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GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO DEMOCRACY DAY BROADCAST TO THE PEOPLE OF KOGI STATE

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GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO DEMOCRACY DAY BROADCAST
TO THE PEOPLE OF KOGI STATE

MAY 29, 2016.

One of my favorite quotes about Democracy is the one by Harry Emerson Fosdick who said (and I quote), that ‘Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.’ One can easily pick out the dominant concepts in this quote: ‘Democracy’, ‘conviction’, ‘extraordinary possibilities’ and ‘ordinary people’.

I find this quote so spectacular because these concepts are the building blocks of a successful democratic undertaking. In my opinion, they represent milestones on the journey, which any true Democracy must travel. I like to explain the statement thus: In order to have a real democracy (i.e. a true Government of the People by the People and for the People), it takes the force of conviction or belief to see the extraordinary possibilities, which ordinary people, working together, can unlock for their own benefit.

This is very true of the Nigerian situation. The 4th Republic became a reality only when ordinary Nigerians became convinced of our need for a democratic system of government. Democracy was mere wishful thinking in Nigeria before then, but when we deployed the force of conviction, we were able to discover our extraordinary possibilities and we sent the military packing. With much hopes and high expectations, we installed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the ruling party with effect from May 29, 1999. This is why we commemorate the day as ‘Democracy Day.’

Unfortunately, the PDP soon became a monster of the sort that was once aptly described as a nest of vipers by Prof. Wole Soyinka. The Peoples Democratic Party and her members grossly mismanaged our hard-earned Democracy. After about 16 disastrous PDP years, ordinary Nigerians, uniting around the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Hurricane Buhari, again swept them out of the corridors of power and into the dustbin of history, hopefully to be seen no more.

Exactly one year ago today, on Democracy Day, 2015, the nation erupted into tumultuous celebrations as President Muhammadu Buhari, Maigaskiya, took Oath of Office as President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is a testimonial to the power of conviction to unveil the extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people. As with the APC and my mentor, President Muhammad Buhari at the federal level, so with the APC and Yahaya Bello in Kogi State. We cannot thank the Almighty enough.

The President has been in Office for one year, we in Kogi State for exactly 4 months and 2 days. There is no denying the fact that the APC came to power at probably the worst time, socio-economically speaking, for Nigeria and Nigerians. With the steep slide in the global prices of Crude Oil, which is the mainstay of our economy, governance has become more challenging than usual. It is indeed a wonder that Mr. President and his Team have been able to stave off a full-blown recession given the circumstances.

A couple of weeks ago, during the events to mark our first 100 Days in Office as Governor and Government of Kogi State, we took stock and presented our scorecard. By lining up our electoral promises beside our performance, we were able to to provide Kogi people an account of what we had accomplished with the Leadership entrusted to us within the period under review. Today, I only intend to rehash those achievements for the records and to highlight the point that since January 27, 2016, Kogi State has been purposefully headed in a New Direction and we are making verifiable progress.

In Kogi State, we have had to resort to creative financial and social engineering to redistribute our meager federal allocations in the overall best interests of the citizenry. By a complex combination of cost-cutting, prioritization and elimination of wastage, we have been able to stretch our purse to pay salaries, provide social services and execute the very visible infrastructural projects we have ongoing all over Kogi State.

We are also growing and expanding our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base. Our efforts in this regard includes granting autonomy to the Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue, moving her to more modern offices and equipping her with vehicles and other facilities designed to improve performance. We solicit support for her from everyone in Kogi State, and those passing through, especially in the prompt payment of taxes and rates. Those who decide to be uncooperative will discover to their chagrin that the Board has grown teeth overnight.

We have set up an Economic Team and a Fiscal Responsibility Committee to assist the Administration in the areas of probity and accountability. The former will, in addition to her many other duties, have the function of engaging prospective investors, scrutinizing their proposals and selecting, which will add value to our economy. The latter will, among other things, oversee the operation of a Treasury Single Account (TSA) for Kogi State. In the matter of TSA, we commend the Federal Government’s example and intend to align totally with her template. We will only modify it as may be required to suit our peculiar needs in Kogi State.

These are tough times for sure, but they are by no means impossible times. We will continue to confront them with courage and creativity.

We have made appointments in a way calculated to unite our people across the State and foster participation in Governance by all positive and progressive persons. I nominated His Excellency, Right Honourable Simeon Achuba, as Deputy Governor and appointed Honourable Edward David Onoja as my Chief of Staff. They are both from from Kogi East. Mrs. Ayoade Folashade Arike from Kogi West became Secretary to the Kogi State Government. So far, we have appointed 21 Special Advisers, one from each Local Government Area of Kogi State. All appointments have continued to reflect the twin principles of Equity and Merit.

Education leads the priority list on our New Direction Agenda. We have continued to pay salaries, renovate school buildings and infrastructure and acquire Instructional Materials, which we distributed to schools across the state. We designated three secondary schools, one in each Zone, as Centres of Excellence and Unity. They are the first in a series designed to raise future leaders, who have no distrust of one another and worthy ambassadors of the One Kogi Initiative.
We have also granted our Local Governments Councils full autonomy in all respects, including financial. In other words, they receive in full whatever amount is allocated to them from the federal government, without any deductions by the State. We have also approved the release of 10% of gross Internally Generated Revenue to Local Governments Areas to further boost their financial base. Monies due to them will continue to be released promptly.
We will not leave them to their whims and caprices, of course. We have established tighter oversight of their activities through the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. Steps have been taken to improve their reporting skills. Each LG Executive Council has had to structured and prepare her 2016 Budget in line with overall state objectives, the Sustainable Development Goals and the accountability requirements of relevant development partners and agencies.
Some results are already noticeable including completion of abandoned pressing projects such as the Ibaji LGA Secretariat, pedestrian bridge at Kabba/Bunu, Primary Health Care Centres at Ekirin-Adde, Okene and Olamaboro respectively. There is also ongoing renovation of the Chiefs’ Lodge in Lokoja to give decent accommodation to our Royal Fathers whenever they are in the Capital on duty. This will also save the State money on hotel and hospitality costs.
We have deployed 21 earth-moving plants (bulldozers and graders) for use at no costs by the Local Governments Area. The immediate impact is massive clearing and dressing of rural and farm roads across the Local Government Areas.
We are reforming the Kogi State Civil Service at the same time with an aim to make the business of Government fast and result-oriented. We had to clean up the Civil service to determine genuine workers and remove corrupt elements. We set up a Screening Committee led by Brigadier-General Paul Okuntimo (Rtd) who swung into action with his characteristic enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, and as you may have heard in the news, we had to relieve the General of his role in this assignment yesterday and replace him with Mr. Jerry Agbaji, an Acting Permanent Secretary in the Kogi State Civil Service. The principal reason for this development was his hardline approach to the assignment, which manifested as a persistent lack of capacity to build consensus with the rest of the 30-man Screening Committee and relevant stakeholders.
We cannot have such a sensitive process marred by a deficit of credibility due to allegations of high-handedness or victimization by the Committee whether real or imagined. We thank Brigadier-General Okuntimo for his service and hope he will continue to avail Kogi State of his wealth of experience as the occasion may arise. I assure our workers that the Screening Exercise is on track and the final results will satisfy the yearnings of every forthright person.
We promised to prioritise workers’ welfare and we will continue to keep that promise. We are adopting the Contributory Pension Scheme and a Universal Healthcare Insurance Scheme. The first tranche of the bailout funds from the Federal Government in the sum of N20 billion naira is safe and secure and disbursement will start soon. We intend to dedicate that money mainly to resolving outstanding wages and salaries issues for our workers. We expect our Civil Servants to reciprocate these gestures by increased output on the job.
Lokoja, the Capital Territory, was a sorry sight when we arrived in Lugard House. Poor roads, unreliable supply of portable water and filthy environment were the norms. We recruited about 100 street sweepers and engaged a private sanitation outfit to promptly clear waste from the various designated and illegal dump sites. We have provided more waste receptacles around the City and created more dumpsites. Yesterday, I flagged off the Kogi State Environmental Sanitation Exercise. It will remain a permanent fixture every last Saturday of the month throughout the life of this Administration.
Our ongoing road and drainage works have made driving in Lokoja a more pleasant experience. The quality of life and the urban experience in Lokoja and other major cities of Kogi State will consistently improve as we continue to execute our Blueprint for Infrastructure and utilities. We also outsourced cleaning of Government House and the State Secretariat to private outfits to preserve the health and sanity of our people who have been forced to work in unsanitary conditions in those places.

We did discover that most of the contractors who rushed back to site when we assumed Office had abandoned those Projects before. This has led us to wonder what other abandoned Projects exist for which the State has made payments and received little or no value. We have therefore appointed qualified consultants to review all Projects and advise on the way forward. We will sustain and complete deserving Projects no matter which administration initiated it. We advise other contractors who know they have not given value to money to quietly return to site and complete their obligations. We will not condone corruption where discovered.
Security was practically non-existent as we were coming into Office. In my inaugural speech I issued a clarion call to all the heads of security agencies serving in Kogi State to work with me towards eradicating insecurity. I am glad to announce that we have made serious inroads into the criminal infrastructure terrorising residents and travellers all over Kogi State. In January when we came in, there were 18 documented cases of kidnapping. This has continuously reduced significantly over the months. We have also engineered similar drops in other categories of crime. We will not relent until the incidence of every crime is utterly negligible or permanently at zero.

We are paying great attention to Agriculture. It is the next frontier in our revenue projections. Several task forces we have set up have already started making gains in this area. For instance, in one area where the State has been averaging N2m revenue monthly, we have already earned N13m in April simply by blocking the leakages. This is intended to grow into many other areas.
We are also signing Memoranda of Understanding with tested large scale farm enterprises. The Dangote Group has negotiated for 20,000 Hectares for rice production and others are in the pipeline. This will provide many jobs and have incalculable multiplier effects.
Like I said earlier, we will not condone corruption. While we are not out to witch-hunt anyone, we will not close our eyes to obvious cases of embezzlement of state funds. Of particular note in this regard is the N2billion youth enterprise fund which the previous administration collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria and basically distributed among political appointees and other favored individuals. In most cases, they used fictitious beneficiaries. This money is a loan meant to stimulate commerce among the youth. We will recover it back from whoever has stolen it.
We have also made concerted efforts to build rapport with the other arms of government – the Legislature and the Judiciary. The misunderstanding among members of the Kogi State House of Assembly is a family affair which we are giving the Honourable Members and the Courts the full cooperation to resolve in a lawful manner. Let it be known that our hands are too full of Executive functions to dabble or interfere with the Legislature. We are optimistic that we will soon have a united and virile House standing side by side with us and the Judiciary and working for the overall benefit of Kogi State and People.
I paid an official courtesy call on the Judiciary at her Headquarters where I was informed that was the first time in the history of Kogi State that a sitting Governor took that step. I and my entourage were graciously received by my Lord, the Chief Judge of Kogi State and the entire membership of the Judicial Arm. We assured the Judiciary of financial and operative autonomy, and freedom from Executive interference. Their Lordships presented us with a list of their requirements and we are working assiduously to meet as many of them as quickly as we can. It was a most amicable interaction indeed and I believe we cemented lasting rapport for the benefit of our People.
Many of the foregoing activities, as popular with the people as they have proved to be, did not fail to incur the anger of some, who obviously believe that nothing good must accrue to the people from the Government. These people, members of the old retrogressive guard, have deliberately misinterpreted and maligned us and our successes. We, however, remain totally undeterred. As has become our trademark in this Administration, we will not make apologies or defer one bit to dishonest or divisive interests.
I will urge our people to look forward to the future with optimism and enthusiasm. The Administration of His Excellency, President Muhammad Buhari is laying the foundations for a mega-structure that will grow into the Nigeria of our dreams. Such superstructures can only be supported by deep foundations. Deep foundations take some time to be constructed. Patience and community effort is the key. It must be a big dose of patience borne out of respect for the complexity of the process under construction. Things can only get better.

Citizens are the Custodians of our Liberties. Today, on Democracy Day, I salute the courage of those Nigerians, those ordinary Nigerians who, in their unwavering conviction that Democracy must thrive in our land, united together to discover and maximize their endless powers and possibilities as free citizens, and by so doing have continued to safeguard this 4th Republic from those who would destroy our nation and our future.

I urge you, great Nigerian Citizens, to be unrelenting in your duties. The old saying is as true as ever today: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Thank you.

HIS EXCELLENCY,
YAHAYA BELLO
EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR
KOGI STATE.

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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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Opinion

Nigeria: These Terrible Times and Lessons of Easter

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Nigeria: These Terrible Times and Lessons of Easter

Easter Message of YOWICAN President

This Easter, I want us all to think about the unconditional love that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, had for us to the extent that He gave His life for our salvation.

His resurrection by God. What a lesson for young people of Nigeria and of what sacrifice can this achieve and the benefits it can bring to mankind generally and individually!

This Easter, I call on all, whether Christian or Muslim, to emulate Christ and sacrifice something for your nation, for your families and for yourselves. The young people are the change agents, let us not ask ourselves who will change our nation for the better. You and I are the ones that will cause the desired change our nation needs. Change begins with you and I. Young people of Nigeria, look in the mirror and ask how we can change our nation for better.

As agents of change, the youth should be wise enough to know what is good and bad before the law and in the sight of God. Avoid being used by politicians for thuggery; reject being enlisted into the Army of bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram. But accept to be enlisted into God’s Army. From all what are going on in different parts of the country, it is obvious that Nigerians have declared war against themselves.

How did the weapons find themselves into private hands? Although the government has tried, the best option is to embark on a mission to mop up all the arms and weapon in circulation. While we oppose amnesty and rehabilitation of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents, we will be wrong thinking that they will turn a new leaf. That will be encouraging blackmail and putting the lives of the defenceless citizens before firing squad.

Let us emulate Christ and have a change of heart. Turn from evil ways to good. Let this Easter be the beginning of a positive change in our nation, Africa and the world at large. I join other well-meaning Christian faithful all over the world to thank God for giving us all the grace to witness this year’s Easter celebration.

As we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I enjoin us all to imbibe the spirit of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, perseverance and tolerance that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ taught us.

ISHIELU KILLINGS And EFFIUM/EZZA EFFIUM CRISIS

•YOWICAN condemns and frowns seriously at the intra-communal war between Ezza-Effium and Effium clans in Ohaukwu Local Government of Ebonyi State and the killing of over 16 persons aged between 18 and 56 in Obeagu community in Ishielu LGA by suspected Fulani herdsmen. We demand justice for the victims in both crises. It is surprising that brothers in Ezza-Effium and Effium clans have declared war on themselves the end of which nobody can predict.

•We also condemn the assassination attempt on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo in which three police orderlies were killed ahead of the governorship election in Anambra State scheduled for November 6. These are not acceptable to Nigerians. All these threats to life must stop, we must live together as one Nigeria.

I extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi and the various families that lost their loved ones. during this heartless killing. Same for Soludo and for Governor Ortom, we are with you in prayers.

Happy Easter to you all

Sign:

Belusochukwu Enwere
Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria Youth Wing (YOWICAN)
April 4 2021

ENDS***

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