In the build up to the October governorship poll in the confluence state, Joseph Amedu in Lokoja looks into the preparations being made by the incumbent vis-a vis his increasingly competitive APC rivals
Amidst the bleak future in ensuring that Kogi remains a PDP controlled state as has been in the case in the last 12years in view of the poor outing of the largest political party in Africa in the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections, where the state lost to the opposition APC, the incumbent governor of the ruling PDP in the state, Capt. Idris Wada is not resting in his oars to tackle the looming challenge during the governorship election slated for October this year.
An indication to head for victory of the PDP in the pending governorship election in the state showed in the just concluded state house of assembly election where PDP won the majority seats of 14 out of 25 leaving 11 seats for the opposition APC. This level of improvement as against the woeful performance of PDP in the presidential and national assembly elections shows that all hope is not lost for the party to retain its past glory of holding the firm grip of the for 12years running. This local victory has some how giver a clearer focus to the PDP in the state and imbued it with the effort to put its house in order and map out effective strategies that would make it emerge victorious in the governorship election. Currently working for him is the decision of former Governor Abubakar Audu to brush aside a growing opposition within his party, the APC, to his insistence of flying the party flag in the coming polls. Many of his party members think that he is tainted by the cases he has with the EFCC, which may not portray the party well before the electorate considering the anti-corruption stand of his party.
Against this is what many people in the state are beginning to see as Capt Idris Wada modest achievement in office considering the small resources available to it. He is among the very few politicians who see public office as an opportunity to serve and give back to the society, and not as a way of bettering his own lot, said a government source, adding that there is an undeniable correlation between society and the leadership it parades from different perspectives. “Presently we live in a society where the society is averse to truth and have failed to believe those in positions of authorities as much as the want to make the followers believe. There is also no doubt that the failure of some dishonest leaders has created that perception for the followers.”, he said.
Capt Idris Wada, Kogi State Governor, an administrator per excellence when assessed in the past three years is a man who has made selfless service his watchword, and has governed the state with transparency and sincerity of purpose. Amidst shortfall in allocation accrued to the state in the last three years much has been achieved in all sectors of the economy yet he has been misjudged. Few persons today hate the governor for no fault of his with a passion for emerging as governor. Thus, not minding his performance amidst difficulties, these persons have vowed to only see him in bad light. But the consolation however is, those in the majority see him differently and have remained resolute in their support for the governor. Upon assumption of office, Capt Wada demystified leadership from the exotic heights and brought governance to the level of the ordinary man.
That Capt Wada has remained a servant leader, and one not caught in the web of ostentatious lifestyles, abuse of office calls for him to be given the benefit of doubt. After all if a man can achieve the so much that he has done with the little resources at his disposal, he certainly will do more with enough resources. Without sounding sycophantic, that the governor has governed with an unblemished record is not in doubt. Amidst challenges that no administration in the state has ever gone through since it’s creation, Capt Wada has suffered unjust vilification for no fault of his; drastic drop in revenue accruing to the state. For many, it is not out of place to say that the people know why it is happening this time. This is because only the likes of Capt Wada, whose mission is service, through sacrifice, can governor a state as complex and difficult as Kogi in this time of recession.
Governance in Kogi State has not been a pleasure trip for Capt Wada. This can be seen when viewed against the several expectations of the people, which to a sincere mind, within available resources he has tried to meet. Though this is not to say that we have attained the perfect society, but more importantly, we in Kogi State, judged by the peaceful environment the government has created, a state with no record of unpaid salaries to its workers, the abundant dividends of democracy that has direct bearing on the lives of the people that abound for all to see, one will not be crucified to say Kogi under Wada has faired well, let’s put politics aside.
One must acknowledge the fact that some cabal who hitherto hold government to the jugular still feel short changed with the incumbent’s governor’s style of leadership, and have now formed an opposition against governance in the state. To them Capt Wada is bad, and he is not performing. For a state that is at the lower rung of the ladder in terms of resources accruing to states from the federation, having weathered the storm in the past three years, administering with a little above a hundred million naira monthly after a monthly wage bill of N3.2billion is paid, it is important to put in perspective the few things the governor has been able to achieve within the years under review.
Immediately he assumed office as Governor in January 2012, Wada did not disguise the direction of his agricultural policies. By his speeches, body language and action, the new governor preached the good news of agricultural transformation in the state. He reiterated in public and private discussions his conviction that agriculture is the surest and shortest route to economic recovery and well being in the state. An opportunity to demonstrate this conviction was early in coming. That was when the state was ravaged by massive flood between September and November 2012. After successfully managing the disaster, the government converted it to a blessing. The entire flood plain covering Nine Local Councils was used for planting rice in an accelerated production program. Thousands of idle hands of youths were meaningfully engaged on the farms. That was the source of the thousands of bags of Kogi Rice that soon adorned major markets in and outside the state. The Accelerated Rice Project which is in its second planting season has since become a reference point by the federal ministry of agriculture and among other states.
In a related development, a staple crop free processing zone was declared at Alape in Kabba- Bunu Local Government of the state. Speaking on the initiative, the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Akinwumi Adeshina described it as the first fully mechanized farm in Nigeria. As at the beginning of last year, more than 200 hectares have been cleared and planted with cassava. The final dream is 1,500 hectares. The project is in partnership with an American food processing company, Kagyl International which will produce starch, sweetener, flours and other food items from the farm. The Agriculture Transformation Agenda also encompass provision of soft loans and regular farm inputs to farmers.
In the event of an illness, farmers are among beneficiaries in the free health care program of the state. Under the initiative, seasoned medical team comprising of surgeons, doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and other health care support personnel visit each of the 21 local councils for minimum of one week every three months to provide free health care services. Surgeries are performed and medications are provided without collecting a dime from the patient. To show sensitivity to the mood of the time on public health issues, the program was suspended at the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease.
Thousands of people have been treated and healed under the policy. The administration has also made tremendous progress in its determination to improve healthcare infrastructure in the state: a diagnostic and referral centre is being constructed at the Specialist Hospital in Lokoja; a Cottage Hospital is near completion at Odu- Ogboyaga in Dekina Local Government; another has been completed in Icheke, Omalla Local Government Area. General Hospitals are being renovated in all the 21 Local Councils and Primary Health Centres are being constructed all over the Confluence State.
Education is the most virile industry in the state. New areas of learning are being introduced in the tertiary institutions in the state. In the state University at Anyigba, faculties of Education and Medical Sciences complete with a new Teaching Hospital have taken off. In Kogi State Polytechnic, Environmental Studies and Space Science have been introduced. The administration in conjunction with the government of South Korea has also established an International Skills Acquisition Center in the Polytechnic. The center is ready for commissioning and due to commence full operation soon. Hostels have also been built at the polytechnic and university.
In its zeal to bring development to the grassroots, the Wada administration has constructed several roads and bridges. Work has started on a bypass from Ganaja in Ajaokuta Local Government to Otokiti in the state capital. The double lane road is planned as an alternate route for travelers to the eastern part of the state, thereby reducing the heavy traffic in parts of the metropolis. Close to the Ganaja terminal of the road, is an on-going 500 Housing Units project being constructed for civil servants in the state. And to improve the revenue base of the state, the Governor has started work on a Twelve story Kogi House building in the heart of Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.
The administration has electrified more than three hundred communities. At a single ceremony on Friday 22 August, the governor inaugurated 160 transformers for distribution to deserving communities.
That is not all. The government has introduced a pilot Confluence metro with about fifteen Ashok Leyland Luxury Buses to boost public transportation in the state capital. With time, the scheme is intended to cover the entire state and other parts of Nigeria. To make the initiative durable and convenient to run, the government has awarded contract for the expansion of the major road in Lokoja to three lane dual carriage way. The road runs from “Welcome to Lokoja Round About through the town, down to the Confluence International Market on Abuja Road.
Many motorized boreholes and Water treatment packages have been commissioned by the administration. Perhaps the flagship of the Governor’s achievement in the area of human capital development is in the restoration of discipline, integrity and hard work among the youths and in the daily running of government business. In the same vein, the administration has established a culture of regular payment of salaries, wages and allowances to the state work force. To be able to grapple with the efforts of Capt Wada as governor having listed some of his landmarks, we must appreciate the challenges that greeted his assumption as governor; a huge labour workforce, indebtedness of the state since its creation, decayed infrastructures requiring attention among others. Capt Wada is no doubt a silent performer amidst the resources available. His exemplary style is captured in the adage that says “ where there is a will, there is a way” cannot be more true than it has been demonstrated in governance of Kogi State.
Leadership commitment is essential to the survival and progress of any society this is what the governor has demonstrated. As a people we no doubt have an important role to play too even though our commitment would be difficult to secure if the leader who is calling on us for sacrifice do not himself make any sacrifice.
Gov Wada is a virtuous leader and a person of honesty, integrity, and trust. He has remained a leader mindful that the needs and realistic expectations of others in the society must be satisfied, even in time of recession.
What therefore is expected of the governor is to strive to keep the flag flying in sustaining his positive impacts on the lives of citizens especially now that the governorship election in the state is around the corner.