Kogi state and the issues within: Three years in retrospect

Gov Yahaya Bello

By Engr. Akonyi Nasiru Sule ‘Z’

Your Excellency Sir, the present political and administrative scenario in our dear state, Kogi has been a great concern to me.

The euphoria of joy that greeted all and sundry during your inauguration, where people and masquerades trekked distances (Okene to Lokoja), (Abuja to Lokoja), and several hazardous activities to celebrate you is still very fresh in my memory. People sew clothes of different colours and styles to celebrate you.

My unique role on that day is equal to none in my lifetime. I was conspicuously visible, dancing and sweating it out. Equally, during the Dinner night to honor you by Fairwin Group at Abuja, I was among those that mobilised people. I am therefore involved, be it good or bad.

There was high hope and sigh of relief that our own is now at the helms in Kogi State and that all wrongs will be made right. This is far from being achieved. Although, you started well, with some of your brilliant pronouncements which received commendation. I became lost when appointments were being reeled out. I was patient and careful not to criticise early, but to watch the scenario as it unfolds. But from retrospects on the past three years, I feel something should be done about the present situation in the state.

The Almighty God knows that you will be the governor of the state, that’s why He gave the wisdom to the person that named you “ADOZA” literary meaning ‘Father of all’. That’s to say you are the father of all in the state and as such should be prepared to bear the good, the bad and the ugly situations that will come your way.

In this vain therefore, I put down the following for us to ponder.

Your excellency Sir, We should not pretend that all is well with our state, it is NOT.
I have known that the hate of evil will forever triumph over the love of evil. Therefore, let us not display a “ dead-goat syndrome ” towards disaffection of the masses.

Your political future as a young man looks gloomy and we have to start work on how to get ourselves out of what appears like an eternal stay in power. I am foreseeing a blow of misfortune that will subdue us because the calls of the noisy minority cannot be ignored, hence, they largely shape the opinions of the silent majority, which politicians exploit for selfish gains. When opposition cried foul, we need to diagnose such cry and utilise for our advantage. Sir, the trending captions against us recently are: corruption, incompetence, impunity, obscene display of ill-gotten opulence, mediocrity, deception and other negative appellations.

My first point of call is from the words of Niccole Machiavelli who said ‘ The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him’. Your Excellency sir, when one looks critically at the men around you, they are all empty brains, hungry sycophants and praise “ singers ” who has got nothing to add to your government but are only with you for personal gains and financial enrichment. The few ones that would have made impacts are complaining that their voices can not be heard by you. This is ridiculous.

In a concession speech of former president of Ghana, I quote ‘ While Rawlings appointed the likes of Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas as deputy ministers, I made the mistake of giving that respectable position to the likes of John Oti Bless. I have now realised, rather too late, that if I had kept the likes of Ben Dotsei Malor and Dr. Raymond Atuguba around me, they would have injected some semblance of sanity into the Presidency and given that high office an aura of respectability and decency’.

In my own opinion, this is the most regrettable speech of a number one citizen of a country, especially, mentioning the names of his traitors. I wish you had nominated experienced old hands that would have injected some credibility into your administration. Your choice of young ones is not bad either but they have no experience that such position deserves. Sir, you need technocrats to succeed. Remember, your success or failure as a leader depends on the kind of people surrounding you.

The praise-singing sycophants who act on the dictates of their stomachs are only specialised at telling you what you want to hear. Many voices of reason have called you in the past and are still calling you now, you just have to listen. Our elders say a disease that will kill a man first breaks sticks into his ears. OR, the ear that refuses to hear good counseling goes with the head.

Many people maintained that you have been let down by your appointees whom you trusted so much. Our elders says, God gives us our friends but we choose our friends. Remember also that when the chips are down you will be the one to take the blame for everything that happened. And it is us, and not God, who will bear the consequences of any choice we make. The wood insect (Arigishegi) that gathers sticks on its head carries it alone.

Please Sir, be very careful in order not to repeat the mistakes of Alhaji Adamu Atta and Prince Audu Abubakar (both of blessed memory) in their respective administrations, who ended up in one term. Their failure depended on the kinds of people they appointed. We would not forget so soon that in 1979, Alh. Adamu Atta, (an Ebira son) became the first democratically elected governor in the second republic, despite being one of the minority ethnic tribes in the then kwara state. This was the first point in the history of Ebira political dispensation. Alhaji Adamu Atta (a gentleman to the core,) played politics without bitterness, acrimony, animosity, or character assassination by giving respect and honour to whom it was due.

Majorly, his victory was credited to the charisma and political prowess of Late Alhaji Olusola Saraki (his political godfather) whose political wisdom stood him out among his peers in the Nigerian political arena. Alhaji Adamu Atta’s desire was to seek a second term in office and oblivious of the fact that he would need all the support and influence to achieve that from his ‘godfather’ and other political stake holders.

But for the influence and activities of AnEbira professional sycophants (APS), and praise singers, they destroyed him and the good relationship between him and his political godfather. Sycophants and praise singers eventually rubbished Alhaji Adamu Atta, made him engaged his godfather in a battle for political supremacy. They deceived Alhaji Adamu Atta into believing that he was bigger and more influential than his political benefactor, he was told he got all it takes to secure a second term in office without the support of “godfather”. He failed.

Sir, try to unite all those that are aggrieved in the party in the entire state, hence, you are the Father of all. The political party that brought you in should not be divided an inch.

Your excellency Sir, similar scenario playing on you now, was witnessed during Alh. Adamu Atta’s regime, where the government house in Lokoja and your residence in Okene have become Beehive of activities. Many who sang his praises later abandoned him when the chips were down. Alhaji Adamu Atta was later deserted and left in isolation by the people who “worshipped” and sang his praises while in office. These moles are very much around you.

Your Excellency Sir, there is a big lesson to be learned from Anebira political class and elites who benefited immensely from his government.

Sir, you need to stop giving listening ears to unwarranted and undeserved praises from sycophants. You don’t need to surround yourself with people who would always give you unnecessary encomiums.

A very similar situation to the present one is the ouster of Prince Abubakar Audu from office in 2003 gubernatorial election. This is another lesson to be learned. It was an avenue and opportunity for the angry and hungry civil servants to mobilize enmass to vote out a government that was defiant to the civil servants. The welfare and interest of Kogi workers was virtually removed from the priority list of Audu’s government. Any worker or trade union that dared spoke out or embarked on industrial action was retorted with serious consequences. Activities of sycophants led to the downfall of the administration of

Prince Audu’s government who placed emphasis and committed much resource to infrastructural development at the expense of human development’. Praise singing and sycophancy was the order of the day that eventually lead to his ouster.

Excellency Sir, your administration is already on the path and direction similar to both Alhaji Adamu Atta and Prince Abubakar Audu. You have allowed sycophants and praise “singers” to reign freely. These praise sycophants who are obviously not for good of your future, but to destroy your government and your personality are on the social media and the streets, attacking and harrassing peace loving and law abiding citizens of the state. They are preventing the good people with intentions of advising your government and constructively criticizing some of your policies and programs for better Kogi state. Remember that not all those who criticised you hate you, sometimes the best way to express your love for someone is to be critical of their actions.

Your Excellency Sir, the sycophants around you will not tell you that the tale of Kogi workers has been that of pain, anguish and extreme hunger, emanating from non-payment of salaries. Your administration has not been able to earn the confidence, respect, and trust of the civil servants. The screening exercise was clearly a failure, because of the manner it was handled (unprofessionally). Even your government is yet to redeem its pledge of paying all arrears of outstanding salaries owed genuine (cleared) civil servants.

Kogi is a civil servant state with about 75 percent workforce, dependent on monthly salary. Failure to pay salaries regularly have resulted to economic hardship. Your claim of not owing is rhetoric. Please Sir, this can make or mar you. Although, there were defensive utterances by some of your appointees (feeding fat from this inappropriate and unfortunate circumstances) that those complaining are ghost workers or those bad eggs that were weeded out of the system. This is not very true.

I will offer suggestions on way out of the present quagmire if the political will to implement it is there.

Finally Sir, MY CONCERNS are, when people are fed up, then time is up and a clearest indication that we have outlived our welcome. When the time is up, no amount of deceptive campaign promises could keep us in power. The Nigerian voters that I know are simple and sophisticated than you can imagine. No amount of monopolization of the media space will save us. No amount of money could stop our defeat.

No amount of local and national celebrity endorsements could help us. And no amount of vote buying could stand the irresistible hurricane of change that will shake us all.

Focus on the people and pay attention to their welfares, (salaries) this is basic. Remember, after three or four years, kogites will be demanding accountability from you. The saying goes thus;

The shea butter that is gloating over the ill-fated salt because of a heavy downpour would have to fortify itself with ice before the sun rises . Please sir, do not allow the intoxicating effect of power to blind you.

Keep a critical eye on every members of your cabinet who are defrauding the state and causing havoc here and there. They are not only hurting the state, but they are part of the reasons you will forever live with the humiliation to be one-term governor of the state (God forbid).

A word to the wise is enough.

Thank you.

Engr. Sule writes from FUT, Minna.

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