The Fall and Rising Fall of Kogi State by Akoji Ojima Francis

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On all lips and bound is the incessant complain about the central government led by the All Progressive Congress. What seems to be a national anthem is the hardships that have bedeviled the citizens of the nation, Nigeria. While there are efforts at rescue missions even by those at the helm of affairs of the Central as well as various State Governments, the case of Kogi State; a State blessed with a young, handsome and intelligent, amiable and hardworking entrepreneur extra ordinary is no doubt a continuous and steady fall, a fall still celebrated by the vibrant black shade adoring governor and his crop of mindless supporters interestingly dominated by youths. The state has been plunged into confusion such that the people have lost sight of the direction it is headed despite the directionless ‘new direction’ slogan of the incumbent. Little wonder, a friend on a social media platform sarcastically suggested that the State be canceled and the Local Governments be shared according to closeness to neighboring States. Painfully, the State has been in the news for wrong reasons in recent times, ranging from kidnapping, death of poor civil servants been subjected to all forms of torture in the name of unending screening to ward off so called ghost workers who no doubt are in the pay-roll courtesy of corrupt politicians and managers of the State in the years gone by and maybe the present and painfully, the social media escalation of the purported “good works” of the current administration of the state both at development and payment of salary arrears.

Waking up every morning to the wailing and call for help by people who have given themselves to service of the State is as worrisome as it is heart aching. Just about the time we think the screening will end, we keep getting reports of people been kidnapped and dying; all linked to the screening exercise. Screening to pick out ghost workers is no doubt a recurrent exercise in the State by all the administrations, I want to laud the effort of the governor in putting serious commitment to this canker worm in the state and to also draw the attention of the government to the fact that it has done well in taking the screening to this tight level. However, I think the screening is now too tight for even ghost workers to come before the panel as they must have disappeared to the tin air to avoid prosecution if at all there will be any. It is time to stop using this as an excuse for maladministration, and begin to perform duties to electorates as a substantive governor of Kogi State. The suffering of the people of Kogi State is what this government came to power to ameliorate and not worsen same in the name of screening. In the interest of the good people of the State, please it is time to put an end to this hypocrisy and make the people begin to feel the dividends of democracy.

Tied to the issue of screening is the harsh treatment of the servants of the state, is it not good enough that despite the refusal of the government to reward the labour of the civil servants in the name of the screening exercise, they have been attending to their primary duties? how possible is it for a labourer to work without eating? how possible is it to send children to school without money? is it not written in the bible and even the Quran that labourers deserve their wages? This questions are mind boggling.

Jeremiah 22: 13 – 14 (NIV)

Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his countrymen work for nothing, not paying them for their labor…

What is the government of Kogi State saying about the closure of the State’s institutions while workers make one demand or the other? For a youthful governor, there should be more focus on the plight of the masses and bringing the state institutions to the level of, (if not to strife to be above that of) counterpart states. If the previous administrations of old stocks won’t do better, there is no point dashing the hope of the youths as to governance in the future. I completely bought the idea of having Yahaya Bello as the governor in the beginning even with all the legal battles and debates, and my love is in no doubt tied to the fact that I am from a state with about the youngest governor, but whether this is still the case is an issue for another day. Please let your governance be purposeful and live more to be desired. If we feel the past leaders have plunged the state into ridicule, we expect the first governor from the minority tribe to make a difference and teach the majority that governance goes beyond been the majority tribe. The Governor should school them to know that when next they want to cast their votes, it should be based on competence and ability to deliver. I know you can do that, I know you have good plans for the state, and like every other leader, God’s ordained, but please let governance be according to the will of  God.

Just about the time you want to ask if there are no people in the state, names begin to filter into your head, and you want to ask a second question where are they and what are they doing? For it is written in the Holy Books, “Open your mouth, declare what is just, and do justice to the indigent and the poor”. (Proverbs 31:9). The Quran states “O you who believe stand up as a witness for Allah in all fairness, and do not let the hatred of people deviate you from justice (‘adl). Be just, this is closest to piety (Quran, Al-Maidah, 5:8) There is also mention in Quran: “O you, who believe, be custodians of justice (and) witness for Allah, even though against yourselves or your parents or your relatives. Whether a man is rich or poor, Allah is the greatest well-wisher than you. So follow nor the behests of lust, lest you swerve from justice” (Quran, An-Nisa, 4:135)

It is not time for us to sit and think that Kogi is not our business, or to sit and say we have given up on the state or settle for role of sycophants. Little wonder the Electorates keep making uninformed choices. There cannot be a better Kogi if we all decide to keep quiet and live in our ‘havens’. The Europe and America et. al., even nearby Abuja and Lagos and where ever you think you are and enjoying won’t be like home. Would you not rather better your home and be proud of your little contributions? Where are the eminent indigenes of the state, the ones so celebrated and reckoned with in their villages, is it enough to have your kinsman feed his eyes with your mansion and he goes about celebrating you and your status just to be associated with you by the smallest of traces? Do you also think that governance back home is not your business? It’s time to have a rethink, and come to the intervention of your people back home. It is time to be known for good works, it is not all about election and your ‘four four years commitment’ to the electorates. In another light, I use to think in my government classes back then that political parties are to stand as watch to the ruling party, but it seems that the opposition parties in Kogi have now as it is the tradition decamped to All Progressive Congress. With due respect to all Kogi politicians; politics in Kogi is so much of an opposite reflection of it as it ought to be. You don’t jump from one winning party to another, it does not portray you as the people’s leader you ought to be, it only suggest selfishness and desire to have your way in been what you want. Be out to put the ruling party on their toes, draw their attention to omissions and commissions. That is what you should stand for and it will make a difference in the State.

It is my humble appeal to the Governor and the good people in his cabinet to sit up, and begin to make good their dossier. It is time to be known for the good works and contributions towards the development of the state. It is time to make me and all others proud of calling Kogi our state, because trust me, aside the regular state and capital we learnt in nursery school, very little is known about the state. Some people in Nigeria have never heard the name ‘Kogi’, not to talk of knowing it as a state in Nigeria. It has now gone beyond what we expect of the government of the state, it is now about Kogi being better and all hands being on deck. Everybody must be ready to contribute their quota to making the state better. Little drops of water here and there make an ocean. No gain saying that what is witnessed in the State now is just a fall and fall with no hope of rising except there is attitudinal change and a step in the right direction. If your own people cannot say this is one good work you have done, they will be ready to say this is a good time for you to go, and that good time will be just here in a flash. To be forewarned is to be fore harmed. God bless the good people of Kogi State.

– Francis Ojima Akoji, a young and vibrant Legal Practitioner.

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