Today, empirical and observatory facts have clearly shown that kogi state is in a state of coma and economic doldrums that require an urgent attention.
On all fronts, Kogi State spells failure. The indices for any vestige of development remain abysmal. Poverty rages, unemployment increases in astronomical dimension, Infrastructural facilities are in decay, education sector is struggling to survive, salaries are unpaid, hunger, despair and destruction now haunt the state.
The people are indeed living in very trying times: dissatisfied with the present and face the future with much trepidation. If Kogi State today were a living entity, it would be perceived as a blind entity groping aimlessly without direction while pretending to be on a purposeful mission of institutionalising the change agenda. The pertinent question begging for an answer is; Is Kogi State progressing or retrogressing? It is obvious that there is a vacuum of leadership in the state. What the Kogites bargained for is not exactly what they got. In the place of giant of yester years, the Kogites tolerated and accepted poor substitute foisted on them either by the power that be: courtesy of some agents in APC or by providence to pontificate in crude manner over the affairs of the state.
The domain of governance is now substituted by that of knaves who now engage in vulgar despoliation of social political and economic heritage of the people in the confluence state. The Youthful Gov. Yaya Bello has betrayed the confidence reposed in him particularly by the Nigerian youths and the Kogites at large through his crude bastardisation of commonwealth of the people, debasement of principal elements of public trust and good governance.
Governance is not an abstract concept. Governance all over the world is about people therefore it must be germane to people’s lives by promoting their standards of living. If governance is not capable of improving people’s well-being and quality of life, it is at best an empty concept at worst a hoax.
The recent experience in Kogi State today has shown that Gov. Yaya Bello doesn’t have a clear cut understanding of the principles of good governance. According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the principal elements of good governance include accountability, transparency, inclusiveness, responsiveness, efficiency, effectiveness, participatory and leadership rooted in integrity. And public trust would be gauged and evaluated on the basis of these elements because they constitute veritable means through which better policies and programmes that will enhance better life can be actualised, maintained and sustained.
The style of governance adopted by Gov.Yaya Bello negates all of these principal elements. Why on earth should a governor who perhaps the youngest governor in Nigeria remains insensitive and unresponsive to the plight of workers of the state who are being owed several months of salaries and arrears?
The most mind-boggling of it all is the pronouncement we owed 12 months not 15 months) made by the Chief of Staff to the governor, Edward Onaja, on the national television without emotional feelings of remorse or embarrassment. What a transactional leader completely devoid of progressive vision and democratic ideas and ideals! Well, what could come out from a leech and squander mania who has wielded so much power to himself?
Onoja is so powerful that he alone has the temerity to convene the state executive council meeting in the absence of the state governor, a duty which should constitutionally be performed by the Deputy Governor. Local government executives’ councils, State’s ministries and agencies are taking directives from this appointee of a governor who has turned demi god, propagandist and political praise singer of the government. Things are seriously falling apart, will the centre hold?
In Kogi State today, budgeting processing is now carried out in opaque and corruptive manner. Participatory budgeting with increase recognition to citizens’ involvement for enhancing democratic governance, improving service delivery and fostering empowerment has been slaughtered on the altar of corruption. Contracts are now awarded to political cronies without tender and publication for public bidding which stands in contravention to the core objectives of Bureau of public procurement which are; Economic efficiency, Value for money, Competition and transparency.
The consequences of these actions have bred despondency, cynicism and loss hope among the citizens in Kogi state. Citizens’ confidence in government institutions is critical for strong and sustainable democracy, in view of these; the governor should resort to virtue of prudence and leadership rooted in integrity, run an inclusive, responsive, accountable and transparent government that is alive to the challenges faced by the citizens of the state.
The education sector that supposed to be the bedrock of development is in disarray, aggravated, debilitated and famished by so many inadequacies. Most of the tertiary institutions in Kogi State today cannot boost of portable water even some areas in Lokoja the capital city are facing the same problem despite the waters surrounding the state. Incessant strike actions and closure of tertiary institutions because of non-payment of subvention by the government have all combined to make nonsense of education in the state. Roads are abandoned, health care services remain the shadow of its former self, the state’s chapter of Nigeria Labour congress is demobilised and demotivated from pursuing the yearnings and aspirations of workers and endless screening of civil servants now characterised the civil service. What a government!
The people of Kogi have come to critical point in their political lives where decisions they make will either make or mar their political destinies. In doing this, they should use their voice as an instrument to suppress the hind-handedness of the mighty, activate their socio-political conscience, come out of docility and utter passiveness and demand accountability from the government.
They should ask what the government does with the resources they have been empowered with, how well these resources have been utilised, through what process and more importantly, whether there was sufficient value-for resources obtained. Kogi state government should explain how it expended first tranche of N 20bn and second tranche of N11.5bn bailout funds, the internal generated revenue and several months of Federal allocations to the state’s treasury and other account of activities through relevant and constitutionally approved channels. It is by this means the government can reclaim the trust of the people.
The fact that the federal allocation to the states, Kogi inclusive is too slim recently shouldn’t be an excuse for non-performance. The youthful governor Yaya Bello should resort to prudence, shun flamboyance, conspicuous consumption and materialistic propensities and manage what he gets from Abuja in a sensible and judicious manner. As a youth, he should think out of the box, improvise and increase the internally generated revenue of the confluence state by blocking existing loopholes in the tax collection and management and widen the existing tax base of the state.
The governor as a driver of change should wake up from his slumber and apply the brake to his vehicle of governance that is at express to nowhere. Bello and his political acolytes should stop engaging in brickbats and mudslinging that could likely translate into creating an enemy where there is none. He should call expanded stakeholders’ meeting of kogites both at home and in the diaspora comprises of civil Society organisations, traditional and religious leaders, sound economists, Kogi State National and State House Assembly members to re-draw the map through which the government can travel on its journey of putting Kogi State on pedestal of excellence.
This is a collective rescue mission to salvage Kogi State from falling into precipice. The governor should be guided and the people should take solace in the Latin maxim “Quid-quid initium habet finem habet” means whatever that has a beginning must surely has an end. The clock is ticking and posterity will soon judge and put Yaya Bello on either right side or wrong side of history.
By Usman Okai Austin