Kogi state is 32 years old, just like other states created by the military administration, with all the development indices, but since Gov Yahaya Bello assumed office, he has raised the tempo of governance higher through his populous policies as SALIHU ABDULRAHMAN reports.
Governor Yahaya Bello’s rise to stardom as the fourth executive governor of Kogi state on the 27th January, 2016, no doubt, was an answered prayer for the people of Kogi state.
The people of the state since its creation about 32 years ago had always wished to have a unifier who will break the walls of division; they had yearned for a patriotic leader who will place the interest of the state above any personal interest or gains.
It is therefore no longer news about his emergence as governor at a very youthful age and the circumstances surrounding his emergence which still poses a surprise to Nigerians.
The candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the ill-fated 2015 governorship election, Prince Abubakar Audu died on the eve of declaration. Tbe legal and political fireworks that ensued thrust the mantle of leadership of the state on the Governor Yahaya Bello.
On assumption of office, he hit the ground running with his New Direction mantra having known the enormous challenges ahead of him. The youthful governor begun with total departure from the existing order of running government affairs by enunciating five thematic areas in his administration’s blueprint which he pursued vigorously to develop the state after almost eight years in the business of governing Kogi otherwise known as the Confluence State.
Focus in health sector
His landmark achievements in the area of health especially the establishment of world class Reference Hospital in Okene the headquarters of Central Senatorial District equipped with state-of-the-art equipment endeared him to many stakeholders and even the naysayers who have never seen anything good in his administration.
The 300-bed capacity hospital which has been completed and now operational has commenced services to humanity. As at today, renal and coronary disorders for which some people travel abroad can now be accurately investigated and treated at the hospital. The medical facility which would also serve as teaching hospital for medical students has to a greater extent reversed the trend of medical tourism within the North- central states.
Despite his lone voice on the issue of Covid-19 pandemic of 2019/2020 era down to 2021, Governor Bello paid attention to medical facilities as the Specialist Hospital in Lokoja which was established by former Governor Ibrahim Idris was rehabilitated, upgraded and expanded to serve the health need of the people.
In addition, Governor Bello also constructed, completed and put in use Specialist Hospitals in four other towns including Gegu Beki in Kogi local government, Ajaokuta, Dekina and Isanlu, Yagba East local government areas. This is aside the Primary Health Centres that were rehabilitated in more than 80 communities.
The governor in the recent past procured and distributed 25 brand new ambulances to several hospitals in the state.
Education as priority
The administration has also devoted a large chunk of its resources to education in the last seven years. The establishment of Kogi State University, Kabba and the accreditation of courses at Confluence University of Technology, Osara have clearly demonstrated the love the governor has for education.
He went further to also establish GYB Model Schools across constituencies in the state. The schools are finished to taste and stocked with state-of-the-art teaching facilities, furniture, tiles, air conditioners and computers.
The flagship of Governor Bello’s achievements in education is the establishment of a two new state universities in his second tenure in office.
The first is Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara in Kogi-central which commenced academic work in 2020 and hopefully the first set of the institution would be graduating by February, 2024.
The Kogi State University, KSU, Kabba which was established through a bill by the state House of Assembly has been given approval by the National University Commission (NUC) to take-off having made all the necessary requirements. The KSU Kabba made the third universities under the finances of Kogi state government.
Governor Bello at different fora gave reasons for the establishment of additional universities.
The aims according to him was to address the challenge of getting admission into higher institutions by Kogi indigenes and assured that the third university would take off before the end of his administration.
The governor who is fond of matching his words with action had released the sum of one billion naira for major renovations in KSU Kabba campus and recruitments of both academic and non academic have commenced in earnest.
Infrastructural development and transparency
The infrastructural footprints of the Bello administration are not limited to the above sectors. Under his leadership, Kogi state has recorded substantial achievements in security, roads construction, agriculture, rural electrification, provision of portable water, agriculture, youth and women empowerment, civil service reform and many more have earned him awards both locally and nationally.
His commitment in financial transparency and accountability since he came on board in 2016 has also earned him accolades by the World Bank’s States’ Financial Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) index.
It is however not out of place to mention that Governor Bello’s success in the governance of the state has been well planned and executed which gave raise to the enunciation of 32-Year Development Plan for the state.
The plan which would span over three decades would put successive administrations on their toes to further develop the state and this envision motivated the governor to search inward for a successor who would not deviate from his laid out vision for the state, but consolidate on his numerous landmark achievements and programmes.
This is why the choice of Alhaji Usman Ahmed Ododo as the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 governorship election is the right choice and accepted by stakeholders.
Ododo is generally accepted by the people, well known for his humility which he demonstrated in his country home Upohoro in Okene local government where he single- handedly built a 50-bed cottage hospital for the health needs of the community and other adjourning communities.
Also as an appointee of the governor, Alhaji Ododo distinguished himself from others by supporting and financing the distribution of 11,000 Physics and Chemistry text books to Senior Secondary Schools across the three Senatorial Districts under the Kogi State Government School Adoption and Mentorship Programme aimed at encouraging the teaching and learning of science subjects for future technological development of Kogi State.
Therefore, Ododo’s prospect in the forthcoming governorship election in the state is not in doubt as the many achievements of Governor Bello would endear him to the electorate in order to ensure continuity.