As the clock of Governor Yahaya Bello’s time in office ticks to 5 years today, it’s pertinent we have a terse retrospect of the condition of Kogi State prior the coming of governor Bello and the pool of peace currently enjoyed in the state.
This could, perhaps, enable us to clearly see and appreciate the direction of the new direction government in Kogi State and the embedded ability in Yahaya Bello to replicate same at the national level for Nigerians to enjoy a robust security architecture and put an end to terrorism which seems to be the greatest challenge of our dear country.
While no one may be able to give a vivid account and present in numbers, the too-many strides of Governor Yahaya Bello across all sectors in the past few years, I would like to take a pinch off the robust development witnessed in the area of security as the peace currently enjoyed in Kogi State is audible to the deaf and visible to the blind.
Kogi is livable today because Yahaya Bello is there. It should be on record that his entrance as the governor marked the exit of all forms of criminalities previously prevalent in the state.
Kogi was recently reported to have overtaken Lagos in investment inflow as tracked by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC). The report holds that Kogi State received the largest share of the investments announced with US$1 billion for Q3 2020, followed by Lagos State with US$239 million, Ogun State with US$75 million and Cross Rivers State with US$15 million.
Many doubted the report because they never expected it. Howbeit, the state was able to achieve that because of the stability it’s enjoying through the probity exhibited by the governor over the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lock down that grounded economic activities in Lagos and other states. Also, now that Kogi is seen and confirmed to be safe and peaceful, investors have no option than to troop into the confluence state looking at its strategic geographical positioning as the connector of about 10 states and it’s promising future looking at the foundation being laid by the governor.
So, when you hear that Kogi is leading in investment inflow, it’s true and nothing is truer than that because investors value security.
Before the entrance of Governor Bello on January 27, 2016, the state of our state can be best pictured in Thomas Hobbes’ description of the state of nature where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Growing up in the early nineties, we were familiar with names of certain notorious thugs and armed robbers. The state was more like the den of unquestionable bandits. But no such thing exist in today’s Kogi State.
The nasty state of the state before Bello took over was evident in the kidnapping cases recorded between the period of January to June 2016 where about 167 kidnapping cases were recorded in the Central Senatorial District, 42 in the Eastern Senatorial District and 39 in the western Senatorial District.
Terrorism ate deep into the fabrics of the state as it even housed the dreaded Boko Haram sect. It was reported that cells which served as factories for manufacturing IEDs by the terrorists were discovered in several parts of the state between 2011 and 2012.
Security agencies were not spared as numbers of police stations were attacked between 2011 and 2015 while the Department of State Security Service (DSS) office in Lokoja witnessed an attacked on September 25, 2015 that left three persons dead and detained suspected terrorists freed.
Another gory tale was when a Deeper Life Bible Church, Okene, came under attack on June 8, 2012 were 19 worshippers were killed. The city of Okene and it’s environs witnessed several invasion by bandits within that period that left many dead and properties worth huge of money carted away.
It’s on record that between 2011 and 2015, a total of 16 bank robberies involving several banks across the state took place. The bank robbery cases as highlighted by Onogwu Muhammad include; First Bank Kabba – November 19, 2011, First Bank Aiyetoro Gbede –December 19, 2011; First Bank Ankpa – April 25, 2012; First Bank Ajaokuta – September 27, 2013; Unity Bank – April 25, 2012; First Bank and Mainstreet Banks Kabba which were robbed at the same time on October 1, 2014.
Similarly, it was reported that Union Bank Egume was attack on August 10, 2014; United Bank of Africa (UBA) Odo-Ere, December 18, 2014 and Akwengwu Microfinance Bank Adavi – November 27, 2015.
Kogi state took a breath of hope when governor Bello came into office in February 27, 2016.
As a man who values human lives and properties with zero tolerance for any form of criminality, Bello wadded in with strategic security formation and execution.
The governors tactically engaged all stakeholders, including the traditional rulers, securities agencies and experts in mapping out the deliverance of the state from the captivity of bandits which had kept the people in fear of even their own shadows.
Bello-led administration swiftly established the Kogi Vigilante Service (KVS), which recruited and trained over 6,000 operatives in the last four years, as documented by Onogwu Muhammed, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor.
In leaving no stone unturned to completely bring the people the peace they deserve, huge spendings went into the reformation of the state security architecture. Some of them include the purchase, maintenance and fueling of over 160 vehicles provided for security agencies and building of a Forward Operation Base (FOB) for the Nigerian Army in Okene, which the CPS said consumed over N270 million.
Brobdingnagian amount of fund also went into the sustainability of the local security operatives as N58million was earmarked for Kogi Vigilantes; payment of about N50million monthly allowances. A whistle blowing policy with a reward of N500,000 for persons with reliable information on criminal activities was also initiated.
Governor Bello began to win the war against insecurity in the state when security operatives were mounted in all the nooks and crannies of the state. This led to destroying of ‘Darusallam,’ a terror group operating on the Kogi-Nasarawa border, was decimated when their camp was dangerously destroyed by the Nigerian Military recently in a gun battle that lasted for several hours, according to those familiar with the matter.
As noted by the CPS, the military operations which were led by the Nigerian Army from the 177 Battalion, Lokoja, and local vigilantes within the state, funded by the Kogi State government, resulted in the rescue of over 100 kidnapped victims and the arrest of 180 kidnappers operating within the deadly camp.
The ‘Darusallam’ terror group who met their waterloo shortly after the entrance of Yahaya Bello, was said to have been the gang behind kidnapping, and criminal activities being carried out along Abuja – Lokoja highway for several years without obstruction.
Governor Bello, not relenting, went extra mile to employ technological devices when The Vigiscope (Vgs) Operation was deployed to annihilate the spoonful criminal elements left. It was said that the administration partners with a private company (Vigiscope Limited) towards intelligence gathering and sharing in collaboration with mainstream security agencies.
According to the report, the deployed technologically driven security and safety apparatus comprised of three major components identified as the mobile reporter, the dispatcher, and VGs responder. This was believed to be another step in the right direction by the administration as it enhances quick responses by security and safety operatives across the state.
On January 3, 2020, a crucial meeting with heads of higher institutions was summoned by the governor where he issued an ultimatum that institutions leaders who couldn’t handle cult activities on their campuses within that space of time should resign.
The result of the meeting with beefed up internal security, over 14 cultists were nabbed while carrying out their illicit activities at different parts of the state between January 8th to February 20th, 2020. While over 200 people denounced their membership of different confraternities at the Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyigba on Friday, 28th of February, 2020,’ report says.
Without complacency, just last week Wednesday, we witnessed the inauguration of the 441 constabulary officers picked from the 21 local governments in the state for community policing. The officers which were trained at the Police Training College Ilorin are to assist the police in total raking of criminal elements in the State.
The Yahaya Bello’s effect also led to the arresting of 10 kidnappers by Hunters Group of Nigeria (HGN) and the rescuing of 19 kidnapped victims in Kogi State 2 days ago.
No doubt, the achievements of governor Yahaya Bello in the area of security, youth and women inclusiveness in governance are unbeatable. Kogi has witnessed a rebirth and has been positioned for a rapid development.
While Bello is yet to be done with Kogi State, the people are already overwhelmed with joy for the victory they have got at last. He has proven to Nigerians that the youth can do better and as such, they should be given the chance as digital problems can not be tackled with analogue approaches and mentalities.
Bello is the icon of security combatant in Nigeria today and history would reserve a larger place for him. God bless the people of Kogi State, God bless Nigeria and God bless Governor Yahaya Bello.