Recently appointed Senior Special Assistant to Kogi State Governor on Students Matters, Comrade Isah Babangida Onimisi has been a youth advocate and before then, he was a student leader, even from his university days. In this revealing interview, he tells Mohammed Yabagi what he would do to better the lot of Kogi students in his current position.
My name is Comrade Isah Babangida Onimisi. I hail from Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State and I am, by the grace of God, through the generosity and good nature of people like the Chief of Staff to His Excellency the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello in person of Pharmacist Abdulkarim Jamiu Asuku, the immediate past pro chancellor and chairman of council for the Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyigba, Prof Adam O Ahmed and other political leaders, I am the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Student Matters.
To start from the basics, I attended the prestigious Federal University of Technology (FUT) Minna in Niger State from where I graduated in 2015. I was the Personal Assistant to the former pro chancellor and worked as the coordinator National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Okene Local Government Chapter and I am the Chairman of the Coordinators Forum for Kogi Central. I have been made a hall of famer for the National Youth Council for Okene Local Government Area. I was the President of the prestigious National Association of Kogi State Students (NAKOSS) for FUT MInna in 2012, National President of the National Association of Ebira Students in 2015 before which I was the senate president of the body.
I have been a volunteer for several worthy causes and calls for the benefit of the public and humanity in general. I am a confident, articulate and multifaceted politician, a member of APC and entrepreneur who is well-respected by the electorate in my native ward and beyond.
Being heard and making a difference; those are the reasons I wanted to get into politics since I was a teenager in university. My passion for social justice, making a tangible difference in the community and resolving peoples problems makes me ideal for competitive political office where I can be seen to make a huge difference.
What are your plans to impact students of the positively as the SSA on Students to the Governor?
Thank you for this question. First and foremost, I want to express gratitude to Almighty Allah for this opportunity that being given to me to serve. I am most grateful. I want to specially thank the chief of staff to the Governor, my immediate past boss and other well meaning individuals for the roles they have played to ensure I was given this opportunity, I want to let them know that I will never let them down.
As a youth and a youth advocate and youth leader before this appointment, I know what the students, most of whom are youths, are going through in their academic pursuit. My intention is to aggregate the issues that are affecting them and impeding on their ability to focus on their academic pursuit and make life better for them.
We are working assiduously on the mandate of the Governor in collaboration with all stakeholders – ranging from the state commissioner for education, science and technology, in person of Hon Wemi Jones, to the Special Adviser and other critical players in the sector to ensure this administration achieved its set objectives. This also includes the heads all tertiary institutions and others.
As I said, I know their problems, but I can’t say I know all and that is why we have already commenced a state wide Unity Project in all higher institutions to hold talks, discuss with the students themselves and understand their plights so that we can be better guided in coming with more robust programmes that would tackle their actual problems that we may not have full grasp or understanding in.
Mind you, His Excellency the Governor, as a listening man who has the best interest of students and all citizens of Kogi State at heart, he has given us the blank cheque that would help interact more robustly with the young ones because as a youth, he understands that they are the future and so, is ready to do all that is within his powers to ensure a better, more productive and more developed Kogi State.
As you may not know, most of the policies and programmes of the Governor are becoming exemplary that other Governors in the country are copying.
Rate the Governors performance in the education sector so far
Excellent; without any fear of contraction, the man has done well. People from far and near are praising him for the fact that he has said the education sector remains his cardinal area of interest and he has followed it up and lifted the sector from the sorry state it was at.
Students of the state origin are currently in school attending to their lectures while their counterparts in other parts of the country are at home as a result of industrial action. That is visionary.
The recent establishment of Confluence University of Science and Technology is also something else. That is something that has further shown his commitment to developing the human capacity of our people. I always say that no society can grow without science and technology and that is to tell you that Governor Bello is looking beyond today; it is actually about the future. So, the university is coming at the right time.
Nigeria needs a leader like Governor Yahaya Bello if we want to move forward and catch up with the rest of the world. He is a digital leader who is not only compassionate but also forecasts into the future with the youth and the young ones at the back of his mind.
What other policies do you think the Governor can put in place to adequately cater to the youth of Kogi State?
To be fair, have you ever seen a government, since the creation of Kogi State in 1991 with so much youth involvement? No! The government is youth oriented because Governor Bello is a progressive youth determined to change the story of the state and Nigerian youth in general. I think of all the states in this country, Kogi is the luckiest at this point in time to have this sort of leader at the saddle. We are moving forward.
Now, let me sandwich my response with the issue of security situation in Kogi State because the youths are the majority security personnel in the country today and those that are lucky to be serving in the state would tell you they are having it rosy compare to other states of the federation. It always gives me pleasure to talk about the issue of security and how my Governor has taken the right steps to address the problem head-long.
Prior to his assumption of office in January of 2016, Kogi State was one of the hotbeds of insecurity with bank robberies, kidnappings, armed robberies and the rest the order of the day. But since he came to power, he had made security sector one of the cardinal objectives of his administration and that is why he is the only Nigerian Governor that has been considered for security awards by the Nigerian Police Force in this regime. He has provided military outposts in the three senatorial districts of the state to the Nigerian Army, provided land for the construction of the Naval Barracks in Lokoja, the State Capital, he has continued to provided all security personnel in the state with logistical support and create other incentives necessary to boost the morale of security agencies in the state.
Other things that he has are also for the benefits of the youths who are the major persons susceptible to crime and criminality in the society.
Advice to the youths and students of Kogi origin all over the country…
My advice to students of Kogi origin is for them to ensure they face their studies, first and foremost. They must make productivity their watchword whatever they find themselves.
As people of Kogi State, we are known for brilliance; innovative thinking; creativity, hard work, dedication and academic excellence. They should bring that to bear in their studies.