Mr. Kingsley Fanwo is the Director General of Media and Publicity to the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello. In this interview with Yekini Jimoh, he spoke on some of the issues currently affecting the state and the nation at large. Excerpts:
How will you described the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello as he celebrates two years in office?
The administration has done very well in stabilising the sinking ship that Kogi was at the time he took over as governor. Today, the administration has ensured the completion and restructuring of the shoddy Confluence Mega Terminal at Felele. We have also launched the Kogi State Geographic Information System, which has redefined our land administration in the state. Within two years, we have made Lokoja cleaner and more beautiful with Street lights, better roads across the town. Also, our revenue generation has improved geometrically as we constructed the best Revenue House in the country as well as equip it with state-of-the-art facilities. The administration is currently constructing Model Primary Schools in each of the 239 Villages across the state. Road constructions are ongoing across the state with many near completion.
We have been able to reposition the Civil Service through a successful staff verification exercise and digitalization. Our agricultural policies have heralded the state as the leading food producer in the country and infrastructure has been improved in our tertiary institutions. The Honourable Minister for Health was excited at what he saw on ground in Kogi State. He was dumbfounded by the scale of healthcare development here. Water provision has been a huge success story of the present administration. By and large, we have surpassed our expectations and the governor is always pushing for more.
There is this opinion that the governor has not done much in the area of road construction and infrastructure development. But this clearly negates your position. Can you reconcile it?
He has done a lot to improve infrastructure in the state. This administration is just 24 months old. We have completed some road projects, especially within the Lokoja metropolis but other major ones will take longer durations to complete. We were also hit with financial bleakness like other states. But we are doing our best to deliver on our mandate.
Don’t you think the coming of herdsmen to Kogi State will not create communal clashes?
Herdsmen are not just coming; they have always been a part of us. I can’t forget how a Fulani man rescued my dad from death on his way from the farm. He collapsed and was rescued and brought home before we took him to the hospital for a major operation. Fulanis are not evil. Every society has criminals, who should be dealt with because criminals have no place in Kogi State. But the world has become a global village. Our people also live in Fulani regions.
We must tolerate one another in a united Nigeria. So, I don’t believe that the presence of the Fulanis among us will cause any problem. The whole issue was politicized. The enemies of the nation are twisting the narrative to create tension in the nation.
Today many civil servants in the state are yet to be paid, what is the administration doing to solve the problem?
Wages and salaries have continued to be one of the issues this administration is committed to laying to rest. I won’t deny the fact that there could be a few omissions, but we have significantly dealt with it. Civil servants were very happy because government cleared the arrears of those owed salaries in December. For those omitted from the payrolls erroneously, efforts are on to address it so that we can go into February 2018 confident that all issues relating to salaries have been properly and holistically addressed.
Do you see PDP wining election in Kogi again?
PDP has no chance of coming back to the Lugard House. That will amount to taking the people for granted. The memories of their shenanigans are still fresh in the minds of Kogites. All they remember about the party is the lack of direction with which they ruled the state and the billions they stole from the coffers of the state.
Those billions would have saved us from the mess we met on ground here. They were in government in the era of boom but they equally stole with a boom. That was why they were rejected. Governor Yahaya Bello has turned Kogi to 95% APC. The good work will manifest during the 2019 general election.
Talk about the issue between the governor and Senator Melaye, is reconciliation feasible?
We must first establish if there is a disagreement between them before we can be talking of reconciliation. The governor has concentrated on his job. Conflict stoking is not one of his jobs. Two, the governor is the leader of the state and the party in the state. Senator Dino Melaye is representing a senatorial district. While the Governor does his job in Lokoja, Melaye does his in Abuja. So, there is no basis for disagreement between the two. It takes two or more people to fight. The governor is not prepared for such.
People alleged that the governor is not in charge and that the chief of staff, Chief Edward Onoja is in charge. Is there any element of truth in this?
People who say that do not understand the workings of government. One thing is clear – the governor has confidence in the people he has brought to serve with him. I advise him on Media issues. Does it mean I am in charge too? The Governor takes final decisions. He is the chief executive of the state. The Chief of Staff is a passionate, brilliant and astute young man. One thing in this governor is that he knows how to optimise people’s competence. The Governor is fully in charge.
What your opinion about former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to President Muhammadu Buhari?
President Olusegun Obasanjo is entitled to his opinion. There is a sure way of answering a statesman like him. President Buhari will surely win a second term. He has won the battle against terrorism. He has made corruption non-lucrative in the country and he is overseeing the recovery of our economy from the era of locusts. Very soon, Obasanjo will sing a new tune.
Do you see the president winning the election again?
The president is an institution in Nigeria. He is loved by the poor for his modesty and fight against corruption. His pro-poor policies will deliver 2019 to him.