For being a peace maker and agent of peace, the sterling qualities of a former Chief Whip, Kogi state House of Assembly and Galadima Koton- Karfe, Hon. Saidu Akawu Salihu, were recently recognised and rewarded. OYIBO SALIHU reports
When the people of Kogi/Koton –Karfe Constituency in Kogi state overwhelmingly voted for Hon. Saidu Akawu Salihu to represent them at the state House of Assembly between 2011 to 2015 , little did they know that the mandate given to him was beyond moving motions, sponsoring bills, sending memos among other legislative activities in the floor of the House.
Akawu, popularly known politically as “SAS”, went beyond these. His mission and vision for the people of Kogi /Koton –Karfe Constituency transcend far beyond the people’s expectations.
The politician who served as Chairman , House Committee on Information, not only contributed to issues and debates in the floor of the House, he moved several motions of great significance and sponsored many bills.
One of such bills is the bill for a law to make public records and information freely available , provide public access to public records and information to the extent that it will be consistent with public interest and the protection of personal privacy.
The former lawmaker who believes in his people’s welfare, provided primary healthcare centre for Okpaka community and handed it over to the local government council to take the control of the healthcare centre by funding and managing it for the betterment of the entire people of the council.
In the area of provision of potable water to reduce acute shortage of drinking water during the dry season, the former lawmaker dug a total number of eleven wells in eleven communities, in addition to the three motorized bore holes drilled to provide safe and clean water for the people in three zones that make up the constituency.
Also in the area of health, beside the construction and furnishing of a primary healthcare centre in Okpaka, Akawu supplied diesel throughout his legislative period to power the generator in Koton-Karfe General Hospital in addition to 20 eye patients he sponsored for treatment in Lokoja.
To boost the education sector in his constituency, the former lawmaker paid for SSCE and UTME registration of over 100 students, while also providing a set of computer each to community secondary school, Gegu Beki and that of Girinya to enable students access computer knowledge.
Further to this, he donated 100 students’ desks to Community Secondary School ,Okofi and LEA Primary School, Serejemma in Tawari ward. He also spent over N1million for the payment of salary of two security men at Government Secondary School, Koton-Karfe who were unjustly retrenched by the Salitibot staff screening of 2009, but were retained in the school to safeguard the college’s property.
In the area of emancipation, the philanthropist who bemoans idleness, secured jobs for several people and gave aid to victims of natural disaster. Similarly, he gave a car gift to a commercial driver to empower him to be self-reliant while hundred of women received different items to boost their petty trade in the area.
This selfless service to the people of Koton- Karfe, might have inspired the management of Policy and Lawmaker Magazine based in the state to bestow on him ‘Architect and Promoter of Peace’ award in Lokoja after a thorough scrutiny on the former lawmaker.
Justifying Akawu’s choice
Speaking on his choice, the publisher, Prince Friday Ogungbemi, says the politician won the award based on his sterling contributions to human and societal development.
He explains that the management of the magazine considered the recipient’s contributions to the promotion of peaceful co-existence in Kogi state.
Ogungbemi says several parameters were considered before final decision was reached. These, according to him, include; commitment, patriotism, consistency, honesty and achievements.
NUJ, others hail award
Speaking at the colourful event, the Administrator, Kogi Local Government Area, Barrister Tanko Musa , describes the award as a unique way to celebrate a leader, a pacesetter, honest and silent achiever, political tactician and a reputable leader in the politics of Kogi Local Government Area and the state at large.
Also commenting, the Chairman, All Progressive Congress (APC) Elders Forum, Alhaji Isah Shuaibu, says the excitement in him could not be expressed in words, noting that Akawu is a man of honour and great intellect.
In a remark, , the chief host of the occasion and Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kogi state council, Alhaji Momoh Jimoh Adeiza, describes Hon. Akawu as a leader and peace maker whose concerns for the downtrodden knows no bound.
He says, “as practicing journalists in the state , we know the Galadima of Koton-Karfe to be a man who speaks the truth at all time, he is truly an architect of peaceful co-existence in the state”
Addressing newsmen shortly after the award, Hon. Akawu, tells the gathering that he had turned down many awards in the past, saying the award is unique by virtue of its content. He also speaks of his efforts at ensuring peace in his constituency in particular, and the state in general.
While commending the magazine for finding him worthy of award, the former lawmaker says the award would spur him into doing more in the area of peace, even as he calls on other politicians to also contribute their quota to development of the state through selfless services.
That Akawu could be recognised even out of power, speaks volume of the man his standing within his community. Could this be a lure to higher service?