*By Idris Miliki Abdul
Kogi State was created on the 27″ of August 1991 during the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida since then we have had four military Governors, and four civilian governors, including an Acting Governor. 28 years in the life of a Nation. Individual, or any institution for that matter or even a state like Kogi, may not have gotten to the promise land. However, 28 years old person is an adult anywhere in the world, and can be held responsible and accountable for his or her actions. Therefore, the 28 years of existence of Kogi State, calls for sober reflection, evaluation and stock taking.
While we congratulate the people of the state, at least for the peaceful co-existence, despite the misrule, misplaced priorities, lack of inclusiveness of the people in governance and above all, fantastic corruption. It is a disappointment that a state like Kogi, whose citizens are making huge contributions in Nigeria, and globally, could not boast of a development plan that could last for 10 – 15 years that is SMART complaint (Specific, Measurable. Achievable and within a Time frame). Each successful government in Kogi State comes out with individual plans without a blueprint to serve as a guide for any in-coming government. As at today, 28 years on. Kogi state is the only state in the federation without its state-owned television in this 22nd century.
Kogi state today lack 5 hours portable water in a day, even in the state capital Lokoja, despite the God-given confluence of the 2 great Rivers Niger and Benue. Only one pedestrian and no overhead bridge, despite the huge human and vehicular movements across the state as it shares boundaries with 9 other states including the Federal capital territory (FCT). The roads across the state are no where near international standards, as potholes are the major characteristics of all major roads in the state.
Several abandoned projects litter the state, with no valid reason given for this abandonment, as contracts were given without due process and most a times based on political relationships and considerations. This is a state that has produced 3 Attorney Generals and Ministers of Justice and also produced 2 National chairmen of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the state has also produced a Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff and 2 Chiefs of Naval Staffs and an Inspector General of Police. In the academic circle the state has produced no fewer than 300 Professors. The state also produced a Minister of Police Affairs, Minister of industry. Minister of State for Health, a Minister of Health, a Minister of State for Labour, and several Ambassadors. Despite all these human resources, the state is the least developed amongst all the states in the federation. It lacks meaningful presence of industries except the privately owned Dangote cement factory. We therefore ask the question: What is really the problem of those who have been privileged to lead the state? Is it lack of vision? Or the required ideas? Can we be proud of the state of development despite, the huge human and financial resources available to us particularly under this current government?
The current administration that is a child of circumstance, seem to also be making the same mistakes like its predecessors, as the government came into power without a blueprint and could not tell the people its direction upon inauguration. How could a government have stayed three (3) and half year without commissioning any single project, despite the government having received not less than 250 billion Naira? Which include the bailout funds, Statutory Allocations and Paris Club Refund and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). This does not include revenue received by the 21 LGAs in the same period.
We therefore call on all government institutions and the 3 tiers of government to re-examine its selves whether they have lived up to the expectations of the people despite the huge resources that has gone to them. It is worrisome and shameful that the Kogi state house of assembly does not boast of a functional website, after 20 years of existence. This cannot be acceptable in this era of ICT where the world is becoming a global village.
In 28 years of creation, many laws passed by the State Assembly have not been gazetted and published. Despite the gloomy situation we have found ourselves in the hands of our leaders, several opportunities are still available to change the situation. We call on the present administration not to make the mistakes of the past where they had failed to separate governance from politics and had failed to form an inclusive government. We call on the present governor and Government in the state, to put in place machinery for development plan for both short, medium and long terms. We call on the state to organize conferences to look at available resources in the state, both human and material, that would be used for the development of the state which will outlive the present government.
Long live Kogi State and happy birthday at 28 years
*Idris Miliki Abdul*
Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, (CHRCR),
Lokoja, Kogi State.