Friday, January 20, 2012

The Task Before The Kogi State Governor Elect

Captain Idris Wada

The Task Before The Kogi State Governor Elect

~ By Clifford Adama


On Monday the 5th of December 2011, Captain Idris Wada, a retired pilot with over 35 years of experience in the cockpit with every international certification in the book as well as a very successful entrepreneur, emerged winner of a keenly contested and generally rated free and fair election to become the next governor of Kogi State of Nigeria.

The victory was a landslide; sweeping 19 out of 21 Local Government Areas in the state away from ACN, the only other political party that made an impressive showing in the contest. Of a total of 518, 949 votes cast, Wada took 300, 372, some 57%, leaving Alhaji Abubakar Audu of ACN and 13 other political parties that participated in the election to share 43% of the votes among themselves.

The ACN characteristically described the election as ‘demonic’ and promised to seek redress in court. There is nothing wrong with that, it is natural and expected. But with the clear and incontrovertible strength of his victory, this cannot constitute a distraction for the governor elect. 300,372 voters out of 518,949 cannot be wrong. The people have made their choice. The next duty of the newly elected governor is the uphill task of taking off from where his predecessor stopped in the project of moving Kogi State to the next level.


The first thing will be to look for talented manageable citizens of Kogi State, experienced people, to join him to form an effective administration and to be able to deliver on his promises which he made to Kogi people. He will do a search of kogi to find those people who are ready and willing to serve, to help in the transformation of Kogi State. In this task, some members of the out-going cabinet who are still valuable as state builders will also will also be co-opted into the new administration to foster stability, continuity and to further maximize their valuable experience in the onerous task of developing the state. The new government will continue with all the good projects that were started by Alhaji Ibrahim; that is the beauty of the situation here in terms of the fact that Alhaji Ibrahim was running a PDP government. The new government will equally be a PDP government thus the policies will be coming from the manifesto of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. So there is no issue of abandoning ongoing projects; rather they will be pursued and finished to the benefit of the people.


The problem of insurgency in Egbira Land and other ethnic groups within the state who are agitating to have a shot at the government house, is partly under control now, the government of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris has worked to stabilize various stake holders in the central zone. The new government will try to consolidate on the existing structures to protect this new found calm and to ensure that peace is sustained in Egbira land. That will be done through consultations and interactions with elders and old women groups and also by running a transparent, open and equitable government which is fair to all and which pursues justice for all. It will stop the discontent that arises when people see that things are not being done fairly; when they feel cheated, when they feel by-passed. The new government will try to be transparent, open and accountable. Thus the opportunities for trouble and restiveness will be greatly reduced. First will be consolidation on what has been done now and then show exemplary leadership that pursues equity, fairness and justice. That is what Kogi people are looking forward to and the new government should be in the right position to provide that. In terms of having a shot at the government house, every citizen of Kogi State is qualified to be governor of Kogi State once he/she meet the minimum requirements specified in the 1999 constitution as amended. Once a transparent government is in place, the people will be given equal opportunity then the citizens of the central and every other part of Kogi state are free to contest for that position. What the people want is transparent leadership, capable leadership. The new government needs to do everything possible to try and overcome this tribal phobia. Once an individual is a good leader, the tribe doesn’t matter. Selections for positions will be based on based on merit. The new will try to bring that spirit of unity back into Kogi State; so that it didn’t really matter where the governor comes from. Equal opportunity will be given to everyone to compete for any positions within the government house in this Kogi State.

An area of primary importance is agriculture. Kogi is an agrarian economy and is reputed to be among the states that form the food basket of the nation. There must be efforts at improvement of agriculture with focus on crops in which Kogi has strategic advantage. The new government will look for appropriate technology to change the traditional method of farming which most Kogi farmers are using now so that the state can develop the potentials of agriculture which is one of its greatest assets. That will be the first focus; to restructure and re-organize agriculture, introduce mechanized agriculture at small and medium scale levels, in order to improve the yield per hectare from Kogi farmers. Part of Captain Idris Wada’s transformation agenda for Kogi State is to ensure radical improvement in agricultural production in the state. According to him, Plans are ready on the ground to make Kogi State the most active state in Nigeria in terms of value driven positive changes in agricultural production. The idea is to be able to produce enough to go round all the other states of Nigeria as well as for export. The essence of value change is that one does not just harvest the crops; you process them either into raw materials for finished products which can be sold in other states of the federation or outside Nigeria, particularly the ECOWAS countries so it’s a whole chain and ultimately will affect the world, not just Kogi State.


During Captain Idris Wada’s campaign, he brought an NGO through the Aviation Support Group that went into the hinterland to perform free surgeries and proffer free medical treatment to the people. Many of the people whose lives have been touched by such medical services will want a continuation. The medical intervention by the Aviation Support Group was a welcome development.

During the period of two weeks, they were able to attend to five thousand, five hundred and eighty eight (5,588) medical cases and over a thousand surgeries were performed. People were very happy. Such interventions were mainly for underprivileged people; those who ordinarily could not afford the treatment. The new government has promised a good medical service delivery program and will promote such medical interventions with minimum cost to help in providing first class health care delivery in Kogi state as soon as it assumes office.

Kogi people have the uncommon characteristic of being some of the best refined and most intelligent Nigerians, especially when they are educated. The new government needs to involve in serious educational intervention programmes to increase the number of children of enrolment age who are in school. Subsidies should be provided where appropriate and there need to be a massive overhauling and improvement of the educational structure of the state. The new government should kick start the payment of bursaries to students of Kogi state in Universities both within and outside the state. There need to be an improvement in the number of teachers employed and upgrading of their remuneration structure.

The federal government owns the Ajaokuta steel. One of the pillars of the vision 2020 program of the presidency is to have a viable steel industry. The federal government is determined to revive Ajaokuta Steel. As a state, the new Kogi State government will need to partner with the federal government to form the Kogi State component of the Ajaokuta Steel Industry, which the state can finance, using the Public Private Partnership arrangement. With the cooperation of the federal government, the new government will push to reactivate the steel industry so it doesn’t just lie fallow. Iron rods, nuts and bolts, some spare parts will be produced to create jobs for our people. The new Kogi State government will encourage the federal government to take the bold step of restructuring and activating the bigger elements of Ajaokuta Steel. The job creation strategy of the new state government will be anchored on cottage industries; using the raw materials available, as well as the solid minerals. The new government needs to bring in technology from China and India and Malaysia and Indonesia; countries that appreciate the level of technology the state is in and where the state wants to go. So that the machines are not so sophisticated that the indigenes cannot operate and maintain them. This will be achieved through Public Private Sector Partnership; establish cottage industries that will create jobs and provide employment for Kogi people. That is one of the fulcrums of the job creation strategy of the new government; cottage industries through the use of the solid minerals available in the state and through the use of raw materials gotten from value change driven agriculture.


The new government will has an enviable task of turning the confluence town at Lokoja into a major tourist attraction. Hotels, golf courses, tennis courts, quality accommodation nice environment need to be provided. Lokoja was the first capital of Nigeria. Lord Lugard, the first governor General of Nigeria had his office in Lokoja and that office is still intact. The new government must renovate such relics, the Royal Niger Company office need to be renovated. They will be preserved and turned into tourist attractions to attract revenue for Kogi State. Tourism and sports are symbiotic. If you just build hotels and there are no activities, no beaches no sports, the aims will not be achieved. Golf and tennis are very good for tourist promotion activities. The new government should build world class golf courses and tennis courts and use these as vehicles for attracting visitors to Kogi, promote Kogi. Every effort will be made to ensure that tourists can come to Kogi and feel safe and comfortable. The new government can turn Kogi State into a haven for those who are in the hustle and bustle of Lagos and Abuja; so that they can come to Kogi and have a break. The sort of golf courses that will be built will attract foreign visitors. People will come into the country to come and enjoy Kogi golf courses; see the confluence and the relics of British Colonial government. There are other tourist potentials all over the state, the new government must work on them and promote them so that every visit to kogi state will be a memorable one to continue to promote tourism. The New government needs to work closely with the federal ministry of aviation, to ensure that a proper airport is built in Kogi State. There are two airports in Kogi State at the moment, one at Obajana, which is the Dangote cement plant. There is one also at Ajaokuta which steel factory. Those airports are available and they will also serve, although they are not government owned airports.


The new government of Captain Idris Wada is appealing to everyone to come and work with it together for Kogi State. It needs all hands on deck to work hard for the people and improve their lives, that is what matters now. What matters now is moving Kogi state forward.

Clifford Adama wrote from Idah, Kogi State.

No comments: