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25 YEARS OF KOGI STATE: MISSED OPOORTUNTIES, OPPORTUNTIES AND PROSPECTS FOR RECOVERY

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25 YEARS OF KOGI STATE: MISSED OPOORTUNTIES, OPPORTUNTIES AND PROSPECTS FOR RECOVERY
by
Professor Samuel Egwu
Department of Political Science
University of Jos

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past – Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonarparte.
As the only state bordered by 10 states, Kogi has the geographical potential to develop rapidly by leveraging on that and also her proximity to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The history of the people is filled with rich cultures and richer human capacity to excel against all odds – Governor Yahaya Bello (ThisDay Newspaper, December 11, 2015).

Introduction
I would like to start by profusely thanking the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, for once again, giving me a rare space to give a Key Note Address at this Retreat organized for the top echelon of public servants in Kogi State. On May 27 this year, the Savannah Centre founded by one of my best undergraduate teachers, Professor Ibrahim Agbbola Gambari, gave me the opportunity to give a Key Note Address on “The Challenges of Federalism in Nigeria: Interrogating and Celebrating 17 Years of Democratic Governance in Africa’s Largest Democracy, 1999-2016”. The Centre, in its short history of existence has generated so much social capital through its intervention in critical national debates and events, including playing a leading role in the success of the presidential election in 2015. I want to express the hope that a more enduring partnership will be forged between the Centre and the Government of Kogi State, as opposed to one off event, which will change the character and focus of public policy in the State.
I am however, even more enamoured by what I consider to be the two issues that constitute the focus of this retreat which is well captured by the title of this Key Note address. The first one is implicit: the responsibility bestowed on me by the Savanna Centre to look backward in order to look forward in respect of a sustainable development vision and agenda for Kogi State. The second one is very explicit, namely to reflect on 25 years of missed opportunities since the founding of Kogi State and the opportunities that exist for recovery. In other words, there is a clear understanding, informed by a Chinese wisdom that every crisis presents an opportunity. What a wonderful oxymoron. The fundamental point here, in my opinion, is that the idea of recovery apart from the metaphor of redemption and hope that it conveys resonates with the Manifesto of the All Nigeria Progress Congress (APC). For the avoidance of doubt, the government elected on the platform of the APC in 2015 was elected on the basis of its manifesto anchored on the three pillars of Relief, Recovery, and Reform with anti-corruption embedded.
The short hand for capturing the reality that defines the existence of Kogi State in the last twenty-five years is the failure of successive leadership to live up to the expectations of the citizens and the constituent elements of the State since it was carved out of Kwara and Benue States. For many people, one cheap way of explaining this crisis away is to trade ethnic blame, and, particularly to blame the hegemony of Igala ethnicity for arresting the progress of the State. This would amount to mere essentialism based on the fact that until now the Igala have consistently produced the governors since 1999. While there could a prima facie evidence for this kind of conclusion, it hides the larger story of elite conspiracy involving the three major ethnic groups in the State, although it may have benefitted the Igala elite more than Okun and Igbirra elites as well as the elites of the micro nationalities that make up the state. The most hidden aspect of the story is that the victim of poor leadership and mal-governance of the last twenty five years is ordinary poor people found in all the ethnic groups in the state. I am yet to be confronted with evidence-based analysis that does not paint a general picture of endemic poverty and misery across the entire State regardless of the ethnicity and religion of individual and groups. Exploding the myth of ethnicity in Kogi State is the beginning of the unraveling of the secrets that have locked the development potentials of the state. I will return to this rather controversial subject again.
As will be demonstrated later, most of the human development indicators point in the negative direction: basic needs such as access to education, health, housing; public infrastructure, public safety; maternal and infant mortality rates; and indeed, the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which remained a mirage until it was supplanted by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is the most important result of musical cheers at the centre of which are individuals such as Danladi Zakari, Omeruo, Afarkriya, Abubakar Audu, Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada. For the rest of the population, it has been cheers for the music.
The picture that emerges, therefore, is that Kogi State has suffered deficit in leadership, governance and statecraft over the years. This is the explanation for the missed opportunities which require political will at the highest level to ensure that recovery takes place. But it would seem to be me that reinforcing these deficits and therefore the conditions of underdevelopment in Kogi state is the weakness of civil society and the private sector. I understand civil society as the domain of associational life which people forge voluntarily in response to the inadequacies of the state to meet its routine obligations to the citizens. But I also understand civil society as the soft underbelly of the state that forms enough countervailing powers to the state, and ensuring that the state behaves in the best interest of the public. This means the presence of a strong civic sector that supports state institutions to deliver social services, advance the rule of law and ensure that people play their role as democratic citizens. The private sector, on its part, is that realm of organization of business and enterprise for generating wealth outside the realm of the state and the public sector. This is a lacuna that needs to be addressed for Kogi State to make progress and recover missed opportunities.
Against this backdrop, the focus of my Key Note is fairly straight forward. It is to carefully navigate the history, natural and human resource endowments, and the governance challenges facing the state and how to reverse ugly trends that stifle the development energy of the people on the one hand, and unlock the fetters to development and human progress in the State on the other. In other words, the Key Note will necessarily focus on how Kogi State can move from being a potential candidate for progress and development to one that is witnessing development and human progress. I play a lot of emphasis because on issues of human progress because it is possible for a country, a subnational entity, or a community to make tremendous progress in terms of increasing the aggregate wealth without spreading the benefits to the majority of the population. This is the situation today in Nigeria where sustained economic growth at annual average of 7 per cent since 1999 has failed to translate into human progress. The consequence is that, absolute and relative poverty have continued to increase at geometrical proportions. It is therefore no wonder that the discourse on development today has increasingly shifted from economic growth per se to issues of inclusive growth and from national security to human security.
Kogi’s Development Context
It is a productive approach to begin by examining the development context of Kogi State to have a good picture of supposed progress and gaps in her development endeavours. To begin with, Kogi State is predominantly agrarian with huge disparities between urban and rural areas. In terms of geography, Kogi State has the misfortune of being located in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region; historically a hotbed of underdevelopment. Apart from historical association with underdevelopment, the Middle Belt of Nigeria, whether one is referring to the geographical, cultural or political Middle Belt, is populated by ethnic minorities who are pathetically characterized by lack of access to power and resources in a polity defined by political ethnicity
However, Kogi State is second to none in terms of natural endowments. For instance, Kogi State is blessed with great fertile lands that confer agricultural potentials on the state, while the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue places Kogi as a great fishing and tourism potential. The additional source of its tourism potentials comes from the unique history of Lokoja, the State capital which was the first capital of Northern Nigeria from where Lord Lugard undertook the conquest of the rest of northern Nigeria following the hosting of the Union Jack on January 1, 1900.
The State also has huge mineral deposits that highlight the high prospects of economic development of Kogi State in an economy in which the diminishing role of oil export in fueling growth and development is starring Nigeria’s policy makers in the face. Kogi state alone has deposits of a total of 29 mineral resources available in commercial quantities .These include coal, dolomite, feldspar, bauxite, iron ore, limestone and gold. It is well established that each of the 21 LGAs in the state has deposits of at least 2 minerals. The coal reserves in Okaba district of Ankpa LGA which alone holds reserves of 99 million tonnes of coal, which play a critical role in Nigeria’s energy mix if the political will to diversify Nigeria’s economy exists at the highest level.
At the same time, however, Kogi State reproduces the contradictions and antinomies of the Nigerian society in many ways. Not only is the complex ethnic geography of the State which confers advantage on one ethnic group in a majoritarian system of democracy, a reflection of the reality of the larger Nigerian state and society where the dominance of three ethnic majorities offends the consciousness of the ethnic minorities. The material poverty and the suffocating conditions of existence of the people in a state so endowed with natural and human capital equally poignantly draws attention to the tragedy of post-colonial Nigeria in which abject poverty thrives in the midst of plenty. A 1995 World Bank report on Nigeria, aptly titled, Poverty in the Midst of Plenty, registers the immediacy of this paradox.
As alluded to many development indicators point towards a negative direction. To reinforce the same point that has well made in the Concept Note of this Retreat by the Savannah Centre, the GDP Per Capita for the State was $:1,386 in 20070; Unemployment Rate stood at 14.4 per cent in 2011; while Literacy Rate and Adult Literacy rate stood at 62.8 per cent in 2010. Despite the dearth of current data, there is no likelihood that vital development statistics for the state has changed. The declining human security situation in the State and the growing crime rates including kidnapping, point to the crisis of human security in the state. However, while it is true that poverty and youth unemployment can lead to the challenge of crime as is being experienced in Kogi State, there is need to recognize that crime against humanity and impunity perpetrated by armed non-state actors in the State cannot be defended. We should be challenged as government and people in Kogi State to rebuild critical institutions for molding character and democratic citizenship including the family, the educational system and even the religious institutions that transmit correct societal values.
Indeed, Kogi’s unique geographical location bordering 10 states provides a peep into the dangers and opportunities facing the state. While this geographical location opens opportunity for tourism and urbanization which are the irresistible drivers of economic progress today, it also exposes the state to influx of criminals from all directions who may find the state as a safe corridor and even haven. The intractable problem of kidnapping and the presence of violent extremism including sympathizers and mobilisers for the deadly Boko Haram sect provides a useful example of threats amidst opportunities.
My overall conclusion here is that while acknowledging these challenges and gaps, it would be unfair to dismiss the Kogi enterprise of the last 25 years as wasteful and uneventful. Although it may appear sarcastic, the creation of Kogi State has created opportunity for career advancement for the Kogi elites in the bureaucracy, politics and business; many of them fleeing away from oppression, neglect and exclusion in their previous states. There has also been tremendous expansion of urban centres, urban infrastructure, exotic buildings and cars, but largely fueled by corruption and impunity for those that have had access to opportunities offered by the state. But these indicators of progress, if they truly are, do not offset the lamentation of missed opportunities for the generality of the people.
What is most significant today, however, is that new administration in Kogi State under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello appears to have made a sufficient diagnosis of the challenges of development and progress in the State. But even more significantly, the new administration has expressed political commitment to reverse these trends. While unfolding his development agenda upon assumption of office a few months ago, Governor Yahaya Bello himself made a public commitment to give priority to agriculture, health, tourism and human capital development to drive its economy which has remained largely agrarian. In a very courageous spirit, he admitted the troubling deep ethnic divisions and the underying social distance among the various ethnic constituencies of the State.
Cultivating Diversity for Development and Progress in Kogi State
It is true that Kogi State, being a microcosm of Nigeria as earlier depicted, falls into the category of a deeply divided society. But what this means in practice is not that the different ethnic components are at war with one another in deadly confrontations on daily basis of account of difference qua difference. It means rather that the public space and the policy arena is dominated by elite actors who use the ethnic platform to advance their narrow interests by making the ordinary people believe that there is an ethnic problem. In other words, what we confront as ethnicity in the Nigerian discourse hardly has much to do with advancing the culture, customs and traditions of the various ethnic groups. On the contrary, it is a result of manipulating ethnic symbols and differences by the leading sections of the elite especially the political class to confuse the people. It is for this reason that the literature on ethnicity and the conflict spiral it generates has come to recognize the self-seeking activities of people who are referred to as “ethnic entrepreneurs”. Claude Ake once remarked that what is often presented as ethnicity in Nigeria (including Nigeria, and, indeed, Kogi State) may not even derive from ethnic problems at all, but problems thrown up by other political dynamics that are often pinned on ethnicity.
As a student of ethnic politics, I will be the last to discountenance the reality of ethnicity in political and public life in Africa. First and foremost, ethnic groups are historical groups that exist differentiated by language, territory and culture. The tragedy of post-colonial Africa is that it has to cope with the legacy of ethnic politics constructed by the colonial state. Interestingly, the colonial state played active role in the construction of ethnic identities, or put differently, in the construction of political identity. The unfortunate implication of this is that, colonially constructed identities supplanted pre-colonial patterns of identity formation, population shifts and the realities of multiple identities which have been reinforced by our post-independence constitutions that encourage Nigerians to migrate and live anywhere and properly exercise their citizenship rights. The fact, however, is that the elites have deliberately undermined national unity. They present their immediate quest for power, promotion, contracts and other privileges as that of their ethnic community, and when they fail it is perceived as the failure of that constituency. In some other instances, when in competition with others, over power and resources, they seek to exclude perceived outsiders by asserting ” indigene” or “native” right over the citizenship rights of the Nigerian State.
The elites also catch in the ignorance of the ordinary people who, buried in their localism, form their perception of the relevant “Others” through lenses of the elites. Without sounding abstract and unduly theoretical, the ethnic prism of interpreting political issues is furthered by the low level of penetration of capitalism in the countryside, and particularly, of petty commodity production. A significant proportion of peasant communities have their primary worries, not in what happens in the state capitals, but in the patterns of rainfall and availability of fertilizers. It is the elites who plant in them the consciousness of ethnic and religious divisions in the context of political mobilization because in the daily lives of ordinary people, even in the context of multi-ethnic existence they survive largely on the basis of cross-ethnic ties and solidarities.
Let me focus on the problem of ethnic narrative in Kogi State which has undermined a unity of purpose, subverted the development agenda and precluded inter-group harmony. One troubling issue is the cruel reality of ignoring the factors that unite the different ethnicities in Kogi State and how that culminated into the movement for the creation of Kogi State in 1991 in the first instance. First, is the reality of ethnic minority oppression which emerged in the countdown to independence in all the regions, and which led to the setting up of the Willink Commission to inquire into the Fears of Ethnic Minorities and How to Allay them in 1956. After independence, the agitation continued until the twelve states were created in 1967, bringing the different ethnic groups that make up Kogi State today into Kwara State. The reality of lived ethnic minority experience in Kwara State led to Igala agitation that took them to newly created Benue State in 1976. It may be true that the despite being a minority, the Igbirra had the opportunity to produce a governor in Kwara State prior to their exit from Kwara into Kogi State. However, because they lacked the weight to exercise power and domination even in that context, they could not overcome the disability of being both a numerical and sociological minority. It was this continued experience of minority oppression that forged the ethnic alliance that brought together the elite from the two parts of Kwara and Benue into the present Kogi State in 1991. The failure of successive leadership to guarantee freedom and happiness to all those who have escaped from oppression into Kogi State is a failure that is unforgivable.
More importantly, however, is the reality that the creation of Kogi State in 1991 was not a historical accident, apart from a common history of minority oppression to which I have just alluded. Anthropologists have documented the patterns of relationships between the Igala, the Igbirra (both Okene and Koto variants), the Kakanda, Bassa, etc in the pre-colonial period. Many of these groups had different points of contact in the Kwararafa and Apa polities prior to colonial intervention. There are still cross-ethnic ties and cultural solidarities among these groups today. History has also documented the historical ties between the Igala and the Yoruba which is attested to by linguistic affinities that are dated to over 1000 years ago. The decision of the colonial government then to re-group what constitutes the present Kogi State into Kabba Province was informed by anthropological findings regarding the commonalities between these groups. My argument is that successive leadership failed to harness these historical realities to give a sense of unity and common purpose to all the constituent parts of the State. After all, a nation is nothing more than an ‘imagined community.
Unfortunately, the ethnic geography of Kogi State has remained a major barrier to a kind of narrative that can forge unity and progress. It is the ethnic geography that makes the Igala a clear ethnic majority, and therefore to a large extent “master of joint deliberations,” especially in an electoral system based on majoritarian principle. This ethnic configuration and how it is manipulated has remained a source of permanent tension and the high proclivity towards conflict in the absence of the failure of the elites to create sustainable platforms of dialogue and negotiation that can encourage power sharing and mutual respect for one another over the years. It is lamentable that buried in this fractious and adversarial politics, every issue including the population census of Kogi State is over politicized. And yet, without a reliable population census that establishes the proportional needs of every part of the state, the State will continue to plan without facts. This is one albatross of development endavours in Kogi State. The present leadership has an opportunity to lead in moderating elite approach to this touchy issue.
In drawing the curtain on this sensitive subject, I suggest without fear of contradictions that Kogi State elites are one of the most dangerous and divisive in Nigeria. Yet, history shows that little progress can be made in the context of elite fragmentation in which the various ethnic fractions of the elite make cheap appeal their ethnic homelands and communities. I want to suggest that the leadership of Kogi State has a historic opportunity to cultivate her diversity for progress. Sophisticated analysis of ethnicity that goes beyond primordialism shows that ethnicity is simply a technology of power which the elites use to hide their failure and therefore to fragment opposition by dividing one ethnicity against the other. Even more importantly, more recent research works have shown that multi-ethnic and multi-cultural governing units can tap the benefit of diversity for progress. They can do this as Paul Coulier and others have consistently argued, by building and fostering institutions of democracy to foster the necessary social capital for democratic governance.
Until it is possible to create new states based on existing agitations which however is a doubt given the cumbersome constitutional procedures involved, the three “ethnic musketeers” and the satellite minority groups must find a way to live peacefully and in unity. Therefore, there is nothing a state like Kogi can legitimately do about its ethnic composition, and illegitimate acts, notably ethnic cleansing can hardly be encouraged because of the boomerang and counter-productive effect. When consistently pursued, democracy has the capacity almost completely to offset the economic damage which can be done by a high level of ethnic fractionalization.
The Leadership Question and the Task of Recovery in Kogi State
At this point, let me examine the critical role that leadership can and will play in a systematic effort to recover and atone for the missed opportunities of the past. I understand leadership as an embedded factor in democratic governance. I also understand leadership as a category that is organically linked to statecraft. The major point I seek to make is that the present leadership of Kogi State has to be exhibit in character, deeds and pronouncement what the burden of leadership implies. These would include self-denial and creating a sense of belonging for all the parts of the state and ensure that individual entities and groups including the different ethnicities transfer their unalloyed loyalty to the ecumenical level of Kogi State.
Recent discourses on development and change have come play greater emphasis on leadership and related factors rather natural resource endowment, or factor of geography and culture as important as they are. The great transformation achieved by several middle income countries such as Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore who, a few decades ago were languishing on global marginality and experiencing the worst symptoms of peripheralization increasingly shows that a country can hardly achieve breakthrough without transformational leadership, sometimes coupled with strong institutions. V. I. Lenin, one of the pillars of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 once likened the role of leadership in society to that of a piston in an engine; a basic recognition that leadership plays a dynamizing role in the progression of any society.
Leadership plays a role in organizing and mobilizing available human and material resources for accomplishing set goals and objectives for a society, a nation, a political party, a business enterprise. What sets leadership apart from other human agencies in the process of change and development, according to Munroe, is “the capacity to influence others through inspiration, motivated by a passion, generated by a vision, produced by a conviction, ignited by a sense of purpose.”
Let it be remarked, however, that leadership hardly exists as an independent variable or in abstraction. Not only is the nature and efficiency of leadership determined by the wider economic, political and social system within which it is embedded, leadership interplays with institutional setting within which it functions. Institutions, whether formal or informal, provide the basic rules and procedures – the rule of the game – within which leadership is exercised. This then raises the question of relative autonomy exercised by leadership, in managing institutional challenges or the extent to which institutional setting constrains the ability of the leadership to effect institutional changes in ways that advances the collective good.
The emphasis today is on transformational leadership in contradistinction to transactional leadership. According to Bernard M. Baas, whereas a transactional leader motivates followers by exchanging with them rewards for services rendered, a transformational leader sharply arouses or alters the strength of needs which may have laid dormant among the followers. More often than not, the choice open to a transformational leader is either to effect moderate changes in institutions and policies within existing structures or clear out old institutions in order to effect fundamental changes in policies.
The present leadership in Kogi State is not bound to continue with the implementation of programmes and blue prints developed by the previous governments even though government is often regarded as acontinuity. It can however independently assess existing blueprints and framework and fine tune them in line with the vision it has developed. One of such is the Blue Print for the Transformation of Kogi State (2012 – 2016) packaged by a government assembled ThinkThank. This Blue Print represents a scientific diagnosis of the crisis of development in the state, with defined and clear policy prescription and a strategic framework for the short, to medium and long-term.
The Blueprint, points out three non-negotiable issues that are key: 1) reliable data for planning; 2) development strategy that is inclusive and coherent; and 3) governance and anti-corruption. The Blueprint goes further to identify other important challenges: 1) endemic failure and incapacity of government to meet expectations; 2) weak service delivery and underdeveloped infrastructure; apathy and cynicism on the part of the citizenry. The most important task is to establish the framework for wealth generation and growth: industrialization linked to the agricultural potentials of the state and the presence of the underperforming steel and iron ore companies.
The task of the present leadership therefore is clearly laid out: galvanise employment generation and take the youth out of poverty in order to secure all of us; creating wealth in abundance and ensuring fairness, justice, equity and human dignity in the distribution of that wealth; and ensuring creating abundance for the present generation while factoring in the interest of future generation to make it sustainable. But we must remember the point well made by the late Professor Claude Ake, namely that development is something that people do for themselves, not necessarily by relying on outsiders, although there is nothing wrong either borrowing from outsiders or copying outsiders as far as it is in accordance with the interest of the people and their priorities.
There are few additional points to make. One, the goal of development to facilitate recovery should be to create and expand opportunities and choices for the people. This is only possible when citizens can to hold their governments and leaders to account. Relatedly, the present leadership should pay close attention to local governance and ensure that local governments contribute to the task of recovery by doing development. Weak local governance and absence of effective oversight; making local governments the hotbed of swindling and short changing the citizens. Finally, galvanize the private sector and create partnerships with civil society to enable people and their organizations to demand for transparent and effective governance.

Confronting History and Making Choice for the Future of Kogi State
My take is that the leadership of Kogi State under Governor Yahaya Bello confronts history in a very complex, fluid and fast changing situation. Given the present historical conjunctures, the leadership has to make clear and informed choices, not only based on the objective and realistic assessment of the larger Nigerian political economy and that of Kogi State in particular, but in accordance with the best interest of the public. While the problems have multiplied and the equation has become more complex, the resources are dwindling as Nigeria remains trapped by the burden of underdevelopment and the fatal failures of the post-colonial ruling class.
In confronting history, we must accept the enigmatic character of history itself. History appears simple when it is understood as the recordings of the events and activities of people rather than their emotions and thoughts except when acted out in the forms of policies and legislation of leaders and statesmen or the aggregation of the actions of the leaders and the led. The more difficult aspect of history is not the facts as they are recorded, but the interpretations of the facts where emotions and subjective judgment of others become the key desiderata. But history can be unkind to leaders and statesmen, who out of fear of judgment that await them, fail to take decisions and actions that may alter the cause of history itself. Finally, history lacks the power to give the consequences of actions not taken. But if we take the metaphor of history seriously, will realize that history is always a collective effort even when individuals and leaders dictate the pace.
However, in confronting history and making choice, leaders are expected to be strategic and to address the bigger picture rather than seeking to do everything and therefore nothing. It is on this basis that I make the following propositions:
1. Give priorities to the development of human capital above all other endeavours because the conventional wisdom of development is to build on your comparative advantage. Kogi’s comparative advantage lies in the development of human capital evident in the remarkable progress of her population in terms of access to western education by the standard of the erstwhile northern region. This is presently under threat because of the massive collapse of education infrastructure – both hard and soft wares especially at primary and secondary levels. Failure to address this would make the existing higher institutions inappropriate for bringing future gains.
2. Address the catastrophe of Infrastructure by investing in roads, alternative and renewable energy to create enabling environment for addressing the challenge of rural poverty, youth unemployment and stimulating rural agriculture. This is also linked to the possibility of rural industrialization.
3. While there are bold initiatives to tame the scourge of corruption and impunity in the management of public resources, anchor your anti-corruption by building institutions and systems that will stand the test of time. The Kogi State Government can build on its partnership with the United Nations System which is ongoing and bring in other development partners to assist the state in the areas of Fiscal Responsibility and Procurement by first driving the passage of enabling legislation.
4. While the establishment of a Trust Fund to advance social protection tor the poor and the most vulnerable in the State is a very progressive initiative, it can be complemented with passage of the Child Right Act to tackle child abuse and the reality of thousands of out of school children and street hawkers. In addition, there are several models of social protection including forms of cash transfers around that can be reviewed and remodeled to suit local situation.
I have limited myself to issues that I consider strategic. I did not mention the issue of agriculture and fishery in the context of the challenge of diversifying the Nigerian economy, because they are bewitchingly obvious candidates for priorities.

Conclusion
For Kogi State to recover missed opportunities, there are three critical things to do without compromise: responsive and visionary leadership, democratic governance and statecraft. These elements have been conspicuously missing. The overarching framework is strong political will to mobilize the human and material resources to galvanize development and provide space to citizens to freely and openly participate.
To make progress, the leadership in Kogi State should leverage on partnerships; partnerships with willing donors and development partners for technical and funding support; partnership with civil society; and building capacity for the public service to deliver development policies into actions. The Governor must also build solid partnership with the legislature through trust and respect for separation of powers and the rule of law. In the same spirit, inaugurate regular form with Kogi federal legislators to advance and protect the interest of the state to drive legislation that would Kogi State greater stake in the solid minerals sector as a part of negotiating and reforming an over centralized federal system because Kogi State has every reason to be do so.
The aggressive pursuit of a development agenda that will put the poor majority at the centre and liberate the rural poor from what Marx in his days would characterize as rural idiocy. Kogi State needs a development agenda that would reverse previous phenomenal situation of elite capture of power and resources and demystify governance by providing access to the ordinary people. The truth of the matter is that development is common sense.
I thank you all for listening.

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Buhari returns to Nigeria after weeks of medical trip to the UK

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Buhari returns to Nigeria after weeks of medical trip to the UK

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buharihas returned to Abuja after weeks on medical trip in London.
This was according to a statement from the presidency on Thursday.
The president had been heavily criticized for his perchance for medical expedition inspite huge budgetary allocation to the Presdential Villa clinic.
His critics also blamed him for embarking on such trip even when resident doctors in his country were on industrial action.
The presidential aircraft that brought Buhari and some of his aides touched down at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja at about 4.45 p.m.
Dignitaries at the airport to welcome the president included the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello, and the National Security Adviser to the President, Babagana Monguno.
Others were the service chiefs, acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali, the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i, the Director General of the State Securitt Services, Yusuf Bichi and other presidential aides.
President Buhari, after a brief welcoming ceremony at the airport, boarded a presidentrtial helicopter that conveyed him to the Presidential Villa.

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Participants urge Kogi to key into Open Government Partnership

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Participants urge Kogi to key into Open Government Partnership

By Friday Idachaba

Participants at a one-day stakeholders strategic meeting on Open Governance Partnership have called on Kogi government to urgently key into the global concept to promote transparency, accountability and good governance.

The participants made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting organised by Conscience For Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) in partnership with African Centre For Leadership Strategies And Development (Centre LSD) on Tuesday in Lokoja.

The News Agency of Nigeria NAN reports that the Communiqué was signed by Mr Idris Miliki, Executive Director of Kogi-based CHRCR and made available to newsmen in Lokoja.

The Communiqué said that in view of the importance of the global OGP concept with potentials to check corruption and enhance good governance, 16 states in Nigeria had presently signed up.

It however revealed that Kogi State was yet to key into the global concept and urged the state to, as a matter of urgency, sign up for the state to derive inherent benefits of the partnership.

Objective of the meeting in line with the OGP concept, according to the Communiqué, is to encourage accountability, transparency and reduce corruption in Kogi State.

It is also to build on the existing Networks on Anti-Corruption, Transparency and Accountability (NATA), to mobilize Media institutions and professionals in reporting activities on OGP in Kogi State.

The participants however, urged multi-lateral financial institutions particular the World Bank to begin to hold State Governments accountable by verifying the situations of implementations on ground before rating them on financed projects.

The Communiqué reiterated that there should be no rivalry but rather, a broad based relationship and partnerships between the state government and the Civil Society Organizations as both work for and in the interest of the citizens.

The Communiqué said there was need for the current House of Assembly members to live up to their constitutional responsibilities by performing their oversight functions on all institutions of the state, “particularly the local government councils.”

It also called on Media Professionals to take more interest in OGP issues and partner more with the Civil Society Organisations in particular and other relevant institutions to drive the OGP Concept.

“The Civil Society Organizations needs to do more in raising awareness and sensitization of the general public on the OGP and with the Government to get the OGP.

“There is need for the development partners to continue to work with the Civil Society Organizations in the state to promote the OGP process”, the Communiqué added. (NAN)

FDJ/

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Again Presidecy tackles Bishop Kukah over damning sermon

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Again Presidecy tackles Bishop Kukah over damning sermon

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, of Sokoto Catholic diocese, has come under attack again from the Presidency for describing Nigeria as a killing field under the Buhari administration.
Kukah in his Easter homily on Sunday, said both the government and the citizens have become helpless as criminals continue to cause havoc in parts of the country.
The battle over insecurity in Nigeria has continued unabated especially in the northern parts of the country where bandits and insurgents have turned to a killing field.
Kukah said the security situation has frustrated many citizens making them to believe the government has gone AWOL (absent without official leave).

“Taunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation, there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart” the bishop said.
“Retired military and intelligence officers lament over what has become of their glorious profession, as they watch the humiliation of our military personnel. Traumatised citizens are tortured daily by bandits.
“The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly. A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hangs in the hot air. We have no message and have no idea how long this will last.”

However in a statement issued in Abuja Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman said Kukah’s “bashing” of President Muhammadu Buhari is “ungodly.”
“All citizens have their individual ideologies, even their own versions of truth. But if you profess to being a man of God, as Father Mathew Hassan Kukah does, ideology should not stand in the way of facts and fairness,” he said.
“Father Kukah has said some things that are inexplicable in his Easter message. But, in saying that the Boko Haram terrorism is worse than it was in 2015, he did not speak like a man of God. 

“Kukah should go to Borno or Adamawa to ask the citizens there the difference between 2014 and 2021.”
Shehu also faulted the bishop for saying Buhari is not concerned about those displaced because of the security crisis, citing the creation of the ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development as part of the president’s efforts in that regard.
“Some of the comments are no more than a sample of the unrestrained rhetoric Fr. Kukah trades in, which he often does in the guise of a homily,” the presidential spokesman said.
“We urge well-meaning citizens to continue to support the ongoing efforts by the administration to secure the country and move it forward.”

With additional reports from Cable

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