KOGI STATE: STATE OF AFFAIRS AND MATTERS ARISING
BEING A PRESS RELEASE TO THE MUSLIM UMMAH AND THE ENTIRE CITIZENS OF KOGI STATE BY HIS EXCELLENCY, ALHAJI YAHAYA BELLO, EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE TO MARK THE 2015 EID-EL-FITR CELEBRATIONS.
Eid Mubarak to my fellow muslims in Kogi State, around Nigeria and all over the world. I pray today for our State and our Nation that the sacrifices of the Ramadan and the joy of the Eid-El-Fitr will bring benefits to every one of us. As we observe our prayers today, let us ask the Almighty God to help Nigeria so that as fasting in Ramadan is followed by Celebrations during the Eid, so may the current sacrifices required to rebuild Nigeria by the Administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, be followed by a prosperous and functional country that we will be proud of and be happy to celebrate.
From the very beginning of my Administration, I chose to govern by only democratic precepts and I promised in my Inaugural Speech to be open and transparent with you. In fulfillment of these promises, on Monday the 4th of July, 2016 to be precise, we held an interactive session with Kogi People at Government House, Lokoja. Attendees came from the 21 LGAs, including representatives of numerous Community-Based Organisations, Traditional Institutions and Trade Associations.
The Government activities were outlined and the reason behind some of the decisions taken so far. The recent events in Kogi State were x-rayed from everyone’s perspectives, attendees asked questions on any issue bothering them and answers were provided openly and satisfactorily. It was a very fruitful session which addressed burning issues in the minds of attendees and the cross-section of people they represent.
Since I believe that anyone committed to the prosperity and progress of Kogi State will find that meeting interesting, I crave your indulgence to address some of the issues raised for the generality of all Kogites.
CIVIL SERVICE AND PENSION REFORMS
In my inaugural speech, I made a solemn promise to priotise Civil Service and Pension Reforms. We all know that the system had become very rotten and criminally bloated. Our monthly wage bill was more than the monthly Federal allocations at a time Crude Oil dependent economies like ours were suffering a global crash in prices.
We responded by setting up a Screening Committee to tackle the menace of ghost workers, clean up the Civil Service and free valuable funds for the business of governance. Labour had a front row seat in that Committee and we have treated them with great respect throughout. When they reported problems with the style of the former Chairman of the Screening Committee and after we promptly looked into their complaints, the Chairman was removed and replaced with another candidate almost unilaterally chosen by Labour.
The screening exercise is gradually winding down and I give you my words that it was worth every effort and resources we put into it. There was no way our Civil Service would not have collapsed under the weight of the fraudulent manipulations and overburdened by the past Administration. It was only a matter of time before a total non-payment of salaries and emoluments or the tiny part-payments, which had become the norm in successive past administration. The grave consequences of which would have been eruption of massive uprising by suffering Civil Servants and a crippled State.
It is a disappointment that the Labour leaders went ahead to call a strike even though they were in the forefront of the screening exercise and saw firsthand the corruption that was found nearly everywhere. The supposed strike was ill-fated because our workers turned up for work as usual, while those not physically in their offices were found at the screening centre or the Banks, putting their houses in order. We want to believe that happened because they understood that we are working hard for their benefits.
Many Questions come to mind:
1. Should the Administration not have conducted the screening exercise at all and let it be business as usual?
2. Should we have overlooked the daylight robbery uncovered and pretended that we did not find all those conduits for siphoning the resources of our State through ghost workers?
3. Or maybe, having discovered these acts of unpardonable criminality we should have taken our cut, looked the other way, and allowed the rape and dispossession of our people to continue unchecked?
Well, anybody who knows Yahaya Bello will also know that I cannot stop without getting to the bottom of the matter. I swore to always act in the best interests of Kogi State and by the help of God, that is what I will continue to do. I was threatened, I was the subject of highly toxic calumnies but I choose to remain intrepid and focused. I am undeterred and I cannot run from my duties, no matter the obstacles.
Let me try to set the records straight:
Like most other States in Nigeria, the monthly FAAC Allocations constitute the major bulk of our income. The money is almost entirely made up of the Federal Government’s Crude Oil earnings. The result is that now the global price of crude has slumped, there is also the inevitable slump in the monies that accrue to the States. Everyone is feeling the pinch, including Kogi State where the monthly salaries of about 25,000 Civil Servants amount to nearly twice the current monthly allocations – technically leaving nothing for the rest of our 3.5m residents.
A comparative analysis of the January to June allocations to Kogi State in 2015 with what we have received over the same period in 2016 paints the bleak picture more. In 2015 it came to a total of about N22.06bn while in 2016 it is just over N13.1bn. Our Local Government Areas got about 10.8bn in 2016 as against N15.1bn received by Captain Idris Wada for the same period in 2015. Anyone can see the harsh reality. The situation will suggests that we would be justified if we do only half of what those before us did, no matter how bad, but our mindset at all times is to not only do our best, but to make sure that our best answers the challenges of the times.
Do not think the temptation was not there to hide under the dirty skirts of the past PDP Administration in the state to start paying minor percentages of salaries or none at all. I certainly had the precedent left by my predecessor and the excuse of dwindling allocations and could have had a field day at the expense of the workers. I just did not have the hard-heartedness required to do it. I sympathized with the plight of our workers. While campaigning, we promised them as much welfare as our resources would allow if I ever made it to the Government House, how could I have turned around to worsen their sufferings as the Governor? God forbid.
Shortly after my swearing-in I started paying full salaries, even multiple times in a given month while we worked to get the bailout funds. Happily, our efforts paid off and we were able to accessed 40% of our Bailout funds, a little above one month ago. Between Zenith and Access Banks we have been able to commenced draw down on N20bn out of the N50bn approved for us by the President through the Central Bank of Nigeria. As at today, there is no genuie civil servant in Kogi State who will say he or she has not received salary payments. Some have received 3 months payment or more.
We started payments with the the Judiciary and the Tertiary Institutions. They received 4 months salaries leaving only one month outstanding. All the Local Government Areas have paid staff 3 months salaries and are currently in possession of funds to pay another 2 months once the formalities are done. All MDAs have also been paid as at today. That means we have paid every category of workers who have scaled screening.
Zenith Bank and Access Bank funded the bailout for Kogi State. Of course we could have rejected Zenith Bank and Access Bank and looked to other Banks for the money, but that means we may still be looking for money now. To be honest, we too do not completely like the conditions one hundred percent, especially the requirements for account openings. However, the integrity of the entire Screening Exercise depends a lot on it to round off the exercise. We cannot compromise that.
Like we have reiterated many times before, the bailout funds are not a grant of money from the Federal Government to be spent without obligations. It is a loan which must be repaid to the financing banks on stipulated terms. What we do with it has implications for our posterity. This means the funds must be judiciously applied to the purpose.
The vast majority of our genuine workers have their money in their hands, and I promise those that are yet to complete screening that they will be. No genuine worker will lose his or her job under me. However, there are people who will never see our monies again. These are persons who have posed as our staff, some for many years, and collected our monies fraudulently. They know that any attempt to show up now may spell the last time they enjoy liberty for a while.
Many of these people have voluntarily disappeared but the security agents are on their trails. It is this category of people and their sponsors who have been scandalizing the Administration and trying to throw a spanner in the works. We are however undaunted and will continue to work till they are apprehended, reveal their accomplices and vomit what they have stolen and swallowed.
It has come to our notice that some Banks operating in Kogi State lent active support to the failed attempt at strike action last week. Some of them actually ordered their workers to stay home in misguided attempts at solidarity. They also went so far as to illegally reprogrammed ATMs in their premises to reject cards issued by certain Banks, thereby throwing the populace into unnecessary suffering.
Other category of businesses in the private sector opened as usual, and remained unmolested by Labour. These recalcitrant Banks are therefore without excuse. Their said actions amount to deliberate breaches of the banking regulations which ended up undermining the authority of the Kogi State Government. We shall definitely have a hard talk with them soon but in the meanwhile, I hereby direct any financial house still engaging in such ill-advised misconduct to retrace steps immediately and desist from a repeat in the future.
May I also remind these Banks that they have profited for long from doing businesses in Kogi State, including carrying salary and other state accounts and the least they can do is give back in these difficult times. That will certainly be more proactive and profitable than sulking and instigating revolt. Our doors are open and we are willing to hold conversations on how to move forward together.
We also believe that Labour can be of help by leveraging members’ mass market appeal to pressure some of these Banks to do their bit for Kogi State. They ought to be initiating competitive products of their own which the Administration can access on the right terms to improve the lot of our workers and the generality of our people.
Our State is under attack from wicked people. Some of them are hiding in plain sight among us while others steal in from outside to wreak their havoc. Some act personally, others by proxy. Their chief weapon has been lies and deliberate falsehoods. They use the media and they go from community to community, and person to person. In all cases, their aim is to create misunderstanding around the actions of Government in order to engender mischief and disaffection among the governed.
For as As you can all attest, ours is a divine mandate safeguarded by the Hands of the Almighty. We know God and good are with us at all times and we have developed an iron will to contend with all who try to foist on us anything less than the Will of the Almighty.
I address you today to make assurances that with us you are on the winning team to arm you with the weapons of truth. When you leave here your questions will be answered, your worries assuaged and your capability to answer the questions of your constituents strengthened. After this speech, several key functionaries of the Administration will brief you on aspects of our governance that impinged on their portfolios and you can ask questions, any question.
The ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Kogi State University Branch is very unfortunate to say the least. The Tertiary Institutions were the first line charge in the disbursement of the bailout. They have received 4 out of the 5 months of salaries outstanding. We cannot accommodate more now. Other sections of the service need to be considered too. Happily, we have only accessed 40% of the bailout funds approved for Kogi State. We will continue to proportionately revisit ASUU members’ entitlements as we access more.
Right now I urge ASUU to return to the classroom. Our children need to be taught. Money can be paid but lost lives and opportunities cannot and our students are in danger of both each day they remain out of the classroom. These times call for sacrifice and I am confident that ASUU, composed of our finest brains and most educated personnel, will show leadership in this regard.
ASUU has also approached us to grant her members tax waivers and rebates. We have had to regretfully decline. Taxes are the way forward globally, and more particularly so in the present socioeconomic challenges in Nigeria. It is the the heart of our reinvented Internally Generated Revenue Policy. Anyone who loves the progress of Kogi State will not ask for tax rebates or exemptions of any kind now. Our position has not gone down well with ASUU and others and they have made it clear. Their displeasure is noted, but the answer is still NO.
The past Administration does not cease to amaze us with her fecklessness in governance. How a government that could not pay her existing workers could find wisdom in further bloating the workforce in the twilight of her tenure is a major puzzle. All appointments made in 2015 remain suspended till further notice. We will dispassionately review them in the light of the current realities and decide way forward with compassion.
NEW DIRECTION AGENDA
The Kogi State New Direction Agenda of my Administration is firmly on course. The New Direction Blueprint is finally out and has been unveiled to key stakeholders. It will be made public very soon. The Blueprint is a roadmap for Accelerated Development of Kogi State during my tenure. We are working with the Blueprint Team to organize Training, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Masterclasses for the Administration’s functionaries, MDAs and LGAs. Kogi People will begin to see more and more development in the days ahead as we synergies and focus our efforts.
I have gone to this length to update us in this manner on the activities of government so that all people of goodwill will have the insights they need to interpret events. By putting this information at your disposal, I trust you are better positioned to make informed decisions concerning programmes and efforts of government and to communicate same clearly to your circles so we can combat the pernicious lies peddled by our detractors together.
I felicitate with the Muslim Ummah again on the Eid-El-Fitr and pray for God’s blessings on Kogi State and each citizen. I task all and sundry to live in harmony and maintain the peace in the fear of God.
God bless you.
God bless Kogi State.
God bless Nigeria.
GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO
4TH EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR ,
4TH JULY, 2016.
Yinka Odumakin: The Exit Of A Convinced Humanist
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
Nigeria: These Terrible Times and Lessons of Easter
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
Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria Youth Wing (YOWICAN)
April 4 2021
AZUKA OKWUOSA: YESTERDAY’S GODSON IN TODAY’S GOVERNORSHIP RACE WITH HIS GODFATHERS
AZUKA OKWUOSA: YESTERDAY’S GODSON IN TODAY’S GOVERNORSHIP RACE WITH HIS GODFATHERS
Anambra State is eight months away from a governorship election, many are hoping will take the state to the next level. The people want nothing but the best because it is the only way the state can get to the desired next level. Therefore, the best for the state cannot be a neophyte, a learner. The state urgently needs purpose driven administration, led by someone with huge and wide political experience. At the point where the state is now, it cannot afford to have a school boy governor, who would become governor first and then begin to learn how to be a political administrator. Anambra State Government House is not a political science class. Our next governor should be an accomplished politician, with accomplished record of national political experience.
The best for the state in the year 2021 cannot be another godson, a puppet foisted upon us and held on a leech by a godfather or godfathers. Anambra will no longer follow someone who is following someone else. Our next governor will be his own man and will be fully responsible for his actions as governor. The mere thought of godfathers in Anambra again conjures a horrific picture. Ndi Anambra can still recall clearly the chaos, impunity, retrogression and ridicule the godfather cult subjected the state to. We are still healing from that combined assault of renegades on our infrastructures and therefore, any aspirant in the Anambra governorship race who is found out to be funded by a godfather or godfathers should be treated as an “abomination” waiting to happen and must not be allowed to happen.
Our best in this year’s election is someone with forward approach to modernization, collective development and general welfare. The worst are those who can only point backwards to yesterday to recall whatever good they once nurtured. Yesterday was and will remain a terrible tragedy for ndi Anambra. However and courageously, we have moved on in search for a better state and any reminder of yesterday’s woes will be seen as insult, which we will reward with absolute rejection. Lewis Carroll had said, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” We are no longer who we were yesterday, when every man Friday toyed with our state and with our lives.
For the above reasons I believe that one of the aspirants in the Anambra governorship race, on the platform of the APC, Sir Azuka Okwuosa, is in the race for the worst reasons ever. The political experience he touts falls far below what is required of an Anambra governor today. He was a former Chairman of old Nnewi LGA and former Commissioner for Works in Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s failed administration, that did not as much as construct one standard road in the entire state, and that was under Azuka Okwuosa’s watch. In Nigeria, where astute knowledge of political dynamics and strategies for concessions and compromises have become State crafts, Anambra State needs a governor with national political experience, extensive clout and formidable contacts, rather than Okwuosa’s testimonial of yesterday’s mediocrity.
Addressing a gathering of party faithfuls in his Oraifite home recently, he told them with misplaced pride, that he is confident in his aspiration because he has the backing of his billionaire younger brother, Dr. Emeka Okwuosa, the Chairman of Oilserve Group and also the backing of Sir Emeka Offor, who for obvious reasons does not need introduction. These two moneybags according to Okwuosa, are funding his aspiration. This confession which is threatening to take Anambra back to
Egypt, has exposed Okwuosa as an abomination waiting to happen, and it behoves all APC delegates, for the love of our state, to stamp out this fledgling godfatherism before it takes root again. Please remember Mbadinuju and Ngige and how godfathers crippled their administrations and rubbished our state. One godfather was horrifying enough but two godfathers, with competing and conflicting interests are impending catastrophe of monumental proportions and must not be allowed to happen again.
Then Okwuosa dropped the bomb that clearly showed him as yesterday’s man, living in yesterday’s world with only yesterday’s memories. He told his dumbfounded audience, that as Commissioner for Works in 1999, he awarded a road contract that is yet unexecuted and that when he becomes governor in 2022, he will re award the contract. When I heard this story I shed tears for Anambra State because perchance, this lethargic politician could become our next governor.
In 22 years he didn’t call attention to the road or criticized past administrations for abandoning the project. He did not consider prosecuting the contractor who collected the contract money and absconded. He didn’t tell his audience his role in the scam and what efforts he put in to ensure the contractor’s full compliance with the terms of the contract. Now he wants to be elected governor in 2021 so that he will re award the contract for a rural road he abandoned 22 years ago.
What simple mindedness when others are planning for skyscrapers, hanging bridges, real airports, integrated water schemes and critical rural development. Thank God, we are no longer who we were in 1999. We were a different people then. This is 2021 and Azuka Okwuosa’s ambition of taking us back to yesterday tells a loud story of his lack of relevant experience to be Anambra’s next governor. Moreover, his baggages of godfathers marks him out as the next worst thing that will happen to Anambra State.
Okosisi Nnamdi Iloduba.
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