EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Gov. Bello responds to negative criticism with achievements - Fanwo
The Director General on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo's explosive interview with RayPower.
Excerpts of the interview:
Mr. Fanwo, your boss has been enmeshed in several crisis from legal battles to party crisis and now industrial actions. Is there something you are not doing right?
Governor Yahaya Bello is a victim of his emergence and his style of governance. The Governor became Governor against all odds, against the permutations of the best political pundits around. He was installed by God. Due to the circumstances that led to his emergence, he chose to surround himself with relatively unknown Kogites, mostly from largely obscure background but with faultless drive to serve the people of the state. That offends the political establishment in the state that felt the change of status quo will destroy their political relevance. Also, the Governor has chosen a fearless, politically incorrect but administratively perfect style of governance. This is also offending the sensibilities of professional politicians. Those fighting him within the party are in dichotomies. The first are those who felt their political hope went with the demise of our leader, late Prince Abubakar Audu. The second group is made up of the elephant sharers who felt the Governor should only patronize the elites while the Kogi people continue to suffer. The Governor is not afraid of taking strong decisions such as the staff verification exercise to get rid of ghost workers and unintended beneficiaries.
But it was alleged that your Governor is owing 15 months salaries.
I love the word “alleged”. In this case, it is an unsurprisingly false allegation to defame the Governor and make him look like he is not on top of his game. Governor Yahaya Bello has not only paid workers, but has deflated the tyres of misinformation by publishing what he has paid to each worker from September 2015(before his inauguration) to March 2017.
But the Chief of Staff to the Governor confirmed that your Governor was owing 12 months salaries. Have you now cleared those 12 months?
He didn’t say we are owing everyone 12 months. Those who were recently verified to be genuine workers will soon receive the arrears owed them. Hon. Edward David Onoja is no doubt, one of the main targets of the enemies of this administration. They can’t stand his ingenuity and tenacity of purpose. You can go and watch the video again. It was merely hyped by those who want to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. We are unfazed by that.
Your tertiary institutions are locked as a result of industrial action by staff members of the institutions. When will government reopen the schools?
We respect the views of the workers. They demanded for Governing Councils in the institutions and government has met their demand. They wanted their members on study or sabbatical leave abroad to continue to receive salaries until they resume and face a physical screening to authenticate their employments. Government conceded to that. They want their salaries paid regularly and government has given them subventions up till March 2017. They wanted resumption of the Earned Allowance, government has conceded. They wanted their members affected by government policy on 2015 employment to be reconsidered. Government's policy on that is clear. We have substantially met all their demands. The Governor has given an ultimatum to the Governing Councils of the tertiary institutions to ensure the strike is called off this week. He has also acceded to the demand of the Councils to have a second look at the lists of affected workers in all of the institutions. But for the politicization of the strike, it should have been called off a long time ago. But we are close to a solution. Our students are our best resource, the future of our great state. The Governor wants them back to school as soon as possible.
Is it true that your Governor threatened to sack striking Doctors in the state?
It is not true. He is not a dictator. He is a responsible and responsive leader. Doctors are honourable people who care about the wellbeing of the people. Some of their demands are what could be fixed administratively without the pains of industrial faceoff with government. Doctors have never said they want to be paid for job not done. We know the disagreement will be resolved. But in the interim, government will responsibly bridge the healthcare gap that will be created by the strike by providing alternatives for patients at the expense of government. No responsible government will expose her citizens to healthcare failure. Government will move patients to medical facilities privately-owned and pay the bills pending when our Doctors will be prepared to resume or when we are able to recruit Doctors in the ongoing recruitment exercise in the health sector that predates the current strike action.
Don’t you feel the level of opposition against the Governor will negatively affect governance?
Not in any way. Many of the negative critics are beginning to appreciate the focus of the Governor. He responds with solid achievements. Our environment is cleaner than we met it. The Commissioner for Water Resources is commissioning water projects across the state. We are constructing schools, hospitals and roads. We have commissioned a magnificent Revenue House and a Sustainable Development Goals edifice. We have trained thousands of youth to become independent entrepreneurs. We are winning the battle against criminals and criminality by investing heavily on security. We are changing the face of agriculture. All in less than 15 months! We expect our opponents to be jealous of the Governor’s undeniable achievements. He will keep delivering democracy dividends.
Your message to the Kogi people.
Keep faith in your Governor. He means well for the State. His New Direction Agenda will help the state unlock her potentials. Before 2019, Kogi State will become a giant. We are laying the foundation for our greatness. GYB is a brand of purposeful leadership.