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On January 27, 2016, many records were shattered in Kogi State by the explosives of fate and destiny. From the death of Prince Abubakar Audu to the declaration of Alh. Yahaya Bello as the beneficiary of the APC victorious votes; a chain of political attrition was sparked and the fragile foundation of the State called Kogi was threatened by the different colorations of agitations.
The man who has acted to hunt down the ghosts of ethnic jingoism became the hunted by the beneficiaries of ethnic commercialists who rode on the back of political horses to ignoble prominence.
And GYB changed the story. Kogites saw the possibility of becoming whatever you are capable of without inhibitions of ethnic blockade. A Chief of Staff emerged from a different District to that of the Governor. The first three appointments and many more others after reflected the new reality of equity, fairness and justice. Our divisions began to have a hope of healing.
Governor Yahaya Bello met a state of hopelessness; a traded entity and an empty purse, harmed by the kleptomaniac cabal that thought Kogi State was a cow that must produce milk for a privileged gang of few.
On assumption of office, GYB choose a very difficult path to greatness. Between making the right decisions that will look unpopular at the beginning, to making popular decision that will keep the stones of poverty rolling; he choose the former.
The Civil Service Reforms is a terrain not dared by many due to the political correctness of keeping the corruptly powerful safe. Those who ventured into the staff verification exercise in the past capitulated under the pressured heat of the powerful elements who had used the civil service as the funnel to fill their greedy galons.
But from the first day, Governor Yahaya Bello resisted the fear of the unfair and threw himself into the challenge of salvaging the civil service.
To achieve this, he decided to fly with labour. He involved labour leaders in key decisions on the staff verification exercise. Labour even supplied many of the people who verified the workers and their files. They were part of those who discovered the mind-boggling rot in the system.
At the end of the verification exercise, there were agitations for indicted staff to defend themselves. The idea was to give the indicted workers a right of defence.
To this end, an Appeals Committee was set up to look into complainants emanating from the first screening exercise. While some were vindicated, many failed to prove their innocence.
In the course of the screening, those cleared continued to receive their salaries while those indicted had their pay tagged until government was convinced they are justifiable beneficiaries of wages.
But again, the Governor had to pardon some categories of offences in order to give more people amnesty and returned to the payrolls.
Those initially cleared have been receiving their salaries while those recently pardoned are having their pay processed.
But to the critics, Kogi State Government has not paid any worker for the past 21 months, even when available facts and figures proved to the contrary.
The State Government decided to publish the payment updates on its official website. But the critics won’t backtrack. Government had to go an extra mile by publishing the updates in a national newspaper to douse the noise.
However, critics have shifted from non-payment of salaries to the allegation of wasting resources to prove our point.
The intent of the critics was to demarket Kogi State and paint its leadership as irresponsible. To them, politics is everything and even when we lose citizens to pathetic circumstances; it was due to “Non-payment of salaries”.
The height of it was the Senate incident in which the pride of our people was hurt and deflated. As hard as I may try to avoid any comment on the donation of rice to Kogi civil servants, I am happy it has revealed the colours of antagonistic politics in Kogi State.
Rather than adversely hurting government, it has brought the Kogi war to the national fore where reasonable people are beginning to ask questions. Judgements are beginning to crop up. The hunter is becoming the hunted.
Kogi people have pride. Government never said it had paid everyone, even on the cleared list. It is not everyone on the cleared list that was cleared the same day. It was a process that was painstakingly undertaken. The bulk of the civil servants have been paid up to July 2017 and we are ready to reduce the arrears any moment from now; including settling all the outstandings of the recently cleared workers. Government is also prepared to prosecute those who falsified documents or were used to divert the resources of government.
The bailout out from the Federal Government to States was plausible. But the Federal Government will not be able to continue to bail states every month. Therefore, the administration of Alh Yahaya Bello has identified agriculture and mining as quick wins to fix the strained finances of the State and make agriculture the main driver of the state’s economy.
There are times I pity the Governor. He has genuine intentions to revive the State. But those who are afraid of his pace are pushing out falsehood to erect high bumps on the way to success. But the good thing is that the Governor has been encouraged by the response of the common man.
His agricultural policies, infrastructural development, educational renaissance and healthcare delivery have all endeared him to the people. Hero among the people, villian to the stereotypes who see corruption as a norm.
Candidly, we listen. He listens. He hears from the people. Salary payment to workers is key. We are addressing that and soon, we shall clear all arrears.. It is our hope to finally silence our detractors who have used salary as the only joker to unseat a divine and performing government.
As a people, rebuilding Kogi State is a common task. Our state is our pride and we must salvage it. We are not averse to criticism but we must avoid presenting our state in bad light because of political differences.
As we prepare for the Governor’s midterm in Office, we have every evidence to prove Kogi is moving in the right direction and we shall present our scorecard at the right time.
Every destructive criticism is a mental terrorism against the people. Our criticism must be such that can provoke progress and development.
Governor Yahaya Bello was not elected into office to give excuses. He knew there were rots in the system before he took over. He developed a blueprint to confront the challenges and we can assure Kogites that Kogi is on the right path to greatness.
In line with our policy, this administration shall remain undaunted and focused. Every man and woman of goodwill is a friend of the Governor. We can fly high when we do not fry our eyes.
I believe in a better, United and prosperous Kogi under Governor Yahaya Bello.
We can’t afford to miss the golden chance to make our state better.
My conviction: GYB is a good leader, be a good follower.
– Fanwo Kingsley is the Director General on Media and Publicity to the Governor of Kogi State
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