On Wednesday, 27th January 2016, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello will assume duties as governor and chief security officer of the confluence state. His assumption will not only mark the beginning of a new era, but also end the decade-long political dynasty of certain section of the state.
Since its creation in 1991, the state has witnessed unprecedented political instability, socio-economic downturn, improvised by ineptitude of people who prioritise self-interest over state development.
There is no doubt that the incoming government will inherit a state with a severe and devastating structures, ranging from political instability, increasing wave of insecurity occasioned by decades of systematic neglect of army of youths in the state and wide spread poverty, infrastructural cum educational decay, accumulated debts and general loss of morality amongst other pot of challenges.
In spite of these alarming hurdles, the incoming governor still has numerous opportunities to overcome all the challenges which are even complicated by the outgoing Idris Wada’s administration. Yahaya Bello only needs to assemble competent team with well-articulated and all inclusive policy.
Politics of acrimony and ethnic rivalry in Kogi state
The task ahead of the God’s own-governor is indeed enormous but surmountable with diligence, prayer and diplomacy.
The history of politics in Kogi state has always been characterised with acrimony, manipulation and ethnic rivalry. Undoubtedly, the circumstances that led to the emergence of Yahaya Bello as governor-elect is still fresh in the memories of discerning Nigerians. The sudden death of Kogi born political “bulldozer,” Prince Abubakar Audu was responsible for his divine emergence.
His party painstakingly took a decision that was quickest, safest, cost-less, simplest and legally proven alternative. It was a decision that defied all human manipulations at that particular time. But this irreversible decision was greeted with a lot of controversies because of the persistence and long history of inter/intral-ethnic struggle in the state.
The incursion of south-west political godfather, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu into Kogi politics further worsened the already volatile political environment. His persistent struggle to impose his begotten-political-son, James Faleke as governor of the state has created yet another uncertainty in Kogi politics.
The all-round litigations filed by various interests group against Bello would for sure, have a negative impact on his administration.
In addition to multiple litigations which Bello needs to sail through by God willing, the current unresolved crisis in the state legislature would, of course, constitute another challenge for his government.
It also need be stated that his party has minority in the current state assembly with opposition PDP leading the leadership of the legislative arm of government. Even though, the current speaker is also from his constituency, he may still be faced with a strong opposition and clash of policy interest that require a lot of works to deal with.
The challenge of a troubled economy
About 25 years after the creation of this well-endowed state which supposed to be competing favorably with states like Lagos, River, Ilorin and others viable states in the country, the state has unfortunately, remained one of the poorest, according to resent survey. This is despite numerous human and material resources coupled with its strategic location, bordering nearly 10 states of the federation, including federal capital territory, Abuja.
In his recent parting message, the outgoing governor, Captain Idris Ichala Wada declared that his administration was “leaving behind N44.46 billion domestic debt and $35.7 million as external debt for the incoming government” without visible achievement.
Needless to say that I’m yet to see in any publication, whether the governor is also leaving behind any penny in the state coffer.
According to him, some of his major achievements are recent awarded N4billion contract of Ganaja flyover, the uncompleted Allo cement company, the yet to be completed ethanol factory in Banda among others. This is the height of ineptitude and misgovernance ever exhibited by a sitting governor in the history of Nigeria. He added that “about 85% of the monthly allocation goes into payment of salary.”
In his earlier statement, the governor said that the average total annual revenue accruing to the state from federation account and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) was about N80 billion but that 90 percent of it goes into salary while the state is left with only 5billion.
It will be recalled that at the last count, the state workforce stands at Kogi Central Senatorial District, 4,069 (almost 11%); West Senatorial District, 6,519 (almost 19%); Kogi East Senatorial District 24,621 (about 70%) totalling 35,209.
In addition to the seemly empty treasury and accumulated unaccounted debts, the state governor is also leaving behind the lingering crisis between it and organized labour in the state. The labour leaders in recent time have asked the outgoing governor to account for the disappearance of about N2billion from the state coffer, but, Wada and his team are yet to provide a satisfactory answer to this allegation.
As such, correcting this comatose economy and social inequalities would require a diligence and diplomatic strategies which may take quit sometime to realise. The misfortune of former and outgoing administrations in the state will indeed have a great impact on Yahaya Bello’s administration. The expectations of the masses are high and the people are anticipating to see him wave his magic-stick and wipe out their tears caused by his successors. Though, the masses are not to be blamed as they have suffered untold hardship in the area of insecurity, dearth of infrastructure, alarming rate of poverty, unemployment amongst others, but they need to be patient and corporate with the incoming government to succeed as it takes long meticulous time to repair than to destroy.
Rising spate of insecurity in the state
Despite the claim by the Wada government that his greatest achievement was the restoration of peace and security in the state, available record show that the state is still beclouded with insecurity occasioned by frequent cases of armed robbery, communal crises, Kidnapping, assassination and youth restiveness in the three senatorial districts of the state. Recent reports revealed that major roads in and around the state have become hubs for armed robbers and hoodlums who jump out from the bush onto the road to attack unsuspecting travelers without mercy.
In Okene, Kabba, Ijumu and Ajaokuta for instance, banks are forced to close as early as 3pm every day and completely closed down during Yuletide period as armed robbers can freely invade the towns and raid the banks without assurance of security.
Recently, money meant for payment of workers in Adavi LG area were carted away in broad daylight at Ogaminana, Adavi LG area. During the last supplementary governorship election, hoodlums burnt down INEC office in Idah without single person announce to be apprehended. In Ibaji, Dekina, Okehi, Idah, Okene, Adavi, Ajoukut, Ijumu and Kabba LG areas, several people were assassinated within the period of four years of Wada administration.
In November last year, about 22 people were murdered by Fulani herdsmen in Dekina LG community while in April last year, TAO FM radio station was bombed by armed men and killed about 4 members of its staff at Kuroko, Adavi LG area of the state.
According to security sources, about 50 people were kidnapped since Wada assumed office in 2012. These include high court judge, Justice Samuel Obayomi; the American Missionary, Rev. Phylhis Sortor; Rector of Federal Polytechnic Idah, Mathew Akpata; seven Chinese men; the Oba of Apaa-Bunu in Kabba/Bunu LGA, HRH Oba Adebisi Obademi; the Bursar of Federal Polytechnic Idah; Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s mother, Hajia Hawawu Bello, two sons of Kogi State House of Assembly Speaker, Lawal Momoh Jimoh; the wife and daughter of the former council chairman of Adavi, Salihu Adaviruku and the younger brother of late Prince Abubakar Audu. The State Commissioner for Land, Housing and Urban Development, Hon, Stephen Maiyaki was among other numerous unreported cases. Yet, Wada, in his usual deceptive statement claims to have restored peace and security in the state despite these glaring evidences of acute failure in all aspects of the state which can be testified to by all right thinking Nigerians who pass through the confluence state.
The Golding opportunities:
While it’s undeniable that the 40 year old young entrepreneur would, by God willing, take over the leadership of over five million people of Kogi state, with numerous challenges, there are also numerous opportunities his Excellency can utilize to deliver his campaign promises and win the confidence of all Kogites within the next four years.
He can borrow a leaf from his counterparts like Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, and follow the developmental posture of the president Buhari administration. It is obvious that his party at the center will not see him failing and will support succor his administration to succeed at all costs.
Also in his favour, is his divine emergence that defied, and continue to defy all human manipulations by God’s willing. This alone shows that he has the guidance, beyond human making, to succeed, the state with little influence from political ‘bourgeoisies’ as he is not indebted to any political godfather in the state and at the federal level.
His experience in leadership traits which include: development, valor, fairness, fearlessness, hospitability, honesty, industriousness and gallantry would as well help him when effectively put into practice to navigate through all hurdles on his way.
Assembling sincere and knowledgeable and competent team will help him in tackling the challenges. He needs to explore numerous human and natural resources that abound the state.
As Kogi citizens are anxiously awaiting the ‘new direction,’ he must not fail the people. He must ensure that his policies and programs are driven by mass appeal. He must quickly develop a program to absorb the jobless youths who have constituted security menace to the state. He should not allow the litigations to distract his focus even as he should put faith in God. He should believe and trust that God who has brought him to limelight by His grace, would also protect him and make him triumphant in the end.
In an attempt to stretch a hand of fellowship, he must do that with one hand. In an attempt to run all inclusive government, he must do it with cautious. And, in an attempt to reconcile all aggrieved person, he must do it with long hand: that are precious words of advice to the God’s owned governor, his Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello.
I wish him and kogites a very best of luck as they begin a new political era, come Wednesday.
Deen Adavize is a political analyst and ICT expert. He sent in this piece from Abuja, Nigeria.