When the present administration in Kogi State under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello was inaugurated on the 27th of February, 2016 at Lokoja Township Stadium in a very colorful Ceremony, many did not know that the pomp and pageantry that heralded the historical occasion was a sign of good things to come.
This is because despite the endless distractions from within and outside the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), discerning minds are beginning to see that the fortune of the state which had hitherto suffered from endemic socio-economic neglects due to bad governance is beginning to change, in line with the change mantra of the present administration.
Before taking over the reins of power in the state, those conversant with the landscape, political and socio economic terrain were very much aware of the state of suffering, despondence, desolation and even environmental impasse that faced by Kogites. Governor Yahaya Bello came in with hope and an action plan to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
It is on record that few weeks to the exit of his predecessor, Captain Idris Wada, Lokoja the state capital became a sorry sight as it was littered with heaps of refuse that attacked the eye and nostrils. The major streets were overran with refuse as workers of the State Sanitation Board embarked on an indefinite strike action occasioned by nonpayment of salaries as was the case of all the civil servants in the state.
Despite the public outcry, the sanitation problem continued just like other myriad of problems without any response from the government of the day. The situation deteriorated to a serious health hazard, leading to an outbreak of cholera epidemics in Lokoja metropolis and environs.
Many lives were lost in the process to a sanitation crisis that became a serious embarrassment to the state and issue of national discourse.
Even at that, the previous administration appeared unperturbed about the plight of the residents of the state capital whose lives were being threatened on the daily basis either because they did not care as it was the twilight of their tenure or because they simply lacked the necessary acumen to tackle the menace.
Consequently, the people awaited Governor Bello’s inauguration with optimism and the beginning of the new era which is expected to save them from the predicament and ruins caused by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.
Governor Bello did not disappoint as he swiftly invited the organized labour in the state for dialogue on assumption of office, a dialogue that yielded immediate results and labour called off their strike even as the sanitation workers, including others returned to their duty posts.
It is also worthy of note that while negotiations were ongoing, governor Bello had hired the services of a private firm in conjunction with some youth support groups to evacuate the refuse dumps from the town, before the full resumption by the sanitation workers.
This singular act made the governor to received accolade across the state even from those that were hot his supporters.
True to his promise during his inaugural speech, Governor Bello swung into action by setting up workers verification committee to determine the actual staff strength and ensure that ghost workers syndrome which had been the bane of development in the state become a thing of the past.
As it stands, the verification exercise has been declared a great success following stunning revelations and embarrassing facts relating to unbelievable atrocities committed by of some senior civil servants. Among the anomalies already discovered are ghost workers, ghosts school and so many other irregularities that were used to defraud the state.
Apart from the fits recorded, the dexterity exhibited by the governor by appointing young individuals, men and women of proven integrity into his administration, is a clear testimony of his commitment towards entrenching the Agenda of the All progressive Congress, in the State.
Little wonder, the old forces in the state continued to bark endlessly, knowing full well that the Governor is already endearing himself to the people and sending them into political oblivion.
Bello, who was determined to show his commitment to the unity of the state, equally displayed fairness, equity and justice in the sharing of the appointments of even his immediate aides across the state when he could have done otherwise.
In the history of the state, he is the only Governor so far to appoint his personal aides, including the Chief of Staff position, from other ethnic groups; an action that is a radical departure from what was obtainable in previous administrations.
The beginning of a new era is always greeted with new expectation and that is why in ensuring the state capital is given a face lift, the governor directed the demolition of the outdated roundabouts to pave way for a decent structure that can compete favorably with others in the country, having in mind that the state capital is a transit town and tourism destination.
The action although generated criticism from political opponents and detractors of the governor, pretending that they did not know that the action was to put the state in a better position for the construction of ultra modern structures on the major roads in the capital.
In his bid to promote transparency and accountability in governance at the local government level, the Governor granted autonomy to Local Government Areas in the state and stopped deductions that have held down the smooth operation of the Local Councils in the state.
He had also recorded a giant stride in the erosion control, the menace which has been a major ecological problem facing some parts of the state.
As part of his commitment Governor Bello has promptly paid a counterpart fund to enlist the support of the Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project, NEWMAP to help tackle the erosion in the affected areas.
The effort has made the state to be among the Eighteen elite States in the country to benefit from the Federal Government and World Bank strive to protect the land from environmental degradation.
The Governor has embarked on the resuscitation of the Ekuku Dam in Agassa at Okene Local Government Area with vigorous effort to ensure its completion aimed at boosting portable water supply to the entire Central Senatorial District of the state.
He has also signed a memorandum of understanding with a foreign firm to revive and upgrade as well as expand the Organic Fertilizer Plant in Agbeji in Dekina Local Government Area of the state.
The Governor who gave the firm eighteen months to commence operations also signed another MoU to improve infrastructure in Agricultural Sector as well as services of Water Ways during the state recent visit to China
To ensure sustainability of labour and government relationship, the governor had on May Day donated two buses to the organized labour in the state in order to facilitate their labour activities in the state.
One of the major achievements of the Governors’ administration is securing of 20billon Naira first tranche of the bailout sought by the state which the immediate administration in the state failed to secure due to alleged irregularities discovered by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN in their application.
The Governor who spoke at the May Day celebration said when the money is eventually released, the outstanding salaries of Civil Servants will be paid and the state would be in a better stead as business activities will pick up immediately and the wellbeing of the people will increase drastically.
Other areas worthy of mention is the resumed dualisation of Lokoja township roads up to Lokoja -Okene road as well as construction of the drainage system along the major road in the state capital which has ease the traffic flow in the confluence city.
With a commitment to change the landscape of the state that has suffered so much neglect and deprivation, the beginning of the administration of Governor Bello holds so much promise and if his actions so far are anything to go by, then Kogites can confidently say that change that the people voted for has come to Kogi State.
Ademu Idakwo is the Senior Special Assistant to Kogi State Governor on Print Media. [myad]