By CHRIS SULEIMAN
Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello can now focus on how to pilot the affairs of the state following the judgement of the Supreme Court affirming his election as the validly elected governor of the state. The distraction occasioned by the legal tussle is now over and the business of governance should take the center-stage analysts have advised.
Fate made him governor, yes he was destined to be Kogi State Governor at this particular time. He actually intended to be governor. Yahaya Bello contested for the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primaries. He came second behind late Prince Abubakar Audu.
Prince contested the gubernatorial election and was smiling to victory when death snatched him away. His death created a constitutional crisis, which was subjected to diverse legal interpretations by legal luminaries in the country. In fact, there were many positions on the matter as there were number of lawyers in the country. But the APC after careful observation and yielding to legal advises of the teeming legal experts within and without the party decided to pick Governor Yahaya Bello as the aspirants with the second highest votes in the party primaries, the position of the APC was affirmed to be the right decision with the judgement of the Supreme Court recently delivered.
Since the creation of Kogi State, Governor Yahaya Bello is coming with two major distinguishing features. He is the youngest person to be governor in Kogi State and secondly since the creation of the state, the first non-Igala speaking person to be governor, aside other military administrators and Okun-speaking persons who acted as governors of the state.
Kogi State has been relatively under-developed. The basic social amenities were grossly inadequate. It was a purely civil service state without major industries to drive the state’s economy. As such, unemployment among the youthful population is alarming, the resultant effects was the low internally generated revenue (IGR), which has limited previous administration’s performance coupled with alleged mismanagement of government funds as well as abuse of office and the entrenchment of corruption in the state civil service reflected in the big cartel of ghost workers and ghost-institutions syndicate operating in the state are among the many challenges Yahaya Bello would be battling with in his bid to deliver dividends of democracy to the people of Kogi State.
Analysts said these are grave challenges for Yahaya Bello, who would also be cumbered with the inherited debt in the state and non-payment of workers salaries piled up for several months. The task of breaking barriers of dis-unity, youth restiveness, evident in political thuggery and the rising insecurity challenges in and around the state are also a disturbing development.
Again, pundits said Yahaya Bello have to make effort to build political bridges and also mend fences and reach out to all aggrieved members of his party. This is as a result of the circumstances that led to his emergence. The party and other stakeholders in the political family of Kogi State had held series of protest against him and severally addressed press conferences to show their displeasure with the governor. But now that he has been affirmed as the leader of APC in Kogi State as well as the leader of the state in all matters, pundits said, the responsibility of bridge building and peace-making is now on him to ensure he carries everybody along irrespective of political or religious affiliation.
Critics had, however expressed fear about his youthful age, they said, young people have the tendencies to be carried away by youthful exuberant, this may thereby distracted him from the task of governance. This would be true only if the four years of Governor Yahaya Bello is affected by the negatives expressed by this pundits.
Irrespective of the challenges in Kogi State, the people of the state are highly informed, well schooled, politically inclined. They are enlightened in most matters as this make them very sophisticated and not politically-naive. So, if Yahaya Bello governed well, it would be rewarded with another tenure.
However, the governor seems to have prepared for the challenges ahead. If the words of his Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja is anything to go by, then it would be save to say Yahaya Bello has started on a good footing.
According to Onoja, Governor Yahaya Bello had engaged the services of some consultants who have been to all the local government areas of the State to consult with the people and collate data regarding the feelings of the people of the state on what they would possibly like the government to do for them.
The Chief of Staff also revealed that, based on the findings of the consultants, the Government have developed a blueprint in three volumes, which would serve as a guide to direct the state government in reforming the state. He pointed at certain areas that need urgent attention; Education, Health and State civil servant.
It was however observed that those key areas of the Kogi State economy required utmost attention. For instance, the Kogi state civil service has been riddled with the challenge of Ghost-workers. It is imperative for this new administration to know the staff strength of its civil service. Governor Bello is facing a serious challenge in carrying out this exercise with the staff screening already going on. But he must remain true to achieving result in this task regardless of any sentiment threatening the exercise. It is however advisable for government to also carry out this task within the confine of the law and not to witch-hunt anybody in order to maintain its credibility owing the the important of the exercise to the progress of the government.
The Governor’s Chief of Staff also informed that, the governor has started building bridges across political blocks and division within the state. He informed that, the governor has accepted with enthusiasm the request of the immediate past governor of the state, Captain Idris Wada to work with Governor Bello to move the state forward. He also revealed that efforts are on going to reach out to Honourable James Falake for the purpose of moving Kogi state forward.
One of the major impediment to Kogi State progress has been the deeply entrenched tribalism that existed among the diverse tribe of the state. The Igalas would rather go on their own, likewise the Igbira, the Okuns are doing their own while the Bassa-nge and the Oworo are sidelined, the Ogori are not in the equation. But Yahaya Bello was said to have come to change the old order.
David Onoja who is of the Igala extraction said, the youth of the state had decided to abandoned the old order that has retarded the state progress and have chosen to tow a path of progress where every Kogite is seen as one and equal.
In order to liberate the state from poverty and rescue the youth from the claw of unemployment, Onoja said, the state government has set Agriculture, Mining and Commercial activities as the pathway the government want to go. He said, the strategic geographic location of the state would be fully maximized by the state government
Lokoja the state capita is the gateway between the Southern and Northern part of the country and the administration of Yahaya Bello would encourage the teeming youth of the state to engage in commercial agriculture to take advantage of the comparative advantage of their location.
Kogi State is blessed with a lot of mineral resources, the lime stone and iron ore is the most pronounced. The Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Miles has been wasting for years, with the renewed campaign for economic diversification by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, with agriculture and mining getting attention, Kogi State may soon be one of the commercial nerve-center of Nigeria owing to its geographical location, but until that is done, Yahaya Bello has to translate his blueprint into actionable programmes to the benefit of the people of Kogi state, his scorecard remain open till after his first tenure of four years is completed to assess him.
CHRIS SULEIMAN is the Abuja Editor of AUTHENTIC News Daily