As we journeyed from Lokoja to Okene enroute to Akure for the swearing-in ceremony of the Ondo State Governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), my mind dwelt on a number of things that have changed in my journeys along the familiar road with deep reflections on the innate capacity of purposeful leadership to fully transform failing infrastructures for people’s benefit. I realised once again how much our everyday life is affected by governance, anchored on leadership or the lack of it, and how inexorably linked our access to infrastructure is to our living standards and what difference a visionary leadership could make in a short period of time.
Being from Ogori, Kogi State the road is one I had plied very frequently. And as we moved smoothly and swiftly for that matter, I recalled how torturous transiting through this road used to be few months down the fading past. The experience was always a nasty one with intermittent descent into wide gullies bestriding the un-motorable road amidst insecure grunts of apprehension. As my mind lingered on the ease and comfort now experienced on the road, compared with what obtained in the not too distant past, I became suddenly overcome with emotions and overwhelmed with deserving appreciation to His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello from the hordes of social commentators who are frequent users of the road.
Of the several journeys through that road that I can remember, there has never been one that felt like this one. The journey was smooth and quick. There have been several leaders at the helm of affairs in our dear Kogi State, but I make bold to say none has given this road this much attention at renewal, no one, not even close. Never mind the question of the consistent window dressing of majority of our prominent roads by successive administrations with purchased or rented crowds to cheer the leaders for variegated political plaudits at the bogus commissioning –those are plays upon the stage. What is truly unprecedented in the mind of the patriotic and discerning Kogi people is the propelling love of the people by the governor, the desire to improve on their access to functional road infrastructure, and the sheer magnitude of quickening heartbeats in millions of Kogi people who are filled with appreciation for the uncommon transformation of their once ruined road networks which they hitherto plied largely buffeted within and without by the simmering ache of dread.
In a similar vein, I have never seen transformation so vivid with clear evidence of committed work and applauded performance so unencumbered by questions of divisiveness, tribalism, and other base considerations.
One thing about performance is that it cuts across all the people as ultimate beneficiaries without undue interference by a tangled web of conflicting interests. Despite the pageantry of unity that accompanies any accomplishment that cuts across everyone in Kogi State, there is a piercing sense of fulfilment that touches close to home that the one doing these exploits is the revolutionary game-changer governor.
Apart from the cogent and limitless benefits to travellers on this road and many others in form of easy and comfortable drive, less wear and tear on vehicles and the tyres, faster and safer travels, there is a more important reason why people of good conscience continue to applaud the Governor Bello for working on the road: this is the improvement brought on the security apparatus – something that earned him recognition as the governor with the greatest strides in security improvement in the country in the past year.
It should be recalled that these bad roads hitherto contributed to the insecurity challenges faced by the state as they made it easy for robberies and kidnaps to happen unfettered on that axis. Journeys on that route were previously characterised by reasonable apprehension, palpable fear of imminent danger over carefully orchestrated robbery ambushes and hostage-taking owing to the slowness of journeys accentuated by structurally defective road infrastructure.
This move to further improve on security which the Bello administration considers as priority was informed by intelligence reports that criminals hide behind bushes along the roads to perpetuate crime. And so in line with the Kogi State government’s unalloyed commitment to ensuring security, the governor directed a construction company to be engaged to clear five metres on both sides of the roads from Kabba Junction to Otite in Okehi LGA; Check Point in Okene LGA to Okpela; from Check Point in Okene LGA to Ajaokuta to assist the road networks, open up the lingering hideout of criminals on that route and ultimately contribute to nipping insecurity challenges in the bud once and for all.
The second phase of the road clearing and widening project is billed to commence from Kabba Junction through Odo-Ape to Kabba Town while the third phase will equally commence from Lokoja through Ganaja to Ajaokuta Township and the link road between Igalamela/Odolu to Ofu and several internal road path in Omala LGA which have been previously considered to be flashpoints for the unbridled infestation of crime in the state.
It is instructive to note that the Kogi State government has completed the clearing of the roadsides between Koton-karfe and Abaji in fulfilment of the administration’s strides towards delivering on its promises to improve on the road networks and ensuring the security of lives and property of the commuters in a continuous bid to making Kogi safer and more secure.
The fact that one of the multi-dimensional approaches the Bello-led administration is taking to curb insecurity challenge in Kogi State is to improve on the road network confirms his faultless genius as solving the people’s peculiar infrastructural challenges and delivering the dividends of democracy to all Kogi people irrespective of their political affiliation despite the limitation of resources. It is worthy of note that these worthwhile huge investments in the road and security infrastructure is already paying off as seen in the substantial improvement of security in the state.
One can only wish the hard-working, diligent, extremely focused governor, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, more wisdom, strength and sound health as he continues in his laudable efforts towards repositioning the state as contained in the New Direction Blueprint in the years ahead.
– Petral Akinti Onyegbule
Chief Press Secretary to Kogi governor.