…’Bello is exposing the failures of PDP’
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Since the advent of Governor Yahaya Bello as governor of Kogi State and the encapsulation of his New Direction Agenda, the state has turned into a hotbed of intrigues. Critics say he has turned the state upside down while supporters say that he is moving the state away from the bondage of godfathers who had in the past hindered the development of the state. Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, the Director General on Media and Publicity to the Governor, in this interview, gives his perspectives on the pace and pattern of the governor’s activities. Excerpts:
Kogi State has been in the news for mixed reasons of late.
Why do you think Kogi is always a national topic?
We are in the news because we are central to the glory of Nigeria. From being the center of the nation to being the first capital of a united Nigeria; from being the minerals capital of Nigeria to being the Confluence of two of Africa’s most important rivers; Kogi is an interesting twist of history and events.
While Lagos and Kano boast of high-heel populations, we boast of our mineral resources and history. We are the Confluence of the nation. Another reason we are in the news of late is the fact that we have a new governor, the ambassador of the youths in governance, a courageous reformer who is concerned about getting things right.
But the state is dogged by comments about nonpayment of salaries to civil servants?
It is quite unfortunate that some people look at things from a biased angle. The civil service was a burrowing hole of endless corruption. We were losing billions of naira to people who were cornering our resources into guilty pockets of greed. We needed to arrest the tides. Many governors before now attempted to stop the rot in the past. They saw the waste but they couldn’t confront the hydra-headed monster of ghost workers syndrome.
Governor Yahaya Bello confronted it and defeated it. He knows that some innocent souls went through painful experiences in the course of the screening. He has apologized to them. We wouldn’t have been where we are today without the screening exercise. The reform is beyond weeding out ghost workers and ghost pensioners; but to also ensure efficiency in the civil service and make it more productive.
But despite the screening exercise, it is claimed civil servants are not being paid?
It is not true that we are owing what they are bandying around in the media. We are owing only July salaries which will be paid soon. The facts are there on the website of the State, www.kogistate.gov.ng for all to see. People should get the facts before judging us. Governor Yahaya Bello cannot achieve the noble goals he has set for the greatness of the State without a well motivated civil service to drive the New Direction Agenda of the administration. We are working hard to make the civil service better.
The clock-in-clock-out system is being test-run in selected MDAs and we hope to deploy the system as soon as possible. We are also building a digital database for the civil service. A service without data is dead. Our civil servants will remain top of the Governor’s priorities.
Do you agree with Senator Dino Melaye’s claim that the governor is a dictator?
Governor Yahaya Bello was democratically elected to democratically lead democratically conscious four million Kogites who are enjoying democracy under their Governor. Democracy has no room for totalitarianism.
But the Governor was alleged to have orchestrated the impeachment of the former Speaker of the House because of his independent mind. What is your take on that?
It is normal in politics for people to speculate. The same set of speculators had insinuated the Governor was also behind the vote of confidence passed on him shortly before his eventual impeachment. The fact remains that the Governor is not a member of the House of Assembly and can therefore not interfere in who leads the House. Those familiar with House politics would appreciate the fact that it is a House where anything is possible. The Governor is not interested in who is Speaker or not. His role is to provide leadership that will promote peace and prosperity. He is playing his role fantastically.
The PDP recently took a swipe at the State Government, threatening to take over in 2019. Is the Governor worried by the threat?
We are happy that the PDP is gearing up to play a role of opposition. But we are concerned about its effectiveness going by the moral baggage around its neck. PDP caused the mess we are cleaning up. Nigerians have not forgotten those goat and yam days. Nigerians have not forgotten how they mismanaged our boom era to put the nation on her knees. Their clueless era will continue to drown their hopes. Our performance will speak for APC in 2019. Governor Yahaya Bello has exposed their failures. The people are with the Governor and the Governor is with the people. The era of ethnic division is gone. We are one united Kogi State.
What is the effect of the boycott of the recent APC national delegates’ election by the state chairman and some other leaders?
The governor is the leader of the party in the state and he attended the stakeholders meeting with other leaders of the party. The Congress was a signature of the beautiful internal democracy in APC. It was a huge success. We have no problem with those who boycotted it. They must have their reasons for doing so. Politics is about the people, it is a contact game.
The governor is alleged to have built a house in Okene on the road. Why?
Governor Yahaya Bello is a law-abiding Nigerian. He wouldn’t build on a road. He is rather trying to provide good road for the people of the state.
Why did your government declare a public holiday to mark Buhari’s return?
It is our policy and it was a rational decision. What we celebrated was the safe return of Mr. President, who some people had alleged was on life support. President Muhammadu Buhari is more than a personae, he is an institution. Hell would have been let loose if he had died and Kogi, being the center of the nation would have suffered a lot from the ripple effects. God forbid, if the President had died, hypocrites would have declared many days of mourning. We declared just a day to thank God for sparing the life of our President. Why are they taking panadol for our headache?
The governor used the occasion to visit the Specialist Hospital in Lokoja where he declared free medical treatment for those on admission and even out-patients. He did that to aid people with health challenges. That is the best way to celebrate a great President. The public holiday is justified. Katsina is Katsina and Kogi is Kogi.
Katsina is not at the center of the nation. President Buhari has massive followership in Kogi State and the Governor has never hidden his admiration of the sterling qualities of Mr. President. No sacrifice is bigger than thanking God for the life of Mr. President.
The Governor started supporting the President even before he became Governor and his leadership ideology is tailored along that of Mr. President. Those who are condemning the holiday probably didn’t want the corruption fighter back into the country. We are happy he is back to continue to fight corruption and develop the nation.