By Idris Miliki Abdul
Kogi State was created on the 27th of August 1991 during the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida since then we have had four military Governors, and four civilian governors, including an Acting Governor.
31 years in the life of a Nation. Individuals, or any institution for that matter or even a state like Kogi, may not have gotten to the promised land.
However, 31 years old person is an adult anywhere in the world, and can be held responsible and accountable for his or her actions. Hence, the 31 years of existence of Kogi State, calls for reflection, evaluation and stock taking.
As we congratulate the people of the state, at least for the peaceful co-existence, despite the misrule, misplaced priorities, lack of inclusiveness of the people in governance and above all, fantastic corruption.
We call on the present government as a matter of urgency to initiate a Bill to the State House of Assembly for the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Agency in the State.
It is a disappointment that a state like Kogi, whose citizens are making huge contributions in Nigeria, and globally, could not boast of a development plan that could last for 10 – 25 years, that is SMART complaint (Specific, Measurable. Achievable and within a Time frame).
Each successful government in Kogi State comes out with individual plans without a blueprint to serve as a guide for any incoming government. As of today, 31 years on, Kogi state is the only state in the federation without state-owned television in this 22nd century.
Regrettably and condemnable, the state-owned Radio Station, which is the state’s mouth organ, have been off-air in the last year, despite the colossal amount spent and continues to spend on both national and international media stations.
We wonder how a government could be accountable to its citizens and the people when it fails to invest in media institutions. We challenge the current government in Kogi State, on its support to media institutions and practitioners in the last six years and half of it existence despite the benefit it enjoyed from media practitioners and activities.
Lokoja the state capital today lacks one hour of potable water in a day, while sometimes no water in a week and no part of the state enjoy portable water, despite the God-given confluence of the 2 great Rivers Niger and Benue located in Lokoja, the State Capital.
The roads across the state are nowhere near international standards, as potholes are the major characteristics of all roads in the state. While we acknowledge some relative improvements in infrastructure in the state, in the last two years, compared to the failure of the first four years in Kogi State under the present administration.
Several abandoned projects litter the state, with no valid reason given for this abandonment, as contracts were still given without due process and mostly it is based on political relationships and considerations. This is a state that has produced three Attorney Generals and Ministers of Justices, also produced two National chairmen of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the state has also produced a Chief of Army Staff, a Chief of Air Staff and two Chiefs of Naval Staffs, an Inspector General of Police respectively. In the academic circle, the state has produced not less than 400 Professors locally, nationally and internationally.
The state also produced a Minister of Police Affairs, Minister of Industry, Minister of State for Health, Minister of Health, Minister of State for Labour, and Currently Minister of State for FCT, several Ambassadors, Senior Military and Security Personnel etc. Despite all these human resources, the state is the least developed amongst all the states in the federation.
It lacks a meaningful presence of industries except for the privately owned cement factory which seems not to have any impact on the infrastructural development of the State. We, therefore, ask the question: What is really the problem of those who have been privileged to lead the state? Is it a lack of vision? Or the required ideas? Can we be proud of the level of development currently witness in the State, despite the huge human and financial resources available to the State, particularly under this current government?
The current administration, seem to also be making the same mistakes like its predecessors, as the government came into power without a blueprint and could not tell the people its direction upon inauguration. Even the so-called ‘New Direction Agenda’. How could a government have stayed six(6) and half years without building and commissioning One(1) Bed Room Apartment, in the housing sector in particular, the current administration has failed, despite the government having received billions of Naira? Which include the bailout funds, Statutory Allocations, Paris Club Refund and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
This does not include revenue received by the 21 LGAs under the current government. We challenge this government, to tell the people the numbers of Housing Unit(s) build and commissioned, the cost and their locations across the State.
We, therefore, call on all government institutions and the 3 tiers of government to re-examine its selves whether they have lived up to the expectations of the people despite the huge resources that have gone to them. It is worrisome and shameful that the Kogi State House of Assembly does not boast of a functional website, more than 20 years of existence.
This cannot be acceptable in this era of ICT where the world is a global village. Even the road leading to the Assembly that host several important institutions, such as, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), The Head of Judiciary in the State, The Federal High Court, Zone 8 Headquarter of The Nigeria Police Command (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), The 25,000 capacity Stadium, State Headquarters of The Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) etc, are in an embarrassing situation.
31 years of creation, many laws passed by the State Assembly have not been gazetted and published. However, despite the gloomy situation we have found ourselves in the hands of our leaders and representatives, several opportunities are still available to change the situation and the narratives.
We call on the present governor and Government in the state, to put in place machinery for a development plan for both short, medium and long terms. The government should organize conferences to look at available resources in the state, both human and materials, that would be used for the development of the state which will outlive the present government, particularly on Housing, Mining, Marine, Industrial Layout, Tourism, Agriculture etc., particularly the development of Mount Patti that can generate hug revenue for the state that will boost tourism.
Regrettably, the kangaroo Local Government Elections conducted on the 12th December, 2020, and the only election conducted by this administration in the State, and who’s the declared winners by State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) was inaugurated on the 14th December 2020, who’s tax payer’s money was used for that purpose.
No result have been declared twenty (20) months after. Even for the purpose of records, documentation and research, the citizens are yet to be told who win what and where statistically across the 21 local government and 239 wards. Which is the first time in the history of Nigeria, where elections was claimed to have been conducted, winners declared and inaugurated and yet no results were made available to both the voters and the declared winners regrettably. Been the practice by all elections Authorities in Nigeria and even globally.
Definitely, Kogi State is in need of development and good leadership. The citizens should be concern about the current level of development which is an embarrassment to the people of the State 31 years after.
As we work towards 2023 general Elections at all level, that will produce new leaders and representatives across board. We call for prioritizing Anti-Corruption and Accountability that will improve the development of the State beyond the unfortunate and underdevelopment we find ourselves in the State.
Idris Miliki Abdul, Executive Director, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), Lokoja, Kogi State – Nigeria
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