Kogi @ 23: Getting better under Wada

By Abu Micheal

Kogi State, otherwise known as the Confluence State, is a dream come true for a people that once formed the Kabba Province. Today, the boundaries of Kogi State are roughly coterminous with those of the old Kabba Province. Kogi State lies in the central part of Nigeria, within the North-central geo-political zone of the country.
The state was created on August 27, 1991 by the General Ibrahim Babangida administration. It lies to the South of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and shares boundaries with Nasarawa, Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Benue, Edo, Enugu, Niger and Anambra states.
This is a unique feature which no other state in Nigeria has and, expectedly, it is a feature that places the state in an advantageous position.
Lokoja, the state capital, is located on the confluence of Nigeria’s two largest rivers Niger and Benue. The ancient and historic capital city of Lokoja is two hours drive to Abuja.
It once served as the administrative headquarters of Nigeria after the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria by the British Colonial Government under Sir Fredrick Lugard between 1901 and 1902.
Kogi State has a total land area of 28,313.53 square kilometers and a population of over 4 million people.  It lies on latitude 7.49ON and Longitude 6.45OE with a geological feature depicting young sedimentary rocks and alluvium along the river beds, which promotes agricultural activities.
The state features ferrasols soil type and famous hills like Ososo hills, which spread from Edo State to the western part of Kogi State. There is also the Aporo hill on the eastern part. Another famous hill is the Mount Patti, which lies in Lokoja and stands at above 750 metres above sea level.
The state is a miniature Nigeria with several ethnic groupings. However, it has three major ethnic groups – the Igalas, the Ebiras and the Okuns.  Others are Oworos, Egbirra Kotos, Kakandas, Ogori-Magongo and so on. Kogi state has a relatively stable weather which supports agricultural activities.
Kogi state has an average maximum temperature of 33.2OC and average minimum of 22.8OC.
It has two distinct weather – the dry season which lasts from November to February and the rainy season which lasts from March to October. Annual rainfall ranges from 1016mm to 1524mm.
The vegetation of the state ranges from mixed leguminous (guinea) woodlands to forest Savannah.
The state has 21 local government areas and is richly endowed in terms of both natural and human resources. The state plays host to one of Africa’s largest steel companies, Ajaokuta Steel, and the National Iron Ore Mining Company at Itakpe.
Because of its richness in raw materials, Kogi state has great potential for industrial activities. Little wonder, therefore, the state plays host to Africa’s largest cement concern – the Obajana Cement Industry. Agriculture is, however, the mainstay of the economy of Kogi state.
Very importantly, the state seems to be on the world map as the present administration has repositioned the state to be a food basket.
About 70 per cent of the population of the state is engaged in one form of agricultural activity or another. Kogi State has a wide stretch of arable land for farming, good grazing ground for livestock and large bodies of water for fishing.
Food and cash crops commonly grown in commercial quantities include, yam, cassava, rice, maize, guinea corn, cocoa, coffee, cashew, oil palm, beniseed, melon, soya beans and sugar cane.
No wonder, the State is often referred to as Nigeria’s food basket.
The forest resources of Kogi State are equally of very high economic values. At present, about 85 per cent of the total land area is covered by unemployed forest reservation containing important economic trees that can support paper mills, sawmill and veneer and plywood mills.
Kogi State is also the home of solid mineral deposits and they are found in almost every part of the state.
These minerals include; cassiterite (tin ore), clay, coal, columbite, dolomite, feldspar, Gemstones, Granite, Iron ore, Kaolin, marble (limestone), mica, Quartz, sandstone, Talc, Tantalite and other such minerals.
They are found in great commercial quantities in the State. Under the Capt Wada administration, he has encouraged private investment and exploration of the solid minerals sector.
In the spheres of tourism, Kogi state can safely be referred to as Nigeria’s greatest tourist destination. A very significant landmark in the State is the Confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue which is a natural source of attraction.
Other tourist attractions are relics of colonial history and they include; the Royal Niger Company flag stand; the World War Cenotaph, European Colonial Cemeteries, the Iron of Liberty, which marks the spot slaves were freed in the late 19th century. Tombs of some deposed Northern Emirs, Lord Fredrick Lugard first residence in Nigeria, the first prison in Northern Nigeria, and the first Club House in Nigeria.
Other of such attractions include; the expensive Mount Patti, Agbaja plateau, Koton-Karfe cave, the Egaraja warm spring, the Inikpi statue which stands as the greatest reminder of the bravery of Inikpi, the daughter of the first Attah Igala Kingdom who gave her life for the freedom of her people.
23 years after, the present government has begun a massive renovation of all relics in the state.
Also of immense significance are the various cultural festivals and ceremonies in the state. These include; Italo, Egbe, Ogani, Ekuechi, Ovia Osese, Oro, Ogaganyi, Ucho and a wide variety of fishing festivals.
Twenty three years in the life of the state has brought about tremendous changes in both its features, politics and economy. For those who know Kogi State. Under the Wada administration things are getting better. Captain Idris Wada as governor of the 23-year-old state has without mincing words shown the determination of his administration to ensure the realization of the dreams of the founding fathers of the state.
This past 23 years, the state has gone through thick and thin but there are sufficient reasons to appreciate God and successive leadership for the remarkable progress that has been made in almost all spheres. As the state celebrates 23 years of creation, we can only continue to wish that the state takes advantage of its vantage position and the vast natural endowment to launch out fully as a confluence of possibilities and resources.

Micheal is Chief Press Secretary to Kogi State Deputy Governor.