By Inaju U. Inaju
As different writers continue to pontificate on the reasons for the failed Dino recall, the futility of the effort by the sitting government of Kogi state on many projects got me thinking.
One can safely extrapolate the outcome of the failed recall on other failed efforts by the government and how it has become a recurrent decimal and a study in failed leadership and squandered opportunity. I am not sure where to start from. May be the failed verification exercise is a good place to start since it touched virtually every living Kogites.
The verification exercise has made life unbearable for every indigene of Kogi State who is alive today, it does not matter whether you live in Kogi State, in Nigeria or outside the country. You do not have to work for Kogi State government to feel the pinch of the failed verification exercise. You just have to know someone who works for the government and you will pay for the government failure.
The reason is simple. Friends, family and extended family members have claimed not to have been paid their salaries for months and the state is wallowing in abject poverty. Businesses have taken nose dives and people are confused. People now depend on members of their families and friends that have any means of survival.
If you live outside the country and you have something meaningful to do, the stipends you send home monthly has increased exponentially. Well-off family members that have never called for assistance are now calling. Kogi state people at home and abroad are stretched beyond their elastic limits due to governmental failure at the state level.
Working for Kogi Sate government has now become a death trap. Death record occasioned by lack of remuneration for the work done for Kogi State government is at an all time high, suicide among civil servant has shot through the roofs. Meanwhile, those on the seat and in the corridors of power are living above their entitlements.
Unconfirmed reports, from multiple sources, have alleged that the incumbent governor has the penchant for spraying money on innocent onlookers when he is travelling along the road. In essence, you do not have to work for Kogi State government to be paid by the governor, all you have to do is stand along the road when he is travelling by and he will spray you with huge bale of cash!
This is not only sad in its essence, but one must also see it from the angle of childishness. The governor, who is reputed as the youngest state governor in Nigeria by this act confirms the wish of those who see Nigerian Youth as useless.
The verification exercise was something we all welcomed as a step in the right direction, however, it has since turned into a witch hunt and a glaring governmental failure, especially when living, bonafide civil servants were declared ghost workers because of failure of the verification exercise.
When the current crop of young men in power were handed Kogi State by the court, they made major moves that made every one of us glad. One of such move was that they took security serious.
Itodo Daniel Sule, reported in the Daily Trust of 23 Aug 2016, that the state government security adviser, Mr. Jerry Omodara, said Kogi State government would launch … ‘Operation Total Freedom’ in its efforts to address security challenges bedeviling the state. The Special Adviser further said that the inauguration of the new security outfit would be part of activities marking the state’s 25th anniversary and it would also witness the donation of over 200 patrol vehicles to security agencies in the state to enable them tackle crime.
The state government even went further, as reported in the Kogi Reports of 19 May 2017, to have distributed 260 motorbikes and 10 trucks to vigilante groups in Kogi states in a bid to curb insecurity of lives and properties. In spite of all these efforts and sadly so, at no time in the history of Kogi State has security been this bad.
May be this is not limited to Kogi State alone as the nation is facing daunting security challenges, however, one cannot help but link this uptick in insecurity to the state government’s refusal to pay salaries to civil servants.
Kogi state is a civil service state and people depend on salaries to survive, so it stands to reason that if salaries are not paid, people will find ways to help themselves. Crime has always been one of such ways through out history when people have no means of making ends meet legally.
The other major move made by the Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB) led administration that endeared some of us to them was their uncharacteristic effort to wade into communal conflicts and restore peace. Uncharacteristic because the then Wada government did not care about what was happening beyond Lokoja. At the onset, GYB and his team gave us the impression that they are out to restore peace to restive communities within the state by setting up the Kogi State fact finding panel on Iyano communal crises in Ibaji, LGA.
Given the quality of the panel’s composition which was led by the Secretary to the State Government and the Security Adviser to the State Government, much was expected. The spectacular failure of that panel is reflected in its failure to come up with a report that reflects their findings and this is akin to the failure of the state government to carry out its much touted Senator Dino recall.
Worse still was how the bad report by the Panel was handled. A panel that had a public sitting released its report surreptitiously. While a party to the conflict had access to the report and used it openly in official documents, the other parties to the conflict were denied the report and the state government was silent on the matter. Why waste people’s time and energy if they were not going to be honest in their report and how to implement it.
To compound matters, the government went ahead to set up an implementation committee before making the report public. The committee, against all odds, tried their best to do what they were set up to do, but certain people with vested interest within the same government persuaded the Governor to back pedal on his own pronouncement. Sadly, not only has the doomed implementation committee failed to meet, members of the committee are now singing a discordant tune. Some powerful people within government circle that scuttled the move by government have been going around laying down conditions under which a group of people can return to their ancestral home.
This has not only shown the government to be spineless, it affirms the position of detractors who opines that the GYB government can hardly start and end anything successfully.
The one-step forward and five-steps backward of the GYB government is symptomatic of political childishness or unpreparedness and this is another good reason why leadership should not be given to people because of their age, but should be based on track record.
As a bonafide indigene of Kogi State and as an observer of political economy and socio-cultural activities, I am pained by everything I have written here. I had hopes when these young men were handed power after a protracted court battle. I was looking forward to a vibrant and forward looking administration, however, it saddens me to see how every move made by the government, that is meaningful, always come to crashing end. The latest one being the Senator Dino Malaye recall disaster.
The most disturbing truth in all these is that, in some cases, the government internal mechanics work against it. A good example is the effort to resolve the Iyano conflict. The governors heart was in the right place, but he allowed himself to be misled by members of his own administration.
GYB still has at least, a few months to redeem his administration for the sake of Kogi and Nigerian Youth, he must seek to understand the state of the State by talking to those who are suffering on account of his administration error of omission or commission.