Kogi @ 25: A Journey Worth Its While

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By Abu Mike.

Kogi State otherwise known as the Confluence State is a dream come true for a people that once formed the Kabba Province. Today, the boundaries of Kogi State are roughly coterminous with those of the old Kabba Province.

Kogi State lies in the central part of Nigeria, within the North Central geo-political zone of the country. The State was created on the 27th August, 1991 by the General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida administration. It lies to the South of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory – Abuja and shares boundaries with Nasarawa, Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Benue, Edo, Enugu, Niger and Anambra states. This is a unique feature which no other state in Nigeria has and, expectedly, it is a feature that places the state in an advantageous position.

Lokoja, the state capital is located on the confluence of Nigeria’s two largest rivers Niger and Benue. The ancient and historic capital city of Lokoja is two hours drive to Abuja. It once served as the administrative headquarters of Nigeria after the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria by the British Colonial Government under Sir Fredrick Lugard between 1901 and 1902.

Kogi State has a total land area of 28,313.53 square kilometers and a population of over 4 million people. It lies on latitude 7.49ON and Longitude 6.45OE with a geological feature depicting young sedimentary rocks and alluvium along the river beds, which promotes agricultural activities.

The state features ferrasols soil type and famous hills like Ososo hills, which spread from Edo State to the western part of Kogi State. There is also the Aporo hill on the eastern part. Another famous hill is the Mount Patti, which lies in Lokoja and stands at above 750 metres above sea level.

The state is a miniature Nigeria with several ethnic groupings. However, it has three major ethnic groups – the Igalas, the Ebiras and the Okuns. The pocket of other ethnic groups include; Oworos, Egbirra Kotos, Kakandas, Ogori-Magongo and so on.

Talking about the temperature of the state, Kogi state has a relatively stable and friendly weather which supports agricultural activities. Kogi state has an average maximum temperature of 33.2OC and average minimum of 22.8OC. it has two distinct weather – the dry season which lasts from November to February and the rainy season which lasts from March to October. Annual rainfall ranges from 1016mm to 1524mm. the vegetation of the state ranges from mixed leguminous (guinea) woodlands to forest Savannah. The state has 21 Local Government Areas namely. Kogi state at present has 21 council areas viz:-Adavi with headquarters in Ogaminana

Ankpa with headquarters in Ankpa. Ajaokuta with headquarters in Adogo. Bassa with headquarters in Oguma . Dekina with headquarters in Dekina. Ibaji with headquarters in Onyedega.Idah with headquarters in Idah. Igalamela/Odolu with headquarters in Ajaka, Ijumu with headquarters in Iyara. Kabba-Bunu with headquarters in Kabba. Kogi with headquarters in Koton-Karfe. Lokoja with headquarters in Lokoja. Mopamuro with headquarters in Mopa. Ofu with headquarters in Ugwolawo. Ogori-Magongo with headquarters in Akpafa. Okehi with headquarters in Obangede. Okene with headquarters in Okene. Olamaboro with headquarters in Okpo.  Omala with headquarters in Abejukolo. Yagba East with headquarters in Isanlu and Yagba West with headquarters in Odo-Ere.

Kogi state is richly endowed in terms of natural resources both human and natural resources.

The state plays host to one of Africa’s largest steel companies – Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company at Itakpe. Because of its richness in raw materials, Kogi state has great potential for industrial activities. Little wonder therefore, the state plays host to Africa’s largest cement concern – the Obajana Cement Industry.

Agriculture is however, the mainstay of the economy of Kogi state. About 70 per cent of the population of the state are engaged in one form of agricultural activity or another. Kogi state has a wide stretch of arable land for farming, good grazing ground for livestock and large bodies of water for fishing. Food and cash crops commonly grown in commercial quantities include, yam, cassava, rice, maize, guinea corn, cocoa, coffee, cashew, oil palm, beniseed, melon, soya beans and sugar cane. No wonder, the state is often referred to as Nigeria’s food basket.

The forest resources of Kogi state are equally of very high economic values. At present, about 85 per cent of the total land area is covered by unemployed forest reservation containing important economic trees that can support paper mills, sawmill and veneer and plywood mills.

Kogi state is also the home of solid mineral deposits and they are found in almost every part of the state. These minerals include; cassiterite (tin ore), clay, coal, columbite, dolomite, feldspar, Gemstones, Granite, Iron ore, Kaolin, marble (limestone), mica, Quartz, sandstone, Talc, Tantalite and other such minerals. They are found in great commercial quantities in the state.

In the spheres of tourism, Kogi state can safely be referred to as Nigeria’s greatest tourist destination. A very significant landmark in the state is the Confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue which is a natural source of attraction.

Other tourist attractions are relics of colonial history and they include; the Royal Niger Company flag stand; the World War Cenotaph, European Colonial Cemeteries, the Iron of Liberty, which marks the spot slaves were freed in the late 19th century. Tombs of some deposed Northern Emirs, Lord Fredrick Lugard first residence in Nigeria, the first prison in Northern Nigeria, and the first Club House in Nigeria.

Other of such attractions include; the expensive Mount Patti, Agbaja plateau, Koton-Karfe cave, the Egaraja warm spring, the Inikpi statue which stands as the greatest reminder of the bravery of Inikpi, the daughter of the first Attah Igala Kingdom who gave her life for the freedom of her people. Also of immense significance are the various cultural festivals and ceremonies in the state. These include; Italo, Egbe, Ogani, Ekuechi, Ovia Osese, Oro, Ogaganyi, Ucho and a wide variety of fishing festivals.

Twenty five years in the life of the state has brought about tremendous changes in both its features, politics and economy. Conscious of the fact that the pre-August 1991 condition of Lokoja cannot support its new status as a state capital, thought out ingenious ways to help the situation. These efforts have paid off and Lokoja and other towns have since begun to wear new looks, growing in landmass and population.

Architectural master pieces are gradually replacing those old, dusty and nasty roofs that once dot the face of Lokoja, the once ancient colonial town. Business activities have picked up in the various towns and the hospitality industry is now a booming business in Lokoja and some neighbouring towns.

From a town with one major road in 1991, Lokoja now has large expanse of well-laid roads fitted with street lights and most of its roads, have been dualised. From a ghost town prior to August 27, 1991, Lokoja has gradually assumed its rightful place as it was in 1900 when it was the administrative headquarters of the colonial government when its had all attention shifted to it.

Since creation, Kogi State has been ruled by no fewer than seven military administrators and executive governors. Four of those who ruled the state are military personnel while the remaining three are civilians who were elected by the people of the state. Those who have ruled the state are; Brig-General Danladi Zakari (rtd), August 1991 – January 1992. he was the pioneer military Administrator of the state.

In 1992, precisely in January, Brig-General Zakari handed the mantle of leadership to Prince Abubakar Audu who was elected on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC). He was in office till November, 1993 when his administration was abruptly truncated by the change in leadership baton at the centre which brought the late General Sani Abacha to power.

Col. Paul Omeruo (rtd) was posted to the state as military Administrator and remained till July 1996 when he handed over to Col. Bzigu Lassa Afakirya, a Borno State born military officer who remained in office till August, 1998.

He was replaced by Col. Augustine U. Aniebo (rtd), who left office in May, 1999 handing over to Prince Abubakar Audu, who was once again elected through a popular mandate as governor of the state.

This time around, Prince Audu came into office on the platform of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and was in office till May 2003 when he lost his return bid to Alhaji Ibrahim Idris of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Alhaji Ibrahim Idris won a re-election at the 2007 governorship election. The state became the first to have its governorship election cancelled and a re-run election was ordered. Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, again won and he remained in office till January 27, 2012 when he handed over the reign of power to Captain Idris Ichalla Wada, a pilot by training. History was made when on January, 27, 2016, power shifted to Governor Yahaya Bello, the youngest to ever rule the state and elected under the All progressive Congress, APC.

Alhaji Yahaya Bello, is the present governor of the 25 year-old state and he has not minced words about the determination of his administration to ensure the realization of the dreams of the founding fathers of the state.

This past 25 years, the state has gone through thick and thin but there are sufficient reasons to appreciate God and successive leadership for the remarkable progress that has been made in almost all spheres.

For instance, Kogi state can now boost of a state-owned University located at Anyigba, a Federal Government owned-University sited in Lokoja, a private University, Salem University sited at Jimgbe near Lokoja, a state and Federal Polytechnic, three colleges of Education located in Okene, Ankpa and Kabba. These are beside other tertiary institutions located in different parts of the state.

Business activities have also steadily received a boost. Little wonder, banks now compete for space in the state. The hospitality industry is also receiving a boost because of the daily influx of visitors to the state. The Confluence Beach Hotel, Kogi Hotels, lead the park in the array of world class and standard hospitality industry scattered across the State.

Generally, life in Kogi State especially the state capital has picked up as Lokoja has joined the league of modern cities. It is no longer the ghost town it used to be before state creation.

With an international modern market, Olympic size stadium, several Housing Estates that dots the State as well as the greater Lokoja water works, the State boost of seven television and two radio stations, while the State printing company is complemented by several community Newspapers in the area of information dissemination.

Despite its several ethnic groupings, the people have co – existed peacefully. Similarly, the presence of adherents of the two major religion as well as traditional worshipers who have lived in harmony makes the State to be described as the most peaceful in Nigeria.

As the state celebrates 25 years of its existence, it is also time to remember all those who were at the forefront of the agitation for the creation of the state. The likes of Col. Ahmadu Ali, GCON, Enefola, Alhaji Yusuf Aka’aba, Alhaji Abdul Kokori, Senator Isah Obaro, Barrister Fayomi and others suffice here shows that the agitation for the creation of the State in 1991 is a dream well thought out and worthy of celebration.

Kogi state is not only a state for the future; it is a state with very good prospect. We can only continue to wish that the state takes advantage of its vantage position and the vast natural endowment to launch out fully as it is a confluence of possibilities and resources.

For now Kogi State has journeyed for 25 years, a journey that can not be said to be easy, but in summary it is worth the while, as it is a journey that is gradual taking the people to their promised land.

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