Open Letter to Gov Wada: Look Inward Before It Is Too Late

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AN OPEN LETTER TO KOGI STATE GOVERNOR, HIS EXCELLENCY, CAPTAIN IDRIS WADA

By Oyigu Onuche-Ojo Elijah

 

Dear Sir,

LOOK INWARD BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

I heartily congratulate you over your recent victory at the Supreme Court which upheld your election as the governor of Kogi State. As the good people of the state celebrate you over such conquest, we do pray to the almighty God to unveil the responsibility that follows such victory to you since every victory comes with a veiled responsibility. It is also my prayer that God will give you the needed agility to move the state to the desired level of its God given destiny.

Your Excellency Sir, when I first glanced through your official resume and discovered that you were an aviator with a highly rated experience in piloting, I developed a hope within me that with God on your side, you will be able to pilot the affairs of this state to the desired aerodrome of prosperity. We do hope that, within the remaining years of your administration, you will be able to safely land the state at the said aerodrome.

 However, I considered it not necessary to have reached you through this medium due to the hectic nature of your official engagements and especially the fact that letter writing has become a familiar medium of official communication in the recent times.  I would not have joined the wagon of letter writers considering its open status but I however obliged owing to the constraints of other potent media, hence my reason to communicate you through letter writing. As a concerned citizen of the state that hail from Ibobo–Abocho, Dekina Local Government Area, I am constrained to bring the points I would be making to your hallowed table through this medium with the hope that, a deep consideration will be given to them.

The choice of the title of this letter is premised on the need for us as a people to look inward by reconsidering the imperative of harnessing our God given natural resources as a formidable way of developing the land and limiting the degree of the state’s dependence on federation money.  While this will give room for financial dependence, it will also procreate a platform for massive employment for our employable youth that are scattered across many states in Nigeria in search of white Kola jobs.  However, your recent effort in investing in the agricultural sector is highly commendable and it is hoped that, such investment is properly managed by impeccable hands to enable the state enjoy her edaphic prosperity.

Your Excellency Sir, mineralogical researches have divulged that, Kogi state is a Nature’s favorite when it comes to mineral availability across the entire nation. It has been revealed that, the state is blessed with more than 29 mineral deposits which is ranked higher than other states in Nigeria but seconded by its next door Nasarawa state with 25 mineral deposits.

A documentary programme by the Nigerian Television Authority in mid-June 2009 which was mainly dedicated to the field reports on mineral resources from different part of the country under the eagle watch of the then Minister of Mines and Steel development, Mrs. Diezanii Allison Madueke revealed that, over 33 mineral resources were discovered in 2008 from across the states of the federation.   The said report also indicated that, Kogi state has the highest mineral deposit when viewed numerically. Her speech reads in part: “As far as mineral deposits are concerned, Kogi state and the next-door Nasarawa state are the most endowed across the entire country. The statement also read further that, Kogi state alone has deposit of a total of 29 mineral resources available in commercial quantities.” The report  further showed that, some of the mineral deposits discovered are coal, dolomite, feldspar, bauxite, iron ore, tar, limestone and gold to mention but a few.

In the light of the above discovery, one could adduce that, Kogi state was pre-blessed by God even before the creation of the state hence the need to look inward into the content of our soil and enjoy the dividends of those mineral deposits when they are appropriately exploited. If Kogi state is rated as the state with the highest mineral deposit in Nigeria, it is expected also that the state should be seen as one of the most industrialized and perhaps developed states in Nigeria.

Your Excellency Sir, it is of my utmost conviction and belief that you will be delighted to pilot the affairs of a state that has a bright hope for economical survival since financial dependence is the first parameter that measures the survival of a state. The 2014 budget which you tagged the “Budget of Reality” which has scaled through all the legislative requirements and acceded by you, was aimed at accelerating the transformation of the state and to put the state on a sound economical pedestal. While my letter does not focus on the total breakdown of the budget, I am however concerned on the way the said budget will be adequately financed and the benefiting effects it will have on the good people of Kogi state without totally depending on the federal allocation whose source of income is largely depended on the petroleum resources.

As a trained Geoscientist, I am made to know that there are blessings within the soil and when such blessings are properly harnessed, they will not only bring succor to the people but they will also enhance a metamorphic change in the economical status of the people. Such geological blessings which in most cases appear in the form of mineral deposits are part of God’s plan in bettering the lives of the people that live within the land where such soil containing mineral deposits are found.

Nigerians have canvassed and are still canvassing the needs for revenue diversification as a way of remedying the economical impasse and logjam facing the Nigerian state. We have seen that, Oil money can no longer meet the need of Nigerian people despite the robust nature of petroleum resources in Nigeria which made the country rank as the first ten Oil producing countries across the nations of the world.  Beside, the people of Niger Delta have made it known to all and sundry through their actions and expressions that the nationally acclaimed oil belongs to them  and therefore, the money accrue from oil exploitation  should be majorly used for them since the oil is found in their land.   This is further known through the sharp disparity in the federal monthly allocations between the oil producing states and the state that do not produce oil.  It is also obvious that, the federal government gives back to the 36 states of the federation what each state contributes to the growth of national economy hence the need for us to look inward.

Your Excellency Sir, there was a Nigeria before 1958 when oil was discovered. There was a Nigeria though without oil but with robust economy. There was a Nigeria without oil but with Good educational institutions which was seen as one of the best in the continent of Africa. There was a Nigeria though without oil but was powerful enough to feed her people and was exporting food to other nations of the world. There was a Nigeria without oil whose graduates were not looking for jobs but jobs were handy even before they graduated from school. That Nigeria has not gone on extinct but perhaps there is a change in the managerial approach employed by those who were at the corridor of power then compared to what is obtainable in the present dispensation of Nigerian leadership.

Your Excellency Sir, demographic finding shows that Kogi state, despite not being ranked as one of the fifth most populous states in Nigeria is however ranked among the first ten state with high internal emigration net with our youth trooping out of higher institutions of learning without seeing a space where they could pitch the tent of their industrial careers. This has made many of them to travel out of the state to other states in Nigeria even though they are often considered as second class citizens in those states.

The reality of the budget of reality could take a different shape from other previous budgets and improve on its attainability if you could muster a political will and look inward to see the necessity of the exploitation of our God given mineral deposits as a way of enhancing economical dependability of the state thereby creating enabling chance for the absorption of our teeming graduates into the labour force. If you could recall Sir, the state’s reputation was at stake in August last year (2013), when the state Teaching Service Commission announced the recruitment of only 500 Teachers. It was reported that 16,000 unemployed graduates applied for the job each of whom were made to pay the sum of N3400 to a bank account different from the official bank account of the state’s teaching Service commission. Though, you later gave a directive after a heart rendering outcry by concerned citizens that the money should be refunded back but I could not ascertain at the point of penning this letter if the money was truly refunded to the victims despite being unemployed graduates who depended on their parents during their school years and who are still depending on their parents for their upkeep.   While the memory of 16,000 people jostling for the 500 job vacancies was gradually fading away, it was also reported in January this year (2014), when the state Internal Revenue Service Commission wanted to employ people to fill 60 vacant positions; 10, 000 people applied for the job. This however, shows that unemployment is a parlous foe fighting the future of the people and the youth of the state. Those that connived to perpetuate such heinous act should have been made to face the full wrath of the law as a way of riding the state of corrupt practices as well as restoring moral values to the civil service since there was no justification for the act. While there was no record of fraudulent act with the later, it is my candid opinion that job creation through the industrialization of the state which will ameliorate or alleviate the industrial misnomer confronting the state should be the state’s most priority if the budget of reality will truly see the light of reality.

Your Excellency sir, I am aware of the federal government’s preparedness to look into the exploitation of solid mineral resources, a move which was revealed in January 2013, but sometimes, we are also aware that the beauty of such preparations do end in the media than we see in the real life; otherwise, can the federal government of Nigeria tell us what it has done to revamp Ajokuta steel company which experts have seen as a haven of job creation? It is high time we make the move into the exploitation of our mineral resources.   Despite the protracted dispute over the ownership of the oil wells between our state and Anambra state which we have not known the outcome of the intervention of the Federal Boundary Commission about the true ownership of the oil well; it is however hoped that, the true picture of the ownership of those oil wells will be known in a jiffy to avoid robbing Peter to pay Paul.   Nevertheless, Anambra state government should be well commended for taking the bold step of investing billions of Naira into such projects which should also be emulated by other state government on the need to self-industrialize their states. It is also good that we look into our resources and invest in the exploitation of our natural resources as a panacea to the parasitic economy with which we operate. The coal at Okaba in Ankpa LGA could electrify Nigeria for 400 years while the limestone at Obajana could supply cement to Nigerians and even beyond the country, according to the field report conducted by the Federal Ministry of Mine and Steel development in 2008 which was made available to the members of the public in 2009. The same report also revealed that, there is presence of not less than two mineral deposits in each local Government Area of the state. It is high time we use what we have to get what we need.

Mr. Governor, Sir, I do not need to belabor the obvious.  However, Historians are in ravenous expectation to book your name in the golden books of history as a Governor that could take a proactive measure to develop and industrialize the state through the exploitation of state’s owned mineral resources.  I’m aware of the fact that most of the challenges confronting the state predate your administration but I’m also convinced that effective leadership is aimed at either alleviating or totally obviating the hardship of the people that the leader leads through strategic and realizable policies regardless of the age of such hardship. When people talk about Prince Abubakar Audu today, the first thing that comes to mind is Kogi State University.  When the next generations of Kogites talk about you, let your administration be synonymous with the exploitation of our mineral resources and the industrialization of the state.

Mr. Governor Sir, I understand that your administration and perhaps your predecessors must have embarked on some programmes which are/were tailored towards alleviating poverty. While I applaud you and your predecessors for such gigantic efforts, we have however, noticed that most of those poverty alleviation programmes do have infinitesimal effects compared to the result that the industrialization of the state will yield. There are countries in other continents of the world that do not have the number and the quality of the mineral deposits that we have in Kogi state yet some of those countries are found on the radar of economical prosperity.  This justifies the fact that, it is only a producing land that is a progressing land. It is hoped that the promise you made through the deputy Governor on Nov. 28, 2013, when you hosted the Federal Government Committee on Solid Minerals Post Mortem Committee should be faithfully kept. It could be recalled that, while welcoming the members of the said Committee, you expressed your readiness to pay priority attention to the development of the state’s owned solid minerals.

Your Excellency Sir, I felicitate with you for being the governor over a state that has been empowered by God to be a prosperous state. It is therefore gratifying to say that, if we are able to look inward and harness our God given gifts, then Kogi state could rather be seen as the “Theatre of Prosperity” and “The Domain of Industrialization.” We do not have reasons to remain poor as a state. We do not have reasons to operate on parasitic economy.  We do not have reasons to remain being underdeveloped.  Lokoja, the state capital city is believed to be one of famous confluence towns in the whole world where nature deemed fit for rivers to meet. This could be a natural way of making the city a tourist centre which could also generate revenue for the state and employ the employable people provided we considered its expedience. Lokoja, being one of the ancient administrative towns of the defunct Northern Nigerian, is blessed with other natural features such as Mount Patti that could attract a good number of tourist’s lovers if made a good tourist centre. The whole world is expecting to see the true glamour of our capital city.

The total mineral deposits in the state should be digitally mapped across the various areas of their availability through spatial technology such as Geographic Information System, if at all it has not been done. This will help us in knowing what we have, where we have what we have and how we could lay our hands on what we have.  It will also give room for appropriate Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The state ministry of mine and steel development (if we do have) should collaborate with the department of Geology and Geography at the state owned University so as to encourage further research on the discovery and exploitation of mineral deposits in the state.

The government on her part should have the political will to release money for this liberation induced project the same way you have done in the agricultural sector. Your recent call on the need for the federal government to urgently consider the establishment of Solid Minerals Technology Development Fund, has furthered buttressed your readiness to toll on the path of industrialization.

Effort should be made to accelerate the operational commencement of Kogi State Cement Company, Itobe whose ground breaking ceremony had been performed according to your 2nd anniversary’s speech. Such company will industrialize the state and will also give more room to the employment of our youth provided its establishment is void of the intension for privatization.

Mr. Governor, I do wish to drive home my point by quoting a salient quote by Thomas Henry Huxley That says, “The great end of life is not knowledge but action.” We all have the knowledge of the number of the mineral resources we have in our state but what we need now is action. You have made your readiness known to us that your administration is interested in the exploitation of our mineral resources; such readiness should be ossified by prompt actions. Actions that will move us forward and stabilize us in the desired industrialization. We all have the knowledge of the manner that poverty has ransacked our people, but what Kogites need now is the action that will emancipate them from the shackle of poverty. We all have the knowledge of the poor status of our primary and secondary schools, but what Kogites need now is the action that will revitalize the educational system; such actions should be good enough to make the school suitable for your own children to attend public institution since Kogi state is an egalitarian state. Every great state takes a great action into greatness. It is high time we take positive actions by translating all our plans and preparation into actions. The time to look inward is now. The time to industrialize the state is now. The time to show forth the glamour and the splendor of our state is now since stitch in time saves nine.

Yours faithfully,

Oyigu Onuche-Ojo Elijah,

Publisher/Akure.

prophoyigu@yahoo.com

+2348079808776


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