For a state informally referred to as a civil servant state due to a comatose economy that forces the larger share of her citizens to turn to the civil service for sustenance, you can imagine the level of hunger, destitution and impoverishment that will accompany nonpayment of salaries and pensions, yet such is the fate workers in Kogi state have been grappling with for years on end.
Civil servants and pensioners are literally dying because they are being denied their entitlements either in whole or in parts by the Yahaya Bello Administration. Workers cannot afford to feed themselves and their families, they cannot afford to take care of their health because there is no money to pay hospital bills.
Wherever you are in the country or even beyond the shores of Nigeria, you would have heard the heartbreaking cries of workers and pensioners in Kogi who cannot feed themselves, pay their medical bills and are falling and dying like flies due to the sheer wickedness of Yahaya Bello’s Administration. The current situation of Kogites under Bello is symmetrical with the story of the Israelites in Egypt under Pharoah.
The hallmark of Bello’s administration is the endless and torturous civil service screening that went on for eternity. The exercise was supposedly meant to sanitise the workforce of the Confluence state, but it became a horror story that consumed lives of innocent people: workers and pensioners who died in fatal road accidents on their way to Lokoja for the screening exercise, for a second or a third time as the exercise became an endless cycle due to gross incompetence of the government. Several times the screening exercise would be repeated because it was fraught with ridiculous mistakes.
The state was awash with news of old pensioners falling sick from the rigors of coming to Lokoja for screening, and then dying later without receiving their pension. As you are reading this piece, workers in Kogi state are still grappling with arbitrary percentage payment of salaries, if they get paid at all.
The Yahaya Bello Administration has no business owing salaries and pensions. Kogi State workers and pensioners do not deserve the pains and untold hardship the Bello government is putting them through. The government has received enough funds to clear backlog of salaries, pay subsequent salaries and pensions promptly and still have ample left over for overhead and massive capital projects.
Yahaya Bello has received statutory allocation, Excess Crude and Value Added Tax (VAT) of about 132 billion naira; Internally Generated Revenue by the state (N51b); total allocations to Local Government Areas (N111b). Total funds received by the state and local governments: N294 billion. The other funds received by the state are: Bail Out (N20b); Paris Club refunds 1, 2, and 3 (N19b); and refunds for road construction by previous governments (N11b).
We will not be deceived by the sporadic, cosmetic projects being carried out randomly in parts of the state. It is simply a gimmick to deceive and gain cheap political bragging points. The few projects carried out are grossly inadequate, overbloated and far disproportionate to the amount of resources that have been available to the Bello Administration. Kogi state ought to be one of the better performing states in Nigeria considering the amount of funds received by this administration and the human and mineral resources available; but we have a governor who is inept, lacks empathy and the competence needed to administer a state as complicated and blessed as Kogi State.
Kogi State Government has become a privatised business, a kind of political sole proprietorship where only Yahaya Bello, his conceited Chief of Staff, henchmen and political hangers on exclusively run. People who worked hard for the APC victory in 2015 have been frozen out. They are abandoned and watch from the sidelines as the victory they laboured for is being rubbished by the opportunists in Lugard House who a whole State government like a supermarket.
Nonpayment of salaries and pensions, ineptitude, lack of empathy, underdevelopment, unemployment, dictatorial tendencies, etc; they are too many reasons to remove Yahaya Bello from Lugard House before he plunges the state into total chaos.
By and large, hope has been restored to the people of Kogi State as Vice Admiral Jibrin Usman (Rtd) has offered to serve and lead Kogites out of Egypt. Jibrin is the most suitable candidate to rescue the battered and tired people of Kogi state from Yahaya Bello, their heartless tormentor.
Admiral Jibrin is our chance of getting out of the debilitating quagmire we find ourselves with the so-called New but Wrong Direction Administration. He is disciplined, competent, accountable and is being driven purely by the desire to better the lives of Kogi citizens and bring about holistic, balanced and progressive governance to Kogi state. His aspiration to govern the state is a rare opportunity for the people. He is not a typically regular politician who is driven by selfishness and plunder; he was moved to join the race out of the empathy for the poverty and hardship gripping the state.
I implore each and everyone of us to all rise and seize this auspicious opportunity to remove the Pharaoh in Lugard House and replace him with someone who is moved by the genuine desire and passion to serve. Let us not miss this rare chance to change our deplorable status quo. Admiral Jibrin Usman remains the answer.
Victory bekons as Admiral Jibrin Usman has come to lead Kogites out of Egypt.
– Alhaji Shaban Salifu, an APC Chieftain and Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Abuja.