Governor Bello, We Are Worried – By Shaibu Stephen Ojate
The people of Kogi central for more than two decades had found themselves in an unfortunate situation when Kogi Governors of Igalla extraction ruled the State. The people of Kogi central most especially the Ebiras were not only seen as outcasts in the State but were chestisized and demonized in all angles.
The first administration of Prince Abubakar Audu bittered the mind of people from other senatorial districts. Late Prince Abubakar Audu laid foundation for ethnic hate in the State. Late Prince Abubakar Audu in his actions and deeds neglected the people of Kogi central to the background. Despite the minimal Ebira people staff strength in Kogi State Civil Service then, he launched holy war against Kogi central people as many were laid off without any tenable reasons.
To further show his open disdain to the people of Kogi central, he downgraded Obangede Specialist Hospital and even moved the medical equipment therein to establish same in Kogi East. Audu’s administration truly divided the State along ethnic line as he indeed truly promoted Igalla agenda.
To propagate Igalla agenda the more, he always allot eighty percent of the political appointments to his senatorial district while he shared the remainder to Kogi west and Kogi central.
During Audu’s regime political positions such as Accountant General of the State, Auditor General of the State, Commissioner for Works, Chief of Staff were exclusively reserved for Igalla persons. This parochial sentiment in the running the affairs of the State were further embraced and promoted by his successors, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and Capt. Idris Wada.
The worst of it all is that during Prince Abubakar Audu’s regime, if you hear commissioning of roads or water facilities, it is either such is taking place in Idah, Ofu, Dekina, Ayigba and host of other towns in Kogi eastern axis. Kogi central was not seen as partner in progress and throughout Prince Abubakar Audu’s tenure, it is on record that no new State roads were completed and commissioned in ebiraland and even where roads from Kogi central were listed in the State budgetary year, funds would not be disbursed for their execution. Kogi central was just isolated in the scheme of things in the State then. What were the crimes of Ebira people, it was only known to late Prince Abubakar Audu who decided to treat us that way.
Thus, the inequality in the allocation and utilization of the State resources was what triggered political pundits in Kogi central and Kogi west axis to advocate for power-shift as being canvassed then. The power-shift on several occasions met a brick wall from self-serving politicians in Kogi Central and Kogi west who had been profiting from the status quo as they see the later development as a ploy to make them irrelevant politically.
As years go by, the death of All Progressive Congress’s candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu divinely made the power-shift to come to fruitful. The death of Audu created an opportunity for Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the first runner in APC primary, a man from Kogi central to replace the late APC candidate.
The emergence of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as Kogi Governor was received with fanfare as people considered him as biblical Moses of our time. Alhaji Yahaya Bello was seen as one who will rescue the people of Kogi central from the shackle of infrastructural decay and set a new pace for Kogi people in general.
Today, more than two years into Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s administration, the people of Kogi central is yet to feel his impact in term of rapid infrastructural development and citing of new State owned establishment to reduce the high rate of unemployment in the State.
Sad to note, the major roads under construction were all abandoned and the people are worried on what actually could be the reason. As time is running out, the people are worried because time wasted can never be recovered. The people are worried on the colossal damage the delay in the non-completion of ongoing roads construction across the State is causing the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello. Kogi Central people are worried as general election is fast approaching, government official would likely put little or no attention to public needs again.
To say the truth, Alhaji Yahaya Bello is tactically losing support and goodwill of the people in Kogi central and those who truly mean well for him are worried. The people are worried as what they expected is not what they are seeing now? The people are asking, could it be that Governor Bello has been charmed by enemy of progress who would wish him not to do well so that he can be voted out in the next election? The average people in the street in Kogi central are not truly happy.
The morale of Kogi central people to see reasons to collectively support Governor Bello in the next election is not there as they are disenchanted and dissatisfied. This is not to say that they hate Governor Bello in person but the non-attraction of tangible projects to Kogi central to ginger their spirit and massively vote again in the next election is not there. They are not happy because presently they have nothing to say in the midst of our brothers and sisters from Kogi East whom we do lampooned for their abysmal performances when they ruled the State for more than two decades. Our Youths are presently not bold to tell outsiders that Ebira Leaders can do it better.
The people are murmuring and don’t know how to channel their displeasure to the Governor as his Aides are unfriendly and have distanced themselves from the people at home. Could it be that the political appointees from Kogi central are not telling Governor Bello the true position of things at home? This has been the question many are yet to find answer to.
May I therefore educate my readers that Alhaji Yahaya Bello is not a bad Governor as many might erroneously portray him to be. He has been fair enough to all quarters in running the affairs of the State and has indeed carried every session of the State along in his political appointments. He is not an ethnic bigot nor has never pursued any ethnic agenda as he treated everyone equally without any discrimination. His shortcoming is just his inability to make people feel him on developmental projects.
Following the foregoing, let me declare that he can still overcome all these challenges. Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s administration shares certain similarity with Prince Abubakar Audu regime. Prince Abubakar Audu’s administration had challenges in paying regular salary to workers and he indeed received bashing from the people just like Alhaji Yahaya Bello today. To put the record straight, Audu’s administration owed workers 4-5months unpaid salaries. Point to note, I am not in anyway justifying non-payment of salary to workers in the State. The workers hated Prince Abubakar Audu not just because he owed them; he equally taxed on them unnecessarily.
Prince Abubakar Audu then could be regarded as a failure by Workers in irregular salary payment but he was not perceived as a bad or poor Governor in the eye of the public in general. Yes, he failed Workers on salary payment but he never failed the public on developmental projects.
In nutshell, Prince Abubakar’s shortcoming did not overshadow his good side in infrastructural development. Despite not fully fulfilling the obligation of the workers as at when due, no one see him as non-performing governor.
The trick behind Audu’s administration was that as the fund was not enough, he sourced for local and foreign loan to implement developmental projects in the State. Kogi State University, Ayigba was one of such projects he used foreign and local loans to finance and the loans still being paid till date. Point to note, no one talk about the indebtness of the State by Prince Abubakar Audu anymore but people are quick to point out developmental projects during his time.
Is there anything Governor Bello can make out of this? My answer is yes. Governor Bello should as a matter of fact copy Prince Abubakar Audu leadership style in giving emphasis to infrastructural development to win the heart of the people. Alhaji Yahaya Bello needs to the needful fast so as not make himself to be seen as failing in two ways.
I urge him to go for foreign loan to fix developmental projects in the State if the federal allocation and State internally generated revenue are not enough. Kaduna State Governor is taking this step and he should equally follow suit. Be reminded that Kogi State is not all that indebted like Kaduna State. Kaduna State is the second most indebted State in the federation. It follows Lagos in terms of debt.
May I remind him that people must talk when he takes this step and he should not be distracted? What people want to see is completed capital projects and if it is foreign loan that can help him achieve that, he should act fast as we are tired of hearing stories when the ongoing road construction will start and be completed.
He should equally know that he cannot fully complete all the major roads and give pipe-borne water to every local government in the State at the same time? What he needs doing is to undertake random implementation of State major road construction across the local governments in the State. What the people want to see are completed projects in his name and not rhetoric.
He should ensure that roads or any other projects on pipeline are given time lag for their completion and this should not exceed 3 months. Doing these would make people repose confidence in him and certainly recover the lost goodwill of the people as well.
Governor Bello as a matter of urgency should look into his cabinet as some of them are not helping him in anyway. He should lay off underperforming political appointees. He should as well bring in people who will look into his eye and tell him the truth and also put words into action. He needs to act fast in order avoid an instance where we experience voting apathy in Kogi central in the next gubernatorial election.
Shaibu Stephen Ojate is a Journalist and public affairs commentator writes from Abuja. He is on face book platform and reachable via phone number 09075716236 or 08052666344.
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