Lokoja, capital of Kogi State, erupted in jubilation on Friday as Governor Yahaya Bello gave a graphic detail of how the state was able to raise its monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from N400 million to N1billion within one year of his administration.
The jubilation was same in Kabba, Aiyetoro, Okene, Ankpa and all the Local Government Areas of the State.
The governor said when he came on board in January last year, his administration provided the initial impetus for the economy, by providing aggressive reforms to increase the IGR.
This, according to him, was achieved by making the State Board of Internal Revenue autonomous, relocating it to a better office accommodation and provide it with personnel, vehicles and other facilities.
Bello, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant (Print Media), Chief Adamu Adekwo, gave the figure in Lokoja, during the commemoration of his one year in office.
The governor observed that the feat wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Kogites, members and leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), especially the Kogi State chapter.
“The APC stood behind this administration, durable and dependable like Mount Patti. I have always believed firmly that the state is able to adapt to the demands of Change. In the last one year in which I have had the privilege to serve as your Governor, you have reinforced that belief. Kogites proved to me, time and again, that we are capable of working together to unlock the stupendous potentials of this state for our collective benefit.
“The administration has been able to develop creative financial and social engineering practices designed to get the most mileage out of available financial resources. By a complex combination of cost-cutting, prioritisation and elimination of wastage, we have been able to stretch our purse to pay salaries, provide social services and execute the very visible infrastructural projects we have ongoing all over Kogi State.
“These are tough times for sure, but they are by no means impossible times. We will continue to confront them with courage and creativity. Our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base has grown from the average of N400 million monthly we met on assumption of office to an average of N1 billion monthly during the year under review.
“In December 2016, we achieved over N1.9bn in IGR collected due to a special receipt which comes in once a year. In 2017 we project that Internal Generated Revenue should add about N32bn to funding the year’s Budget. Note that this sum of N32bn represents what Kogi State has generated in IGR over the last ten years. By the grace of God, we aim to generate it in 1 year.
“However, one must not imagine that this heavy growth in IGR was achieved by accident. We came into Office knowing that we must find new sources of funding if our New Direction Agenda must succeed. So, very early in our Administration, we kickstarted aggressive efforts to increase IGR by granting autonomy to the Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue. We moved her to better office accommodations and provided personnel, vehicles and other facilities for improved performance.
“The result is the growth which I have highlighted above. Despite what may appear like success to some people, the administration and the Board will not be resting on their oars. Our projection is for IGR to keep growing geometrically for the duration of the Administration. In preparation for the expected successes over the years ahead, we have built a modern multi-storey corporate headquarters for the Board from scratch. It will be commissioned by His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’adu Abubakar III, the 20th Sultan of Sokoto today”.
The governor noted, however, that increase in IGR and funding generally would amount to nothing if there is unnecessary waste and expenditure was properly planed.
He continued: “To forestall this, we set up an Economic Team and a Fiscal Responsibility Committee to assist the Administration in the areas of investment processing and financial accountability respectively. The former will, in addition to her many other duties, engage prospective investors, scrutinizing their Proposals and selecting those that will add the greatest value to us. The later will, among other things, ensure that our operations at all levels of Government are undergirded by sound financial habits”
“Two cardinal principles of my modus operandi in Office is Equity and Merit. My New Direction Team reflects this. Equity to the geographical components of Kogi State and the merits of the individual continue to direct appointments into my Administration. Each appointee is chosen for merit and made in a way calculated to unite our people across the State.
“The result is that for the first time in Kogi’s history, we have been able to foster participation in the highest echelons of Government by a team that proportionally represents our best in human resources and the strengths of all our constituencies”.
Commenting on the staff verification exercise conducted recently in the state, Bello declared that the ruling APC will continue to demolish institutionalized errors and replace them with new and better ways of doing things in the state.
He said, “No doubt, my Administration has come to be known more for the lengthy Staff Screening and Verification Exercise than for anything else. It is true that this Exercise has disrupted the status quo on many levels and impacted harshly on some of our workers, but it has also ensured that for the first time in many years, the Kogi State Payroll is not bleeding scarce finances through servicing of ghost-workers and unintended beneficiaries.
“The Exercise has enabled the majority of workers so far cleared and processed for payment to experience, many for the very first time, what it means to end a year with salaries paid on time as we did in December 2016. Our intention is to make that the rule rather than the exception”.
He tendered what he described as unreserved apologies to workers who had been cleared but could not be paid by last month, saying it was as a result of problems peculiar to the payroll for some MDAs or LGAs.
“We have since made tremendous progress in updating the system and I assure you that many more of our workers will be paid soon pointing out in that case, we want to help every worker who can be cleared to get cleared”, the governor assured.
He listed about 21 projects for the year under review, saying they can be found in more detail in the Compendium which the state government had published and circulated to citizens as its scorecard.
The venue of the one year anniversary directly opposite the memorial cenotaph where the newly commissioned Revenue House is located attracted people from all walks of life who thronged the venue, making movement through the popular Post Office a herculean task.
A prominent Kogite, Abdulmalik Suleiman, said that, since assuming office Governor Bello, did not leave anyone in doubt in the state that there was going to be a departure from the wasteful past and politics of retrogression that had eclipsed the state for long and at the same time retarded her progress.
He reasoned that that though the process and procedure for the staff screening greatly affected genuine workers, the sacrifices made during the period are today beneffiting the workers as they keep getting their salary.
Immediate President, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeris (JUSUN), Kogi State chapter, Comrade Daniel Ola Adinoyi, described the first year of governor Bello as eventful, adding that the governor has united the three major groups in the state through the appointments he has so far made without ethnic bias.
On his part, Hon Yusufu Andasi noted that Bello has established a situation where the Ebira man, the Igala man and the Okun man can sit comfortably together and relax, as against what it used to be.
A House wife, Madam Theresa Abdul, said, “I like the way the Governor Yahaya Bello has equiped the security agents in the state. Though issues of kidnapping and armed robbery have not completely stopped, I think that if the security personels are serious with the empowerment given to them by the government, peace and security will be restored in the state.”