Upon assumption of office as the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Gov. Yahaya Bello (GYB), known in many quarters as Essential GYB immediately drew up a roadmap of what he intends to achieve while in office.
Known for his love for quality over quantity, the governor drew up the New Direction Blueprint, a policy document that would drive holistic reformation and regeneration of all sectors of the state.
It would be safe to say that in line with his New Direction Blueprint for Kogi State, Gov. Yahaya Bello has continuously charted the roadmap for proportional and accelerated development of the state.
This blueprint cuts across sectors like education, security, infrastructure, health, agriculture, youth and women empowerment, environment, civil service and even the economy.
Security-wise, the governor has recorded some giant strides, all targeted at maintaining the landmark achievement as the most secure state despite being bordered by nine states.
Some of the strides recorded include building a Forward Operation Base (FOB) for the Nigerian Army (NA), provision of over 200 operational vehicles and hundreds of motorcycles for security officials, establishment of the State Vigilante Service to cater for urban and rural security.
Others include organising regular meetings and interface between all stakeholders for peaceful existence between farmers and Fulani herdsmen, deployment of Special Boat Service (SBS) operatives by the Nigerian Navy/DIA as well as deployment of Special Forces by the IGP to Kogi State to ensure security.
Not done, the governor also ensured the formation and total funding of a Joint Task operations code named “Operation Total Freedom, involving the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police, DSS and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
Governor Bello also introduced the whistleblowing policy to encourage Kogites volunteer intelligence to law enforcement agents, an act that has boosted intelligence-driven security.
He also commissioned the Kogi State Police Constabulary to augment the existing water-tight security network on ground, just as he deployed local hunters to work alongside trained security operatives, a move that has recorded many successes by crushing many criminal gangs.
Paying premium to education, Governor Bello has put both funds and human resources into the sector to ensure bright minds are churned out of all institutions of learning.
It was in pursuit of this that the governor acquired 1.2 hectares of land for the construction of the Technology Incubation Centre, (TIC), Lokoja; constructed “state-the-art” Library at the Kogi State College of Education (Technical), Kabba; and donated Science School of a Hybrid Manual/Electronic Library at Dekina.
He also executed Special Intervention Projects in Government Day Secondary School, Adankolo Lokoja, employed 60 nannies for ECCDE Nursery Department for State Universal Basic Education Board and constructed 50-bed capacity hostel block for Government Girls Secondary, School Obangede.
The governor also completed students’ hostel blocks; and gave financial assistance for the payment of school fees for the less privilege students; while training and retraining over 2000 teachers across the state.
In all, Governor Bello renovated 120 classrooms, gave 735 classroom blocks a face lift, distributed 35,000 customised desks and tables in the three senatorial districts, established the GYB Model primary school in all the 239 wards of the states and built 50-bed capacity hostels at Government Girl’s Secondary School, Obangede.
To the governor’s credit too is the approval and establishment of Kogi State University of Science and Technology, Osara; construction works at Kogi State University of Science and Technology, Osara; and re-fixing of chairs of the 500-seat lecture theater at the Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja.
He also restored internet service on the campus of Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja, carried out construction and reconstruction work at the Kogi State Polytechnic Lokoja and constructed a 30-bed space Healthcare Center at the Kogi Polytechnic, Lokoja.
A firm believer that health is wealth, Governor Bello renovated and remodeled the Zonal Hospitals in Kabba, Idah, Okene; constructed a Cottage Hospital in Kpareke; renovated and constructed new hostels and clinic at the School of Nursing, Obangede.
He also purchased and supplied 12 fully equipped ambulances; rehabilitated and equipped 12 healthcare facilities across the state and five selected public hospitals across the state while distributing Chlorhexidine Gel to health facilities across the state.
The governor executed Automated Hospital Scheme for 10 selected hospitals and sponsored free medical outreach program across the three senatorial districts of Kogi State, in collaboration with World Christian Medical Mission while implementing measles vaccination campaign across the state.
Other achievements include control and prevention of yellow fever outbreak, payment of medical bills for indigents patients across the three Senatorial District, financial assistance for the treatment of many indigent patients diagnosed of different ailments, financial assistance to the Nigerian Medical Association for their medical outreach in Kogi State.
The government also deployed Sustainable Drug Supply System (SDSS), introduced the Healthcareplus programme which is another stimulus package for a robust health with focus on expectant mothers, assisted more than 168 patients with life-threatening health issues.
The government put in place prophylactic measures crucial to the prevention of COVID-19 infection in the state, provided public hospitals across the three Senatorial Districts (East, Central & West) with medical equipment, essential drugs and premium quality diagnostic apparatuses of international standard, reactivated abandoned projects, – Confluence Advanced Medical Diagnostic and Imaging Center.
One of the enduring legacies of the present administration is the repositioning and facelift to the College of Health and Midwifery, Obangede, just as they also provided three academic blocks at the College of Health Science and Technology, Idah and established an ultra-modern college with state-of-the-art facility clinic, which is said to be one of the best in the country.
He also constructed the Nutrition House for the implementation of the Accelerated Nutrition Result in Nigeria (ANRiN), recruited 2,424 health professionals across the state to fill the manpower gap in the health sector, revitalised 332 PHCS (at least one per ward) with the provision of essential drugs and basic medical equipment, supplied free pediatric drugs to health facilities, offset hospital bills of indigent patients across the state (about 400 patients have benefited so far and still counting).
The government went further to reactivate the LASSA Fever Isolation Centre and established Kogi State Biosafety Lab which has also been completed, equipped and is fully operational and established Kogi Home clinic that is awaiting commissioning as well as distribution of medical equipment to zonal hospitals across the state including clinical and laboratory equipment as well as hospital furniture.
The governor’s antecedent in the health sector also cut across the establishment of a Central Reference Hospital in Okene, Health Insurance Agency, and MNCHW/ Antenatal clinics to indigenes and residents.
In its effort to kick malaria out of the State, the State Government collaborated with USAID, PMI supplied and distributed about 2.1m free LLIN plus additional 300,000 nets.
The State Government is constructing several state-of-the-art medical institutions in Yagba East, Idah and Kogi Local Government Area, among others while the Reference Hospital in Okene is poised to be the best medical facility in Nigeria.
Agriculture-wise, the governor rehabilitated and repaired earth moving heavy duty equipment and for the clearing of farm lands across the 21 LGAs; procured service components and general servicing of the irrigation water pumps; ensured
irrigation and fertilization solution for 1000 small land holders in Kogi State, and held sensitisation exercise for Kogi State farmers.
Also established was Omi Rice Processing Mill to cultivate 800 hectares of farmland in Kogi State for rice production while farm implements were purchased and distributed to all the LGAs in the state.
Gov. Yahaya Bello’s intervention in Agriculture
To empower the youths in cassava production, 1,000 hectres of land at Ojapata, Osara and Kabba were cleared, which is why Kogi boasts as one of the leading producers of Cassava in Nigeria.
Other areas touched includes establishment of five units of Garri Processing Mills, earthen ponds and engagement of farmers in the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.
On road and building construction, Governor Bello has touched bana-Ikeje-Ette, Idah-Umomi-Anyigba, Ekirin-Ade/Ohun Iffe-Olukotun, Ponyan-Jege-Ejuku-Ijowa (Isanlu), Idoma road, Mahmoud Attah road in Central Senatorial district, SUBEB road, Lokoja, and overhead bridge at Ganaja junction in Lokoja.
Meanwhile, Revenue House Lokoja, Civic Centre, Lokoja, Debt Management Office, Government House Chapel were constructed.
Others ongoing or completed works include gully stabilization, construction and rehabilitation of roads, street cleaning, waste collection, evacuation, disposal and drainage/canal system for major roads.
Operation Light Up Kogi East (PLUKE), a special project to address the agelong power challenge of Kogi East.
In terms of women and youth empowerment, Governor Bello’s administration has trained over 100,000 youth to drive the state’s agricultural renaissance programme; created the Youth Development Commission to enhance capacity among the youth; absorbed 450 youths in Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue; employed 100 youths for forestry operations through the Ministry of Environment.
Also, 160 youth were also engaged as environmental health attendants for sanitation by the Ministry of Environment while 1500 others were recruited for vigilante service and 2500 were empowered through Basic Skill Acquisition program.
As regards the Civil Service, a critical part of government,the State Government has cleaned up corruption in that sector by successfully conducting a Staff Verification Exercise to weed out ghost workers and unintended beneficiaries from the payroll of government.
Also, civil servants are exposed to sound trainings to improve their delivery capacity, which has ensured the state government to enjoy robust cooperation and synergy with the civil servants.
On the part of government, they have ensured wages and pension are paid regularly as part of commitment to the civil servants for living up to the “New Direction Agenda”.
As regards information and communication, one of the moves made by the governor was to upgrade the state’s website to a world class standard to mark out the state for global recognition.
Acknowledging the import of ICT, the governor set up a committee to fashion out the Roadmap for ICT renaissance and plug the state into the Digital Economy, just as online digital skills training for the State Information Officers and Reporters in the State Radio Corporation and ‘The Graphic’ Newspaper was organised.
Governor Bello repositioned the parastatals under the Information and Communications Ministry for optimal performance and for effective grassroots sensitisation and mobilisation; established the e-graphic for the first time in the history of the publishing company, which was a great surge to the output of the corporation.
To feel the pulse of the state, a novel radio programme tagged “State of Kogi,” an audience radio interactive programme, was launched as a great avenue for interaction between the government and the people.
Already, the establishment of the Kogi State Open Governance and Accountability Systems (KOGAS), an online application currently being designed with the same motive of ensuring accountability will soon be launched.
When in operation, the platform will be made available and open to all Kogites as a forum for scoring each sector of the State, based on its performance by open governance in the state to the scrutiny of the populace.
“INVEST IN KOGI” campaign; a programme geared towards making the state attractive and enticing for both foreign and local investors was also set up by the governor and this has started yielding fruits as Kogi emerged the state with the heaviest inflow of investment in the last quarter of 2020.
The revamping of Government Printing Press to make it commercially viable in a bid to meet up with the state government’s revenue drive for rapid development of the state can also be attributed to the governor.
Meanwhile, the launch of the “Drug Abuse Whistle-blower Policy” in collaboration with the state command of NDLEA has been fruitful as the state Directorate of NDLEA reported that the step has helped to stem cases of drug abuse.
Kogi State now boast of Online Radio as Radio Kogi is now a global brand that could be accessed from any part of the world!
On the environment, the governor repositioned the sector to ensure a cleaner, safer and saner environment. This was done through the Kogi State Environmental Protection Agency.
To achieve this, refuse containers are positioned at strategic areas to encourage controlled refuse collection, private sector was involved in waste management, just as a high-powered multi-sectoral taskforce was set up to ensure Kogi is clean.
Also, while ensuring consistent sensitisation of the populace to plug them into the need to note that a cleaner environment is the responsibility of all, the government re-introduced monthly sanitation program.
The government created some Green Areas in some parts of Lokoja, put solar powered boreholes and street lighting to combat climate change effects on the environment while controlling Ozuri gully erosion site, while ensuring that road works are part of the mandate.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, these achievements were without doubt recorded in fulfilment of the promises made by GYB upon assumption of office.
His desire has always been to leave lasting legacies and not necessarily making good impressions on people.
The governor has always been of the opinion that by its nature, “legacy cannot be frontloaded, it must always be a verdict delivered by posterity, in retrospect. This means that legacy is not a medal you award yourself, it is one earned by hard work the results of which extend into the future”.
The GYB Administration has never, not even for one day, worked for applause but for positive impact and always in the overall best interests of the people of Kogi State and this can be attested by the motley achievement recorded across the state.