Opinion: Of Gov. Yahaya Bello, The Symmetry of Wage Demands and Development

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A man I respect so much, who is based in Oklahoma called me yesterday and shared his feelings about happenings in Kogi State. He said he was impressed when a Kogi Governor from the Central appointed his Chief of Staff from the East. He said he was also impressed by the appointment of a top technocrat, a woman as the Secretary to the State Government.
Mr Kunle expressed delight in the infrastructure uplift going on around the state, expressing satisfaction in some of the roads government is constructing in Kogi West and all over the state. He applauded the Governor for sparing no resources to guarantee the security of lives and property, warning that except the citizenry team up with the Governor, insecurity might be difficult to defeat.
However, he said government must get it right on payment of salaries. He hailed the Governor for daring to confront the hydra-headed menace of ghost workers syndrome.
I thanked Mr. Kunle and sat back to reminisce on our long conversation. He was right to see the fairness in Fairplus. Fairness and courage have formed a big super chemistry that has taken him this far. He is a fair minded leader who wants to work with anyone who shares his leadership philosophy of service to the people. His companies were peopled with workers hailed from across the country. What can you deliver, to Yahaya Bello, is more important than where you hail from.
Like Mr. Kunle, Kogites appreciate fairness and equity. GYB is enthusiastically laying a solid foundation for a united, determined and prosperous Kogi State.
As I relate with the Governor everyday, one thing that can never be taken away from him is his drive for development. He wants to see many projects executed by his administration. He is not an “experienced” politician that will share millions to political leaders to support his future political endeavors. He is an undying nationalist who places the comfort of his people above fraudulent political machinations. He thinks about the next generation, not the next election.
The philosophy of the futility of human scheming is real. Who gets what is a whimsical function of destiny and not by the power of scheming. Therefore, when fate blesses your faith, do the best and be the legacy friend. That is exactly what GYB is doing.
One thing about the ongoing road projects and other projects in the state is the quality of work and the adherence to agreed specifications. The contractors were quick to adjust to the new system of anti-corruption and quality delivery. Roads, schools, hospitals and water projects are under construction across the state. These are the things that will outlive the administration of Alh. Yahaya Bello.
The issue of wages has been raging between government and different classes of people, especially the emerging advocates who possibly have other motives than protect the rights of the Kogi workers. Whatever anyone says, Kogi labour has shown a great example of patriotism. The NLC and TUC have been able to withstand both internal and external pressures to run the state aground over resolvable issues.
Has government been paying salaries? Yes, we have. How much have we paid? Well over 41 billion naira since the inception of the present administration. Then who are the people not paid for over 12 months? They are in dichotomies. One dichotomy consists of people who didn’t scale through the Staff Verification Exercise while the other dichotomy is made up of workers who were recently cleared and whose arrears are being processed for payment. Do we have workers and pensioners who were cleared but yet to be paid? Yes. But just a few who were omitted. They will soon be paid. It is our fault that they were omitted. They will be paid very soon. We know what they have gone through. Our hearts are with them. The Governor cares.
It is obvious that the opposition has seen the psychology of the civil servants as a fertile ground to make this administration look unfriendly to labour and smoke relentlessly their “when will they be paid” questions. Anyone who works or deserve to be paid should be paid. It is not a privilege, but a right. Government is abundantly aware of this.
If Governor Yahaya Bello was not a friend of labor, he won’t have put in place a collaborative mechanism to dialogue with labour, work with labour and thrust labour at the center of his administration. To achieve his New Direction Agenda, labour is key.
As much as government will continue to put the welfare of genuine civil servants on the front burners, it will never shy away from the fact that other categories of people also need government support. Farmers need a boost to turn around the economy of the state. Artisans also have the right to government resources to turn our state around.
School children and the old also deserve government support. Government must also continue to build infrastructures to make life easier. All of these, including the All-important wages, compete for the limited resources of government.
With our improved revenue, government can do a lot. But not all. Government must manage its resources to ensure all citizens, ALL, regardless of their status, benefit from government resources. It doesn’t matter whether you are Permanent Secretary in a government ministry or a road side Vulcanizer, everyone who is a Kogite is entitled to government patronage. It is unfair to take taxes from vulcanizers and use the entirety of the taxes to pay teachers. All must benefit and that is the policy thrust of the present administration.
A holistic reform of the civil service is what this government will see through. It is for the benefit of our dear state and the next generation. A teacher must be competent to teach. An Engineer with Kogi Road Maintenance Agency must know about road construction. A Medical Officer should be someone who is competent to perform his or her roles. What this government has done with the Staff Verification Exercise will remain an indelible credit.
From this stage, government will move to digitalize the civil service. We won’t need to find out a diaspora worker from his bank statements. The clock-in, clock-out technology will sort that out. Truancy will be completely eliminated. Promotion will be hinged on performance and merit. Kogi will be driven by the right minds for the benefit of all minds.
Patriotism is about working to improve governance, not working to pull government down for unsound reasons. I am afraid of how far our generation has gone in our hate approach, hidden under the make-up of advocacy. It is no responsible citizenry to use odd words on a leader. The task of building Kogi is not hanged on the shoulders of the leaders alone, but engraved in the beautiful ideas and innovations of her citizens.
A new orientation is ongoing. Chauvinism is struggling to survive the resurgence of the discerning sensibilities of the new generation Kogi State. Despite the sustained campaign of calumny against the Staff Verification Exercise, people hailed the initiative because the roads to their villages are being tarred with the proceeds of saved funds. They know the more government is able to save from unintended beneficiaries, the more roads, hospitals, schools and water they will have. The beautiful write-up against government by remote pens has no turn on the mind of a villager who government has provided water and a good clinic. People believe and follow what they see.
Despite the painting of government as being insensitive to the plights of the people, the Governor has remained popular in the state because the biggest beneficiaries of his government are the people of the state. He is focused, undaunted and writing his own chapter in the history of Kogi State. Tough decisions attract tough resistance and even tough attacks from the losers. But the ability of the leader to stand firm and defend the interest of the people is key.
I know Mr. Kunle will be reading this. You said you read it somewhere that our Governor is a dictator. He is not. He is firm, focused and I see him as a great listener. Nobody will say he is perfect. But I know he cherishes you the more when you tell him the truth, even if the truth is bitter.
I attend the State Executive Council and will share two experiences here to round up this piece.
A project was to be executed in Government House and the memo was brought to Council. It sounded beautiful and will surely bring comfort to the Governor. Another one was to bring power supply to a village. The two were thoroughly debated but at the end of it all, the Governor said the villagers should be given priority. He, with the support of Council, supported the suspension of the Government House project. His decision to give the Government House a facelift on assumption of Office shows he sees into the future. Ambassadors and High Commissioners of powerful nations have been thronging Kogi State. Something different is happening here. These nations have access to information. Propaganda is nothing to them.
Two, there was a debate on the Ministry of Education School Computerization Project. The Governor wanted the project to commence immediately to bridge the computer literacy gap among students. But Council wanted a more thorough assessment of the beneficiary Centres. The Governor lost the debate. Council members won and the Governor went with the decision of the Council.
GYB is a rare democrat, a listener and an astute believer in the freedom of others. Behind his goggles are compassionate eyes. Those who see him as a dictator do not know him. He is uncompromising on issues of corruption and insecurity. This is a mark of good leadership.
Kogites, we will be better. We are not half way yet. Governor Yahaya Bello will succeed. Kogi will succeed.
God bless my State of Kogi.
– Fanwo Kingsley is the Director General on Media and Publicity to the Governor of Kogi State.

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