Waiting on Bello’s Commission of Inquiry

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Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, recently inaugurated an 8-man Commission of Inquiry to probe the two administrations before him. But the question is: how far Bello go on this wild chase, asks Yekini Jimoh

In an effort to recover some of the common patrimony of the state, allegedly looted away by previous administrations, the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello recently set up a Commission of Inquiry headed by a renowned retired Justice from Kano State, Justice Wada Umar Rano. The commission shall look into the activities of past administration and expose their misdemeanor.

Created some 25 years ago, Kogi is largely seen as still far off from leveling up with other states created alongside with it. Some opinion moulders are however of the view that the setting up of commission might just be a right step at the right time.

According to them, due to bad leadership over time, the state has failed to witness rapid development since its creation, adding that the only person who actually stood out as governor was the late Abubakar Audu.

A political analysts, Mr. James Otitoju-Ojo, in his opinion said the governor has demonstrated that he was not out to witch-hunt anybody by appointing a retired Justice from Kano to head the panel.

He said since ascending office, Bello has demonstrated that his government was ‘for nobody but for everybody’ noting that contracts awarded by the past administrations since 2004 were not executed. He lamented that some contracts were inflated by the contractors as they connived with those in charge during their period in office.

Otitoju-Ojo added that appointments made so far by the governor were a testimony of his desire to carry everybody along, stressing that past administrations in the state mismanaged the economy, a factor allegedly responsible for why the state is still backward.

Also speaking in the same vein, a retired civil servant in the state, Dr. Steven Achi Musa said Governor Bello has shown that he was ready to move the state forward, noting that the screening of workers in the state was an indication that the governor was set to fight corruption. He pointed out that in a situation where past governors of the state refused to implement the outcome of workers’ screening exercise, it was an indication that some cabal were out to sabotage the effort of government at all cost. He was optimistic that the commission would recover some of the loots away from those who stole from the state during the period in question – 2003 to 2015.

Bello, while inaugurating the commission, recalled that “Kogi State was created on 27th August, 1991 – a little over 25 years ago. Twenty-five years ago, Dubai was a desert settlement in the middle of nowhere. Today, Dubai is a global megalopolis hosting some of the most advanced man-made technology and infrastructure on Planet Earth. Kogi State, on the other hand, still ranks low on the global development map, along with the rest of Nigeria.”

He said to resolve the problem of underdevelopment in the state, there was the need to resolve the problem of corruption, noting that as part of his accountability project, “We are empanelling a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into the management of our finances by previous stewards, dating back to 2003 upwards.

“The Panel is not just to find what went wrong and recover what is missing or stolen but to assist us in fashioning institutionalised means of preventing recurrence. We want to inculcate a tradition of preventing theft, not chasing thieves.”

He noted that the commission was set up pursuant to Section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Law Cap 25, Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963 as applicable to Kogi State to hold inquiry into the conduct of officers in the public service, or any department of public service, or any local institution of Kogi State from May 29, 2003 to January 27, 2016.

“In this time and age, it is unbelievable that we are still grappling with lack of every conceivable public infrastructure, unpaid salaries, benefits, pensions, gratuities, unpaid contractors, unfunded projects, inability to meet counterpart funding obligations to development and other partners, to mention but a few.

“When one looks at the list of unmet financial responsibilities above, the temptation is to conclude that Kogi State’s problem is the funding gap, and that if more money were injected into the system, our problems would be met and we would be, if not a model society, at least a developed one,” he lamented.

He said his administration could not bury the years of accumulated theft by politically exposed persons in the faulty foundations they laid over the years.

“We must not also disregard the accumulated hurt felt by our excluded citizenry, and pretend it did not happen, or that they will forget. That can only earn us a society festering with sublimated anger that will explode sooner than later with disastrous consequences.

“We want to reverse corruption as a trend in this administration. There must therefore be an accounting – a genuine effort at reconciliation. True justice is the only route to healing for wounded societies. Corruption has hurt more Nigerians than apartheid hurt South Africans. It has killed more people in Nigeria than the Rwandans lost in the genocide 21 years ago.

“Anyone who takes a look at those two countries today will realise that by taking account of all parties, they took charge of their individual and national lives again, so that both victims and perpetrators today live together in one prosperous and progressive society.

“We too must put our dirty linen out in the public, albeit in a controlled environment like the scrutiny of a Commission such as this one, subject it to cycles of cleansing in the washing machine of truth and bring out the stronger fabrics and brighter colors of a thriving society,” he said.

The governor however noted the idea was not a license to witch-hunt or settle scores with anyone and that everyone must be accorded their due respect in line with the laws of the land.

“This is your chance to help this administration put Kogi State firmly on the path to recovery, please do not allow or do anything to cast a pall of doubt over its impartiality or integrity.
“This is the spirit of change promised by APC at work. This is what President Muhammadu Buhari is doing in the federal Ggovernment and it is what we will do in Kogi State. Some of our contemporaries may misunderstand our intents and purposes, but God is the judge of all. We also trust that posterity will judge us better,” he added.

In the final analysis, the people of Kogi do hope that beyond the setting up of the commission, Governor Bello would be able to sum up the much needed courage to implement the report that would be submitted after it is done within the three months’ time frame.

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In the final analysis, the people of Kogi do hope that beyond the setting up of the commission, Governor Bello would be able to sum up the much needed courage to implement the report that would be submitted after it is done within the three months’ time frame