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GOV YAHAYA BELLO SPEECH AT THE PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF THE REPORT OF THE CIVIL SERVICE SCREENING EXERCISE

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​BEING TEXT OF AN ADDRESS BY THE GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY ALHAJI YAHAYA BELLO AT THE PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF THE REPORT OF THE CIVIL SERVICE SCREENING EXERCISE IN KOGI STATE
I welcome everyone who could join us today as we formally present report of our Civil Service Screening Exercise to the public. This public presentation was considered necessary so our people can see firsthand why we insisted on this Exercise despite the inconveniences to everyone and in spite of the vicious opposition from those who benefitted from the former laxities in the system and felt threatened by the likely outcomes.
I am sure that after the disclosures by the earlier presenters today any objective person must by now agree with us that the Exercise was a vital necessity. The leaders of the Screening and Audit Teams have done a great job of detailing their methodologies, discoveries and recommended solutions to us. I will therefore limit myself to itemizing some of my own insights into the subject after which I will summarize and we can call it a day.
Here are my contributions:
1.    The Civil Service was excessively heavy on our resources. From the records, the Kogi State Civil Service was bloated and constituted a major conduit through which Kogi’s resources were being systematically siphoned away. Numerically, it is made up of just about 70,000 people altogether. This number is less than 2% of our 3.5 million citizens yet it demanded more than 100% of our share of Federal Allocations each month. This was both disproportionate and unsustainable, and the choice before us was clear – reform the Service or let it continue to deform our socioeconomic indices and distort our growth projections.
2.    The Screening Exercise was not an afterthought. I did not run for Governorship of Kogi State on a whim. Previous Administrations had abandoned good governance and basically plundered the state. The plight of the State moved me to join the race for Governor and I prepared extensively to change the situation for the best if I got the chance. I determined to put a stop to all criminal conduct against this state and her people. Comprehensive Civil Service and Pension reforms were a key objective of my campaign. When I assumed Office, I embedded it as a cardinal thematic area in my New Direction Agenda and Blueprint.
3.    Salaries and Pensions of Genuine Workers are not the Problem. The State, at least under my Administration, will continue to make strong, even superhuman, efforts to pay full wages on schedule to all genuine workers provided they do full work. However, we noticed quantum and inexplicable  leaps in the size of the Wage Bill without documented promotions of genuine workers or fresh recruitments in a justifiable process. This Exercise is our way of saying we are not ready to continue resourcing criminality and financing theft. We are putting a permanent end to the ghost-workers phenomenon and non-resident, non-identifiable ‘workers’ syndrome.
4.    Organized Labour was the dominant stakeholder throughout the Screening Exercise. My Administration recognized that involvement of Organized Labour in Kogi State was pivotal to the  long-term success of the Screening Exercise. Their partnership was invaluable to its credibility, and therefore acceptance. We took key steps to carry them along as follows:

A.    We were careful to make sure nominees of the Kogi State Chapters of the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Unions Congress among Labour representatives constituted over 50% of the membership of the Screening Committee.

B.    Labour was given frontline roles in the fieldwork which generated the primary data we used to achieve the final outcomes.

C.    Every time we reached a crossroad with Labour we looked dispassionately at the contentious issues and if the compromise required is not a threshold one likely to endanger the integrity of the whole exercise, we allowed Labour have their way.

D.    We listened when they they brought complaints against the leadership of the Committee during collation stage. After looking into their concerns we replaced the pioneer Chairman with a person of their choice.

E.    When they kicked against the use of only two banks for the verification of genuine workers and concurrent disbursement of the bail-out funds, we listened then explained the rationale and asked them to provide us a viable alternative in the circumstances that provided the required results. When they were not forthcoming we had to proceed with that template as the only available and viable one.

F.    We are still puzzled at the troubles that ensued later, especially the calls for a general strike by Labour leaders. However, that has been largely resolved, and all’s well that ends well.
5.    Appeals on the Screening Exercise are Invited. Following complaints of errors committed by the main Screening Committee, we set up a Back-up Review Committee to look into genuine complaints by ANY affected worker and ensure all injustices are redressed. This second Committee is jointly overseen by the Kogi State Auditor-General and the Auditor for Local Governments who I have vested with sufficient powers and discretion to be effective. It is my aim, and I have given directives to that effect, that no genuine worker will lose their livelihood due to this Exercise. Anyone with genuine complaints should channel them immediately.
6.    Vigilance is the Eternal Price of Liberty. In addition to their duty above, the Back-up Review Committee will continue to conduct ongoing Review of the Kogi State Workforce and monitor the Wage Bill of the State to prevent the ghosts we have exorcised today, or new ones, from possessing the system again. The discovery and elimination of thousands of ghost workers on our Wage Bill, the successful termination of dozens of large-scale  fraudulent schemes and the elimination of astounding systemic leakages will mean nothing if we allow them to just sprout again. We will not.
7.    We were right to conduct the Screening Exercise. The earlier presentations today show how immensely successful the exercise has been. They also justify our decision to undertake it in the first place. In my opinion, the Screening Exercise was urgently needed and I deem it as important to Kogi State as emergency surgery is to a patient with a spreading, malignant cancer. We must in the same fashion cut out the twin cancers of corruption and financial crimes from our Civil Service before they spread any further.
In conclusion, I want to cite something I said in my Inaugural Address:
‘To reinforce our commitment to accountability, the incoming Administration will employ technology and a multilayered system of checks and balances to block all leakages in our financial processes and improve our wealth creation and retention capacities…we will run this Blueprint along with Civil Service reforms to change the orientation of our workers and improve their productivity.’
The Screening Exercise is therefore the first layer of civil service reforms which this Administration intends to deploy during her tenure. We will now move on to capacity building, incentivized  productivity and personal accountability. By the grace of God, Kogi State has entered an era of wealth creation and retention. Government is working hard and increasingly partnering with the private sector to drive economic growth. Our Civil Service must be repositioned to play her roles of facilitator in the process. We cannot compromise that.
Thank you once more for coming.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

God bless Kogi State.

God bless you

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Opinion

Cowards not the brave walk into an Early political grave

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By Yusuf Idris Gusau

Opposition politics in Zamfara State is regressing by the minute, hour and day, something akin to childish banters and motor park gist. Ironically, it’s being promoted by an otherwise seasoned politicians who have been around for two decades at the least.

In the motor park the usual conversation is often centered on rumors, heresays and crude conjectures. If you were to be a witness listening from outside the conversing group you would be at a loss who introduced the topic or where the topic originated from.

It is a cacophony of voices each one swearing to know better than the other.
That is how the topic of everyday, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle, has become within the rank and file of the opposition All Progressive Congress.

They live in the day with his name on their lips. They go to bed with his image stalking their nights, and dream the nightmare he has become to their political survival.

Isn’t it surprising that the “strong” men and women of Zamfara politics can be in such disarray, disorganized and bereft of ideas on how to reposition themselves and the APC if they were the political heavyweights barely two  years since losing to one whom they considered a less formidable opponent? How can they resort to hiring neophytes in mudslinging and fear mongering to do their dirty jobs if indeed they are “masters” of Zamfara politics as they claim to be?

For the last one year or so the subject of discussion within the APC has been whether or not Matawallen Maradun and Shettiman Sokoto will defect to the APC.

Why should that be an issue, and why should his domineering presence send chills into their spines?
Why should 2023 elections be a subject at hand when there are so many days and months to go and whereas there are lots of cleaning of the dirt they left in the augean stable?
Do they not know that Matawalle has a job to do than bother with who gets the governorship seat in 2023?
Are they not aware Matawalle believes, like every good Muslim should, that playing god as they did when they shared positions in their bedrooms in the past was the genesis of their failures to date?
If they don’t know, they should know now, that the Shattiman Sakkwato will certainly not wait for any person to decide his fate which he believes is in God’s hands and will only be processed when the time comes through popular support from the people.

It is ridiculously funny that the so-called political big-wigs have continued to engage the services of anyone they can lay their hands on including people who do not accept the mighty powers of Allah nor the rights and privileges of citizens in Zamfara politics. A coward who hid behind a sydonym of Musa Dangusau to dictate to the incumbent Zamfara governor not to move from his party, the PDP to another party the APC. Which oracle told him to pass such a despicable message for a contest that is open and where only the brave dares?
I want to quickly make one basic note and correction here that for these people who political cowards see as Zamfara political deep pockets, the fear of Matawalle joining APC is certainly the begining of their political wisdom.
Since the rumour began making the rounds that governor Matawalle was defecting to the APC, the whole partners in the party in Zamfara came crashing because of the fact that the writings on the wall have become so clear.

For the likes of Musa Dangusau however it appears politics begins and ends with just one person in Zamfara State, and any challenge to this person’s will and desire threaten their well-being. That is indeed a pity because they will soon eat their bread unbuttered because Matawalle has since demonstrated his political strength as witnessed during the Bakura House of Assembly bye-election which he won for his party prompting many APC members to join him in the PDP.

He has indeed become a serious threat to their demi-god and are afraid they will lose relevance and their meal ticket.

We wish to remind the opposition that though Matawalle contested and won his election on the platform of the PDP he never went to court because he believes strongly that power belongs to God.
And when the Supreme Court declared him winner of the 2019 governorship election, it was as a result of the squabbles caused internally by APC members in the state and by its parent body.

One assumes therefore that if the opposition is politically savvy as they claim to be, one would have thought it wise to beg Matawalle to hasten his movement to the APC instead of fighting a losing battle now that the national headquarters of the APC which is made up of enlightened personalities have since realized the asset he has become and are ready to receive him whenever he makes up his mind.

Also talking about Matawalle betraying his current party, the PDP as implied by the poisonous pen of phantom Dangusau. We ask, why should outsiders say that on behalf of the PDP, it should be the PDP that will complain.
Or, are they in anyway putting words into Matawalle’s mouth when he isn’t the type to be called disloyal or afraid to quietly live whatever it is that isn’t protecting the interest of the people of Zamfara?
Shakespeare said in one of his books “cowards die many times before their deaths” and walk into an early grave. This aptly describes those who are scared of the towering personality of the Matawallen Maradun and are the ones going early to their political grave.
That we can promise them.

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Opinion

HACFO on how Aisha was forcefully abducted, converted, and married off with consent of emir

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HACFO on how Aisha was forcefully abducted, converted, and married off with consent of emir

Rafin Iyaka Sabuwar Kasa, Kafur LGA of Katsina State is a mixed community of both Christian and Muslim Hausas, but the Christians continued to live in pains and bondage perpetrated by the Muslim side that constantly enjoys the protection of the District Head of Kafur and the Emir of Katsina.

These two Islamic traditional rulers do everything possible to stop the constitutionally recognized law enforcement agencies like the Police from rightly carrying out their statutory duties. That is why any crime committed against the Christians will always be swept under the carpet.

Due to the previous experiences of the Christian community of Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka on the abduction and forceful conversion of their young girls which Aisha happens to be the 9th person, the Family of Aisha didn’t hesitate to report some strange moves of one Mohammed Samaila around their 15 year old daughter to their village head.

As usual, the said Mohammed Samaila and his father kept denying having anything to do with Aisha. These strange moves continue for about two years and the village head was not willing to take any action against the said Mohammed Samaila. When the family of Aisha could no longer tolerate what they were seeing, they decided to relocate Aisha from the village Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka, to Funtua for Aisha to be staying with her elder sister.

On 10th February, 2021, Aisha went missing from the house where she stays. When the elder sister and her husband searched everywhere possible and could not locate Aisha, they quickly reported it to the Funtua Police Station to help them find Aisha.

Two days later, on 12th February 2021, Aisha’s Parents received a call from the District Head of Kafur telling them to stop searching for Aisha because she is safe with him in his house. He claimed that one Idris Shehu brought her to his house. On hearing that, Aisha’s family went to see the District Head of Kafur at his palace in order to bring their daughter back home, but to their dismay, it was not possible. He refused releasing her on the ground that she wanted to convert to Islam. Aisha’s parents insisted but the District Head refused them access to their Daughter.

Ten days later, the District Head called Aisha’s parents to tell them that one Mohammed Sama’ila wants to marry Aisha their daughter. When Aisha’s parents went to the District Head’s palace, they rejected the issue of the marriage. They insisted their daughter be returned to them and continue with her school and if anyone wants to marry her, he should follow the due process. The District Head ignored Aisha’s parents and went ahead to arrange marriage between Aisha and Mohammed Samaila without the consent and approval of Aisha’s Family.

When Aisha’s Family did everything possible and peaceful for Aisha to be returned to them and they were ignored and humiliated, they decided to engage the services of a law firm; A. U. Ajodo & CO. Legacy Chambers to help them bring Aisha back.

The Law Firm immediately wrote a petition against the District Head ( Alh. Abdulrahman Rabe and Mohammed Sama’ila to the Katsina State Commissioner of Police through the Malumfashi Area Command demanding the immediate arrest, investigation and prosecution of these two suspects and the immediate release of Aisha back to her Family.

Unfortunately, the Police did not arrest these two culprits or do anything to ensure the return of Aisha. They only summoned the District Head of Kafur without the said Mohammed Samaila. The Area Commander told the District Head not to go ahead with the marriage plans between Aisha and Mohammed Samaila, but the district head ignored the police directive.

They later agreed for the girl to be brought to the police station and be returned to her family but the District Head refused to comply. Instead, he decided to take the girl to the Emir of Katsina at Katsina on that same day he was to bring the girl to the police station. On reaching there, the Emir of Katsina joined Aisha and Mohammed in marriage without the consent of her parents.

As it is now, the Katsina state police command are not willing to carry out their statutory duties as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and ensure justice is done.

It is very important to note that this is not the first time such a thing is happening. The said District Head of Kafur is known for such … acts right …. .

The village of Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka, Sabuwar Kasa, Kafur LGA, Katsina State has suffered such unjust treatments from the District Head of Kafur who is also backed by the Emir of Katsina. Till date a total of nine Hausa Christian Girls have been abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and forced into early marriage.

The following are the names of the girls that were abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and forced into marriage from this village by the same District Head:
1) Jamima Solomon
2) Christiana Mamman
3) Deborah Habila
4) Phoebe Dankano
5) Rifkatu Markus (Rescued)
6) Saratu Isah (Returned her when she went mad after two years)
7) Dije Yakubu Nalami (Abducted as a married woman, and returned when she died)
8) Rebeccah Ado (Returned Pregnant)
9) Aisha Mani (Currently in captivity)

It is on record that any time this Christian Community agitates against the injustice done to them, the Muslim youths will violently go after them and threaten to burn down the Church and houses of the Christians.

The Hausa Christians Foundation (HACFO) is working tirelessly to ensure the safe and unconditional return of Aisha Mani and to ensure that justice is duly served.

We covet your prayers and support to ensure that Aisha is reunited with her family. Kindly pray for the Northern Christians especially the families whose daughters have been abducted, forced into Islam and marriage. Northern Nigeria is becoming hell for Christians to live in.

▪︎The Hausa Christian Foundation (HACFO) can be reached via missions@hacfo.org and admin@hacfo.org

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Opinion

Yinka Odumakin: The Exit Of A Convinced Humanist

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Yinka Odumakin: The Exit Of A Convinced Humanist

By Rauf Aregbesola

The circumstance of his demise were quite unusual. Though a picture he took with Papa Ayo Adebanjo, indicating he was not in the best shape of health had appeared on the internet not quite long ago; still, it caught us by surprise. The human mind has the incredible capacity to suppress morbid suggestions on loved ones, bordering on denial. But now, as the dust is settling and the tears are drying, we are beginning to reconcile to the fact that Yinka Odumakin is gone.

February 20, earlier this year, was the last time I had a telephone conversation with him. He was his natural self. He could be vivacious when excited and could also be dead sober, if the matter requires it. I never had any premonition it would be our last conversation.

Odumakin straddled the political spectrum, breaking into public consciousness as a students union activist at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, then practiced journalism at The Punch newspaper; was also part the struggles for military disengagement and deannulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola. In the post military era, Yinka retained his public presence with his participation in the politics of AD, AC, ACN, CPC and reportedly flirted with former President Goodluck Jonathan. He later consolidated his activism in Yoruba nationalism, being a highly visible spokesperson of Afenifere. He was a tenacious advocate of his convictions; never gave up on whatever he believed in, regardless of the opposition.

How did we meet? Yinka Odumakin and Bunmi Omoshehindemi walked into my office as the CGS of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation office at Sunday Adigun St., Alausa Ikeja. It was in November of 1998.

Both came to declare support for the candidacy of Bola Tinubu unequivocally. This was in defiant opposition to those then opposed to any form of accommodation for democratic building process without a clear resolution of the June 12 imbroglio. This was a courageous step, then considering that their position would have been considered anathema by the movement. We had since then built a robust relationship, sometimes very smooth and at times frosty, but all the time remarkable till his translation on Friday, April 2, 2021.

I said we had a remarkable relationship because Yinka was consistent in standing up to fight for democracy, federalism, justice and rule of law. These to me are the factors for defining the dignity of man. Whoever has this commitment is an ally and a humanist.

Yinka has had to publicly criticise me a couple of times, especially when I was governor in Osun, our relationship notwithstanding. I took it in good faith, as it never affected our relationship. His criticisms were consistent with his convictions on what constitute public interest.

I am therefore proud to have known, interacted and worked with a humanist that doggedly fought for the dignity of people.

Yinka Odumakin, you will wake up to joyful activities on the other side. May the good Lord support your wife, family and friends. Ameen.

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is Minister of Interior, Federal Republic of Nigeria

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