Kogi State was an innocent virgin that was born on August 27, 1991. The first set of midwives were the military leaders who exploited the innocence of the young state to feather their selfish nests.
Then in 1993, the late Prince Abubakar Audu came fresh from the banking industry to emerge as the first executive governor of the state. He was of the conservative National Republican Convention. His tenure was cut short by the reluctance of the jackboot guys to vacate the corridors of power. But before he left the stage, he showed glimpses of a governor who was ready to impress.
In 1999, he was re-elected as the Governor of the state. The late Prince Audu started the Lokoja renewal project. He was responsible for some important roads and housing estates in the state.
However, as good as the works of his hand, his personality betrayed him in 2003. He was viewed as an arrogant administrator who was too assertive for the politicians of that era. But one thing they couldn’t take away from the enigmatic and flamboyant leader was his taste for lofty projects across the state capital. The late Audu was the architect of a new Lokoja.
In 2003, Kogites rejected the late Audu, opting instead for a successful furniture merchant and hotelier, Alh. Ibrahim Idris. Ibro as he was fondly called was known for his humility and affable personality. He governed when Nigeria had so much money without plans. He became richer but not without contributing his quota to the state; no matter how little such contributions seemed.
He missed the opportunity to use the oil wealth of that era to reposition the state, build legacy projects and raise the state university established by the late Prince Audu to world class. It was the biggest era of boom and the biggest era of waste. It was a mirror of a wasted era.
To cover up for the waste of nine years, Alh. Ibrahim Idris survived himself in the skin of his in-law, Capt. Idris Wada.
Capt. Idris Wada, a retired pilot struggled to cope with the political floor littered with banana peels. He couldn’t provide infrastructure and was at loggerheads with the civil servants. He went away with three Federal Allocations without paying a dime to workers.
To make life miserable for his successor, Capt Idris Wada saturated the civil service with more workers to make salary payment difficult.
When the New Direction Administration started the Staff Verification Exercise, political opponents were very uncomfortable. Their party started the ghost workers menace. Corruption fought back with ferocity. All attempts were geared towards sabotaging the exercise. They wanted the state to continue to fetch water into a basket.
The mind-boggling revelations during the Staff Verification Exercise was a big justification of the need for it. Thousands of the ghosts flee. Many unintended beneficiaries were shown the way out. A secondary school certificate holder was made a medical officer! It was a sickening state.
Today, we don’t only boast of clean payroll; Government has also digitalized the civil service. Truancy has become a thing of the past as the clock in and clock out devices have been mounted at work places. The implication of this is that those paid to serve the people are made to do what they are being paid for. The people of Kogi State now have value for money.
The reforms of the present administration didn’t just come without a fight. Those who saw a big “elephant” were made to know that the “elephant” was for the people and not for the privileged few. They have made the loudest noise on the floor of the National Assembly, even against debt consolidation. To them, the government was throwing the state into a new debt. But to those who understand public finance, they know what debt consolidation is all about. Let me explain a little.
Kogi State Government has only taken an active step towards commencing the process of debt consolidation and it is in the best interest of the state to be owing only one source. As such there is no illegality in consolidation of our existing debts, most of which were owed by the previous PDP-led administrations.
The simple interpretation of this is that, we are not going to owe a new debt. This consolidation plan is about refinancing our old debts.
The benefits are that the state is freed from multiple creditors while we can now invest the gains of the moratorium period of two years in massive infrastructure development.
The loans are to be refinanced under a source for a period of 15years at 6% interest rate.
With refinancing this debt, investors and investments are attracted and it will enable improved revenue from gains of effective PPP concessions. It will also ensure that Budget financing of the MDA’S will improve to about 90% .
Only mischief makers that will not want the state government to work toward its planned infrastructure masterplan will attempt to criminalize the germane, legal and transparent opportunity to refinance loans taken in the locust era of the PDP in the state.
It is also quite unfortunate that the Senate has become an institution for vendetta and pursuit of narrow political interests.
We wouldn’t have responded to the Senate but for two reasons: The men and women of honour in the chambers and our need to enlighten our people to know that if the deal sails through, it will free over N1 bn every month to provide our people with more good roads, more water facilities and more communities will have power. It will also enable us to keep financing our social security nets to affect more lives across the state.
Those who love Kogi wants the state to succeed with us.
However, Governor Yahaya Bello came with a determination to move the state to the next level. He confronted the monster of civil service corruption and tackled insecurity.
Kogi used to be the headquarters of kidnapping and violent crimes. But the Operation Total Freedom established by Governor Yahaya Bello has changed the narrative.
Now we have a more secure state. Now we have a cleaner state capital. Now we have agriculture driving our economy. Now we have a renewed Kogi State.
Looking into the future, we see a state driven by an excellent educational foundation that the Governor is laying today. No society can be better than the quality of its education.
Kogi is also working hard to harness the almost limitless opportunities in tourism and mining. As the mineral capital of Nigeria, Kogi has no business with poverty.
The beautiful thing here is that the people are working with their government to make Kogi what it should be- the Confluence of Opportunities.
– Fanwo is director general of Media and Publicity to Kogi State governor.