Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state is making concerted efforts to transform the economic landscape of the state and make it one of the most viable in the country. Being a true leader who wants to register his name with a legacy that stands the sands of time, the White Lion, as fondly called by his admirers, has since his inauguration for a second term in office, been working round the clock to consolidate his achievements in the last four years and surpass the records of his predecessors. Governor Bello is eagerly committed to bequeathing legacies that will drive economic growth in the state and improve the living standard of the people.
One of the most important qualities of Governor Bello’s leadership is courage. The young and vibrant Ebira-born leader is willing to take risks in the achievement of his goals.
The core of integrity is truthfulness and it requires that you always tell the truth, to all people, in every situation. If you flashback during his second term campaign in 2019, in demonstration of his humility as a servant leader, Governor Bello openly in a live television broadcast on the campaign ground, begged the people of Kogi state for forgiveness not because he offended them but as a leader, he felt they deserved much more than what he has done in his first term and promised to do better when given a second chance. That was a display of truthfulness which is the foundation quality of the trust that is necessary for the success of any government because humility makes you a more effective leader.
Many economics pundits have said that with enormous resources, Kogi state can rival Lagos, Rivers, Kano and their likes in terms of industrial development and revenue generation with a good leader at the helm of affairs. It is in this light that Governor Bello outlined his economic programme working closely with the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari at the federal level to move Kogi state to the Next Level of infrastructure development, job creation and security.
Governor Bello’s emergence was divinely destined and he came with a different approach to governance which in his first term was misunderstood by some people who thought he didn’t have the will to develop infrastructure. But Bello has a different vision for Kogi state with a blueprint for a lifetime projects that will transform Kogi state to an economic hub in the country.
Kogi people had always yearned for a governor who will launch the state on the national and international stages; a unifier who will collapse the walls of division and place service above party politics or ethnic division. Before the emergence of Bello, Kogi state was sharply divided along ethnic lines, corroded by disunity as politicians planted division in the minds of the people for selfish political gains. But Yahaya Bello has changed such ugly narratives.
Prior to his administration in 2016, insecurity was rife – robbery and kidnapping were taking place with reckless abandon and the previous government gave up while the reign of terror continued.
But Governor Yahaya Bello has changed the narratives today. He provided over 200 utility vehicles for patrol and procured sophisticated gadgets for the Operation Total Freedom established by the present administration to stamp out criminality in the State. Intelligence gathering became seamless and properties which were proceeds of crime were destroyed to serve as a deterrent to others and has reduced the rate of Kidnapping and armed robbery by over 92 per cent according to sources.
Available data has shown that investors are pumping in and youth are getting engaged.
One of the most important achievements of Governor Yahaya Bello is his ability to convince President Buhari’s administration to revive Ajaokuta Steel Complex which is undergoing resuscitation and completion by the original contractors the Russians.
Some of the achievements of the White Lion’s administration include:
One of the areas the administration of Bello has performed creditably is in the area of security. From being one of the most insecure and dreaded states as at the time Governor Bello took over, the state has risen to become one of the safest states in Nigeria today. Recently the National Bureau of Statistics named Kogi, and two other states as the states with less reported crimes. The Governor has also won awards on security from the Nigerian Police, CSOs, media and other reputable organisations.
The administration purchased more than 200 security vehicles, over 500 motorcycles for different kinds of security operations across the state. This is unprecedented in the history of the state. The administration has also recruited thousands of Vigilante Corps to complement the efforts of the conventional security agents in the state. It has also provided Free Toll Lines to encourage citizens in giving information about criminals and crimes to security agencies, amongst several measures.
Quality healthcare delivery has been one of the greatest achievements of the Bello’s administration and that is why till date, Kogi state is one of the two states that didn’t record any case of Covid-19. Apart from the ongoing state-of-the-art Medical Diagnostic Centre, a lot of achievements are ongoing.
The administration has also embarked on renovation, remodeling and re-equipping of 21 existing Primary Health Care Centres (one per LGA) with solar-powered boreholes and electrification to help the success of the Healthcare Plus Programme. Recruitment, training and re-training of health workers on various specialities as well as provision of free maternal and newborn healthcare services including referral services and many other innovative programmes.
In line with President Buhari’s administration’s focus on agriculture development and value chain, Kogi state under the visionary leadership of Governor Bello, has witnessed an unprecedented revolution in agriculture. The state government keyed into the Agricultural Renaissance Policy of the Federal Government which was aimed at ensuring food security and promoting non-oil sector for economic transformation.
The Bello administration has succeeded in encouraging the youth to key into farming through orientation, sensitization, mechanization, inputs subsidy and many other supports. And many youths across the 21 local government sreas in the state. It has also facilitated loans for farmers to encourage mechanization and improved production of food; and cleared 1000 hectares of land across the state which were allocated to youthful farmers with farm inputs and agric machines services.
The State Government procured 375 Tractors with complete implements, three quantities each for Mini Harvesters, Planters, Broom Sprayers, Rice Reapers and other similar equipment to enhance agricultural activities and boost production. It has established a state-of-the-art greenhouse Farm at Osara to produce tomatoes and other vegetables.
Keying into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme through payment of the state’s counterpart fund by the Bello administration, the Ministry of Agriculture has constructed 500 fish ponds as a pilot scheme and handed-over to 1000 youth across the state to own and operate.
As the leading producer of cassava in Nigeria and coupled with the guaranteed security of investors, Kogi State has been able to attract the biggest ethanol company in Nigeria known as Unicane. The company uses cassava as its main raw materials, thereby sparking massive production of the crop in the state.
The Bello administration has repositioned Kogi state as a hub for rice rice production in Nigeria. The state government has also empowered thousands of youth to grow rice in the riverine areas of the state, making many farmers across the state to benefit from the Anchor Borrowers Scheme of the federal government.
Governor Bello administration also constructed the Kogi State Rice Mill at Omi, in addition to the the massive Mill at Omi, while others with smaller capacities are being constructed at different locations across the state. When Bello took over the mantle of leadership, the state was generating a paltry N350 million monthly as Internally Generated Revenue but with innovative leadership, the administration is now generating over N1.3 billion monthly.
Electricity is pivotal to industrial development. In order to catalyze the economy of the state, Alh. Yahaya Bello-led administration has delivered the following electrification projects: completionof the Lokoja(Banda)-Kotonkarfe electrification project; Electrification Project of Abejukolo in Omala LGA, among other villages and towns across the state.
The administration of Bello has rehabilitated Shintaku/Gboloko/Dekina road; Construction and rehabilitation of Lokoja township road; Ijowa-Jege-Ife-Olukotun road; Ankpa township road and provided solar-powered streetlights in Lokoja. There are many other ongoing road projects too numerous to mention.
The administration placed education at the top of its agenda I’m.rebuilding a new Kogi and has embarked on which include: Construction of GYB Model Primary Schools across the 239 wards of the state; remodeling of legacy schools across the state to meet international standards; construction of 50-bed capacity hostel at Government Girls Secondary School, Obangede; construction of Library Extension at Kogi State College of Education (Technical), Kabba and completion of the hostel project at Government Science Secondary School, Icheke in Omala Local Government Area, and so many other projects.
The administration has transformed Lokoja from being the second dirtiest state capital to the second cleanest in the country with better roads and streetlights, among others. Several road projects across the state have been completed such as the Ankpa township roads while others are in advanced stages across the three senatorial districts.
These are a few projects out of the hundreds been executed by the White Lion. Above all, Governor Bello’s major focus now is to build a legacy project that will place Kogi State on the world map and become a reference point for quality leadership in Nigeria.
Augustine, an Abuja based journalist, writes via [email protected]