- lobbying assiduously to be on the side of the sitting Government, because, for more than the two decades of the creation of Kogi state, only the “political industry “ has been left to thrive, handed over also to Governor Yahaya Bello as the only legacy of governance.
If you’re not a learner, what other industry has thrived?
Civil Service? On a critically tested economic reality, for a nation that sits on a “capitalist” economy, sometimes a pretend of “mixed economic model,” is flung about, where demand and supply drives sales, a statement of intervening variables such as wits, education, individual creativity of citizens and creativity is put to test; something that determines who is wealthier and more successful in productivity. This economic model is what has placed names like Jeff Bezoz and Bill Gates on the global world map. In Africa, you have Aliko Dangote. All Economic Hit Men with high-powered social power, derived from their economic achievements.
But In Kogi State, you have just politicians who have looted the state like a mistrusting women being raped in an open market. Why won’t people say Civil Service and align it with “human development”? Because whilst people like Bill and Jeff made money from their capitalist businesses, Kogi Politicians killed every other form of businesses, created politics as their only business and stole the soul of Kogi in advance. The richest man in Kogi must be a politician. If not, what is the other thriving industry? In Nigeria, where do the indigenous business men of Kogi origin, doing business in Kogi state, stand?
It is now understandable why all the youths in Kogi would elect to study Political Science in our tertiary institutions, to turn out as politicians, whilst others pursued Public Administration, to serve in the Civil Service. This anomaly has been a generational mistake. A side-step of progress. A misnomer. A tragedy of monumental height.
By January 27th, Gov. Yahaya Bello would have completed three years in Government, jumping starting Governance in the Confluence state that has been dead for 25 years, with a 4 year interlude of brief nirvana from late Prince Abubakar Audu’s stewardship, which was truncated by egomaniacs of ethnic Agenda wickedness, who connived with the Civil Service Establishment, which is also a pseudo Political Party, which is the hydra-heeded cog in the wheel of progress in the state, that has collapsed forward moving progress for many years. Go to the economic books, the private sector in Kogi state has been dead, delivery nothing to more than the 4.3m estimated population of the people, whilst granting looting autonomy to politicians who perpetuate their cronies in different civil service ministries like the Pensions, Internal Board of Revenue, Agriculture, etc, constituting an establishment, pillaging the wealth of the people that should have been spread across other sectors of the state, especially “critical infrastructure”. While they do this, they saturate the Civil service wage bill with names of ghosts, linking the accounts to their individual pockets and also employing the state Government to pay their “Konji” fees for their mistresses that see to full scrotums every night.
It was a facade. They would pay stipends to an about 18,000 people they call civil servants and steal the other monies, creating and developing nothing but receive the people into backwardness.
Many projects are abandoned like bad attitudes after a youth turns Born Again. Many fantastic ideas in proposals are used to sell Akara at the old Government House environment that looked like Ukwo Market in Ugwalawo, a place a visitor may term as a “shrine” if they called on Kogi State. Thanks to younger Gov. Bello, we have a Government House without shame, now.
Amidst the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, tongues have predicted how Bello would lose the state to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar because Bello had performed woefully, not paying “salaries”. This line is a reverberation on the lips of some people, as we cannot blame them so much, the only growth that has been told and retold our people is to see the Civil Service and payment of salaries to less than 2% of Kogi population as the only form of development available. For example, the NBS economic statistics shows that a Governor who ruled the state for 9 years, raked in more than half a trillion naira allocation during his tenure, with 7B average monthly allocation minus the IGR, albeit, all he could boast of in his entire 8 years and 1 year jara tenure is upgrade of Kogi State University, payment of salaries, building of Kogi State Specialist Hospital, payment of WAEC Fees of some students and building of religious worship centers. But nobody has told them that in less than three years, Yahaya Bello built the multi billion naira Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue House. Completed the Kogi State Diagnostic Hospital. Refurbished, restructured and rebuilt the Kogi State Government House. Completed the Kogi State Transportation Dry Port-hub in Lokoja, Installed Street Lighting Across the state Capital, which was absent for more than 25 years of Kogi’s creation; cleaned the entire state capital from a reputation of “shrine” by retaining a contract State Cleaners. The political appointees of Gov. Bello now pay WAEC school fees, rather than the past which credit was given to a sitting Governor. The equilibrium in distribution of Appointive positions in Kogi State Under Governor Bello has enshrined the principle of fairness across board. It has never happened in the state before. In the past, only a segment of people are qualified, then only a segment of people from a particular region can hold “certain” positions. That wall has been crumbled. The madness of ethnicity and religion has also been buried. These are “intangibles” that maintain peace.
Shamefully, it is also on record that no Government since the history of Kogi State ever had any Masterplan for the state in terms of governance Direction. Governance was hitherto run on 9jabet permutations. No projectors on the poles of reality, only predictions. Half the time, the state lost. It is the administration of Gov. Yahaya Bello that would ever have a 4 year masterplan for the state, termed “The New Direction Blue Print”, which covers a vision in five (5) Thematic Areas of Government: Security, Civil Service Reforms, Education, Youths and Enterprise along with Social Welfare.
He is also currently building and refurbishing about 53 roads in Kogi State, with most at various stages of completion and priority roads at 60% completion in January, 2019. Do you know the big one? He is constructing the multi billion dollar project of “Youths in Governance”, as that stature reflect 85% of his cabinet. It is called a project because of the generational shift. Old and expired workforce controlled the resources of this country, with the 85% youth population scampering for crumbs from the table of old politicians. Bello has done something differently, which could set the stage for political leadership revolution in Nigeria. Having young people as 32 year old Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Hon. Salisu Ogu, in power is not bean cake. For a developing nation like Nigeria, politics is a very expensive venture. Elections are the most expensive. This venture comes with politicians building “structures”, these structures is an institute of followership. Followership that is maintained by extreme benevolence which is the oil used for greasing the structures in order to create a fragment of “societal interests” which forms political loyalty and followership for influence during elections.
For a Gov. Bello who made a bold choice of bringing raw talents, unrich hands and un-lobbied leadership into the system, rising into a cadre of influence is parity expensive in the Nigerian equation. New millionaires have been created away from the old establishment. New economic route to others have been created. The 85% youth statistics in our entire population has been economically affected. A generation running into generations has been affected.
What about Security? The template of Governance in Kogi State before Gov. Bello was “Thugocracy”. A system controlled by “okpolor eye” politicians, who intimidated, maimed and silenced opposition for control. Human life was life a chicken, roasted by spoilt village thieves. Kidnapping was an employment opportunity. Cultism was the new education. Every street and clan witnessed territorial bullying. The number of deaths equaled wealth for some people. It is a state of despondency in the time of democracy.
In 2015, Kogi State was declared as the “Capital of Kidnapping” in Nigeria. Terrorists cells also existed in Kogi state, supplying BokoHaram operations. It was that terrible.
Bello came with his ferociously on Security reforms, nipping the hottest zone, Kogi Central that houses 51% of the crimes committed in Kogi state, into an almost Zero. He would win the Inspector General of Police’ Award on Security for the year 2016, his first year in Governance. His security template, came with the cost of injecting about 157 operational vehicles to the federal government security agents in Kogi, who created a harmony of information sharing amongst all the security colors in the state, with 15km perimeter checks, 24 hours patrol and re-awakening of the 2012 State Vigilantes Act into functionality to step up “Community Policing”. As an employer of labor and local intelligence gathering tool and security for the hinterlands, the Kogi State Vigilante Services hosts about 6,000 men and women, trained across board to man sentry of local policing which has created a tripod of Community, State and Federal security model- the success story of Security in Northern Nigeria. No wonder, the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, Report for 2018 shows Kogi as the 2nd most peaceful state in Nigeria, with 0.02 percent crime rate for the 2017, crashing from 0.62% in the month of August, same year.
It all came at a cost. Taking from the civil service establishment, to spread to other sectors. This decision hemorrhaged his image so bitterly because the cost of change is very expensive. In matters of hunger as well, reforms are hard to explain. Especially his Civil Service Reforms. Although, things are riding back to steady, the local Government which was left with 10% salaries and sometimes 30% has reached the peak of 54% for the first time in half a decade under Governor Bello. Most importantly, biometrics capturing that followed the payment of salaries, with simple “Over the Table” payment has helped forstered transparency in Government wage bill, put a digitized payroll system in place, easing probity and entrenching consistency in the payment of salaries. The process was painful. The gains would be more.
Whilst some people can argue that the Civil Service establishment collapse has ruined the economy of the state, an educational fallacy has been spotted. Statistics from global bodies such as the United Nation is also saying something different. Since Governor Bello came to power, the UN- Oxford MPI on poverty across Nigerian states shows that Kogi reduced poverty by 3% in 2017, a decline from 26% in 2015. As the civil service also crashed in ghost workers, the Agricultural Industry which is the highest employers of labor bicycled up. The Kogi State Government is building the multi-billion Rice Mill at Ejiba, Kogi West, Kogi State, which is to have a capacity of 50,000 ton per day. This farm is sitting on an over 2000 hectares of land, with rice planted by the state Government and other portions open to the indigenes. The farm also houses ponds for Fish, to best the 2016 recommendation that Kogi has an aquatic future. It is also on record that prime-time logistics and Poverty Register provided by the Kogi State Social Investment Office ringed Kogi into the pilot state of 7 states that get the N5,000 Conditional Cash Transfers to the most vulnerable citizens in the state. Under the Anchor Borrowers Scheme of the Federal Government, the Kogi State Government has provided counterpart in logistics and invested in more than 100 tractors to clear lands for farmers as the FG provide them seedling and free fertilizers. On this scheme, about 16,000 farmers are enrolled, creating new millionaires, this figure is 2000 less of the entire civil service workforce that gulped the entire resources of the state in the past.
It is expedient to explain the foundational grey areas of Governor Yahay Bello’s challenges which are from difficult reforms, however, where the state is headed is better than where she used to berth. There is now a vision. There is now a state planning.
The succeeding Governor was not even sure of his own achievements. As the years piled, running into 28 years, the people of the state started getting tired. Their emotions grew. Their expectations grew. Their impatience grew. Everything would be falling on a 41 year old Yahaya Bello to jump-start.
Looking at the polls. He has displayed an uncanny political wit, thus, managing the party primaries in the state with accurate fairness, transparency and calm, without any disgruntled contestant seeking court interpretation. His foot soldiers have also employed local political intelligence in penetrating the grass-roots, using “little to do more”, whilst surviving as young people in power.
The choice of candidates for the elections are also on noble political thinking. There is a sifting out of core grass-rooters who have impacted the people on their own personal capacities. Demonstrated progress and outstanding achievements in their various fields of endeavor whilst reducing the influence of “money politics” aimed that gradually changing the mentality of the people towards politics.
In sheer glance, his political opponents hold meetings outside the state, release media Press releases to overheat the polity, forgetting that grass-roots politics is what wins elections and not Media Politics; working with the assumption that the people hate the Governor.
From where we are coming from, we have a fine line of Egypt which we shall never return to. If you disagree, what are the alternative options? Who has said something different that is realistic? Who has a plan? What legacy of Governance was left for Bello except the ones he is creating?
Where do our android comrades without ideology have to go?
Promise Emmanuel writes from Lokoja, Kogi State.