By Shaibu Stephen Ojate
The Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello is being seen by people in different forms. Some consider him as the worst Governor of the State since its creation while others regard him as the messiah God sent to Kogi State to redeem her people and indeed he is living up to expectation.
The erroneous impression people have about him was what necessitated his Special Assistant on Social Media, to invite some known social media Users to grace Kogi State Social Media summit in Lokoja, recently.
The objective of the summit was to enable the invited social media users to have interaction with the political appointees in order to get first-hand information on the affairs of Kogi State contrary to misrepresentation and false claims trending on the social media platform. The meeting was also to give the invited social media users an ample opportunity to ask questions or to seek clarification on any issues since Bello took office as Kogi State Governor.
The meeting had close to one hundred participants and it was indeed an explosive and interactive session. Questions ranging from politics, social and how best to enhance the economy fortune of the State were asked and discussed. Kogi State officials did not put anyone in doubt as they clearly itemized what the administration had done so far and even gave reasons for the delay in the ongoing road construction across the three senatorial districts in the State.
The government officials hinted that for the nine year regime of the former Governor of Kogi State, he never deemed it fit to give his community power supply and it was Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s government that electrified the area and three other neighbouring communities. This same gesture was equally extended to Koto Karfe community which had electric high tension wire passed across the communities but were left in total darkness for decades. The officials added that the people from Alhaji Ibrahim Idris’s community throng out in large number celebrating the coming of electric power supply to the area for the first time in history.
The government official hinted that contract for a project was given to Alhaji Ibrahim Idris’s son running to billions in his community and one per cent execution of such project was not even done. They asked people from the community whether they see any trace of such project and the people from the locality replied no.
The government official hinted that the State government under Bello has approached Energy Distribution Company to buy shares of energy from them for onward distribution to communities in the three senatorial districts of the State to cushion the perennial power supply in the State. They said, the measure is aimed at complementing the existing service of the Energy Distribution Company in the State which they noted have not been good enough.
For all these claims on projects done in some communities in the State as portrayed by the political appointees being achievements of Alhaji Bello’s administration, among the hundreds of participants at the summit, no one refuted or disclaimed them on the projects done.
The writer of this article demanded to know why the elimination of ghost workers after the screening exercise and the claim of enhanced internal revenue generation running to billions of Naira have not been positively felt by the Civil Servants in full salary payment and today percentage salary payment still lingered in the State. The officials noted that with what presently comes to the State as federal allocation, the state still needs barely N700 million to enable it pay full salary to workers.
They added that as the federal allocation is not meant for salary payment alone, projects are needed to be executed from it; this was one of the reasons why the issue of percentage salary payment still lingered in the State. The official noted that under Ibrahim Idris’s administration, Kogi State did receive N10 bilion and even more every month. Today, the same allocation stood at an average of N3bilion. The huge allocation as received during Ibrahim Idris’s administration accounts for the reason why the State did not experience any salary crises then.
Contrary to the claims in social media platform that political office holders receive their monthly salary regularly without delay and leaving the civil servants at the mercy of God, the writer of this article can confidently say that such insinuation is false. I had an interaction with newly political appointee and he told me that he has not received any salary payment since he took office three months ago. He said, he is considerate with the government on the financial state of the State and he needs not to complain to anyone on on-salary payment as he accept the offer of responsibility to serve the people and not for salary per say. He buttressed that old political office holders just received their July salary in the month of October.
In all, I now come to a conclusion that claims and counter claims trending in the social media platform about the present Kogi State have political and ethnic undertone as the participants in the summit had nothing to doubt about government officials on Kogi State affairs after the summit. Yes, one can pick one or two weaknesses from the political appointees but that is not to say that they were wrongly appointed.
No one is perfect but on a general note, the political appointees spoke well of themselves when they were called to answer question relating to their offices. The political appointees all demonstrated high sense of transparency and competence when they were called to answer questions. They were not mediocre, zombies, collection of School dropouts or nonentities as some people on social media users made people to see them. They were truly new brand of Leaders in the making.
My perception about Bello’s administration has really changed for good. Governor Bello and his team are on track but need little adjustment.
– Ojate is a journalist and public affairs commentator.