By Olawale Ibrahim
Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya felicitated with Nigerian and people of the State on the 60 years of nation’s Independence.
In a state broadcast to the people of Kogi State at Government House in Loloja, he gave kudos to the founding fathers for their doggedness for the independence on October 1, 1960.
The governor also prayed, “it may please the Almighty God to prove to Nigerians that Diamonds are forever, and grant enduring future of Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.”
While highlighting some of the challenges confronting the State, Bello pointed out his administration inherited over N50 billion which has been cleared.
His words, “To give you an idea of the huge scale of this problem, let me inform you that this administration has had to clear over N50billion in salary obligations inherited from previous administrations. The bulk of that money was borrowed and along with our other debt obligations continues to impede our ability to free up funds for infrastructural and other development as we would like. Those who actions hurt our state and people must face a reckoning.”
According to him, security has remained permanent priorities for us from our first term to now. We have arrested dozens of armed robbers, kidnappers and other violent criminals and put them behind bars.
He added that many others have been wasted in gun-battle when they dared to confront our gallant law enforcement agents and vigilantes, assuring that the government will never relent in our efforts to rid Kogi State of these antisocial and criminal elements.
On finance, he stated that this is getting tighter, especially the Federal allocation, adding that the state-grown monthly Internally Generated Revenue by over 300% before the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out most of our sources, especially those from taxes, rates and levies. Nevertheless, we have recently plugged some huge loopholes and as life gradually returns to normal we hope to see an improvement in our account receivables.
“We will continue to pay concerted attention to human capital development and economic diversification, especially via agriculture. Kogi State is blessed with plenty of land and water resources suitable for agriculture. Various programmes have also been developed to get willing and able Kogites to take up farming or any other branch of agriculture they may be interested in.
“Our young people must realise that the stigma of rustic rurality associated with agriculture has long since evaporated. I own a farm and I can tell you it is a lucrative engagement. It is projected that agric billionaires are the next phenomenon that will sweep this country. We will also grow tech billionaires, but not as readily or as plentifully as those who will emerge from Agric enterprise. I urge every young person, do yourself a favour and join this speed train now.
“As the rains intensify around this time every year we experience heavy flooding of communities in 9 LGAs by the Rivers Niger and Benue. As usual, the Government is prepared to give succour to affected citizens and residents. We have set up camps for displaced people where food, medication and other essentials will be provided.
“We urge those in at-risk locations to preemptively take shelter in these designated locations. Please do not endanger yourself and your loved ones unnecessarily by leaving an evacuation to the last minute. Climate Change is an unfortunate reality in today’s world and we will continue to adapt positively to it.
“Our Public Service and Pension Reforms have been a huge success. Non-payment, late payment and percentage payment of salaries are becoming a distant memory to our workers. Prompt payment of salaries has become the norm now. Inasmuch as government revenues have always been tight since we took Office and Covid-19 has worsened matters, even more, we will endeavour to keep meeting our wages obligations to the genuine civil servants of Kogi States.
“However, the Government will be taking legal action soon against some of those who compromised the system and fraudulently intercepted wages to which they were not entitled. Bringing consequences to those who compromised our workforce and payroll is one way we can forcefully deter such misconduct in future,” the governor noted.