Kogi in a Permanent State of Crisis

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Since Alhaji Yahaya Bello assumed office as Kogi State Governor, the state has known no peace, writes Yekini Jimoh

Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has since assuming office been facing serious challenges, all of which portray the state as one of the most controversial states in the country, especially given the way he emerged governor. And on his first day in office, he made it clearly known that his administration would be known as the “New Direction Government.” Whatever that meant, the people are beginning to see under his leadership in the mold they had never seen before.

Soon after settling down, most leaders and supporters of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), have nearly all deserted, him including the state executive council of the party, because of some of his leadership style, which appears to discountenance the role of the party in the affairs of the state.

The reconciliation between him and some aggrieved members of his party is yet to be achieved by the committee set up by the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Unfortunately, for him, the first baptism of fire that his administration encountered was the leadership crisis that rocked the foundation of the state House of Assembly. The crisis, which lasted many months, was later suppressed after series of meetings with the lawmakers, the governor and some stakeholders from the state.

Just as that was settling down, the issue of conducting screening exercise for all workers and pensioners came on board, although considered a reform initiative that would help reposition the state’s civil service. The exercise indeed, might have led to some startling discoveries, but the handling of it is believed to have shown inexperience and lack of capacity to handle serious challenges of state.

To follow this is the feud between the governor and Senator Dino Melaye, which has now climaxed with a subsisting recall process of Senator Melaye. But how a senator, who was one of the right hand men of the governor, when he newly came on board, suddenly became an enemy and target remains a puzzle, such that Melaye was reportedly physically attacked in his country home, Iyara-Gbede in Ijumu Local Government Council Area of the state by an armed gang.

Melaye, who alleged that the governor was after his life, was again attacked in Lokoja during a peaceful protest. It was the crisis that would later lead to the recall process of the Senator by the people of Kogi West senatorial district of the state, albeit a move believed to have been instigated by the governor.

As it is, today, the governor is having a rough time with the organised labour in the state over unpaid salaries, compounded by the recent introduction of the clock-in system for all workers in the state. This development has led to indefinite strike by workers in the state, because the electronic system designed to help bring down wage bills after the screening exercise is seen largely by the workers as anti-people and ill-conceived in a state like Kogi, more so with the introduced electronic attendance register.

The state workers are already lamenting the clocking system, which they said would further impoverish them with the recent introduction of 50% salaries payment. With the new system, workers have to clock-in between 7.30 and 8am for resumption, 12pm for break and 4pm for closing every work day. The initiative is being used to determine how many days and hours a worker spends in a month for the purpose of calculating his salary.

The machines, which have the imputed workers’ bio-data, have been installed in all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) and are to be controlled from the office of the Accountant General of the state for the purpose of computing salaries on an individual basis. The Kogi State government is the first in the country to introduce the clock-in time regulations system for its workers.

On the other hand, the government said it has done its best to satisfy the demands of Labour in the state, including the settlement of salary arrears met on assumption of office.

Director-General of Media and Publicity to the governor, Mr. Kingsly Fanwo said, “The staff verification exercise was inevitable and even the civil servants supported the idea and were part of the process. The state wouldn’t have continued to waste resources on unintended beneficiaries.
“The clock-in, clock-out system has come to stay and it is connected to the electronic payroll in the state. Those who do not come to work stand a risk of being omitted from the payrolls.”

However, the man at the center of the storm, Governor Bello, has indicated that his administration has had the singular record of having the most malicious opposition in the history of the Fourth Republic in Nigeria.
“It does not matter to them that Kogi State belongs to all of us. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred,” he urged, adding that the fortunate aspect of his challenges is that their animosity merely gives his government more reasons to work harder in order to prove them wrong.

“It does not matter to them that the fire they kindle among our tribes and zones today will burn them if they ever arrive at Lugard House in the future. They do not care that the young people they give arms today or indoctrinate with hate to make Kogi State ungovernable for Governor Yahaya Bello will become the security threats of their own period if they ever become governor,” he said.

Bello said they get on the Television or any other media platform to raise false alarm that Kogi State has been overrun by kidnappers, armed robbers and other violent criminality at any slightest opportunity.

“It does not matter to them that the investor they scare away with their lies today is an employer of labour and a tax-player they will not have in their own time, assuming God gives them the opportunity to lead the state. It is now a proven fact that they can have no joy in whatever does not paint Kogi State as the Hobbesian society of ‘continual fear, and danger of violent death…(where) life…(is) solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
Ironically, his philosophical but rather pedantic sermon hardly travels beyond the walls of the venue of delivery. The opposition to his government is believed to have been rather stiff and potent by his divisive leadership style. And until the style changes, Kogi is unlikely to savour a better administrative environment till another election bout.