By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, at the weekend inaugurated his state-of-the-art house in Okene in Kogi State.Â
Experts put the cost of the mansion conservatively at over N2 billion.
The building which took about four months to complete was inaugurated with pomp and pageantry to coincide with Ekwechi festival in the town.
DuringÂ the four days celebrations, the seat of government was literally moved to Okene about 100 kilometers away from Lokoja, the state capital, as nearlyÂ all government functionaries relocated there to join the governor.
The inauguration of the house situated along Mahmoud Atta Street, GRA, Okene, attracted important dignitaries especially from the Kogi Central senatorial district, includingÂ the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Alhaji Ibrahim, among others.Â
However, tongues have been wagging in the state over the audacity of their governor to brazenly construct a personal house worth over N2 billion, the opening of which he celebrated like a state affair when workers in the state are still groaning over unpaid salaries.
The issue which became a topic of discussion on social media with wide spread condemnation, prompted the Director General on Media and Publicity to the state governor, Kingsley Fanwo, to officially react by exonerating his principal of any wrong doing.
Their grouse is the fact that in less than two years, the governor has not put up any real infrastructure on ground to warrant celebration apart from some projects that were at the verge of completion by his predecessor which he is trying to give some facelift
Â This is happening when most of the projects embarked upon by the Bello administration have remained at the commencement stage.Â However, in a statement that was made available to THISDAY in Lokoja yesterday,Â Fanwo said the social media condemnation of the governor for owning a multi-million naira house in his native Okene is the antics of a confused community of crumbling critics.
Fanwo said the governor didnâ€™t violate any known law for having a house in his hometown.
According to him, â€œI didnâ€™t say anything because they are a confused community of crumbling critics who have lost focus and direction.
â€œThey know the governor was a successful businessman before his foray into politics. There is no correlation between the salary payment situation in the state and the governorâ€™s recently completed house at Okene.
Â â€œWe have spoken severally about the salary situation in the state. We have paid genuine workers up to July 2017 and we are working on the arrears. It is also true that those who were recently pardoned and returned to the payrolls are being owed more number of months.
Â â€œWe will pay what our Paris Club refund and allocations can pay to make the yuletide an enjoyable one for our civil servants. They deserve their pay after all their contributions to the development of the state.â€
Fanwo said the state government would continue to strengthen its relationship with labour unions, insisting that comparison of the state with oil producing and highly viable states was unfair.