Kogi guber: Can Ododo benefit from Bello’s legacy?

With less than a month to the governorship poll in Kogi State, the question currently agitating the minds of critical observers is who succeeds Governor Yahaya Bello. At the last count, about 10 candidates have indicated interests for the top position.

But for close watchers of politics in the state, the battle for the Confluence state is among the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party(SDP).

Many observers believe that the APC has a lot of advantages over other parties because of so many reasons. One is the bandwagon effect of the victory of the APC at the centre led by President Bola Tinubu.

Beyond that, the APC’s candidate for the upcoming governorship election, Usman Ododo, endorsed by Governor Yahaya Bello is very popular with the people.

This presents a formidable challenge for other candidates considering the APC’s solid structure and incumbency.

But there are those who believe that a coalition of opposition candidates can formidably challenge the APC’s structure and goodwill available to Usman Ododo.

Critical observers though are in agreement that Governor Yahaya Bello’s achievements more than anything would be the greatest assets which would work in favour of Ododo in the forthcoming election.

Despite criticisms against Governor Bello, he was able to surmount the challenges with every passing day and as his second tenure gradually comes to a close, there is no gainsaying that what has worked for him is the emphasis on young energetic men and women in his administration.

Before the advent of the present administration, the state was sharply divided along ethnic lines even as politicians planted division in the minds of the people for their selfish political gains.

But the first three appointments of the governor immediately after his inauguration on January 27, 2016, were spread across the three Senatorial Districts. Hon Edward Onoja from Kogi East became the first CoS in Kogi State to emerge from a zone different from that of the governor. All the governors before GYB had ensured their COS emerged from their Zone. A governor came and changed that. His SA Media was appointed from Kogi Central and his CPS from Kogi West.

For many, it was a fresh breeze that reshaped the mentality of the Kogi People strengthened by the fact that projects were spread all over the state and the institutions of government were ushered into a new vista of development. Also, before the coming of the present administration in the state, insecurity was rife. Robbery and kidnapping were perpetrated with reckless abandon.

But Governor Yahaya Bello has changed the narratives today and has provided over 200 utility vehicles for patrol and procured sophisticated gadgets for the Operation Total Freedom established by the present administration to stamp out criminality in the state. Intelligence gathering became seamless and properties which were proceeds of crime were destroyed to serve as a deterrent to others. The result is that kidnapping and armed robbery have dropped by over 92 per cent.

There is no doubt that one of the areas the administration of Alh. Yahaya Bello has performed most beautifully is in the area of security. From being one of the most insecure and dreaded states as at the time he took over, the state has risen to become one of the safest states in Nigeria today. The administration’s determination and commitment toward securing the state was borne out of the conviction that security is the primary and most important function of government.

Apart from providing at least 200 security vehicles for different kinds of operations across the state, the administration has also procured over 500 motorcycles for operations to allow security agents access to the hinterlands where most of the heinous crimes are committed. The Vigilante service men and women use the motorbikes to access difficult terrains where criminals reigned as terror lords since those locations are inaccessible.

Records show that on the assumption of office, the governor met daunting statistics of an average of 25 kidnap cases per month but has currently dropped to almost zero. In many months, there were no cases of kidnap at all. The 92 percent crash in cases of kidnap and robbery was achieved through the right policies. The launch of Operation Total Freedom, which has driven fear into the criminals, heavy investment in communication gadgets and training of security operatives, the Security Whistle Blower Policy which exposed the criminals, the Vigilante Service Operation and the domestication of the Criminal Justice Code were all instrumental to the excellent security of lives and property in the state.

To curb Highway Crimes, the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello ensured the clearance of 40 meters on both sides of highways to ensure criminals have no hiding place.

The administration also constructed Army Forward Operation bases at different places across the state to enhance the security of lives and property.

In order to avert Farmers/Herdsmen Clashes, the state government created a dialogue and cooperation platform for a free flow of communication between the government and the herdsmen on one hand and the communities and herdsmen on the other hand. This excellent relationship has ensured both farmers and herdsmen are living peacefully together in Kogi State.

Also, quality healthcare delivery has been one of the greatest achievements of the present administration in Kogi State. Apart from the ongoing state-of-the-art Medical Diagnostic Centre that is likely to be the best this nation has ever witnessed; a lot of achievements are ongoing:

The state’s Healthcare Plus Programme has been hailed as one of the best healthcare policies in the nation today. It was borne out of the commitment of the governor to ensure women don’t die anymore in the process of giving birth to children.

Among others, the administration has renovated, remodeled and re-equipped 21 existing Primary Health Care Centers (one per LGA) with solar-powered boreholes and electrification. The state government has frontally combated the menace of quackery in the health profession to protect Kogites and the administration has prioritized the success of the Kogi State Sustainable Drug Supply System.

The administration has never failed to key into high impact strategies such as maternal, newborn and child health week.

Agriculture has also witnessed an unprecedented revolution under the present administration in the state. The state government keyed into the Agricultural Renaissance Policy of the Federal Government which was aimed at ensuring food security and promoting non-oil sector for economic transformation.

Today, Kogi State has literally become the Agricultural Capital of Nigeria as the governor has created the right environment and support to make agriculture the driver of the state’s economy.

The governor has succeeded in encouraging the youth to key into farming through orientation, sensitization, mechanization, inputs subsidy and many other supports. Today, many youths can boast of a career in farming. This has drastically helped in switching the minds of the youth across the 21 Local Government Areas in the state to agriculture. Among others, the state government has succeeded in facilitating loans for farmers to encourage mechanization and improved production of food.

Good governance and institutional reforms

The Bureau for Public Procurement was rejigged by the present administration. Today, the Bureau has restored sanity in public procurement and has woven a water-tight net that has made corruption almost impossible. The efficiency of the Bureau has been one of the reasons the governor has been able to combat corruption in public procurement. Due process is the order of the day in Kogi State contractual dealings today.

The Bureau of Public/Private partnership has been repositioned to engage the private world in businesses that were used as conduit pipes to defraud the state in the past. Governor Yahaya Bello has used the BP3 to improve Kogi State’s acceptability in the business world and in the international community.

Also, the Tax Reforms of the Yahaya Bello Administration has impacted positively on the finances of the state. On the assumption of Office, the governor granted the Board of Internal Revenue autonomy, and it became the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service. The government built and delivered a gigantic Revenue House, which has added to the aesthetic beauty of the capital city. Competent hands were employed, and revenue administration became digitalized.

The Civil Service Reforms was a monster that many administrations before the incumbent avoided as a result of the fear of losing elections. Powerful Kogites who have so enriched themselves at the expense of the people of the state were involved in loading the payrolls of government with thousands of fictitious names to defraud the state, but Governor Yahaya Bello refused to be cowed. He dared the cabal and stopped the stealing through a rigorous and thorough verification exercise. Mind-boggling revelations were left at the wake of the exercise and today, the government didn’t only succeed in removing ghost names from the service but have also digitalized the operations of the service as well as re-engineered the work psychology of the civil servants.

For those who have been following events in the state, Governor Bello has touched the lives of his people in all sectors of the state’s economy. The expectation is that the achievements of the state government will be the selling points of the APC in the forthcoming governorship poll in the state.

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