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Is Bello on course in Kogi?

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With the the Supreme Court affirmation of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as governor of Kogi State for the second term


running, the Ebira-born politician can now focus on the challenges confronting the confluence state. JAMES


AZANIA examines the challenges of the second term.

FOLLOWING the victory at the Supreme Court a fortnight ago, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State, Abdullahi Bello, described the verdict affirming Governor Yahaya Bello as the winner of last year’s election.

He called on opposition parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), to join hands with the APC, to move Kogi forward.

The Supreme Court had upheld the decision of the tribunal and that of the Appeal Court declaring Bello as winner. “Our doors are open and we are ready to involve everyone in moving the state forward to the next level of development and prosperity,” the APC chairman said.

No sooner had he extended what appeared as an olive branch to them on behalf of the governor, than the PDP, in a statement, paid tribute to its flagbearer, Musa Wada, and his running mate, Hon. Sam Aro.

In the statement by the Publicity Secretary, Bode Ogunmola, the party said, while it accepted in good faith the ruling of the Supreme Court, it leaves the final judgement in the hands of God. To observers the statement is ominous enough that the next three years may not go like the last five.

The governor has firmly entrenched himself as not only the de facto, but also as the de jure in Kogi politics, with his opponents subdued, but non the less recalcitrant.

But, while Bello had secured his second term, the challenges ahead and how best he confronts them will determine the substance of his stewardship as a two-term governor.

Economy:

The governor is facing the challenge of paucity of funds, as revenue has dropped from the Federation Account; Kogi, on the average, receives N2.5b monthly with a corresponding wage bill of N3.5. Bello has however, stepped up internal revenue generation, but not without the people complaining of multiple taxation and the workers earning percentage salaries over time.

How Bello will confront the daunting infrastructural deficiencies is another challenge.

Infrastructure:

The state capital, Lokoja, will rank among those with the lowest building skylines anywhere in Nigeria, with one of the most imposing being the four-storey Revenue House, along the Murtala Mohammed road.

The closeby Chuks Plaza, another four-storey, is another. The Lugard Road, host to a number of government establishments, including the Tourism Board, the National Museum and the Kogi NUJ secretariat, which at nights metamorphose into the capital’s major red light district, are all reminders of Nigeria’s colonial past of the Sir Frederick Lugard era. They are unbefitting of a modern state capital. Whatever development stride the administration claims to have achieved in the last five years appears not to attest to the publicity showered on them. For one, Kogi counts as one of the states that President Muhammadu Buhari has not been availed of the opportunity to commission or inaugurate project(s), despite the ‘father-son’ relationship between the president and Bello. Though efforts were made to bring the president to commission projects in the state during the first tenure, the idea was jettisoned, following protests that the projects, including the International Motor Park in Felele, along the LokojaAbuja highway and the nearly completed Kogi Hotels, were berthed by the PDP administration of former Governor Idris Wada, back in 2015.

Some of the road projects completed by the administration include the one around the palace of the Ohinoyi of Ebira land, and the then newly constructed country home of the governor, the ItakpeKuroko bypass, in the Kogi Central. Other completed road project in the Kogi Central include the Okene-Agaza road.

In Kogi East, the Ankpa township road project was delivered on, while the Kabba township road project has been awarded. The administration is yet to pay much attention to the deplorable state of the Ganga Junction-Ganaja village road, which serves as artery to Kogi East, and onwards to the Easter parts of the country.

Other roads in need of attention particularly within the capital include the Zone ‘8’-Zango-Crusher road axis, which at both ends connect the Lokoja-Abuja highway. Initiated by the Wada administration, the Zango road, along which is located the Command Army Records and the Maigumeti Barracks, remains uncompleted, while the Crusher road, along which is located the state secretariat complex, the DSS and NAN offices, is also in need of attention. Unlike others before it, the Bello administration has not been able to deliver on any housing projects. It has however made extensive renovation, expansion and construction within the vast Government House, including the construction of a church, within the premises, being the first of its kind, in a state that has never been governed by a Christian. Security: Kogi is gateway to not less than nine other states, including Kwara, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ekiti, Enugu and Nasarawa, facing the challenge of banditry, armed robbery and kidnapping, the Bello administration has never shied away from confronting the menace, and as recent recorded successes in the battle against criminality, in and around the capital and other parts of the state. Currently Kogi is rated as a kidnappers’ and bandits’ haven, while the menace, herdsmen is another cause for concern. Early in the year suspected militiamen attacked Tawari, a community in Kogi LGA, at the end of which about twenty people were killed and buildings razed.

 Education:

The state of education, in terms of teaching and learning, is adjudged to be worse off, with teachers’ salary hovering on percentage payment and the outright outlaw of unionism in state higher institutions still subsisting. Morale, which can be described as low, ca n be said to have been worsened by the Covid19 pandemic, which has created more uncertainty in the sector.

Ethnicity:

Kogi State more often that not, is perpetually polarised along ethnic lines. The Bello administration is being credited as working assiduously in turning the tide and doing away with mutual distrust. Governance: Noticeable poor quality of appointees with little or no experience, particularly during his first tenure, was a heavy baggage, which his opponents capitalised on in their virulent attacks. It is expected that the governor will bring in people with capacity in the remaining years to boost governance.

Power Generation:

The governor could as well device means of generating power internally, using the vast water other natural resources that have served a number of other state in achieving the objective. Presently, Bello has commenced with efforts to lighten up the Kogi East Senatorial District, an area that has remained largely in darkness, making development a herculean task.

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