Weeks to his first year anniversary, many believe Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State should begin the process of consolidating his administration with a view to firmly placing the State on the path to economic prosperity and socio-political harmony.
Having come this far, the Governor has successfully proved his critics wrong as Kogi now prepares to join the economic superhighway, with the rush by prospective investors to take advantage of the investment-friendly policies of his government.
Recently, the Governor signed an MOU with some foreign investors who have shown interest in the mining of the numerous mineral deposits in the state including coal, byrite, and gold.
The huge revenue potential that would accrue to the State from prospecting of these minerals will no doubt boost economic activity; provide employment opportunities for both the skilled and unskilled job seekers, thereby relieving the state government of the responsibility of being the sole employer of labour in the state.
The Ajaokuta steel company is currently being restructured in line with the new economic policies of the state government as the Yahaya Bello administration prepares to partner with the Federal Government on how to revamp the ailing industry. When fully operational, Ajaokuta alone could help turn around the fortunes of the state as the biggest steel company in Africa.
Similarly, the Itakpe Iron Ore, which has been lying waste for decades is soon to bounce back as the Kogi state government seeks partnership with investors and the Federal Government in the area of exploration and prospecting.
Determined to transform Kogi State into a one-stop business destination for investors, the government has started taking what many consider as bold steps in ensuring bigger increase in the internally generated revenue, the introduction of tax relief for both indigenous and foreign investors in the rich mineral deposits across the state.
Just last year, a geologist from the Federal Geological Institute discovered that Ibaji, a Local Government in the State has the large quantity of hydrocarbon which indicates that Kogi has high prospect of joining the league of the oil producing states in Nigeria.
This important discovery has attracted the attention of the amiable Governor who has begun the process of engaging the federal authorities on the importance of this significant discovery and the economic benefits for Kogi State.
In a related development, Alhaji Yahaya Bello is currently studying reports on how the state can benefit in very concrete terms from the Obajana Cement company, owned by the business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, which is about the largest of its type in Nigeria.
The state government is seeking to partner with the company in areas of infrastructural development, construction of more roads, building schools and health centres across the state as part of the company’s social responsibilities to host communities.
On the political front, due to the complex nature of Kogi State and the need to balance conflicting political interests, Governor Yahaya Bello, has adopted the consensus building mechanism to allow inputs from interest groups as he runs an inclusive administration in the state.
Though expedient, many believe that this could practically slow down the speed to give the state a paradigm shift.
Similarly, supporters of the Governor are unhappy with the opponents’ resort to the use of blackmail to distract him from achieving his vision for the state. A Few days ago, some hoodlums, suspected to be acting on the instruction of the enemies of the state, attempted to rough handle the Governor in the Lokoja Juma’at Mosque but were repelled by fellow worshippers and the Police on the Governor’s convoy. Having failed to get their ways with the series of malicious litigations in courts, these same elements are believed to be the sponsors of such attacks as a further expression of their frustration in their campaign to unseat the Governor.
It is, however, commendable that despite these, Governor Yahaya Bello, has remained focused and undaunted. Not only has he demonstrated the capacity to tolerate his traducers, as he repeatedly preaches peace and harmony, the Governor has continued to endear himself to the larger Kogi community with the execution of meaningful projects that directly affect the lives of the average citizens of the state.
Of recent, the governor has turned attention to education with the award of contracts for the overhaul and facelifting of secondary schools across the state.
The governor has also unveiled plans to increase allocation to schools that record impressive academic performance among students to encourage competition for excellence.
Henceforth, schools are to be graded in accordance with their academic outputs at the Senior School Certificate (SSCE) exams, and other relevant examinations on an annual basis.
Teachers are now required to improve their capacity to impart qualitative education to students through regular attendance of training and retraining in institutions for teacher’s education. Similarly, education inspectors are now to regularly monitor schools so as to ensure compliance with the new policy on education in the state.
At the microeconomic level, plans are said to be afoot by the state government to organise the small and medium scale entrepreneurs into co-operatives to enable them access bank loans to be facilitated by government.
Efforts are also on to boost local power generation and distribution to create the enabling environment for increased business activity in the state metropolis.
There is no doubt that Kogi has moved on under Governor Yahaya Bello. All that is required is for the governor to consolidate on the impressive achievement by making sure that officials of government and the state legislature perform their oversight duties to compliment the efforts of the governor in lifting Kogi to the next level.