On assumption of office in January 2016 as the 4th Executive governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s topmost priority was how to urgently tackle the catalogue of ills that has hindered the state from attaining her full potential since its creation in 1991. Given the intensity of the problems he met on ground, he quickly rolled up his sleeves and hit the ground running. He was under no illusion that the task of correcting the wrongs of the past would be a walk in the park.
In his avowed determination to put the state on the path of genuine development, he went round the country and even beyond to shop for capable and competent hands to work with. While he cared less about the ethnic background, religious persuasion or ideological leaning of those he brought on board, he was quite emphatic about competence, capability and passion for service. He minced no words when he admonished his appointees to be true to him by constantly drawing his attention to any issue that requires his attention. Right from the outset, Governor Bello was deliberate and quite emphatic about his plans and vision for Kogi state.
To ensure proper coordination and meaningful implementation of his agenda for the good people of Kogi state, he designed a brilliant and ambitious development blueprint code named “New Direction”. As encapsulated in the document which serves as a roadmap for repositioning the state, the blueprint emphasises civil service reform, job creation, tackling insecurity, economic diversification and agricultural revolution.
As you read through these lines, the Governor Yahaya Bello-led administration has lived up to expectation in the aforementioned areas. Through prudent management of available resources gotten from the Federal Allocation Account Committee and internally generated revenues, the state has continued to carry out people-oriented projects across the three senatorial districts in the state.
One area that the Bello-led government has recorded remarkable success in the last three years is in the security formation of the state. Long before he came on board, Kogi State almost became the safest haven for crime and criminalities in Nigeria. At some point, even the now degraded Boko Haram Islamist sect had transit camps in some locations in the state. Kidnap for ransom became a thriving business. Political thuggery also became popular especially among idle youths.
All these happened while previous administrations were completely helpless on how to tame these monsters. It got so bad that travellers sought for alternative routes for fear of being kidnapped or killed. Our dear state was always grabbing national news headlines for the wrong reasons. It assumed a disturbing level that Kogi citizens living outside the state avoided their ancestral homes for fear of men of the underworld.
Then came the man with the magic wand who didn’t only take the war to the doorsteps of criminals, but ensured that the enablers of any form of crime are fished out and handed over to law enforcement agencies for prosecution. He personally led a number of operations to territories dubbed as unsafe to trace kidnappers and armed robbers to their hideouts. Governor Bello is leaving no stone unturned in his determination to rid the state of criminals and troubleshooters taking refuge in any part of the state. Expectedly, these exemplary feats, especially in the security sector have earned him national and international recognition.
Governor Bello has continued to match his words with action. He has clearly demonstrated his avowed readiness to leave Kogi far better than he met it three years ago. Undoubtedly, the task of fixing the state hasn’t been easy, but the Bello administration has pledged never to back down until our dear state is elevated to an enviable position. Through far-reaching reforms introduced by the Bello administration; honesty, transparency and accountability have become permanent features of governance in the state. In Kogi state, it is no longer business as usual. People who capitalised on poor governance in the state to defraud the state of billions of naira have been sent out of business. Ghost workers syndrome which drained the state of her lean resources has long been exocized and replaced with a transparent payment system.
Kogi has become a huge construction site. There is hardly any part of the state that the Bello-led administration hasn’t registered its presence in terms of provision of critical infrastructure such roads, schools, hospitals, water and electricity.
It is in recognition of His Excellency’s brilliant performance across sectors, especially in the security sector that the Leadership Newspaper’s revered Board of Editors has deemed it fit to confer the paper’s “Man of the Year award” on governor Yahaya Adoza Bello.
Governor Bello has promised not to rest on his oars. He said his expectations for Kogi and it’s people have not be fully met yet. He requires the support and cooperation of all Kogites to realize the Kogi state of our dreams.
Jonathan Edime, Ph.D
Nasarawa State University