By Tom Ohikere
The coming of Yahaya Bello as the Governor of Kogi state remains a devine revolution in the history of Kogi state to most of us who had been at the forefront of the Kogi project. Before his administration in the State, insecurity was rife, Robbery and kidnapping were perpetrated with reckless abandon. The State gave up while the reign of terror continued.
But the game changer, Governor Yahaya Bello has upturned the narratives today. He provided over 200 utility vehicles for patrol and procured sophisticated gadgets for the Operation Total Freedom established by the present administration to stamp out criminality in the State. Intelligence gathering became seamless and properties which were proceeds of crime were destroyed to serve as a deterrent to others. Now Kidnapping and armed robbery has dropped by over 90 per cent!
Governor Bello, has been focused on getting the job done despite the untiring efforts of political opponents “PDP jobbers” to misrepresent the person of the Governor and his administration to the outside world, I rather feel indebted if I refuse to come out to state clearly, some of the achievements of the present administration in the state under the dynamic Governor who is gradually making progress.
Governor Yahaya Bello inaugurated the Okene-Kuroko-Eika-Itakpe road project, recently completed by his administration in the central senatorial district of the state to boost the economic activities in the area and to ease the transportation of people, goods and services and the Ogaminana-Osisi-Ipaku- Inoziomi road.
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has began inauguration of the World Bank/Community and Social Development Project (CSDP) projects worth N500 million across the three senatorial districts of the state, a partnership aimed at providing basic social amenities to rural communities across the state.
The governor started by commissioning a completed cottage hospital and two motorised boreholes at Anyava and Agassa Uvette communities in Okene Council. He also laid a foundation stone for a skills acquisition centre at Okene Community Secondary School (OCSS) in Anyava.
The rehabilitation of roads in the three senatorial areas, the ongoing building of a referral hospital in Okene, the ganaja Ajaokuta road project.
Quality healthcare delivery has been one of the greatest achievements of the present administration in Kogi State. Apart from the ongoing state-of-the-art Medical Diagnostic Centre that is threatening to be the best this nation has ever witnessed, a lot of achievements are ongoing; Renovation, remodelling and re-equipping of existing Primary Health Care Centres (one per LGA) with solar-powered boreholes and electrification to help the success of the Healthcare Plus Programme.
The Administration has been able to renovate our Zonal Hospital in Kabba (Kogi West), Idah (Kogi East) and Okene (Kogi Central). This has made it easy for people to access quality healthcare without necessarily besieging the medical facilities at the state capital.
The administration has constructed a Cottage Hospital in Kpareke, embarked on massive renovation and construction of new hostels and Clinic at the School of Nursing, Obangede.
Construction of an administrative block at the School of Health Technology, Idah, Strengthening of the State Action Committee on HIV/AIDS enlighten the people about the dangers of contacting the disease.
Prompt payment of counterpart fund to partners to enable the state access all her healthcare facilities and frontally combated the menace of quackery in the health profession to protect Kogites while prioritizing the success of the Kogi State Sustainable Drug Supply Sysytem. Under this administration, we have witnessed an unparalleled response to a medical emergency situation.
He has also done tremendously in the area of Regular salary payments and general welfare of civil servants in the state. Also the Civil Service Reforms which was a monster that many administrations before the incumbent avoided as a result of the fear of losing elections. Powerful Kogites who have so enriched themselves at the expense of the people of the state were involved in loading the payrolls of government with thousands of fictitious names to defraud the state. Governor Yahaya Bello refused to be cowed. He dared the cabal and stopped the stealing through a rigorous and thorough verification exercise. Mind-boggling revelations were left at the wake of the exercise and today, the government didn’t only succeed in removing ghost names from the service but have also digitalized the operations of the service as well as re-engineer the work psychology of the civil servants. A massive achievement that has set the state on the path of progress, he is a champion of Anti-Corruption, no wander President Muhammadu Buhari finds it comforting to identify with him.
During his administration, Agriculture has witnessed an unprecedented revolution in the state. The State Government keyed into the Agricultural Renaissance Policy of the Federal Government which was aimed at ensuring food security and promoting non-oil sector for economic transformation.
Today, Kogi State has become the Agricultural Capital of Nigeria as the Governor has created the right environment and support to make agriculture the driver of the state economy.
The State Government has succeeded in facilitating loans for farmers to encourage mechanization and improved production of food. The State Government cleared 1000 hectares of land across the state which were allocated to youthful farmers with farm inputs and agric machines services, procured 375 Fergus Tractors with complete implements, three quantities each for Mini Harvesters, Planters, Broom Sprayers, Rice Reapers and other similar equipment to enhance agricultural activities and boost production.
Procurement and assemblage of 1500 Tillers which were distributed to small scale farmers in 2017. Along the value chains, Agriculture has created about 20,000 jobs for Kogites, thereby depopulating the unemployed demography in the state.
The State Government contributed in no small measure to the cultivation of 3000 hectares of rice and 5000 hectares of cassava in the state.
In order to bridge the gap in vegetable production using the advantage of the nodal location of the state, the State Government has established a state of the art greenhouse Farm at Osara to produce tomatoes and other vegetables.
Keying into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (ADS) through payment of the State’s counterpart fund by the Bello Administration, the Ministry of Agriculture has constructed 500 fish ponds as a pilot scheme and have been handed over to over 1000 youth across the state to own and operate.
The Tax Reforms of the Yahaya Bello Administration has impacted positively on the finances of the state. It will be right to say that without the reforms, it would have been impossible to survive the current financial depression occasioned by the reckless borrowing and stealing of the past. On the assumption of Office, the Governor granted the Board of Internal Revenue autonomy. It became the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service. The government built and delivered, a gigantic Revenue House, which has added to the aesthetic beauty of the capital city. Competent hands were employed and revenue administration became digitalized. What we have today is a product of having a youthful and digital Governor at the helms of affairs who is digitally mobile and intellectually poised to move the state forward. In his administration revenue has moved from the paltry N350 million naira that we inherited from the Idris Wada Administration to nothing less than N1.3 Billion naira monthly until the wake of the global corona virus pandemic.
I do not have the luxury of time to recount Bello’s achievements but just to illuminate on these few ones and to alert the public of the tireless efforts of the PDPs and their gangs to distract the government by going from one tribunal to another even on case that has already been decided and settled by the citizens and the court of appeal. We must remain resolute on our stands with Governor Bello and give him the necessary supports he may require to succeed in this responsibility and not to allow PDP’s sentiments to delude our minds of reasoning or used to perpetuate any form of illegalities.
Its immaterial to remind us that PDP and Wada has nothing to offer because he and PDP are not alien to us, we know them and they have no antecedents to point to, they are noise makers, fuelling energy to distract GYB from governance, as stakeholders in the Kogi project we must not allow them to succeed.
However Bello should not relent or be distracted by the PDPs elements from delivering devidens of democracy to his people. He should remain focuse especially in the areas of economic renaissance of the state and workout modality for an economic development round-table where economic and development experts will have the opportunity to exchange ideas that will take the state to the next level of economic prosperity. Such round-table summit should be organized by Kogi State Internal Revenue Service to prospect for the industrial take-off of the state. Potential investors, experts, financiers, NACCIMA, MAN, NASSI, the government, media and others must be coopted in the event to give room for the exhibition of the economic potentials of the 21 local government areas, as a way of consolidating on the emanating gains of the administration and the prospect of the future of the state.
Tom Ohikere former commissioner in Kogi State writes from Abuja.