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It is a year today since Governor Yahaya Bello’s inauguration as the Executive Governor of Kogi State. It is happening in the 25th year of the creation of our State too. I will like to open my reflection with the thought of Nicollo Machiavelli in his much celebrated book, ‘The Prince’ where he asserted that ‘there is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes… The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new’.
As a canvasser for moral and developmental politics, I have been following very carefully the current New Direction government in my dear State. Matter of fact, I received the coming of Governor Yahaya Bello with great enthusiasm that at least the following may likely happen among other things. 1. As a young man, vigor, critical thinking, fresh ideas would be injected into governance .2. Young people would be given the platform to fully manifest 3. As a fresh hand from another party, the old order would be challenged.
No doubt with his out rightly radical steps since the inception of this government GYB is out to initiate and sustain changes, and as a consequence, Machiavelli’s prophetic word is taking its course here. Those that prospered under the ‘old rot’ are cursing and those that the Governor purposed to take to Eldorado are cursing too’. This is a very dicey position for any Governor to find himself because in the words of Machiavelli again, ‘a Prince can never make himself safe against a hostile people; there are too many of them. He can make himself safe against the nobles, who are few’. What does this portend? As matters stand now GYB is up against a hostile civil service on one hand and a group of disgruntled nobles that created or tolerated the mess he is trying to clear on the other hand.
To a lot of people, it appears this man is not interested in retaining his seat? I have met lots of folks like that who said nasty things ahead of the next election. ‘Untold hardship has befallen people, many have died in accidents on their way to screenings, and some were kidnapped or robbed…’ they said lots of things and they are correct about it, a lot of bad things have happened. I am in the midst of people affected by this reformation in the civil service, including my wife who was carrying our fresh baby up and down, my in-laws, brothers, sisters, friends and many more. I have quarreled with my wife and most of my friends in defense of GYB’s motive bearing in mind the reality of Nigeria’s dwindling economic fortunes and parlous IGR in Kogi State, it is self defeating to carry the burden of an over bloated civil service particularly one ridden with ghost workers.
From my own not too popular opinion GYB is a very bold young man, committed to doing the right thing no matter the consequences to his own personal ambition, this baffles me and is worthy of commendation. It is the hallmark of a real statesman to take the bull by the horns in politics without dropping the idea in compromise for the next election. This same order of rot flourished under two successive governments and they both wasted resources on screenings only to abandon them because in the first instance they were not committed to the implementation of its outcomes.
As a moralist in the developmental political school, all my few years here have been on the side of my kind, the masses and we have witnessed bad governance occasioned by misplaced priorities, diversion of public funds among others. We spoke against some of them as evident in my past antecedent as a writer and public affairs analyst. GYB’s attempt thus far is a constructive deviation from what we were used to, he is matching action to his words on our infrastructures. Assessing from my Senatorial district for instance, Lokoja is picking up and beginning to look like a State Capital now. Also, from my Federal Constituency, since the days of Sen. Ogbeha to Smart Adeyemi under two governors, the Omi Dam project did not get any reasonable attention other than budgetary allocations that were never utilized, but GYB have initiated plans to fully utilize that huge resource in collaboration with the Lower Niger River Basin Authority. Not that alone, while on a visit to the site just last week, he ordered immediate construction of the road linking that huge facility. Is that not incredible? As a Yagba man, I tell you it is. What about the Ekinrin Adde/Ohun/Ife Olukotun road and Iyamoye/Ife Olukotun/Ponyan/Jege/Ejuku/Ijowa-Isanlu road that have been awarded? Lastly the Isanlu, Mopa and Ogidi water projects have been awarded too.
While this government that took off on shaky legs, went through prolonged litigation and inherited a backlog of liabilities from the past administration cannot be exonerated from obvious lapses, it ought not to be ruthlessly crucified for there are rooms for improvement. In this one year, I have not gone near the government house gate talk less of entering, I have not entered any Ministry or Agency, I am not a sycophant of this government in any way but I support this government’s effort towards infrastructural development, employment provision and accountable revenue generation. So, if sanity in the civil service is not an anathema to you, the New Direction is the way to go. If accountable governance is not an anathema to you, the New Direction is the way to go. If even infrastructural development is not an anathema to you, the New Direction is the way to go. If youth empowerment is not an anathema to you, the New Direction is the way to go. Will the benefits be instant? No! Will there be mistakes? Will it be rewarding? YES!
To conclude, I will go to Machiavelli again, this time he postulated that, ‘violence must be inflicted once and for all; people will then forget what it taste like and so be less resentful. Benefits must be conferred gradually and in that way, they will taste better’. Let us substitute his ‘violence’ for ‘drastic change’, hence ‘drastic change’ in the mould of civil service screening bearing in mind the multiplier effects it inflicts on the society deserves all the efforts and energy that will make it seem an instant, so much that as the benefits become evident to those that bore the short brunt, they would clearly understand without ado that it was to their interests. This administration have allowed the screening exercise to linger for too long, all hands must be on deck to round it up clinically so that the workers can heave a sigh of relief. As for the entrepreneurs of corruption in the civil service, that have mercilessly drained Kogi State before the coming of Governor Yahaya Bello, the only way to justify the long suffering of the innocent workers is to bring them to justice, anything short of this is a disservice to posterity.
One More Issue
The Ministry of women affairs is one I have erroneously considered of no much significance other than mobilizing women for trade centered events, solidarity visits, campaign coordination and related matters before now. My ignorance was also boosted by the near docility of those who have occupied the position before now. However, with the coming of Hon. Bolanle Amupitan as Commissioner in that Ministry, my perspective about that very strategic ministry has changed. In her almost one year in office now, spanning a few months as Special Adviser first and then now as Commissioner I have watched from afar her altruistic spirit and clinical finesse in steering the affairs of the Ministry.
‘Bi egun eni bajo’re ara aya ni’, that is, when your masquerade dances excellently you will be very elated. Hon. Bola Amupitan is our face in this government from Mopamuro and I am well pleased with her sterling performances thus far. As a key member of this New Direction, I am using this anniversary period to express my satisfaction with the way she has been tirelessly projecting and addressing the challenges of the vulnerable in our society, promoting child development issues, Social welfare and women affairs. I have seen several inspiring results as a result of her steely pursuit. One thing I will only ask for in this anniversary period is for commensurate punishment for rapists especially those involved with minors. Few days back I read about a N50, 000 fine or 2 years imprisonment term for a man that raped a minor. My heart sank. I understand it may be out of your jurisdiction, but being a passionate mother that I know, I will urge you to make spirited presentations to relevant authorities on this.
– Elere Samuel
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