Hon Friday Nicodamus Adejoh is the chief administrator of Olamaboro Local Government of Kogi State. In this interview with OMONU YAX-NELSON; he revealed that Governor Yahaya Bello’s government is a perfect example of a generational power shift. He also harps on the developmental strides of the amiable governor.
Leadership, many people believe, should be built on experience, if that is anything to go by. It is important to ask, what are your leadership experiences?
I have been in this from primary school, but it was when I was in the secondary school that it became clearer to me. I was a class monitor at elementary school, back then. I later became a prefect of the school in primary six. When I got to college, Imane Community Grammar school, I was appointed a class prefect again and later made school prefect. After secondary school, I managed my fathers’ cashew and grain business in our local market, where I was also elected into the market committee. Bent on exploring the world beyond college, I proceeded to tertiary institution with my little savings. I was able to purchase a motorcycle from the stipends given to me. I started a commercial motorcycling business called ‘Okada.’ Here again, I contested for the chairmanship of Okada riders association of my community and won. Lately, Gov Bello appointed me the chairman for my local government (Olamaboro).
Olamaboro chapter of the APC has just held a stakeholders’ meeting, what were your decisions?
The unique thing about APC in my local government, under my watch as the administrator and the dynamic leadership of our brother, Edward Onoja, the chief of staff, is that, we try to ensure that all the meetings called by the party leadership are well attended. I must tell you that we don’t wait until elections are close in my local government; we meet periodically, so that the party can consolidate on its gains in the state. That is why we call on party members not to give way to factions in the party and other divisive voices. With this, the party stands a better chance to unite and bring development to the people. Personally, that is my decision and I see it working.
In summary, what would you say are your achievements, since you came on board in your local government?
There are minor things I can’t highlight as achievement like scholarships, taking care of medical bills of indigenes, a couple of humanitarian works which anybody without political office can do. However, let me mention here, that through the synergy of the chief of staff, Edward Onoja, the dividend of democracy has been in surplus in Kogi East and Olamaboro in particular. Other political appointees from my local government have also done well. We have been able to empower youths and women in various skills in their thousands; this gesture is very new in Olamaboro. We have borehole drillings in our communities on going. And, in the area of health, community health workers have been properly mobilised to our health centers in the villages to attend to the health of the people.
The most indispensable element in human development, more specifically, human capital development is education. On a very passionate ground to me, the leadership of the local government, under my watch has set up a committee to go round all the villages, where we have our LGEA primary schools, to document the challenges on ground. We have discovered that, the challenges are basically infrastructures, and, my government is already perfecting plans to give the schools, face-lifting. The secretary of the council, Hon. Emmanuel Onoja supervises that sector and we are getting interesting reports that will help us start.
Also, several roads have been graded and some will be flagged off soon. But more importantly, we are building capacity through workshops, seminars and orientation of our young ones.
What is your take on the “not too young to run bill”?
Until the bill was officially passed by the National Assembly, the youths in Kogi State, under the ‘New Direction government’ of his Excellency, Yahaya Bello, have started enjoying the product of that bill. What am I saying? Kogi governor is a young man. All the local government administrators are young people and most of the commissioners and political appointees are young people. That is why the state’s mentality of leadership is positively different. In all of these, in relation to leadership, mentality in the confluence state is drastically changing to the young people taking responsibility in leadership for the sake of their own future. While I commend the 8th Senate for the move, I wish to reiterate that the onus is on the current leadership in the country to fast track the process of signing of the bill into law. For me, the only limit to running for office should be competence and capacity, not age. If an 18-year-old Nigerian can vote, what stops him from been voted for? You see, age is not a barrier to intellectual capability; this has been demonstrated in many countries, with France as a shining example. There is no nation that can develop without giving its youths opportunity to serve. The passage of the bill is well-timed and the executive should fast track its implementation.
Let’s talk about your state, Kogi! There has been accusation and counter accusation, in your state, that, nothing good is going on, in terms of development or governance, what is the true position of things?
Well! I am not going to talk to you as one of the media handlers, who are the ones, authorised to speak. However, I will talk to you as a citizen of Kogi State, who is on ground in the state, knows the trends and also part of these good works the current government is doing. It is very funny and I don’t expect anything different from the narrative in the state, which is purely coming from detractors. I mean the enemies of progress and those who feel the leadership of the state should be left at their mercy. This interview session will not be enough for me to enumerate the achievements of the governor? Certainly not! But I can assure you that at the end of his tenure, whoever succeeds Gov Yahaya Bello, will have less work to do because the governor is currently carrying the burden of the state and would have left the soil fertile and better. By then, the person will not be talking about ghost workers because they would have been weeded out. Aside the reforms in the Civil Service, which is very paramount, Kogi State is growing steadily under this new direction mandate.
Which should I mention and which should be left? The governor, on assumption of office continued with the projects of his predecessors, intead of abandoning them like other do! Recently, the governor awarded contract for the constructions/rehabilitation of Lokoja township roads, Umomi- Idah, Ibana, Okpo-Ogugu roads in my own local government and other roads within the state, which obviously, will ease the transportation of agricultural product to urban centers, if completed.
As an accountant, the governor knows the importance of revenue to a state hence, the construction of the Kogi State revenue house to boost the internally generated revenue of the state. This is so that, dependency on the federal allocation will reduce. As work in progress, Kogi government recently signed an MoU with the China Railway & Airport Construction Company on Infrastructure & Wood Processing which will also provide employment. There is also the Chinese investment, which President Muhammadu Buhari has been able to secure for the establishment of a comprehensive farm and downstream industrial park in Kogi. You see, my friend, development is gradual and progressive, it is not spontaneous and you can’t do all in a day. But detractors will always count on the weak points which every government all over the world has!
The governor has gone beyond the reliance on federal allocation to create investment for the state. For example, Dangote Group of Companies, is mining two coal sites in the Ankpa LGA area of Kogi State. The group has invested heavily in the area with its accompanied hundreds of jobs for the youths of the area. Youths of about 300 have been provided employment in agriculture value chain as part of measures to arrest youth unemployment and restiveness in the state. To boost security in the state, just last month, July, the governor commissioned the Nigerian Army Forward Operational Base situated in Okene, to improve security situation in the state. He did not just build a base; the military base has been fully equipped with residential accommodation, operational offices, solar power, water, places of worship and other facilities which will ensure its smooth operation.
Your governor was given an award by the Inspector General of Police in recognition of his efforts at improving security in the state, yet there are still flash points, how would you react to this?
Before the coming of the governor, a good number of our youths were not employed, as a result, political thugs and all manner of criminality held the state to ransom. So, part of the New Direction roadmap was to get the state out of the security challenges which it has done excellently, even though, more efforts are still being deployed in that regard. The effort of the government worked perfectly with an effective collaboration between the grassroots vigilantes and security agencies. That is, empower the people to take charge of their own security. His Excellency provided patrol vans, modern technological gadgets to law enforcement agencies. Local vigilantes in villages were repackaged, empowered with funds to ease their operations. At the moment, security men are relying heavily on intelligence gathering. This has recorded huge success. So, the award is but a commendation and a charge to do more and everybody should support the move.
What’s your parting shot?
Kogi State is working, Olamaboro is working, in fact the narrative is different now and the commendations are coming. Let us keep politics out of things that concern our collective interests. That is the stand of the governor, which is my stand too. Ultimately, Kogi will be great.