How will you rate the administration of Alh Yahaya Bello in the last three and half years since his assumption of office as Governor of Kogi State?
It has been so far so good. He has done very well in repositioning and rebuilding the state from the ashes of the past. He has done well in turning Kogi State to an Agricultural hub. He has revolutionised education by creating better environment for teaching and learning in our schools. Industrial actions are now things of the past in our tertiary institutions. The Governor has done well in the area of security too by turning around a state notorious for violent crimes to a state that is now nationally rated as the second most beautiful in the country. The administration has constructed many roads, schools, health facilities as well as water facilities across the state. But the most cherished of the sterling achievements of this administration has been the success at uniting the state. Before now, we were splintered along terrible lines of division. Today, ethnic trust has replaced ethnic distrust. The Governor has broken the fences of division. He has also given power to a generation of youthful minds who are now serving the young and the old in a more pragmatic manner.
Your administration has been severally accused of owing months of salaries. What are the efforts put in place to address the issue?
Let me start by thanking the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Capt. Idris Wada for helping us to clear the air that salary issues didn’t start with us. Despite belonging to a different political party, he came out to vindicate us. He told the world that it was because of the challenge in paying salaries that his administration applied for N80b bailout. N50b was approved and we have only been able to access 20 billion Naira from the approved sum. We hope to get the balance soon so that we can clear the few months we are owing. The Governor has already given a commitment to clear the arrears as soon as he gets the bailout. It is an inherited problem that he is working hard to solve. He inherited months of salary arrears from his predecessor. But he is determined to solve the problem permanently. He also deserves commendation for repositioning the civil service.
But the Governor has been criticised by his opponents as having not done any project in the State. What is your take on that?
When you are hailed by your political opponents who want the power you are holding, get worried. They see you as beatable. But when they cry hoax and venture into propaganda to attack you, they are surely afraid of your reputation. The detractors are seeing what the Governor is doing. A former House Of Representatives from Yagba Federal Constituency once went on a national television to claim the Governor had not done anything. But his constituents called him out, reminding him that the Governor has built the second largest Rice Mill in the former legislator’s LGA of Yagba West. These people are wailing because for the first time, gerontocracy was rested. For the first time, an Igala man became a Chief Of Staff to a Governor of Ebira extraction. For the first time, The godfathers milking the state dry have no more access to the treasury. For the first time, Kogi’s resources are working for Kogi people. When you confront them with the facts, they will quickly accuse you of lying. The immediate past Minister of Health came to Kogi and told other Governors to learn from what we are doing with healthcare delivery here. The people know their Governor and their Governor knows them.
How was the Governor able to achieve unity in the state?
He didn’t mouth it. He acted it. He demonstrated it. He practicalised it. Unity is not a word but an act. Appointing someone from another tribe as his Chief Of Staff sent the right signals to the people. They knew change had come. Distribution of appointments and projects were equitably done. He demonstrated the uncommon leadership trait of equity, fairness and justice. Today, we are united more than ever. The Governor consciously and conscientiously removed the ethnic barriers. That has promoted peace, stability and security.
Do you see the Governor winning a second term?
The people of Kogi state already gave him a second term by supporting the party he led to the polls in February and March. They said he wasn’t popular. The people said he was popular. So it is not about my feeling but the people. The people spoke in February and March and will speak again in November. The Governor will win resoundingly and dwarf previous guber election figures. He is with the people and the people are with him.