Governor Yahaya Bello’s Progressive Achievements in Kogi State
Seminal thinkers, whose thoughts on leadership have formed a critical matrix from which developed leadership templates, obviously made the world better than they met it. And that is the goal of every visionary leader – to make their political jurisdiction better than they met it. That forms the basis of the need for a leader to make a difference in the cumbersome art of governance. For, truly, today ought to be better than yesterday and tomorrow ought to be better than today.
This is where innovation comes in. And innovation seeks to do things radically different. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”, says Steve Jobs. But, beyond the social contract between the leader and follower is the hypothesis that a leader is supposed to package trail-blazing interventions for his followers.
In Kogi State, there emerged a radical governor with radical innovations that have since cast him in the mould of those leadership postulations which early thinkers propounded. Since there must be a nexus between the past and present and since yesterday issued forth into today, it is only apposite to cast a flitting glimpse at his political genesis and capture it here briefly.
In 2015, Governor Bello, was divinely prepared to rebuild Kogi state from the debris of the people’s frustrations orchestrated by the laissez-faire approach to governance issues by the many years of the PDP. It was, therefore, not for nothing that the people yearned for change in the leadership profile of the state.
The first radically different policy of the governor, upon being sworn-in in January 27, 2016, has been to unite the people. The advantages of the composite pluralism of Kogi State which would have been harnessed for its strength became the very representation of its disunity, distrust and mutual suspicion among the people. But Governor Bello was not prepared to preside over such chaos where each tribe thought of his own self only and maligned the other tribes. That, surely, was not the dreams of the founding fathers of a state that was carved out from old Kwara and Benue states where they had suffered untold marginalization.
A reference from his first inaugural speech buttresses his determination to weld the people together. In it, he refreshed the people’s memories with a line in the old Nigerian national anthem: “Though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand…” And in his second inaugural speech on January 27, 2020, the governor rehearsed how he successfully upturned the table that had the four legs of godfatherism, tribalism, class consciousness and religious divides which, he said “had distorted social equity and equality among Kogites…”
And so, to exemplify that unity philosophy expressed in that old anthem, Governor Bello had, in his first term, appointed Chief Edward Onoja, (now deputy Governor), as his Chief of Staff then. While Bello is Ebira, Onoja is Igala. In fact, it would be the first time in the history of Kogi State that a Chief of Staff would be appointed from a different tribe other than that of the Chief Executive. Even alleged clandestine dissent from the governor’s own tribe against his intention to choose a Chief of Staff from another tribe did not deter him. To him the state is bigger than the sum of individuals’ narrow interests.
Governor Bello beefed up this unity policy by initiating the EBIGO policy. It is an acronym from the names of the major ethnic groups in the state: Ebira, Igala and Okun. This has reflected in the equitable distribution of amenities and in the robust balance in appointments where no section of the state was short-changed. And, in nearly six years of his government, he has fulfilled this thereby attenuating the sufferings of the people and stopping the typical ear-splitting remonstrance of marginalization. The governor intends to do more of this ethnic balancing to ensure justice and fairness.
These initial steps by the governor signposted the new trajectory of the new direction through which to navigate the state for the overall benefit of the people. Yet, it signaled the readiness of a government to run an all-inclusive dispensation where holistic synergy has been deployed to move the state forward. That is what he has replicated, with greater dedication, in this second term as reflected in the balanced appointments into his cabinet.
Guided by the government-crafted compass which he christened NEW DIRECTION AGENDA which has been upgraded for his second term in office, Governor Bello did not mince words never to gamble with the welfare and future of the people of Kogi state. Men with massive intellectual substance, astonishing cerebral cognition and gallant political will in the new Direction team, had been driving the robust policies of the state government since his first tenure. And, together with their principal, Governor Bello, they launched themselves to work in this second term of the Bello-administration with awesome tour de force. After all, the thrust of his government is ‘things must be done differently’.
Broken into five thematic areas, the New Direction Agenda, according to the Commissioner for Information and Communications to the Governor, Evangelist Kingsley Fanwo, has been “sparking a revolution”, in the state. And the aftermaths of this revolution are being felt, palpably, in all facets of Kogi state.
The backdrop of this policy, set out to chart a new direction for the people of Kogi State, was the counterproductive and lacklustre direction of the erstwhile administrations in the state. In those inglorious days, governance was seen as a rare opportunity for government officials to feather their own nests at the peril of the people of the state whose hopes had gone forlorn. The components of the New Direction agenda had their foci on education, agriculture, health care, job creation through small and medium-scale enterprises, eco-tourism and massive infrastructural development.
If Governor Bello would do more for the people in his second tenure, the issue of heightening insecurity must be addressed. He has been mindful of the catalytic role security can play in accelerated development. No matter how well-intentioned a government is, if the ambience is fractured by staccato gunshots, kidnapping, armed robbery, and social combustion, no meaningful development can take place. And the New Direction Agenda would suffer mortal blow. He therefore set out to address insecurity in the state.
Kogi state, being the gateway to the North and to the South has, often times, proven to be a fertile milieu for crimes of various descriptions to thrive. From cultism in some higher institutions in the state; the deadly Isanlu robbery case in which about ten policemen were killed; the Tawari attack by gunmen in which about 23 people were killed including the APC chairman of Tawari Ward, Ibrahim Simbabi and the Chief Imam of the village, Zakari Salihu to the incessant Okene-Lokoja kidnapping spree in which kidnappers and robbers reaped bazaars of ransom from travelers, the story has been a horrendous one.
But, with a no-nonsense governor, it wasn’t going to be business as usual for criminals. He once roared at criminals that he would smoke them out of their hiding places. And he has been launching unsparing onslaughts at them. Aside the cordial interactions between the governor and the security agencies in the state, Governor Bello had ordered the clearing of objects, verdure and thickets 40 meters on both sides of the highways. It was to ensure that the criminals have no hiding places.
At the onset of his administration Governor Bello provided over 200 utility vehicles for all security agencies in the state while equipping vigilante groups with over 500 motorcycles to work in tandem with forces to stem the tide of criminality in the hinterlands of the state in tune with his Operation Total Freedom security policies. The governor went a step further. Exploring his influence within the Nigerian military circle, the governor was behind the presence of the Nigerian Army Forward Operational Bases located across the state to secure lives and properties.
The Kogi Central, today, is more peaceful than hitherto as consequence of the foresightedness of His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello. The same goes for the East and West Senatorial Districts. The vigilante service operation, the whistle Blower policy and the domestication of the criminal justice code were the reasons for His Excellency’s security success.
Never has it happened anywhere in the country that a governor joined security operatives to pull down houses in the state which intelligence reports indicated were kidnappers’ hide-outs. Governor Bello did it at the inception of his administration. It was a signal pointer to criminals and their collaborators that a new powerful personage has emerged at the scene and that there would be no hiding place for them.
In his second tenure, he mapped out more intensive strategies of security to be implemented by Jerry Omodara, his Senior Special Adviser on security. It also meant that security in all nooks and crannies of the state was paramount in the governance of the state. These unusual interventions by the Bello-led administration bear the verisimilitude of the Doctrine of Necessity.
It is quite reassuring and commendable to note that the Yahaya Bello-led administration has not treated security challenges facing the state with kid-glove while keeping faith with his words, he took decisive steps to arm the various security outfits to the teeth with the provision of necessary tool, especially provision of 104 security patrol vehicles to various security and paramilitary agencies. These are the Army, the Navy, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Sealy the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Custom, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigeria Correctional Service, the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Vigilante Groups all of who were provided with security vehicles to enhance their operational capabilities.
Another area the present administration has risen proactively to tackle security challenges is the Governor’s endorsement of whistleblowing policy. The kernel of the whistleblowing policy, like that of the Federal Government, is to identify and arrest criminals and those with the tendency to ferment trouble. In the whistleblowing approach, security informants who disclose information that can lead to the arrest of anyone deemed to be a security risk to the state will be compensated.
To make the whistleblowing policy effective, the State Government provided dedicated phone numbers through which confidential information can reach the Government for action and the whistleblower is assured of utmost protection.
Perhaps, the most decisive move to tackle security challenges in the State is the onslaught against well-known kidnappers and criminals in the State with a success story. In some instances, the Governor, exercising his political sagaciousness would lead a team of security personnel for the demolition of houses well known for serving as a hideout for kidnappers.
The efforts of the State Government in crushing criminals registered dividend when the state vigilante group confronted kidnappers on Okene-Lokoja and Abuja highways killing four of them while others fled with bullet wounds. This in addition to hundreds of suspected kidnappers arrested by the police for prosecution.
Besides the above, was another significant breakthrough in the war against kidnappers, as three of such criminally-minded elements were gunned down. While two of their informants were arrested. The three kidnappers were killed in a gun battle on Lokoja-Okene high way by a combined team of hunters from Okene and Adavi local government area of the state. Items recovered from them included three sophisticated pump action, rifles, bullets, mask and charms. Those found guilty are serving various jail terms in correctional centres.
The Yahaya Bello-led administration has equally mapped out various strategies aimed at engaging and empowering youths in various youth empowerment programmes. The administration’s major policy on Youth placed empowerment is manifested in the involvement of 239 youths, on placed monthly stipends from across the state for carrying out various public-oriented works. This is to discourage them from indulging in criminal activities and at the same time putting money in their pocket to fulfil their various financial and social commitments.
It was, therefore, not surprising when Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello garnered several awards, including that by the Inspector-General of Police, for his unflagging dedication to the security of the people of Kogi state.
Education remains the bedrock of holistic development of the country. It is the vehicle that moves the nation and any society forward His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, being a product of full education, knows that he would not be governor today without education. And if he is going to impact lives and prepare, adequately, the future leaders of the nation, he has struck a blow with an onerous responsibility to provide affordable and comfortable education to the youths.
As he said in his second inaugural speech: “If we fail to fix the education sector in Kogi state, posterity will not forgive us.” Nothing better than this reality can set the tone for diligent prosecution of more educational policies for Kogi State than this, having laid sound foundation through his educational policies in his first tenure.
The unremitting synergy by the Ministry of Education and its agencies and institutions under it, has checkmated their cross-purposes stance of yesteryears. All the parastatals, boards, the STETCOM and SUBEB now work in a tight-knit manner to advance the progress of education in the state.
Primary education has witnessed a spiraling progress under the Governor Yahaya Bello administration. The Kogi State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has become a critical catalyst to Governor Bello’s policies for a more educated Kogi State. With equitable distribution of educational facilities across the length and breadth of the state, the state was positioned to re-write its education history.
Under Governor Bello’s watch, more than 2,000 teachers have gone through the crucible of training and re-training. Moreover, 120 classroom blocks are being renovated while 735 classroom blocks have been face-lifted currently. The 35,000 customized desks and tables distributed to the three senatorial districts, further underpin the unstinting resolve of the governor to repackage the instrumentality of change and reformation called education which the people of Kogi state direly need.
The GYB Model primary schools across the 239 wards of the state, the construction of 50-bed capacity hostels at Government Girls’ Secondary School, Obangede and the construction of Library Extension at Kogi State College of Education (Technical), Kabba are the products of a visionary leader who is making a difference.
In the State own Polytechnic, given the importance attached to technical education by the present Government, series of training workshops for all cadres of staff – both academic and non-academic were organised to get them equipped with the knowledge of modern information and communication technology. This is geared towards providing a qualitative and up-to-date human resource for seamless communication and feedback. Lecturers of the Polytechnic are now better equipped than ever with modern teaching skills with the use of modern-day technology of international standard.
In the same vein, the Polytechnic’s management system is now fully automated. The automation will enable the Polytechnic to optimize resource allocation, to reduce cost and to save time. Aside from the staff management system, the automotive system will manage students’ admissions, registrations, examinations, payment of school fees, communication and results. And even, through it, the parents will have access to their wards’ performances.
One of the major factors that determine the quality of education is a conducive learning environment. An environment marred by chaos, restiveness and all manners of moral vices, makes learning to become almost impossible. With this in mind, the state government took steps to tackled the problems posed by the institutions dilapidated lecture theatres and security office head-on by overhauling, renovating and even building new ones in some cases.
The serenity created by the new structures will no doubt inspire the students to study, and the security personnel to secure the school even more. The school gate was not left out. It has been given architectural touches that befit the outlook of a higher institution. In addition to the new structure, a model security house as against the 3 – room cubicle inherited, which gives the security office a facelift, the unit is being reorganized for the efficient services delivery. Consequently, the personnel are now better empowered and positioned to deal with the menace of cultism that had hitherto ravaged the school. The intemperance of cultists and their brazenness in the act of evil and other escapades have been consigned to the dustbin of history by the new Sherriff in the institution.
Highlights of other novel turn around in the Institution include facelift, cleanliness and general beautification of the campus especially the entrance gate and the outer wall; floor overlay and re-fixing of the chairs in the 500 seats Lecture Theatre; general drainage, erosion control and maintenance on the campuses as well as restoration of internet services to the campus after over 5 years of non-existence.
Others are the adoption and replication of the Ebigo agenda philosophy in the appointment and other responsibilities; the provision of railing and demolition of identified cultists centre known as the “Notorious Pipeline Line” and blockage of multiple entrances to the campus as part of our security measures; putting in place committee system and collective decision approach to governance and the production of the maiden Annual Report (2018/2019) for the Polytechnic.
One eye-catching highlight of facility put in place at the institution by the state Government is the state-of-the-art 30-bed space Polytechnic Health Centre. It has 3 full-time medical doctors, supporting National Youth Service Corps members serving as medics and nurses. The clinic is not only serving the polytechnic students and staff but also the host community.
The place of science and technology in the modern world is crucial as they hold the key to present and future development. They play a fundamental role in wealth creation, real economic growth, and quality standard of living for the citizenry.
It is on the above facts and recognitions that His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, is doing everything possible to ensuring that Kogi becomes the Science and Technology hub of Nigeria by utilising its numerous confluences of opportunities and resources to transforming the State in all sectors of the economy.
Therefore, the establishment of Kogi State University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara, has become a child of necessity to bringing about unprecedented development in Kogi State and Nigeria at large. It could be recalled with admiration the joy of His Excellency, the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, and the good people of the State, knew no bounds when the grant for the establishment of CUSTECH was made possible. The appointment of the Principal Officers to run the university is no doubt a watershed in the annals of the desire of the State Government to bring Science and Technology to the doorsteps of the citizenry. The Institution has commenced academic works, a feat being hailed as one of the fastest in the Country. The decision to establish the Institution was strategically a sound one, particularly as it coincides with the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Company as well as the Exploitation of Mines and Minerals resources in the State.
Right from inception of his administration, Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello, has appreciably buoyed up the health of the people of Kogi State. What aptly signaled his utmost commitment to actualizing his robust health policies were the numerous free services and maternal and new born healthcare for the people at sundry times.
Before his advent to power, it was a sordid tale to hear of diversion of health care facilities, especially drugs, by some health officials. To arrest this ugly trend, the governor innovated a technology which is a component of the sustainable Drug Supply System (SDSS). Through this unique contraption, it was possible for the government, through its health ministry, to monitor and track the movement of drugs or drugs distribution channels.
With the equipping of five selected public hospitals across the three senatorial zones with medical tools, essential drugs and diagnostic apparatuses, the New Direction Government has not only overhauled the sagging health sector but heightened the life expectancy of the people.
The healthcareplus, which is another stimulus package for a robust health, aims to help expectant mothers. Thus, it will ensure that childbirth remains a blessing and not a curse that slays our women. Besides, the Bello-led administration has recruited trained and retrained health workers of various specialties. The humaneness in Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello finds further expression in his assistance to more than 168 patients with life-threatening health issues while also procuring customized pediatrics drugs for the children of the state. It has never been this awesome in the health sector since Kogi State was created.
As the world was jolted by the sudden outbreak of the corona virus disease, Governor Bello did not just recline on his unwavering faith that no one has contracted the disease in Kogi State, he ensured that necessary prophylactic measures crucial to putting a wedge in the spread of the disease were put in place. He timely built properly equipped isolation centres with efficient health workers. He put in place self-risk assessment app and ensured regular campaigns and mass enlightenment in the electronic and print media to prevent the spread of the disease.
Gov Bello’s commitment to the health sector has led to so many healthcare services that create values in the health sector. Among them are the equipped public hospitals across the three Senatorial Districts (East Central & West) medical equipment, essential drugs and premium quality diagnostic apparatus of international standard.
The reactivation of abandoned projects, – Confluence Advanced Medical Diagnostic and Imaging Center, which will boast of MRI CT Scans, Digital General Radiography, Modern Ultra Sound Scanners, Full-fledged Cardiology suite, electrocardiography exercise stress test and Citadel of diagnostic Gastroenterology unit are not left out of the giant strides of New Direction administration. The State Specialist Hospital is currently being remodeled. The Zonal Hospitals at Idah and Isanlu has been rehabilitated and remodeled with up to date medical equipment.
One of the enduring legacies of the present administration is the repositioning and giving of a facelift to the College of Health and Midwifery Obangede. The New Direction government constructed a perimeter fence, construction of new classroom as well as the renovation of the existing ones. It has also constructed a brand-new administrative block, ultra-modern hostel blocks and a new clinic, recreational facility and the accreditation of Midwifery as a course. This is first of its kind in the history of the College.
Apart from the College of Nursing Obangede, the government has also provided three academic blocks at the College of Health Science and Technology Idah and has established an ultra-modern college with state-of-art facility clinic which is said to be one of the best in the country. Also, the State Government introduced new courses in the institution, such as Pharmacy Technology and accreditation of previously unaccredited courses.
In its bids to reduce malnutrition (stunting and micronutrient deficiencies) and child mortality rates, to increase school completion and performance to improve labour force productivity, the administration of Yahaya Bello has constructed a Nutrition house for the implementation of the Acceleration Nutrition Result in Nigeria (ANRiN).
In addition to the recruitment of 2,424 health professionals across the state to fill the manpower gap in the health sector, and the revitalizing of 332 PHCS (at least one per ward) with the provision of essential drugs and basic medical equipment, Governor Bello’s health invention, supplied free pediatric drugs to health facilities, offset hospital bills of indigent patients across the state (about 400 patients have benefited so far and still counting ) and has also provided support to Kogites in need of advanced medical treatment overseas.
The government went further to reactivate the LASSA Fever Isolation Centre and established Kogi State Biosafety lab which has also been completed, equipped and is fully operational. Gov Bello took his health care concern further with the periodic health outreaches and the prompt payment of counterpart fund thereby building a strong relationship with health development partners. To add to the success story of the present government is the facelift of the State Ministry of Health through renovation and provision of additional office accommodation and the 21st-century response to medical emergencies.
Other achievements of the State Government in the health sector include the establishment of Kogi Home clinic that is awaiting launching and distribution of medical equipment to zonal hospitals across the State including clinical and laboratory equipment as well as hospital furniture.
The political will of the administration of Governor Bello to do more for the people, begin the construction of 2 new general hospitals in local government areas which previously had none. They are Adavi and Ajaokuta with the establishment of a central reference hospital in Okene. In addition to it, is the establishment of Kogi State Health Insurance Agency in the State which includes sponsoring of the Agency’s staff on a study tour to Kano. Primary health care under one roof has also been established by the present administration.
In its efforts to kick malaria out of the State, the State Government collaborated with USAID, PMI to supply and distributes about 2.1m free LLIN plus additional 300,000 nets during the MNCHW/ Antenatal clinics to indigenes and residents of Kogi State. The administration of Alh.Yahaya Bello has transformed the health sector and provided good health for the people of Kogi State by ensuring that the people are healthy.
Most governments all over the world have come to terms with the all-importance of food. A hungry man, they say, is an angry man. A major policy thrust of the Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello is tailored towards putting food on the table for the people through populist agricultural programmes.
Actualizing his food-for-all vision which is a key component of his New Direction Agenda, Governor Bello, through the Agriculture ministry, cleared 1,000 hectres of land at Ojapata, Osara and Kabba to empower the youths in cassava production. With the establishment of five units of garri processing mills in Osara, Agara, Achoze, Aiyetoro-Gbede and Ogbadu in Dekina, the story of food deficit in Kogi State is soon to be over.
What makes the New Direction agricultural programme wear a human face is its lavish provision of employment to teeming youths who roam about, after completing their education, without jobs. No objective assessor can gloss over the massive rice production in Kogi state. The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), in collaboration with the State Ministry of Agriculture has, through the Anchor Borrowers Programme engaged 20,000 farmers across the state in the last rainy season.
The success story of the Omi Dam Rice mill attests to the truism that you can’t turn a good man down. These are verifiable accomplishments of the Yahaya Bello government. 50 ton-per-day Rice Mill was established at Ejiba in Yagba West Local Government Area. The Project is completed and currently producing Confluence Rice which is one of the best Rice in the Country. Eight Hundred (800) hectares of Rice farms was also cultivated to provide paddy for the mill.
The State Government keyed into Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) powered by the Central Bank of Nigeria for youth and women empowerment, in the development of Aquaculture and Cassava Production. Under the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) the Government constructed 600 earthen Ponds evenly distributed in the State’s three Senatorial districts. 200 in Idah East Senatorial District, 150 in Ejiba West Senatorial District, 83 in Adavi-Eba and 67 in Geregu Central Senatorial District. Some of the ponds have been allocated to the beneficiaries. A Hatchery at Aiyetoro-Gbede in Ijumu Local Government was completely rehabilitated and has commenced the production of fingerlings/Juveniles. Also Four (4) Fish Feed Mills have been established at Geregu, Idah, Ejiba, Adavi-Eba.
Also under the AADS programme 100 hectares of land each in Ojapata, Osara 1 and Osara 2 have been cleared and tractorised to be shared to youths for Cassava production. Also Five (5) cassava processing mills have been established at:
- Ogbadu in Dekina Local Government Area
- Osara in Adavi Local Government Area
- Ageva/Achoze both in Okene Local Government Area and
- Aiyetoro-Gbede in Ijumu Local Government Area.
Under the Agricultural Mechanization Policy of the Present Administration, the Ministry secured approval and procured:
- 40 MF 375 2-Wheel Drive 75 Horse Power Tractors with full implements.
- Implements such as 3 Big Threshers, Power tillers, 3 Boom Sprayers, 3 Rice Reapers, 3 Planters with fertilizer application attachment.
- 1000 power tillers which were distributed to women farmers in the 21 Local Government Areas of the State.
- Accessories for 19 6-inches Water Pumps for the irrigation activities of the Ministry.
- Farm implements such as Hubs and 10 Ploughs to complement the existing tractors.
- Organic (Geo Plus NPK, Geo Green Urea) fertilizer to the tune of N59,800,000.00 (Fifty-Nine Million Eight Hundred thousand Naira) which was handed over to APPEALS (Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support) Project for distribution to farmers.
- The Ministry secured approval of funds to procure agricultural inputs such as agro-chemicals, seeds, seedlings, herbicides, knap sacks and liquid fertilizers which were sold to farmers at highly subsidized rates.
On assumption of office, His Excellency released money for the repair of 5 Bulldozers, 1 Low Bed, 1 Excavator, Tractors and Graders.
The administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello established a Green House at Osara for the cultivation of vegetables such as Pepper and Tomatoes. Agricultural Land clearing is another area in which this administration has made giant strides. 1,000 hectares of land was cleared for farmers at Ejiba, and in Olamaboro and Dekina LGAs combined, for agricultural production.
This administration engaged a Consultant for the Anchor Borrowers Programme and collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria to facilitate the empowerment of 4,955 farmers. Under the same Anchor Borrowers’ Programme the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) partnered with the Ministry and enrolled 13,000 farmers across the State.
The Government also released money for the engagement of a Consultant to carry out Study, Design and Production of Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) Document on Omi Irrigation Project spread on 571 Hectares of land.
Nursery sites at Kabba, Lokoja and Ochaja were resuscitated so that Cocoa, Cashew and Oil palm seedlings could be raised for farmers across the State.
A borehole was sunk in the Ministry’s premises to provide water for the demonstration of Nursery and Fish Farm sites and for the general use of staff.
Earthen Ponds were constructed and stocked with about 3,000 fingerlings to enhance the demonstration of Aquaculture activities in the Ministry. The Hatchery in Aiyetoro-Gbede was rehabilitated and it has commenced the production of fingerlings and juveniles.
The Executive Governor, His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello graciously approved the recruitment of twenty-five Veterinary Doctors in order to ensure good health and welfare of his citizens in the 21 Local Government. Areas of Kogi State.
Also Constructed/Rehabilitated were Poultry Pens for Poultry Production and organized Ram fattening in the Ministry for demonstration and to generate revenue. The State flagged off the vaccination of 60,000 cattle against contagious bovine pleunopneumonia (C.B.P.P) across the State, and against Peste de Pestit Ruminants PPR. The exercises were done free of charge for herders/farmers in the State. A modern Abattoir was constructed in Lokoja (Felele), while a Slaughter-Slabs-and-Meat-shops-Implementation-and-Enforcement Committee was set up. The Committee has commenced the registration and regulation of Veterinary Premises, Abattoirs and Meat Shops to ward off quacks.
The Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the establishment of a Bio-fuel factory and Sugarcane Plantation at the Alape Staple Crops Processing Zone. The Government released money for the survey of 20,000 hectares of land in the zone. This will create about 2000 jobs for our teeming youth in the State.
On Alape Special Crops Processing Zone a stakeholders’ meeting was held in Kabba where consultants carrying out Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) were introduced to enable them carry out their work. On completion, the ESIA would be forwarded to the African Development Bank (ADB) for approval.
ROADS AND BUILDINGS
Infrastructure is key to servicing the economic needs of the people. For an economy that has the potentials of boom, ancillaries critical to that potential must be put in place.
Having realized that, His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello was in a hurry to develop the state by massive construction of roads spread evenly across the three senatorial districts of Kogi state.
The on-going construction of Ibana-Ikeje-Ette road; and the Idah-Umomi-Anyigba road both in the Eastern axis of the state, references a leader with massive will to develop the state. The Ekirin-Ade/Ohun Iffe-Olukotun road, the Poyan-Jege-Ejuku-Ijowa (Isanlu) road in the West, have, since, dazed cynics. Moreover, the rehabilitation of Idoma road, Mahmoud Attah road in Central Senatorial district made mincemeat of opposition’s sustained calumny against Governor Yahaya Bello.
Lokoja, the capital city of Kogi State had been belittled by its sorry-state in terms of having been reduced to a rustic countryside settlement. But no sooner Alhaji Yahaya Bello assumed office than he worked hard to facelift the terrain. The asphalt overlay of Taiwo road and the Lokoja township stadium are few out of the legion of physical infrastructures provided by the Bello administration. The emergency facelift of portions between Ganaja junctions to Ganaja village road, Lokoja, the rehabilitation of SUBEB road, Lokoja are examples of the motley road projects in the state capital. The on-going overhead bridge at Ganaja junction in Lokoja is an attestation to the genuine commitment of Governor Bello to Kogi State. More recently, the State is constructing an overhead bridge at Ganaja junction to ease the traffic congestions that usually occurs there.
Since physical structures also adorn the scenery of town, Governor Bello embarked on building projects that also have economic values. The construction of the Revenue House Lokoja; the construction of the Civic centre, Lokoja; the Lokoja Township stadium and the building of the Debt Management office, Zone 8, Lokoja are instances of the physical infrastructures of the Bello administration. The governor went further to do what no other previous government has done by his “do-it-differently’ approach to governance. He is the first to build a Chapel for Christian worshippers who are staff of the Government House. And for religious balance, he also built a mosque within the seat of power for the Islamic faithful therein. This rare gesture not only put both religions on an even keel, it sustains the religious sensitivities of the people by not rating one religion above the other. Today, Lokoja has been aesthetically re-defined as the capital city with magnetic properties. All these he did with the prudent management of the lean resources of the State. This is how a leader makes impactful difference in governance and in the lives of the people.
The completed civil works on the gully stabilization, the reclamation channeling and the remediating in Agassa, in Okene LGA, the Adum road in Olamaboro LGA and Ozuri in Adavi LGA are evidences that Governor Bello is doing more for the people of Kogi State. It is the same story with the Greater Lokoja Water Works Erosion site.
As flooding continually menaces Lokoja and other parts of the state, and with climate change of global warming, Governor Bello, in his vow to do more for the people of Kogi state, awarded a contract for the procurement, installation, training and commissioning of hydromet and Automated Flood Early Warning system (AFEWS) in selected locations in the state. Nor can critical observers discountenance the far-reaching revamping of the Kogi State transport sector. A well-organized transportation system would boost tourism activities and up the ante in the revenue generation from N300,000 to N500,000 monthly in that sector. The Lokoja Mega Terminal, the Confluence Inland Waterways Express services and the Confluence road express services have repositioned the state’s transport sector.
Even critics of his government know that they have lost their points of arguments targeted at disparaging him and pulling his government down. A man with difference is a man of innovations.
With over 1,000 communities in Kogi state benefitting from Governor Bello’s massive and extensive electrification projects, the state has been repositioned for a long-time boom in its economy through his ‘Light up the state’ policy. The completion of the Lokoja (Banda) – Koton-karfe electrification project not only generated jobs for the people of that area but ignited industrial fires in the area. The people of Abejukolo in Omala LGA of the state had marveled at Governor Bello’s large-heartedness in bringing electricity to the area. Their own son was once governor of the state but he did not fix electrification project for them. The electrification projects in Agassa, Ogori and Isanlu communities evince a governor who has yet more to do for the people of Kogi State.
1. Installation of 500KVA/33KV/0.415KV at Igala Unity House
2. Installation of transformer at Inozi/Ageva, Okene LGA.
3. Installation of transformer at Central bank Area I community, Lokoja.
4. Installation of transformer at Kogi State Hajj Commission, Lokoja.
5. The completion of 33KV electricity overhead line extension from Zango-Daji junction to Banda in Kogi State.
6. Supply/procurement of 6Nos. of 500KVA/33KV/0.415KV transformer at MRD Headquarters.
7. Step down of transformers at:
(a) Odokoro in Ijumu LGA
(b) Ileteju/Ogidi in Ijumu LGA
(c) Ekirin Adde in Ijumu LGA
(d) Iyara in Ijumu LGA
(e) Owode/Ogidi in Ijumu LGA
8. Step down of 500KVA/33KV/0.415KV transformer at Ife Olukotun
9. Completion of electrification of Isanlu GRA, Yagba East
10. Electrification project at some communities in Adavi Eba:
(a) Opetu community
(b) Ebachi community
(c) Apachi Adoza community
(d) Irevure Eba community
(e) Ikamani/Adador community
11. Step down of transformer at Karara/Igoti community, Kogi LGA
12. Electrification project at Irepeni/Oziokutu, Adavi LGA
13. Electrification of Araba Salifu, Ajonugbelegu Emewe Opada I & II Community, Abocho, Dekina LGA. Additional Work: Ajakalaga, Okowowolo, Ofoda.
14. Step down and Installation of 500KVA/33KV/0.415KV transformer at Omoko, Kogi LGA.
15. Completion and connection to the National Grid of the following communities in Kogi LGA:
16. Completion of electrification projct at Irepeni 1 & II communities, Adavi LGA.
INFORMATION AND COMMUINCATIONS
Today, the Ministry of Information and Communications has beefed up to incorporate the widely accepted ICT in meeting up with its new and additional mandate and responsibility.
It is a fact and an indisputable truism that the activities, impacts and strives of the Ministry, which was hitherto seemingly “sleepy” have come alive, radiating in, around and beyond the State, thus the Ministry has played its role well as manager of the state information sector’.
Conscious of the importance of the Website, the ministry upgraded the State’s website to an enviable standard among the comity of states in the country. The efficient management of the site has enabled the State meet up with the needed DLIs during 2018/2019 SFTAS IVA.
The Ministry also set-up a committee to fashion out the Roadmap for ICT and digital economy renaissance in the State. The Committee is still working on the document.
In tandem with her continuous determination of the State Government to deploy ICT mechanism for development and keeping the staff competent at the task, the Ministry organised a free online digital skills training for the State Information Officers and Reporters in the State Radio Corporation and ‘The Graphic’ Newspaper. The free tuition and certificated course covered relevant contents to improve the skills of the officers on contents development, social media optimisation and management, marketing and digital analytics among others.
The Ministry designed and launched an online directory known as Confluence Business Directory. Confluence Business Directory otherwise known as cbdkogi is a unique platform designed exclusively to connect all businesses to the world. It gives local, national, and international business exposure. It is the first of its kind by any State Government in the Country today.
The Ministry also came up with a debutant magazine called Doing More Magazine. The magazine showcases the giant strides of the GYB administration.
The Ministry has also carried out the repositioning of the parastatals under the Information and Communications Ministry for optimal performance. For instance, the establishment of e-graphic for the first time in the history of the publishing company is a great surge to the output of the corporation.
It is on record that the corporation in the past had solely produced the analogue weekly hardcopy with little or no success in news timeliness and comprehensive circulation. At some point, the weekly newspaper barely made two editions in a month and the corporation was at the verge of folding up for the paucity of funds until the intervention of the ministry.
Also worthy of note among the achievements of the Ministry was the revamping of the Government Printing Press, thus making it commercially viable in a bid to meet up with the State Government’s revenue drive for rapid development of the State.
The State Printing Press has been strengthened with the machines overhauled. It has started the printing of ‘The Graphic’ newspaper. Presently, The Graphic is not only on stand every week but has been able to come out with its online edition. The corporation is now at its best in the world of highly competitive e-paper news reportage and publication.
The Press printed both sensitive and non-sensitive materials for the 2019 Local Government Elections in the State.
For the State to run an all-inclusive government, the ministry under the watch of Evang. Fanwo also launched a novel radio programme tagged “State of Kogi,” an audience radio interactive programme. This has been a great avenue for interaction between the government and the people. It has also gone a long way to cement a robust relationship between the government and the people of the State.
In the same vein, a periodic “Twitter” interaction between government officials and the people has been launched to promote accountability in the State. Through this avenue, the public do ask questions with prompt responses from public officers. This programme has further bridged the gap between the government and its people.
Furthermore, the Kogi State Open Governance and Accountability Systems (KOGAS), an online application with the same motive of ensuring accountability has been launched. The platform is available and open to all Kogites as a forum for scoring each sector of the State based on its performance. The first innovation of its kind in the country, the platform will fast track effective feedback mechanism for government and promote efficient service delivery to the people.
Projecting the State Government and the people of the State positively remains a cardinal obligation of the Ministry with the ” INVEST IN KOGI” campaign; a programme geared towards making the state attractive and enticing for both foreign and local investors. “INVEST IN KOGI” is to showcase the tourist potentials of the State and to guide would-be investors on how best to liaise with the State and go about their businesses unhindered.
The State Broadcasting Corporation has been strengthened to meet up with modern broadcasting. People orientated programmes have been put in place and efforts are being intensified to launch a 24/7 online platform for the organisation.
In the quest to sell the noble objectives of the present administration to the younger generation, the Ministry promoted a new drive for the resuscitation of the Press and Information Clubs in Kogi Schools. The Commissioner personally visited some of the schools to give moral support and encouragement to the students. By this effort, the Information and Communications Ministry has done a good job in bringing back the cultural values of the people, reorientating the younger generation on the need to imbibe good conducts.
Similarly, conscious of the menace of drug abuse and its negative effects on the populace, the Ministry under Fanwo launched a “Drug Abuse Whistle-blower Policy” in collaboration with the state command of NDLEA. This initiative has been fruitful. The State Directorate of NDLEA reported that the step has helped to stem cases of drug abuse. The state-owned media are being used to air series of jingles and other forms of campaign messages against the use of illicit drugs at no cost. To drive home the war against drug abuse objectives, the Commissioner directed the management of the state-owned media to alot one hour of radio transmission and a top corner advert in ‘The Graphic’ newspaper for the campaign against incessant use of illicit drugs. The same campaign was carried to tertiary institutions in the State. At the Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja where the Ministry joined efforts with the Institution in the fight against drug abuse, Hon. Fanwo commended the management for the numerous development programmes made available for students to enhance their productivity.
CIVIL SERVICE AND PENSIONS REFORMS
The exhaustive and thorough civil service and pensions reforms by Governor Bello, has saved the state from being financially raped. A meticulous addict of accountability, His Excellency has, through the reforms, blocked loopholes and leakages through which mindless public servants privileged to work in the finance sectors of the state siphoned the state’s lean financial resources. He has, through the reforms, repositioned the state civil service for optimal performance. In doing more for the state, civil servants and pensioners are now paid their emoluments timely despite the cash crunch occasioned by the corona virus disease.
As youth ambassador in governance, Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello has provided jobs for teeming youths. In his avowal to do more for them and the entire state in his second tenure, over 100,000 youths are to be trained, aside from the 75,000 youths previously trained to drive the state’s agricultural renaissance programme. The recent Youth Development Commission is a new creation of the Yahaya Bello administration to cater to the needs and welfare of the youths of the state. The job creation scheme through the Kogi Vigilante service, Forest Guards are all areas meant to usefully engage the youths to prevent the jobless from sliding into delinquencies. No previous administration in Kogi state has front-burnered youth welfare as the Bello administration.
No doubt, Governor Bello has re-invented Kogi State to meet the great expectations of the people. In so doing, he has rewritten their history and mopped their tear-wet eyes from years of hopelessness and frustrations foisted on them by past aristocratic governments in the state.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. In Kogi State, there seemed to have been no clear-cut administrative path heretofore. He has created one because he seeks to make a difference. He has created one because he wants to do more.
When, at last, Governor Bello completes his 8-year term in his social contract with the people, it shall be said of him: “He came, he saw, he conquered.”