Three Years of Alh. Yahaya Bello Administration in Kogi State by Idris Miliki

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Old politics are doomed, as the accelerating internationalisation of the market economy is met by the continuous decline of representative democracy.

The impotency of the present administration in Kogi state to control effectively the market forces, in order to tackle the fundamental problems of massive unemployment, poverty, insecurity, percentage payment of workers’ salaries, and the prolong verification of screening exercise are worrisome development.

While we congratulate the governor on his three years in office, it is pertinent to look at some of the decisions of this government in the last three years.

It would be recalled that this current government was inaugurated on the 27th of January 2016, and since then several decisions had been taken that have affected the lives of the citizens in one way or the other. These range from staff verifications, to demolition of roundabouts in Lokoja, the state capital, the illegal composition of Sole Administrators in the 21 LGAs of the state, to suspensions without justifications of all former Permanent Secretaries that were later removed, the premature retirement of senior Directors, the crisis in the state Assembly, collection of Bailout and Paris club refund funds, the security crisis and subsequent purchases of vehicles, the arrest of journalists, and lack of tour to the LGAs to ascertain the situation in those place.

Despite the fact that it is the prerogative of power of any administration or employer to verify the strength and capacity of its workforce, it was disturbing that the staff verification of Kogi State Civil service took as much as several months and the outcome of those disturbing activities led to non-payment of several workers and pensioners at both State and Local Governments.

As at today, the report of that verification exercise is yet to be gazetted as required by law, and posted on the state website, in the interest of transparency. We demand that such should be posted for the world to see and those found guilty should be prosecuted without further delay.

In the 21st century, we have a government that decided to demolish an existing monument such as roundabout in the state headquarters, built by previous administrations. This was done without any explanations to the citizens of the state, despite the fact that these monuments were built with tax payers’ money and should have been preserved.

Despite the provisions of the law and the Constitution that state clearly that local government administration shall be administered through democratic council, the current administration in Kogi state has illegally constituted Sole administrators to administer these councils since May 6th 2016. And no genuine efforts have been made to conduct elections to these councils as provided for by the law specifically in section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.

More worrisome and disturbing is the fact that these illegal administrators were constituted without pronouncement or resolutions by the Kogi State House of Assembly in the first instance, as the local government administration is under the power and purview of the Kogi State House of Assembly that makes laws and performs oversight functions for them.

Further more, it is worrisome and condemnable that the Kogi State House of Assembly created by law to make law for the citizens of Kogi State, has extended the tenure of the illegal Administrators few times without any justification.

We call on the Kogi State House of Assembly to perform it constitutional role as entrenched in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in all ramifications as Local Government Administrator or any other nomenclature is unknown to the law in Nigeria.

More so, the statutory allocations from the federal government for these local councils, has not been properly managed by this administration, without oversight functions by Kogi State House of Assembly.

We wonder who approved the expenditure and the so called “loans” that were used to purchase vehicles for the Sole Administrators, when many of the staff of the councils have not been paid their statutory salaries.

It is noted that the State Assembly was engulfed in monumental crises as never been witnessed in the state before, where 5 members on the 16th of February 2016, invaded the Assembly and pronounced the impeachment of the then Speaker Hon. Jimoh Lawal, which led to avoidable crisis as several legal cases were instituted, under the watch of the Governor. This led to pronouncements by the National Assembly, which were ignored by the Governor, until the crisis were resolved through Alternative Dispute Mechanisms by the members of the State Assembly themselves with some citizens of the state.

We were delighted that a substantive Speaker was later elected by the House Members in the person of Hon. Umar Ahmed Imam. And the same speaker was also removed again by the same government through resignation on the 3rd of August 2017 and Hon. Kolawole Matthew was elected Speaker on the same day.

We call on the Assembly to continue to believe in themselves and shun external manipulations in performing its constitutional duties without fear or favour.

Within three years of this government, three Speakers have emerged, which have never been the case in the history of the state in its 26 years of existence.

The state has witnessed and continues to witness security challenges under the current administration. This ranges from kidnappings, armed robbery and other vices dangerous to human existence.

We noted that at the 25th anniversary of the creation of Kogi state, more than 100 vehicles were distributed to security agencies in the state. This has had a significant improvement in the security situation.

We call for more pragmatic actions and inclusion of citizens in the security architecture as the nation is still witnessing security challenges and Kogi state is in a precarious situation, sharing boundaries with the Federal Capital Territory and 9 other states which makes it very vulnerable.

We also note that the current government in the state happens to be the luckiest since the creation of the state as several billions has accrued to the coffers of the state. This ranged from the several billion bailout from the federal government, to the monthly statutory allocation which is not less than N5 billion monthly, the internally generated revenue which is more than One Billion monthly; more than N2 Billion inherited from the previous administration, to several Billions of naria being Paris club refund from the federal government.

However, there is nothing substantial to show for this huge resource inflow except the large numbers of vehicles have been purchased at random without due process and reference to the Appropriation Act.

Since the Constitution bestowed the State Assembly the powers to appropriate and perform oversight functions on the revenue and expenditure of the state, we call on them to look seriously into the funds of the state as the government cannot be ran in secrecy and the state affairs is not the personal estate of anybody under any guise. Those who find themselves in positions of power and authority do so through the provisions of the law and constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and must respect these laws.

We also note with utmost dismay and concern that freedom of opinion and expression as provided by international conventions and covenant and provided for by the Nigerian constitution, is been threatened in the state under this current administration with the arrest and detention of Prince Friday Ogungbemi, the Publisher of Policy and Lawmaker, a local magazine based in Lokoja and the harassment of several citizens in the state. We condemn this in totality as every citizen has the right to participate in the affairs of governance of his or her state through any and every chosen means.

We also noted the upgrading and renovation of Kogi State House of Assembly building, the construction of the revenue house, improvement of the street and traffic lights in Lokoja, the state capital. The continuous renovation of government house, though, unabated, the uncompleted gates in Lokoja.

We call on the government to continue with improvement in infrastructural development of the state as that will benefit the large populace.

The continuous and consistence extension of unelected Local Government Administrators under the current administration in Kogi State is worrisome and dangerous. It seems the government and the governor do not know the implications of this action of non-conduct of Local Government Elections in the last three years. A government that is brought into power through constitution and constitutionalism, has refuse consistently to uphold the tenets of rule of law as it affect the conduct of Local Government Elections in Kogi State.

Local Government Administration is the third tier of government recognized by law and the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

For a government that came into being on the 27th of January 2016 and the tenure of the democratically elected Local Government Council which he inherited from the precious administration came to an end on the 6th of May 2016.

The 2016, 2017 and 2018 budgets did not make provisions for the conduct of elections into the Local Government Administrations despite the billions of naira received by this government in Kogi State on behalf of the Local Government.

Statutorily, it has failed to conduct elections into the Local Government Council in Kogi State, under the disguise of lack of fund.

We challenge the government of Alh. Yahaya Bello to publish the detail of the allocations received on behalf of the Local Government Councils from January 2016 to September 2018 and what it had done with such fund.

Specifically, section 7(1) clearly states that there shall be democratically elected Local Government Councils.

Under the current administration of Alh. Yahaya Bello who took oath of office on the 27th January 2016 to protect and uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the Executive Governor of the Kogi State. It is worth nothing that the first appointment and inauguration of the unelected administrators were not even approved by the Kogi State House of Assembly.

He transmitted a letter on the 10th November 2017 requesting for the extension of the administrators by 6 months due to lack of funds and prevailing insecurity.

Based on request from the same governor, Kogi House of Assembly again extended the tenure of the unelected administrators for the third time on the 10th of April 2018 on the same excuse of lack of fund and insecurity.

Again, on the 11th of October 2018, the same Kogi State House of Assembly extended tenure of the administrators for another 6 months. This time around, it was more laughable for the government to mention the disaster ravaging some few local governments in the state as a hindrance for the non-conduct of the local government elections when in 2018 budget, there is no single provision for the conduct of Local Government elections. Was there a flood when the 2018 budget was prepared and assented to?

We wish to alert the people of Kogi and Nigerian at large that despite this latest extension that will be expiring by the end of April 2019, which coincidentally will be few weeks after the General Elections, and the same governor will be preparing for his second term in office, where will he get money to conduct elections into the Local Government Councils which he has not been able to conduct in the last three years.

We call on this government in Kogi State to put genuine machineries in place for the conduct of Local Government Elections, as nobody could ask them question because of the current position they occupy. We believe the Almighty God will ask them now and thereafter, as no condition is permanent.

Finally, the states exist to attend to the need and rights of the people, from the basic necessities of life to more complex demands.

We call on the citizens of Kogi State not to fold their arm and watch a government that was democratically put in place, which continue to violate the rights of her citizens impunity through untimely payment of salaries and lack of meaningful infrastructural amenities despite the huge resource accruing to the current administration.

It is unfortunate that despite the provisions of the Law that guarantee the independent of the Judiciary they and the executive are currently at loggerhead.

We call on both parties in the current crises to resolve it without further delay.

Long live Kogi State.
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.

– Comrade Idris Miliki Abdul
Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), Lokoja, Kogi State

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