Opinion: The Battle For Lugard House

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By Inaju U. Inaju.

Let me use this opportunity to congratulate H.E., Alhaji Yahaya Belo, the executive governor of Kogi State, his Deputy, Mr. Simon Achuba, his Chief of Staff. Mr. Edward Onoja, and the Secretary to the State Government Mrs. Folashade Ayoade for their resounding victory at the Supreme Court following the protracted challenge to their mandate.

Now that the hurly-burly is done, the battle is fought, lost and won and the people have given their governor a heroic welcome, it is time for the Kogi State political gladiators to sheath their swards and support each other for the sake of the state. Gladly, news from the Wada camp seems to be positive.

Without a doubt, the death of the political “lion” of Kogi State threw the state into political turbulence and gave room for the hydra-headed twin of religion and tribe, the bane of Nigerian politics, to raise their ugly heads in every hue, colours and shades.

There are those who opined that the emergence of HE. Alhaji Yahaya Belo (AYB) was divine, if you believe that, then it will be safe to say that you also believe that divinity has something against the Prince of the Niger. That would be a story for another day.

If you accuse God of bringing you to power, you will be laying the ground to blame God for your failure in office. You were the one who asked for power, now you have it, we expect you to be judicious and do what is best for the people.

Let me warn the young men in power today to beware of praise singers. They are everywhere and they meant no good.

Now let us look at the government so far: In many ways, one can safely say that AYB and his team has taken some promising first baby steps that might put Kogi State in a good stead 8 years down the road.

Screening exercise:

Kogi State civil servants have faced untold hardship in the short time that the AYB administration has been in office, a situation occasioned by the ongoing screening exercise. In my humble opinion,the screening exercise is a right step in the right direction. However, one must add quickly that since the lingering court case is over, the screening must be expedited and those found wanting must be brought to book. Those found worthy must be paid their salary as soon as possible.

Furthermore, the government need to move the screening from the government house to somewhere more discrete. It has become an eyesore driving past government house daily and seeing the frail and hungry looking civil servant loitering around the government house and Okada and taxi drivers constituting nuisance to other road users.

Community Crises:

There are many lingering community crises in Kogi State. Of all the achievements of AYB as the governor of Kogi State, his drive to ensure security of the people and property in Kogi State is commendable. I attended the sitting of the panel set up to look into the lingering communal conflict in Iyano.

Suffice to say that the Iyano communal crisis came to a head during the life of the last administration when the Aluaja community was burnt down by Iru and their collaborators. Many lives were lost to that communal crises, yet the government of Wada did not even as much as commiserate with the affected community. The local government asked for help, but they were ignored. The Attah Igala tried to resolve the problem but some people in government scuttled his efforts.

As soon AYB heard of the case, he took the first positive step to resolve the problem. He set up a panel to investigate the matter. This is commendable. It is our hope that AYB will follow through with what he has started in Iyano and other communities that are facing similar problems.

Roads:

Without question, Kogi boast one of the worst road network in Nigeria. Lokoja City remains a reminder of what a state capital should not be. The only road running through the city is made up of mini-graves. Driving around Lokoja is a sad reminder of past government FAILURES and SINs against the people of the state.

AYB and his team must move with lightning speed, not only to fix the roads, but expand the roads.

The new lay outs in Lokoja, especially the GRA extension that are developing at the speed of light need government presence. The need for feeder roads keeps growing as the city is witnessing record influx of people. Even if the government cannot tar the roads, there is need for the roads to be paved. This will encourage quicker development.

The government need to whip the government office responsible for town planning into action to ensure that Lokoja does not become a slum. People can nit be allowed build randomly. By that I am saying that the town planning people need to follow up and be sure that structures are built to standards and all rules are followed to the later. People must not be allowed to build outside government perimeters. Houses should be built within the government demarcated boundaries.

Electricity:

I was in Lokoja for about five straight weeks and to say that power supply is epileptic is to put it mildly. I think it is a disaster. The government need to do something about it, especially now electricity is privatised and people are paying electricity bills monthly without electricity. Interestingly, electricity is generated in Ajaodkuta to feed other parts of Nigeria, there is no excuse why people in Lokoja will enjoy light for only 3-4 hours on a good day.

Those is charge of electricity should be told to distribute meter freely to all the houses and people can then buy electricity. Just like mobile phones credit.

Water Supply:

Say what you like about the last administration, they made water available in Lokoja. I had water in my house for about 6 months before it all went kaput. There is still water in Lokoja, distributing it is the problem. This vibrant government need to fund water works to make sure that water metre are distributed and people are made to pay for the water they consume. That way,the state will have funds to ensure year round water supply. Pay as you use.

Recreation:

Lokoja is one city without quality recreation, you cannot even find a decent restaurant to eat. While I do not expect the government to pay for recreation, I expect them to put laws in place to encourage investors to invest in recreations. This is the one area I am interested in investing and I will love to see what the government will put in place. If anything, one would like to sit with the authorities and have a conversation on the way forward.

– Inaju U. Inaju

“The Fisher-of-Men from Ibaji”


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