The War on All Fronts in Kogi

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‎The tenure of Yahaya Bello as governor of Kogi State has been dogged by controversies from inception. Even though he will mark two years in office on January 27‎, many are already looking beyond him for a successor, Yekini Jimoh reports

Ever since he became the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello has always been in the news for the wrong reasons. The state continues to retain a place of prominence in negative publicity with leaders political in the state expressing displeasure with the governor’s style of governance.

Recently, the people of Kogi East Senatorial District raises issues with the governor’s style of leadership.
The state has been swimming in a shallow river despite the fact that it is blessed with ‘two notable rivers’. Workers are not being paid as at when due. In order to help the workers, some members of the National Assembly from the state have had to donate bags of rice. The question agitating the minds of people in the state is when will the suffering end?

The governor, who will clock two years in office on January 27 next year faces serious battles including the endless face-off with the leadership of his party in the state, his war of attrition with Senator Dino Melaye and his disagreements with workers over unpaid salaries. Others are the security challenges such as kidnapping, assassination, armed robbery and also the proscription of unions in various institutions in the state.
As at today, Kogi State is in dangerous waters, rudderlessly sailing into difficult storms.

Just recently, Kogi East Elders Council (KEEC) the Igala people’s apex socio-cultural organisation described the government of governor Yahaya Bello as an unmitigated disaster.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja recently, the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Senator Amodu Ali who is also the Chairman of KEEC, said the council, in its attempt to give the young administration the benefit of the doubt, had restrained itself from taking a critical posture, in the hope that the current leaders would retrace their steps and take the right path.

According to him, the council has decided to go public on the deplorable and deteriorating condition of resources-rich Kogi State.

He said: “In the last two years since Bello providentially took over the mantle of leadership as the governor of the state, impulsive and ill-informed steps taken by the administration have left in their trail the sounds of wailing and lamentation in villages, towns and cities across the state.

“The Kogi East Elders Council, in its attempt to give the young administration the benefit of the doubt, had restrained itself from taking a critical posture, in the hope that the current leaders would retrace their steps and take the right path.

“However, our hopes that the government would take the right path was being dashed as the leadership is sinking deeper into errors, making a shipwreck of the opportunity given to this younger generation to steer the ship of Kogi State towards a greater future.”

He stated that the termination of the appointments of 135 academic staff of Kogi State University by the state government was an evidence of its ignorance with regard to administration.
He also pointed out that the state of insecurity in Kogi was unacceptable.

According to him, it has culminated in a situation in which a labour leader, Mallam Abdulmumuni Yakubu, was reportedly killed in Okene on November 1, 2017. “The evidence of the widespread insecurity was manifest in the imposition of 24-hour curfew on five local government areas by the state government on November 9, 2017. The LGAs include Adavi, Ajaokuta, Okene, Ogori/Magongo and Okehi.

“Thuggery and senseless killings are not the only definitions of insecurity in the state. There is kidnapping, armed robbery, conflicts between herders and farmers, leading to the loss of lives and properties. “The crimes have continued to fester dangerously, while government beats its chest for fighting the menace through donations of vehicles and other facilities to the police.

“Crimes are defeated, not only with facilities, but through intelligence gathering from the communities. Moreover, some known criminals flaunt their invincibility before their hapless victims because they have been recruited into the political strategies for the next elections.”

He accused the state government of wasting millions of naira on advertisements to showcase the number of employees who have been cleared and paid, but it shamelessly admitted that in spite of the funds accruing to the state, government still owed the salaries of some ‘cleared workers.’

Ali said: “It is nothing short of wickedness for the Kogi State government to deny workers their salaries and pensioners’ stipends in the face of such abundant financial resources.

“The excuse of refining the civil service system or of running a digital administration does not hold water, as every improvement on an administrative system is supposed to produce a positive result, not a negative one that leaves the people in anguish and penury.”

He said the situation in the stated was totally unacceptable to Kogi East Elders Council. He therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to intervene in the crises in the state by setting up a presidential committee to investigate the purported staff audit and ensure that staff salaries were paid.

The group also urged the federal government to investigate how the funds that went to Kogi State as bailout and Paris Club refunds were utilized, to the point that the president’s directive that civil servants’ salaries should be given priority in the disbursement of the funds was not adhered to.

“It is worth putting on record that Kogi State belongs to over three million people who hail from the confluence state and not the few persons who hold political offices in various capacities today.

“Every indigene of the state is interested in lifting it from its parlous state to the height of progress and prosperity.

“Therefore, the state government should consider critical voices as partners in progress, not enemies. It is imperative for this government to run an all-inclusive administration as that is the better way in which the state can move forward,” he advised.

But a youth group from the district, the Kogi East Coalition for Good Governance has expressed satisfaction with the style of administration of the governor.

The youth, at a press conference held in Lokoja disagreed with the position of the Kogi East Elders Council on the style of Bello’s administration.

According to them, the Kogi East Elders Council was a self serving group which neither had the mandate nor the support of the traditional institutions and the people of Kogi East Senatorial District, and must be therefore ignored.

The spoke person of the group, Mr. Ishiaka Alfred said the group did not care about who was in Lugard House (Kogi State House) but wanted good governance.

“As far as we are concerned, Senator Amodu Ali and his Kogi East Elders Council cannot be counted among those who provided standard for good governance in Kogi State.

“They are at best an elitist cultural troupes or social club who periodically perform in public for the sole benefit of their members,” he said.

The spoke person who refuted the allegations of non performance by the governor said the governor’s achievements in the area of security had been acknowledged nation wide to the extend that Kogi State had become investors’ haven.

He added that the difficult decision of the governor in over hauling the state’s civil service had yielded positive results as over 1000 charlatans and over 4000 cheats who respectively forged certificates and cheated the government on sundry ways had been weeded out of service.

“Today, salaries are paid without hitches to genuine workers and the civil service is now repositioned to carry out its statutory responsibility of policies formulation and implementations, ” he noted.

“We hereby declared a vote of confidence on governor Yahaya Bello and his new direction administration. We want his excellency to know that his reforms are in order and must be brought to logical conclusion. We urge him to sanitize as many aspects of our socio economic life as he possibly can, ” he added.

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The chairman called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to intervene in the crises in Kogi State by setting up a presidential committee to investigate the purported staff audit and ensure that staff salaries were paid.