The Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello on Friday said his state remains the safest and peaceful in Nigeria.
The governor who stated this in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the creation of Kogi state said his administration took the security, unity, peace and prosperity of the people seriously right from inception.
“Today, our state is arguably the safest in the entire country, we are rated the second most peaceful and our crime rate is second lowest. We have a hugely diverse population that is nevertheless more united now than at any time in our history.
“By aiming at targets we set in our New Direction Blueprint and allied governance roadmaps, we are crushing our goals in reduction of the Multidimensional Poverty Indices here in Kogi State while keeping pace with the five thematic areas we adopted from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, Governor Bello stated.
Bello noted that the state has manage the triple mechanism of blocking loopholes/theft, eliminating wastage/loss and proper prioritisation of expenditure to make each Naira and Kobo we have earned go much further than anyone believed possible.
He said, “In between the two terrible recessions mentioned above, the Covid-19 pandemic arrived like the grim reaper from the first quarter of 2020 and began to wreak havoc on mankind. It continues till today. This controversial phenomenon impaired governance around the world and by means of lockdowns and adverse restrictions which it engendered managed to frustrate service delivery to citizens around the world, Nigeria and Kogi State not exempted.
“However, with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic, we proved to the world that with the help of God, support of the citizenry, leadership sincerity and a ton of political will it is possible for science and common sense as well as good governance and medicine to work together in the service of humanity.”
The governor explained that the state’s position as a major transit hub in Nigeria makes it easily exposed to anything that fellow citizens carry along while travelling through, which in the past frequently included outbreaks of deadly diseases like Lassa and yellow fever. “Thus we became alarmed at how otherwise respected national public health institutions charged with protecting us tended to proceed on the certainty that no matter what we did here, Covid-19 would decimate us.”
On the major achievement in the state, he said Kogi has never adopted awkward practice of flagging off projects with fanfare or commissioning them after completion with festivities with live TV crews that is so popular in our contemporary times, but silently complete and release to the use of the people hundreds of mini to major developments proportionately distributed across the 3 senatorial districts of our state.
These projects, according to him, range from roads to bridges to rural water schemes to multi-community electrification projects to hundreds of primary, secondary and tertiary health and education facilities, amenities and consumables, to industries, factories and all manners of infrastructure and utilities to comprehensive civil service and pension reforms to tens of thousands of youth empowerment and job creation initiatives both homegrown and partnerships.
“I have deliberately refused to go into the details of individual projects in this speech. Not even sector by sector. There is neither time nor need for that today. They are there on ground for anyone to visit and verify. Many prominent journalists from leading networks and news-houses have come to investigate and they have gone on air with audio-visual evidence.
“We are not expected to do more than that, but bearing in mind that we have a service compact with our people which includes Open Governance, we have further spent and continue to spend great resources to design and maintain a regularly updated platform where anyone can see our progress at the click of a button on their desktop or handheld device. Today and henceforth we simply refer every person genuinely or maliciously interested in our stewardship of Kogi State’s resources to our e-Compendium at www.kogipedia.net for undeniable proofs. We welcome efforts to disprove what we have uploaded,” he added.
The governor who further said he was inspired by a mix of principles, which included an obstinate refusal to hand over the lives and livelihoods of his people to unsympathetic forces, vowed that he would continue to insist on doing his sworn duty to govern his people proactively and protect them to the best of our abilities and resources.
He said, “We resisted unholy pressures and would not capitulate to the whims and caprices of 3rd parties, whoever they were, in response to the pandemic. We adopted sincere advisories from the regulatory bodies on Covid-19, some of which we modified to meet our localised circumstances and totally disregarded those that were inapplicable, politicised, commercialised or guaranteed to crumble our economic base without any guarantee of keeping the pandemic at bay.
“We fought like wildcats to keep our people safe. Some would say I literally transformed into a White Lion and deployed teeth and fangs to do my sacred duty of protecting Kogi State. In my books we did only what good conscience and the fear of God demanded of us. We were a vulnerable people faced with a deadly dilemma, in fact a sentence of death, but by believing in our divine and physical resources, we refused to go quietly into that darkness.”
Bello further noted that at the end the strategies of the state completely deflected the ill-will and doomsday prophecies which were poured like invective on us from many quarters.
He, therefore, said the state decided to celebrate the 30th anniversary, not only to document them for posterity but to remind those of who are alive now what daunting socio-economic and politico-cultural odds it has overcome on its journey to the future it desires. “We have successfully pulled ourselves a long way forward between 27th January, 2015 when I first stepped into this Office, and today which also doubles as the 19th monthly anniversary of my second term.”
Adding, he said Kogi is fast becoming the default example of a truly democratised and free state where inclusive leadership and people-based governance models have become central and accessible to all. We understand clearly the demands of public office and have a standing resolve to put the interest of our people first in all we do as a government.
Pointing at the most recent national records in the state, he
Kogi has now the state with second least number of children out of school among the 19 states of Northern Nigeria, least incidents of under-5 mortality in the entire country and the state with most reduced domestic debt profile in the entire country, while saying it has gone from 90% to 100% scores within the last two years in the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability rankings.
He however said the greatest challenge remains how to design and implement policies and programmes that would address the immediate needs of our predominantly young and fast growing population while planning and projecting for their aspirations into the near and distant future.
“For the records, we do confirm that a rising birth rate is the least contributor to the current renaissance cum population boost in Kogi State. We are not the most prolific state in human reproductive prowess, not even in northern Nigeria and our birth rate remains quite insignificant compared to other cities of similar size in the country.”
He further said his administration is keen about issues relating to gender and human rights protection. We have proven our mettle in this regard with awards and commendations from our friends in the UN, AU and other international and domestic development partners to prove our winning ways.
“As of today Kogi State has achieved a minimum of 45% Affirmative Action for the Women as at today and increasing. There is a tangible reason why I am the Most Gender Sensitive Governor in Nigeria today and the He-For-She Ambassador of Nigerian Women.”
He concluded by saying that at 30, Kogi is becoming the emerging paradigm for Cooperation and Integration as a basis for citizens’ co-existence instead of the previous divide and rule tactics which failed politicians and harmed citizens in our past.