Capt Wada made history becoming the most litigated governor ever in the country. But thank God, he has almost dispensed with twelve out of the thirteen cases instituted against his eligibility to fly his party’s flag and his electoral victory at the poll.

His emergence as flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the 2011 December 3, Governorship election and his subsequent victory as governor of the state, it would be recalled stirred a lot of court cases and in the election tribunal.

Capt Wada, a successful pilot turned politician assumed office with high expectations from the people having made a success of his private life. Among those who have governed Kogi State in the past, Capt Wada is considered to be the most certificated, a graduate, educated,intelligent and exposed having widely traveled.

As at the time Capt Wada assumed office as governor, it was not in doubt that Kogi State was in dear need of serious infrastructural and other forms of development. Little wonder his victory, coupled with his pedigree, elicited a lot of expectations.

But despite Kogi State’s rich, abundant human and material resources, many still find it difficult to believe that the state still lags behind in terms of development.

Kogi State is blessed with agricultural, mining, industry and tourism potentials, yet it is rated poorest among the revenue earning states in the country.

Created August 27, 1991, Kogi is ranked 13th most populated in Nigeria. The state by its strategic location is richly endowed in natural and human resources and has the potentials of becoming the food basket of the nation and also a tourist destination.

According to a report published by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in 2009, Nigeria has commercial deposits of a total of 37 minerals, up from 33 minerals in 2008.
The report indicated that Kogi State alone has deposits of a total of 29 mineral resources available in commercial quantities. These include coal,dolomite,feldspar,bauxite,iron ore,tar,limestone,gold, tantalite etc. Each of the 21 councils in the state is said to have deposits of at least 2 minerals. According to the report, one of the coal-rich areas is the Okaba district of Ankpa Local Council, which alone holds reserves of 99 million tons of coal.

“As things stand, Kogi state alone has enough deposits of coal to supply all of Nigeria with electricity for 400 years. And enough limestone to keep three giant-sized cement factories (with over 15m tons annual capacity) operational for an unbroken stretch of 99 years”, quoted the FG report. The state capital, Lokoja also hosts historical relics and geographical monuments, notably the museum of old European commercial activities and the confluence of River Niger and River Benue.

Curiously,  despite the amazing depth of her human and mineral resource and tourism endowment, over the years, Kogi State had placed last in all Nigeria’s social and economic indices.

Many have equally wondered why the people’s Captain as the governor is fondly called has not flied beyond the people’s expected horizon. This is not minding the fact that his tenure remains one of the most cash trapped administration since the creation of the state.

Several people have many questions on Kogi’s level of development agitating their minds and begging for answers. Unfortunately they seem not to want to come to terms with the realities of the statistics being churned out by the present administration as the truth and nothing but the truth.

One thing that cannot be taken away from Capt Idris Wada as it relates to managing the affairs of the state is the fact that he has run the State for about three years without taking any external loan from any Bank or other financial lending organizations aside the one he recently procured from the stock market for developmental purposes. As obtained in other states in Nigeria, several governors have been accused of mortgaging their states through the several loans they took to manage their states.

The state government it would be recalled, with the approval given by the State House of Assembly, approached the stock market for a N20billion bond. Having considered the measure of transparency used by the Capt Wada administration to run governance in the state,investors over subscribed the state’s share.  A first trench of N5billion has since been released thus far to the state, with the funds channeled into projects that have direct impact on the lives of the people.

It is also important to place on record the fact that the present administration aside the issues surrounding it not being able to cash back promotion to its civil servants, and to pay a year’s outstanding leave grants, Kogi State government has maintained a clean bill of not owing its workers salaries as compared to other states.

Available information also shows how state’s that are better placed on the financial index than Kogi State are indebted to its workforce for upwards of four months. The figures being bandied as what accrues to the state government from the FAC is not hidden as it is usually published in the national dailies.

It can equally be verified that Kogi State is the highest paid civil service state in Northern Nigeria and one among the highest in the country.

For a state that receives a little above N3billion on the average as monthly federal allocation added to an average monthly internally generated revenue that hovers between N500million and N600million, Kogi State is said to earn a sum total of about N3.6billion on the average monthly.

The stated monthly financial figures accruing to the state at a first glance may seem a big money to an average onlooker, to the labor unions and even the opposition politicians as reasons why the state should ordinarily compete favorably with its other counterparts in the country and meets certain obligations.

But a critical and sincere look into the government’s expenditure profile would reveal that it takes only  a magician administrator in the mould of Capt Wada, who amidst the challenges faced his administration, especially that of poor finances acruing the state is still able to fly.
The administration has not only increased and sustained its commitment to regular payment of pension and gratuity, it has also sustained the payment of car loans to the workers in the state civil service.

One noticed fact you can’t take away from the Capt Wada’s administration since its came to the saddle is that, it is not flamboyant, neither has it been reckless in spending when compared to past administrations.

It will therefore not be out of place to say the Wada administration ( and those it appointed) has made selfless sacrifices its watchwords.

It would be recalled that it took the present administration two years before it was able to provide official vehicles to serving commissioners because the people were the priority.

Unlike in the past, only few Special Advisers of the present government have  official vehicle. This are official privileges and rights accrued to such offices in other states.

Presently, the state monthly wage bill to its workers is put close to  N3billion. Some statutory deductions such as UBEC,MDGs, and loans taken by previous administration of the state  are made at source on the state monthly allocation, such that what finally gets to the state differs and is far less than what is usually published.

Similarly, deduction is made at source  concerning the bond the state procured. Some monies owed to contractors by the state government are also deducted. It is worthy of note to state that these contractors went to court and got orders compelling the deduction of their monies at source.

Back home, the state government makes monthly payments to local contractors who have certificate of job completion for contracts already executed by past administrations as well as payment to contractors who are currently handling state projects.

In all, over N1,5billion naira is statutorily and also by the instructions and knowledge of the state government deducted on monthly basis at the FAC and IGR and paid as counterparts and to contractors.

On the average, the state is barely left with about N100milion monthly as overhead cost, to run governance and administration, a challenge that is best imagined vis-a-vis the peoples expectations and responsibilities.

Close to three years in the saddle, there are sufficient signals to however suggest that Wada had made tremendous impact as the seeds of the benefits of his selfless sacrifices are beginning to germinate. Indeed,  Kogi is presently undergoing an agricultural and industrial transformation and this has been made possible through the influx of foreign investors to stimulate the state’s economy, as a result of which, Kogi now plays the role of a catalyst, culminating into the signing of about 15 memoranda of understanding running into billions of Naira.

The attraction of foreign partners into the state’s economy is anchored on the political will of Capt Wada whose view of the state’s poor financial profile he pointed out will not create the needed enabling environment for business to thrive, without the sacrifices.

Amidst the obstacles financing has posed to governance in Kogi State, Capt Wada, the man at the helm of affairs has remained undaunted disclosing most times that it is not an excuse not to deliver democracy to the people.

Little wonder, in virtually all sectors of the state’s economy, so much impact has been made. For example in the Health sector, aside the government’s free rural health programme that has provided succor for over 120,000 persons, the state under Capt Wada has renovated all the state general hospitals across the state. The hospitals have also been fully equipped with modern facilities. Aside the University Teaching Hospital established in Ayingba and the take off of the KSU faculty of Medicine, the state diagnostic and imaging centre is nearing completion. Other efforts in the health sector include; employing and equipping the capacity and manpower, accreditation of tertiary academic health institutions in the state.

In the agriculture sector, today, the status of the state as a food basket has been improved upon by the present administration through its revolution on produce such as rice, cassava and other crops the state has comparative advantage.

An administration that made history by completing all inherited projects such as the stadium, state secretariat, confluence beach hotel and about thirty five road projects it inherited, the present administration in the road sector also begun and completed several state and rural roads, with all local government area headquarters having their township roads under construction. Similarly, the administration is currently dualising the major arterial road that passes the state capital while it has also opened up the ganaja otokiti bye pass. The 16km bye pass road has opened up a new lokoja town for other socio economic opportunities.

In the area of housing, the administration aside the construction of an earlier 270 post flood housing estate, it sustained effort in the building and the maintenance of government buildings. The administration is currently building a 500 housing units in ganaja and crusher areas of Lokoja.

All Iconic secondary schools in the state have been given a face lift. There is also the massive renovation of primary and secondary schools across the state. The government is equally improving the building and hostel facilities in the state’s tertiary institutions. Until recently when corruption sets in, the administration has paid the WAEC fees for final year students across the state as well as in the payment of bursary to its students in higher institutions.

For a state to be adjudged as very peaceful amidst the challenges of insecurity facing the country is no mean task, and it didn’t come by accident. The administration’s concern about attracting investment and businesses necessitated the enormous resources committed to security.

The state is building a modern trailer and motor park in the state. It recently began a mass transit scheme considered as superlative amongst several other projects that are having direct bearing on the lives of the people.

It is not in doubt that Capt Wada amidst all the financial challenges faced by his administration has raised the bar of governance, and made transparency in administration a watchword. The governor has also reduced corruption to a barest minimum in governance by blocking several lope holes. He has also checked youth restiveness and political violence through the employment opportunities he granted to about ten thousand youths under the SURE- P programme.

Determined to rewrite Kogi’s story, Governor Idris Wada has so far shown commitment, through the transparent manner he has operated in the last three years that he has the capacity to take the state to the next level if not for the paucity of funds.

It is good to place on record that the Capt Wada administration has not received any special financial intervention such as that of excess crude as was the case in the past. In three years the governor has been on the saddle, Kogi state only recently got an ecological funds intervention and the funds has been deployed into the construction of embankment and shoreline control programme of Kabawa area of Lokoja.

While the high expectations the people have of the present administration is not out of place, the genuine appeal is for stakeholders to appreciate that amidst tight financial challenge the state is facing, the people’s demand especially that of the labour unions who are agitating for wage increase and for upward reviews of their entitlements, is to apply caution and pursue their demands from a point of view of patriots who must first build a virile state before seeking what to get from the state.
         
Abu Micheal sent in this piece from Lokoja.


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