By Awulu Jeremiah Igonoh.
The journey to Lugard House was declared open with the commencement of the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms. Amongst the frontrunners gunning for the highest political seat in the Confluence state is the Auditor-General of Kogi state, Alhaji Yakubu Okala.
Speaking to supporters shortly after he picked his forms, Okala had this to say, “My interest in this race is service. I want to serve my people by consolidating the numerous achievements of Governor Bello’s administration.”
But who is Alhaji Yakubu Okala?
As life stories go, his is an inspiring one.
Okala hails from Ajiyolo Ajikpome in Dekina local government area.
He attended RCM Primary School at neighbouring Ajiyolo Ojaji between 1980-1985 where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. From here he proceeded to GSS Dekina via two years at Community Secondary School Ajiyolo, graduating in 1991. Thereafter he proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1995 where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting in 1999.
During his NYSC year in 2001 he registered for ICAN, remarkably qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in less than two years. In 2008 he returned to A.B.U for a Master’s Degree in Banking and Finance which he obtained in 2010. As a resourceful personality of repute, Okala capped his educational attainment in 2015 when he was awarded the Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
His work trajectory is equally compelling. Having commenced his career as an Accountant in charge of Salaries and Variation, and subsequently Final Accounts at the Headquarters of Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development in Abuja, he proceeded to join a firm of chartered accountants, Ernest Ike & Co, as Audit Senior between the 2001 and 2002 before leaving for Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) a pet project of the Second Lady Hajiya Titi Abubakar, where he was the Head of Finance and Administration between 2002 and 2004.
In early 2005 he joined Prudent Bank, shortly before it merged with other banks to form Skye Bank. While working in Skye Bank, he served in different capacities in banking operations and subsequently as Compliance Officer. In October 2006, with an eye on his career trajectory, he moved to Intercontinental Bank which, following the merger in 2010, became known as Access Bank. Here he served with great distinction as Residence Internal Controller, a position which afforded him the latitude to travel far and near across the six geopolitical zones of the country and virtually across all the states of the federation.
Between February and December 2012, having voluntarily left Access Bank, he served as Audit Manager at Microcred Micro Finance Bank, a special purpose social intervention and financial inclusion service bank, sponsored by International Financial Corporation (IFC) and French Development Bank.
In January 2013 he Joined Arewa Cotton Nigeria Limited as the pioneer Head of Internal Audit, where he set the internal audit and control system for the company. But his stay there was short-lived as he transferred his services to Malaria Consortium on June 3, 2013 as the Country Management Accountant where he worked until February 2016.
In the course of his assignment in Malaria Consortium, he participated in comprehensive implementation of social intervention programmes especially in the Health Sector, funded by United State Agency for International Development (USAID), United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), World Health Organisation (WHO), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as UNITAIDS.
On 1 March, 2016 Alhaji Yakubu Okala was appointed by the Kogi state Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello as Auditor-General of the state, which office he has since repositioned and made the hallmark of competence, meritocracy and excellence. In the light of his exemplary performance in office, the governor has so reposed confidence in him that he has been given numerous committee assignments. These include membership of State Economic & Investment Committee, Chairman Staff Screening Appeal Committee, Member State Fiscal Responsibly Committee, Chairman Pension Reform Committee, Member of State Council on Procurement, Member of Steering Committee of the Nigerian Korean Friendship Institute, Secretary of Kogi State Asset Committee, Member Interim Management Committee of Kogi Internal Revenue Service, Member Steering Committee of Kogi State Livestock Transformation Plan, Member State Squadron Committee to tackle the menace of COVID-19 and Lassa Fever in Kogi State, among others.
Going by his educational and professional trajectories, it is fair to say that Alhaji Yakubu Okala is well positioned to be an effective governor. His academic and professional backgrounds are resplendent with distinction, marked indeed with awards of excellence and commendation, and so is his record as Auditor-General, as exemplified by his committee engagements. All this would have been enough, but he has also strengthened his hand by his philanthropic works. As someone who has risen through the ranks by dint of hard work and industry, Alhaji Yakubu considers it his duty to lend a helping hand to the underprivileged of society.
To this end he has made it his duty to give scholarship to indigent students, help with the electrification of villages, provide boreholes for rural communities, and has undertaken payment of WAEC and JAMB fees to needy students, and so forth. He comes into the race with a rich pedigree and a strong hand, and in the light of his track record and philanthropic works, it is fair to implore Kogites to give Alhaji Yakubu Okala a chance to showcase stewardship in a grand style come November 2023.