Home COMMENTARY Shocking Facts About Development In Kogi State, By Haruna Ikotu Jimoh

Shocking Facts About Development In Kogi State, By Haruna Ikotu Jimoh

Haruna Ikotu

Whichever way that it is assumed, you will be shocked and perplexed when you analyze the development initiatives on ground or the development that has taken place since Nigeria got Independence in 1960 and since Kogi state was created in 1991. You will all agree with me also that not much has been achieved in terms of development compared to what has been earned as financial resources from the federation account alone, especially since the return of democracy in 1999.

The topic: “The imperatives for development of Kogi State to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was specifically chosen to highlight some of the development I initiatives that need to be urgently embarked upon for sustainable development of Kogi State and her citizens.

Introduction

The word development has been so used (or is it abused?) and mentioned severally in different fora which seems to depict much understanding (or misunderstanding?) by the stakeholders and citizens. Whichever way that it is assumed, you will be shocked and perplexed when you analyze the development initiatives on ground or the development that has taken place since Nigeria got Independence in 1960 and since Kogi state was created in 1991. You will all agree with me also that not much has been achieved in terms of development compared to what has been earned as financial resources from the federation account alone, especially since the return of democracy in 1999. In fact, the formations of nation states like Nigeria and other countries of the world came into existence because of development considerations. Also States, local government, ministries, department and agencies (MDA’s) were formed to bring development closer to the grassroots.

First let’s understand the word development especially in our lexicon. The laymen definition and understanding of development is “any upward growth, increment or advancement that has taken place in the various aspect of our life such as education, health, socio- economic & technological status etc.

The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defined the word development as: “The gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger, etc,” In academia, development studies is an interdisciplinary course and has taken a fundamental shape since it was first introduced in the Mid-20th century by early development scholars such as W.W Rostow that have noticed much gap between the developed and underdeveloped countries of the world. The underdeveloped countries are grouped in the southern hemisphere and also formed the countries in the peripheral. Since then various explanations and theories such as that of Rostow‟s theory of development which explains the five stages of development process have been formulated and advanced to explain the reasons for the underdevelopment of the countries of the southern hemisphere. Before proceeding further let‟s quickly mention some of the characteristics of the underdeveloped countries which include Nigeria and many other countries in the sub-Saharan Africa. These countries are characterized by corruption, bad governance, low average lifespan, poverty , hunger, wars, ethnic and religious conflicts, poor economy, rudimentary agriculture, lack of technological advancement, poor infrastructure, poor health services, lack of electricity, lack of clean drinking water , diseases etc just as we are experiencing in Nigeria of today. It’s therefore not surprising that Nigeria has Human Development Index (HDI) value of 0.514 and occupies 152 positions out of 188 countries surveyed in the 2015 Human Development Index (HDI) report of the United Nation Development Prorgamme (UNDP).

Kogi state and the status of her development

Kogi state was created on 27th of August 1991 by the military regime of Ibahim Babangida with its administrative headquarters in Lokoja. The creation of the state was indeed a significant development for its citizens. This was because it brought about the reunion of a people who had shared historical roots and coexisted peacefully in the former Kabba province in the defunct Northern Region for more than 80 years. The state currently has 21 LGA‟s grouped into the 3-senatorial districts viz; Kogi East, Kogi Central and Kogi west senatorial districts. The state has a projected population of 3.3 million people as at the last census. It is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious state.

The state has an average maximum temperature of 33.2oC and average minimum of 22.8oC. Lokoja which once served as the national capital of Nigeria is generally hot throughout the year and serves as confluence to the 2-main Rivers in Nigeria; Rivers Niger and Benue. The State has two distinct types of weather viz; dry season, which begins from November to March and rainy season that begins from April to October. Annual rainfall ranges from 1016mm to 1524mm.The vegetation of the state consists of mixed leguminous (guinea) woodland and forest savannah. Wide expanse of fadama in the river basin and long stretches of tropical forest in the Western and Southern belts of the state define its vegetation.

Kogi state has a total land area of 28,313.53 square kilometers and it lies on latitude 7.49oN and longitude 6.45oE with a geological feature depicting young sedimentary rocks and alluvium along the riverbeds, which promotes agricultural activities. The state has famous hills like Ososo hills which spread from Edo state to the western part of Kogi State and Aporo hill on the eastern part. Another famous mountain is the Mount Patti, which lies in Lokoja and stands at 745 meters above sea level. The state is well blessed with both human and natural resources with several natural raw materials, minerals and several agricultural crops which grow well in the state.

The creation of Kogi state in 1991 brought much hope to all and sundry. It is expected to bring development and government closer to the people at the grassroots as more local governments and councillorship wards were created.

However, 25 years later, the citizens of the state are disenchanted, frustrated, disappointed and disillusioned because their hopes and expectations were dashed because of the lack of development that was witnessed since its creation.

Some political and development analysts have indeed argued that the state has not witnessed major development but rather underdevelopment in its 25 years of her existence. They argued that many major towns and communities in the state are still without pipe borne water supply including Lokoja the state capital.

Many communities still have no electricity supply or at best epileptic and erratic. The collapse of the education sector as most primary and secondary schools are mere dilapidated structures is a paradox yet to be explained.

Economically, the state is stagnated as the major industries such as Ajaokuta steel Company Ltd (ASCL) and National Iron Ore Company Ltd (NIOMCO) have since remained comatose. The only major industry operating in the state is the Obajana Cement Company owned by Dangote Cement which is located in Kogi West senatorial district. There has been no concrete effort made by the past administrations of the state to harness the abundant mineral and vast agricultural potential of the state to rejuvenate its economy. And in reality, one will be disappointed on the development status of Kogi State looking at the revenue that had accrued to the state since its creation which amounted to over 600billion naira. The condition of the roads in Lokoja, the state capital, is deplorable and a reflection of what we have in other parts of the state. Virtually, all the roads in the state pass for deathtraps. The unemployment situation in the state especially among graduates is another bad tale that has given rise to astronomical increase in armed banditry, kidnapping and killings that pervade the state.

Thankfully, some of the developments that have taken place over the years in the state are; the establishments of Kogi state polytechnic, Kogi state university, federal university, Lokoja and Federal medical center (FMC), Lokoja. They are indeed major developments worth mentioning and celebrating.

Kogi State occupies a special place in Nigeria based on several factors. The Okene-Lokoja-Abuja high way which serves as one of the major routes between the North and South of the country is like an artery that carries blood in the body. It’s also a confluence for the 2-major Rivers in the country which merge at Lokoja the state capital. The Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd which is the largest steel plant in Africa and the iron ore deposit in Itakpe assumed to be the largest in Nigeria are all in the state. The state has two (2) power plants; The Ajaokuta steel thermal power plant and Geregu Thermal Power Plant located in Ajaokuta. Kogi State was also one of the three states that were considered for the establishment of modular refinery in 2010 by the federal government.

Recently, the federal government also earmarked citing a nuclear power plant in the state and two other states of the federation to be built in the near future. I am aware too that many foreign firms especially from China and some other countries are making efforts to establish manufacturing plants in Ajaokuta. With all the above facts and indices, Kogi state should therefore be setting the pace and can lead in the development initiatives in Nigeria especially for the achievement of the key goals of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The dwindling resources that presently accrue to the state from the federation account means that it‟s imperative for Kogi state government to prioritize its development initiatives and projects that will touch the lives of the greater number of the citizens and also have greater impact on the people.

Kogi State has not been able to take advantage of all her endowment as listed above to achieve the developments status expected by her citizens not because it lacks the natural and financial resources or the human capital required to do it.

But sadly enough the state lacks focused, visionary and dedicated leadership both at the state and at the various local government levels.

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It was therefore not surprising the huge euphoria across the state that heralded the election of the current governor his Excellency Alh.Yahaya Adoza Bello as governor of Kogi State in 2015. The citizens therefore are very hopeful that the young and dynamic governor will use his knowledge and wealth of experience to turn the state around and achieve the necessary development that it supposed to attain to achieve key sustainable development goals.

What are the Proposed SDGs and their relevance?

The sustainable development goal was an initiative of the united nation. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development was adopted by world leaders in New York on 25th Sept.2015 to run from 2016 to 2030 (15 years).The formulated goals take into account the three (3) pillars of Sustainable Development: Economic, Social and Envir1onment. The new SDGs initiative was agreed upon to attempt in finishing the job started by the MDGs.

8 Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015)

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty

Goal2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

Goal3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal4: Reduce Child Mortality

Goal5: Improve Maternal Health

Goal6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases

Goal7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Goal8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

17 Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030)

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere;

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, promote

sustainable-agriculture;

Goal 3: Ensure a healthy life and promote well-being for all at all ages;

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long

learning opportunities for all;

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;

Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all;

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for

all;

Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and

decent work for all;

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable

industrialization and foster innovation;

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries;

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and

sustainable;

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns;

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;

Goal 14: Conserve and use the oceans, seas and marine resources sustainably;

Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse

land degradation and halt biodiversity loss;

Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies;

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global

partnership for sustainable development.

The imperatives for development to achieve key SDGs

Despite the obvious grim picture of development status of the state as analyzed earlier, Kogi state has the capacity to attain high level of development provided the governments and leadership has the vision, focus and dedication to formulate and implement development initiative for sustainable development of the state. The facts are that SDGs require multi-stakeholders initiative efforts to be achieved.

Therefore to attain development in Kogi State and to achieve the key goals of the SDG for sustainable development of the state , it’s imperative that Kogi State governments embarked on some development initiatives and priority projects that will benefits the majority of the citizens and impact positively on the lives of the people.

1) For the State (and indeed Nigeria) to achieve development the collections of accurate data and statistics for the state must be taken very seriously. Data on education, work force, unemployed citizens, graduates etc are necessary because development and SDG are data intensive.(Goal 17 )

2) Creation of awareness on development issues and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) among all stakeholders (government appointees, agencies, departments, local government executives, civil servants and the general public etc) through seminars, workshop and conferences. Government needs to be committed and maintain gains from MDGs over the past decade of MDG implementation (Goal 17)

3) The need to involve all stakeholders and to take ownership and domestication of SDGs in all MDAs, local governments and main-streaming it on the State development plan and strategies .SDG office to monitor and co-ordinate various development initiatives in the MDAs for successful implementation (Goal 17)

4) Internal resource mobilization must be taken very seriously by the government for the funding of development initiative & projects on SDG. The SDG emphasizes on internal resource mobilisation to complement external resource that may come from donor countries (Goal 17)

5) Government should align the budget to achieve SDGs. This involves prioritizing of projects and also to apply „‟bottom –up approach‟ in the process of budget preparation (Goal 17 )

6) Creation of an enabling environment by enacting and strengthening policies and laws to allow for private sector partnership on SDG projects through PPP mechanism at state and local government levels(Goal 8, 17)

7) Create policies and laws that enable and enhance social justice, strengthening & enhancing institutional performance, enhance inclusive governance and inclusive economic development of the state that will narrow the obvious gaps and inequalities in the society. (Goal 4,5,8,10,16)

8) Training of youths and graduates on skill acquisitions and vocational education for creation of employment and economic empowerment. Government should provide the seed fund for them at the end of the training to start their businesses.(Goal 1,2,5,8,16)

9) Diversification of the economy:

  1. a) Government should aggressively invest in the agricultural potential of the state by training farmers especially women & youths on agriculture and agro allied related skills (return youth to farm initiative) and to drive the process to increase production of key agricultural products such as Tomatoes, Sorghum, Cassava, Palm oil etc for local industries, domestic consumption and export. Government should also provide the seed fund for the farmers (Goal 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 12,15,16).
  2. b) Government should put in place machinery to harness the abundant mineral resources in the state in partnership with both local and foreign mining firms. This will enhance development of the communities where the mineral resources are discovered (Goal 8, 9,15.16)

10) Development of an efficient inland water ways transportation system in Lokoja and its environs which will link many riverine communities in the state.(Goal 9,14 )

11) Rehabilitation of non-functioning water supply schemes in the various towns and communities of the state. Provision of small scale water schemes to provide clean water to various rural communities. Solar powered boreholes with overhead Tank readily fill this gap especially in communities that has non or epileptic electricity supply (Goal 6,7)

12) Urgent rehabilitation of various primary and secondary health centers in the various communities and local government of the state .Provisions of solar power system to supply uninterrupted power 24/7 to critical units of our hospitals such as the laboratory, the operating theater, consulting room, the pharmacy and the emergency unit.(Goal 3,7)

13) Urgent rehabilitation of various primary and secondary schools in the various communities and local governments in the state and make them functional and competitive. Teachers to be retrained to enhance their capacity and improve teaching efficiency (Goal 4,5,10 )

14) Rehabilitation of roads and construction of new ones to link cities and rural communities. Erosion and environmental control (Goal 2,3,6,8,9,11,13,14)

15) Provision of electricity supply to various communities in the state through the national grid or by non-grid Solar power system and other renewable energy source (Goal 1,7, 15)

16) Development of local crafts in the state for economic empowerment of the rural populace especially women eg local clothe weaving and poultry making etc (Goal 1,2,5,8)

17) Development of tourism potentials in the state and each local government via the Public Private Partnership PPP (Goal 8,9,11) 18) Initiation of house ownership schemes for civil servants, teachers and other categories of workers in the state and private individual through public private partnership (PPP).(Goal 3,9,10,11).

All the above initiatives are possible and can be implemented over time with efficient management of human, material & financial resources, fiscal discipline, good governance, accountability and probity in governance. Ladies and gentlemen, we can now see the importance of the principles of probity and accountability in governance which our Governor has promised to uphold and which has given us much hope in the state.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I will like all government agencies, MDAs, and officials both at the state and local government level in the state to take ownership of the implementation of SDGs pogrmammes and projects in the state. The inclusion of young professionals and technocrats in the current government of the state which is a clear departure from the government of the past administrations holds high hope for the citizens and a sign of good deal to come if it translates into focused, visionary and dedicated leadership at all levels. Adequate security and peaceful political climate are sina qua non for development, I therefore urge the entire political class in the state, the private sector and the citizens to join hands with the governor and the nascent administration in the state to chart a new way forward for the overall development of the state. The government alone cannot develop the state except the citizens and all the stakeholders contribute their quota. Finally, I will like to state unequivocally that with focused and visionary leadership Kogi State has the potentials and human capital required to achieve sustainable development despite the current meager financial resources and achieve the key SDGs that will spur the state into greater height that will benefit all her citizens.

 

Being a lecture delivered in Lokoja, Kogi State by Engr Haruna J.Ikotu, a development analyst

and project management consultant. He can be reached on 08120307356, harunaikotu@gmail.com). [myad]