Great Expectations! An Open Letter to Governor Yahaya Bello

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Your Excellency,

 “A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.”  – Proverbs 22:1

Kogi State today stands at a defining moment. We have the youngest Governor in the country, the youngest Cabinet and have a record as the most democratically controversial State, going by past events and certainly the outcomes of the last gubernatorial elections. Kogi State, many agree, has the greatest potentials because of our history, our location, and presence of immense natural and human resources.

I believe, and so does millions of us, that God, the Almighty, the Infinite and Universal Intelligence, has a mission for you in Kogi State, having against all human reasoning, “removed all mountains” real and perceived, to have you installed as Governor. Thereby altering generational equations in the State that men only dreamt of; specifically, un-skewing the Power equation and elevating erstwhile politically disillusioned youths to Kogi’s command centre, even without the basics of arsenals like Votes, Godfathers and Billions of naira. These are no mean events and it would do well to take critical note of these.

The title of this letter “Great Expectations” surmises the sentiments of the people; indeed many, including myself, have chosen to be slaves of optimistic Hope.

I give a brief State of Affairs using Mopamuro as a Sample Case.

Having just returned from the festives at home, Mopa, stopping at Lokoja and through the Obajana-Kabba-Mopa-Ilorin road to Ilorin; I would acknowledge and commend the improvement on the roads, though not tarred but it was graded motor-able and it allowed for some significant unhindered movement.

However, in my interactions, there could never have been more anguish as expressed by majority of people in the land. Poverty now has a cloak and a sit at tables at home and in the market. It is no exaggeration to say I have never seen such despondency, confusion and resignation by a people; Chicken became such a luxury, so did meat, rice and other accessory condiments that normally accompanies Christmas and New Year. People were visibly trepid of the coming New Year – no money for children school fees; the sick could not afford medicals; several have died; to worsen it even our only bank, First Bank, has shut down  – a direct effect of financial downturn and the forceful migration of accounts of workers to Zenith and Access Banks.

Mopamuro has had a long banking history, over 50 years, when government structure was even more remote than now. To access 5,000 naira by anyone (young, old, working, not working) in Mopamuro now is harder than passing through the eye of the proverbial needle. The nearest working ATMs in Kabba is a two day tenure, one armed with such skills as ruggedness and toughness to navigate the clustered human mass at the ATM with no certainty of success and several possibilities, ranging from mobbing, trampling, kidnapping, pickpocketing, robbery and dropping dead.

Cries from Pensioners/Retirees, State Civil Servants, Local Government Staffers, Politicians, Churches, Mosques, Market women, shop owners, Farmers, Students, Lumberjacks et al and thousands of dependents are loud and deafening as all wonder why fate could deal so cruelly. After undergoing a myriad of excruciating screening, conducted by every new Administration, there is now more confusion as to what Government Administration means. The latest screening results are not yet public; the State continues to receive Billions of naira in Bailouts, Refunds and Allocations, yet it is conspiracy theories everywhere.

Emoluments are selectively paid, no consultations, no explanations offered, no right of complain, no nothing! It has become like the last days, as the bible tells us in Matthew 24:40-41 “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” But even in the case of rapture, the matter is clear and already foretold by our Lord. In Kogi State presently, three colleagues on the same salary grade, in the same department; one receives some percentage of emoluments for up to 9 months, another some percentage for three months and the other not a dime since year 2016 began. Indeed our people have become subjects rather than citizens; an Administrative jungle has suddenly emerged.

Political appointees, Local Government administrators, Labour Leaders and the likes are contented Yeo men. Indeed, to many of them, the Lord of the Manor, the reigning white lion is the owner and sustainer of life and they dare not see the naked truth nor hear the cries in their communities. They must look busy seeking imaginary foes, organizing  “empowerment” programs, trying to build political bases with sand and the wind; man forgets that there is nothing new under the sun; easy come easy go; indeed all lasts but for a while. The opulence and impudence with which the current courtiers hold sway is at complete variance with the reality of ordinary citizens.

It is on good authority that millions of naira is being circulated to some individuals, past and present political office holders, to lure them into the fold; at the expense of vulnerable Civil Servants, Retirees and their dependents. I make bold to say that all machinations, all plans and every imagination that seeks to exploit rather than genuinely serve Kogi people will come to naught!

It is encouraging to see the proposed 2017 Kogi State Budget available in public domain. So also should be the New Direction blueprint. We have seen budgets every year and they have not been worth the paper on which they were printed. There are examples in this very country of States that have had the good fortune of visionary leadership; Lagos, Anambra, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River States etc. Their past leaders have, even after leaving office, been of higher service to the nation and are held in the hearts of the people as worthy sons. We hope not to see a State where looters and parochials are celebrated as heroes; but to see a Confluence of Opportunities for anyone willing to put heart and hand to work.

I write in hope that your administration not only goes in a “New Direction” but also in a Good and Progressive Direction. I write at the instance of well-meaning citizens of the State, who are directly impacted by the actions or inactions of Governance. Indeed “the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”

Finally I hope that this administration takes a new trajectory towards selfless service to its citizens and is characterized by values in tandem with 21st century democracies including Accountability, Transparency and inclusiveness in Governance, Fairness and Justice, Innovation and Lateral thinking; less sycophancy, less parochialism, less looting and less propaganda.

I wish you most interesting times and God’s speed Your Excellency!

God Bless Kogi State.

Thank you.

Gbenga Ezekiel

A patriot and a co-sojourner

0706 874 8980


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