SPECIAL NEW YEAR MESSAGE BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE TO THE GOOD PEOPLE OF KOGI STATE ON NEW YEAR’S DAY, 1ST JANUARY, 2024
Welcome to 2024. For all of us fortunate enough to have seen the new year, it is only proper that we acknowledge the divine power that brought us through. Thus, as we bid farewell to 2023 and receive the new year that we have been given, let us do so with joy, collectively thankful to the Almighty God for life, the most precious gift of all.
The past year presented many challenges, true, but it also gave us major triumphs, both of which make up the fabric of existence. It was a year that tested the mettle of individuals, peoples and nations, confronting us with all forms of challenges, but also presenting us with manifold opportunities. For Nigeria, and especially our beloved state, Kogi, I will only say that the past 12 months testified to our resilience and fortitude. Our battles and victories reflect, not our wisdom or strength, but the mercy and help that the Almighty God, to Whom be all glory, bestowed upon us.
On the 27th of January, 2024 we will mark the conclusion of the 8th year of our audacious journey in the New Direction Administration in Kogi State. By the grace of God, all people of goodwill can testify that we made each successive year to bring forth fruits that signify our brutal commitment to the progress of Kogi State. The cumulative results of our first and second terms reflect deliberate and sustained efforts during our tenure to fulfill the promises we made to you, our dear citizens.
The Legacies we are leaving behind across the state echo louder as a scorecard than any words. They are the eloquent proof of our dedication to transformational leadership and effective governance that we promised you. Prioritizing you and your needs was my chief promise during my first Inauguration when I declared that my Administration would make all of Kogi’s resources work for all of Kogi’s people. Well, at this tail-end of our second term, we make bold to say that we have delivered on that promise to the best of our abilities, having regards to the state of the nation and the limitations imposed by available resources.
In the First Term (2016 – 2019) we focused our agenda on five (5) thematic areas, namely, Education, Health, Job
Creation & Youth Empowerment, Infrastructure & Utilities, and Public Service & Pension Reforms. We expanded to nine (9) thematic areas in the Second Term (2019 – 2024) by the addition of Agriculture, Human Capital Development, Entrepreneurship & Youth Engagement, Security as well as Cooperation and Integration (the Socio-cultural Agenda) to the existing five focal areas. Today, our efforts in all of these areas of governance and more stand tall in spite of severe economic and security challenges.
Our New Direction Administration broke new grounds, literally, in all our chosen priority areas. Today, hundreds of newly constructed or reconstructed primary, secondary and tertiary educational and health institutions are available for your use in communities across the State. This second term in particular saw intensified upgrade of public infrastructure and utilities in the state, with our secondary and tertiary educational and healthcare institutions being major beneficiaries. Our achievements include the founding of two brand new universities which are currently in session and the construction of a 300-bed Reference Hospital at Okene and at least full-fledged 6 District hospitals in our State. There has also been a complete overhaul of the Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, transforming it into a centre of healthcare excellence.
We all know how societal inequalities are often rooted in financial distinction, so, beside the vastly improved engineering infrastructure across board, we also instituted free education and a sweeping health insurance scheme across primary to secondary educational and healthcare levels. This is part of our resolve to alleviate the financial burden on our people. This will ensure that even the poorest and most vulnerable among us can access the services at these revitalized institutions. Today, the Government of Kogi State covers basic medicare and all examination fees (WAEC, NECO, and JAMB) for all citizens enrolled in the appropriate service. Recently, we paid four hundred and ninety-seven million for the 2023 WAEC examinations for all students in our public schools.
Let me mention that I am also especially proud of our uninterrupted academic calendars in Kogi State since 2017. Given the incessant industrial actions that steals at least one full year out of life for every student studying in our public higher institutions, it is gratifying to report that universities, polytechnics and other tertiary institutions in Kogi State have operated seamlessly for the past seven years under our stewardship, providing uninterrupted sessions to all scholars. I am also urging the Federal and our fellow State Governments as well as all stakeholders to chart sustainable means of resolving their differences so that the hemorrhage of productive years suffered by our public school students can end.
Despite the severe financial constraints, we remained steadfast in providing you with security of lives and properties, promoting unity in our diversity and doing everything humanly possible to maintain the peace. We also achieved remarkable indices in Affirmative Action for gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. Our appointments reflect that we crossed the 35% affirmative action threshold years ago. The mainstreaming of inclusion for persons with special needs in both governance and society has also been an acclaimed priority on which we also made substantial progress.
This new year message is not the place to reel out a comprehensive rundown of our achievements. For that, you will have to wait for my handover speech in 26 days’ time. What is key now is that you, the great people of Kogi State, have given me my choice of a successor in the person of Governor-Elect Ahmed Usman Ododo and his deputy, Joel Oyibo Salifu, whom you elected so resoundingly on November 11, 2023. My dear Kogites, I extend heartfelt gratitude. Your confidence in our New Direction reinforces our conviction that it is indeed the Right Direction.
The outcome of the 2023 Kogi State Governorship Elections is the greatest mark of approval you could have given to me as my time in Lugard House winds down, for now I can be certain, as far as is humanly possible, that our legacies will be continued and consolidated. Therefore, as transition to the incoming Administration proceeds apace, let me reassure you that I have utmost confidence in the Team that will be taking over from me. His Excellency, Ahmed Usman Ododo and his No. 2 will not only build upon the solid foundation laid by my Administration but they will be armed with a painstakingly drafted Blueprint for even more accelerated and proportional development for Kogi State in all her constituencies.
They can of course do nothing without the help of God and your support. We are convinced that God will help them so, while thanking you for the solid support you have always given me in the last 8 years, I am passionately soliciting that you extend even more of it to them.
Once again, we thank the Almighty God for Year 2024. Congratulations on being counted among those alive to witness and live it. I pray that it will bring increase, promotion and enhanced productivity for each one of us, our beloved state, Kogi, and our great country, Nigeria. Accordingly, I wish all of us a happy and prosperous New Year!
Thank you, and God bless.
YAHAYA BELLO, CON
Governor of Kogi State