Opinion: Not Minding Bello. By Abu Micheal


Most Nigerian leaders are poorly equipped for leadership. Little wonder many of them find it difficult and cannot respond quickly and competently to serious challenges when in positions of authority.
Several years after the creation of Kogi State, the State has had leaders who had ethnicity and other mundane sentiments made to clip their wings while at the helm of affairs, thus making them today enjoy the bitter taste of history made after them.
Similarly, the State has had leaders who were more obsessed with the benefits that come with power than the responsibilities that undergird it.
The on-going staff verification exercise in Kogi State as commissioned by Governor Yahaya Bello, few weeks after he assumed office, has made many not to mind the other good works that is on-going in the confluence city.
Gov. Bello, by his action has chosen a part that may not enjoy public accolades for now, but in the long run, many are of the opinion that he will have history smile on him.
Actually, several of the Kogi State past governors have at one time or the other also try to carry out staff audit to authenticate its wage bill to the state workers without the commensurate result. This is because as many times the audit is commissioned, the exercise is usually compromised leaving the government wondering why it began the exercise in the first instance.
The immediate past administration of Captain Idris Wada, at a point lamented a situation where his administration had to use about 115% total statutory and Internally Generated allocation monthly of the state to service a tiny fragments of the states population. Averagely put, the state’s monthly allocation then was put at N2.6 billion and another 100% of Internally Generated Revenue of about N500 million was used then to settle the wage bill of a tiny population of the State, of not more than 50,000 working personel.
Thus, not ready to tow the path of failure. On assumption of office, Governor Bello dared to be different and began a screening exercise that initially looks like it will fail because those who had since the creation of the State been the beneficiaries of the wage bill fraud, never wanted the audit to thrive.
Not many are however presently minding the fact that there seems to be a silent revolution that is on-going in Kogi State. There are serious efforts been made by the present administration in virtually all sectors, Road, Job Creation and Infrastructure. Others are Education, the Health and Agricultural Sector where the state over the years is said to have comparative advantage in view of its agrarian nature, but was not exploited.
In specific, rebuilding a state whose very foundation and superstructure had been compromised by years of mismanagement, and replacing them with new and better ways of doing things is what the Bello administration is set to achieve.
Certainly, it comes with it own challenges, cost and price to pay.
For instance not many know that in December 2016, the State’s IGR rose to N1.9bn. The present administration is working to achieve a N32billion IGR in 2017 to basically fund the budget. This they intend to achieve through fiscal discipline and blocking holes that served as conduit pipes over the years. The administration has also set up a fiscal responsibility committee assisting the administration in the areas of investment processing and financial responsibility.
Three Unity Schools, as centre of excellence and unity, is also underway in the state.
The thematic areas of the Bello’s administration’s Direction Blueprint, which serves as a roadmap, placed Education, Health Infrastructures and Utilities, Public Service Reforms, which are allied to the sustainable development goals, has made the prioritization of project a compelling need of the Bello’s administration.
So far, seventeen motorized boreholes, fifteen roads, and about ten electricity projects to connect hitherto unserved communities to the national grid are on-going.
Lokoja is now cleaner, with the old water work now resuscitated. Renovation of failed township roads and traffic signalization, in place of unsightly and out-modeled roundabout has been completed. The administration has also changed Lokoja streetlights to solar models to reduce maintenance and electricity costs and to improve the aesthetics of the state capital.
Towards ensuring that the local government councils operate at full capacity, the autonomy granted them, has enough checks and balances to act with probity and in line with overall state objectives, points to the fact that, leadership at the council areas have been revamped.
Currently, over 200km of farm access and feeder roads are under construction or renovation on going across all Local Governments Areas. These has no doubt further opened rural markets to improve patronage.
Under the youth empowerment program, about 478 youths are currently engaged under the GYB connect program.
Similarly, the Kogi Enterprise Development Agency, if passed into law will employ 260 Kogi youths every month, with the training funding and kits to start up their micro, small or medium enterprise. It is hoped that each year at least 3,120 would be responsible directly or indirectly for setting up MSME’s in the State.
Over 4,000 Kogi youths are also enlisted in the N-Power Social Program. Another 4,000 other youths are enlisted for the conditional cash transfer program while about 10,000 of co-operative societies in the State are expected to get on the Government Enterprise Empowerment Program. The State’s Home Grown Feeding program is to also cater for at least 3,000 caterers in the State to cook pupils’ food.
Governor Bello, like most other governors that passed his path in the State has charted a radically new paradigm of leadership.
The governor in moving forward the State has shown that he is working with a new and intelligent administrative focus. That he is working with a team of strategic thinkers and builders to help him conceive and nurture a paradigm for the New Direction project is becoming increasingly visible and not rhetorics.
Working with experts within and outside the shores of the State, that he has not ensconce himself in the bucolic philosophy of distorted theocracy that explains nothing and proffers no solution calls for the people to mind the Kogi Governor.
Soon the screening exercise will hopefully come to an end and it is everybody’s prayers that the governor would get it right. And if he does, it is certainly that a new chapter of what is even this governor doing, would make Kogi people begin to mind a man who history and divine call has placed on a voyage to chart a new course that would reposition the State for the greater good of all.
There is certainly no pain without a gain. You cannot eat an Omellette without breaking the egg. As painful as the screening exercise would have been, with many sad tales of hunger, sickness and death in the worst scenario recorded, it has also shown that the State had lived with corruption over the years.
The level of corruption in the state civil service, with wages and pension serving as conduit pipe for a few, must be checked if the State is to move forward.
Lest we mention that jobs would at the end of the exercise be created as what is obtained in the service currently shows a lean bottom and a top heavy structure. Also money saved would equally be ploughed into critical sectors like in the improvement of schools and colleges.
Certainly, governance in the State cannot have been said to be perfect, but the policy intention so far shows that, there seem to be a departure from the norm. Things have started working, no matter the slow speed, when compared to the years of decay, the state is on the path of growth and progress.