By Onoja Integrity
Now that we are at the eleventh hour to the transition hours of Alhaji Yahaya Bello beyond being the governor of Kogi State to the leader of all nations in this nation, it won’t be out of place to set records straight on the rains of unsung infrastural development that has showered his administration so far and what the governor garnshied his era with that stands him out.
Having been crowned for being second to none in youth inclusiveness in governance, unification, detribalization, accessibility and fair share leaderships for the women, Bello is also standing tall surfing through the web of infrastructural development from the previous administration to this day.
Kogi State who was carved out of Kwara and Benue on the 27th August 1991 by the administration of former President Ibrahim Babangida was a dream come true for the people. The people have continually tried to put the State on the threshold of rapid socio-economic transformation but the trans formational train seems to have only geared up in the time of Yahaya Bello.
Delving into the political progression of Kogi State, the respective political pilots and frantic attempts made by all to bring the state into a limelight, one could see that retrogression fell on the people after the ousting of Audu but resurrection came at the entrance of Bello.
In 1999 when democracy was restored to the people, Prince Audu was re-elected into office as the first democratically elected governor of Kogi State on the platform of the erstwhile All Peoples Party, APP.
Audu’s re-elction bid failed in 2003 governorship election that ushered in Alhaji Ibrahim Idris who piloted the affairs of the state from 2003 to 2011. In 2011, Capt. Idris Wada mounted the ship and successfully sailed on till 2015 when Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello took over till date.
The socio-economic contribution of Audu who is an Igala and the first man on the line-up of rulership, is to date a point of reference to the generality of the people and many aspiring leaders even though critics have continued to fault him on issues bothering on arrogance, pride and mass sacking.
Among his many achievements as recorded during his brief first term of office include the establishment of three different housing schemes for public officers consisting of over 1,500 housing units in Lokoja, the transformation of Lokoja township with asphalt roads, street lights, aesthetic roundabouts, the construction of inter-township and rural roads, over 75 electrification schemes and 50 water projects.
Prince Audu went on to fund Kogi State Polytechnic, the establishment of a television station, radio station (both AM and FM), a state newspaper and the transformation of the colonial residence of Lord Lugard into an ultra modern government house complex. The construction of office blocks for ministries as the new state had no office accommodation, the construction of shopping arcade complex to enhance commercial activities, among others.
He also pioneered the construction of the first ultra modern state liaison office in Abuja. His administration also built an ultra modern stadium and a five star hotel in Lokoja, the Confluence Beach Hotel.
He took steps to woo prospective investors to harness the numerous solid mineral potentials in the State. The big prize was the establishment of Obajana Cement Factory. The project, which was on going before he left office, attracted the support of the United States Government. During the visit of former U.S.President Bill Clinton to Nigeria, the State Government signed the agreement with the US Trade Development Agency (TDA) for a grant to finalize the feasibility work on the project. The cement project is now operational.
The establishment of the state highest citadel of learning, Kogi State University Anyigba, is another testimony to the vision and resourcefulness of Audu. The foundation stone was laid on 30 November 1999, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, visited the state. About a year later, the president returned to Anyigba during a state visit to commission the university complex.
According to a report of a visitation panel to the university from the Nigeria University Commission, the institution was then described as the fastest growing university in the country. The university received tremendous international support, which included an affiliation programme with Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Also, seven visiting professors from various universities in the United States were at the university to review its curriculum and align it with their own universities and prepare the students for exchange programme to give the university an international acceptability.
Other landmark projects he completed within four years. They include: 250 units housing estate, a sport complex, a specialist eye hospital and 25 other medical institutions. Others were a government girls secondary school on student exchange programme, 350 borehole schemes, 300 kilometers of township roads, the procurement of 100 transit buses and completion of 40 rural electrification projects.
He was also named the best governor in the 1999-2003 dispensation, despite being a governor on the platform of the opposition, the ANPP.
Howevr, even though Audu still remain a point of reference for infrastructural development in Kogi State, he left lot of decay in the civil service and workforce that shrinked the strength of the state to progress and truncated the efforts of the administration thereafter. He cared not much for the women and the youth had no place in the government. It wasn’t a friendly era as the government could hardly be reached with public out cry.
Ibrahim Idris, otherwise known as Ibro, was another Igala man elected as the Governor of Kogi State in April 2003, and reelected in April 2007, under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
While he reigns, consideration was given to both human capital development and infrastructural development. The flagship of his legacies in health was the establishment of the 400-bed-capacity Specialist Hospital and Referral Centre in Lokoja, the state capital. In education, about 2,000 primary school blocks of Four classrooms and offices each were built across the state. Every village or Ward in the state could boast of at least one block of the signature schools.
After achieving full accreditation for all its 29 academic programmes in 29 months, Kogi State University, Anyigba became the best state owned university in the country during Idris Stewardship under Ibro.
That is not all. Idris constructed about 1,500 units of houses for workers in Lokoja and across the 21 Loal Governments. All major roads in the state capital were dualised. Other notable dividends were the International Market, Confluence Stadium, State Secretariat Phase II and the 50million liters capacity Greater Lokoja Water Sheme.
One thing noticeable in Ibros’s administration and the previous administration was that each tried to bring the state out in one area or the other. The state, at least, stood out among states in certain areas. But the departure of Ibro was not a smooth one for democracy because godfatherism was felt and it was obvious that that power was only handed over to Wada behind closed doors.
Ibro rooted godfatherism and injected the blood into the then political bigwigs in the state. He also couldn’t handle the decay in the civil service and bureaucracy of accessing the government and its functionaries.
Captain Idris Wada’s administration, another Igala man, was a bid decline in development but was not pretty bad as he was able to make some in-road in infrastructural advancement in the construction of Housing estate (Ganaja-Ajaokuta road, Felele), 750km of roads including Ganaja-Otokiti dual carriage bypass, Ankpa township road, Ankpa-Ojoku-Okaba road, Egbe, Kabba township roads and others currently going on, over 300 rural electrification project, rehabilitation and construction of hospitals including the establishment of the college of medicine at the Kogi State University, Anyigba and the construction of Kogi Diagnostic and Image Hospital, Lokoja.
He built over 14 general hospital including Odu-Ogboyaga orthopedic hospital, Agro-allied subsidy.
His other strides include building and renovation of classroom blocks and hostels accommodation in the tertiary institutions across the state, water supply; the completion of Greater Lokoja Water Scheme, provision of intra-city bus service scheme and the recently commissioned world-class transport facility; the Lokoja Mega Terminal which cost the state over N2billion, construction of eleven story-building Kogi House, Abuja and the establishment of multi billion naira Allo Cement Company at Itobe-Oful local government area in partnership with foreign investors, and so on.
The defeating of Wada at the pool brewed joy in the minds of people as it was obvious that everyone wanted Audu back. Except that many knows that with Audu, Kogi would continue to stand on the tripod of Igala, Ebira and Okun, with the Igala ruling the people while others watch and get crumbs when they fall off.
Again, no one would be able to relate with the government on the social media because Audu wouldn’t be on WhatsApp to respond to us or listen to social media voices as Bello and Onoja are doing.
Less women would smell power and criminalities could thrive because the old thugs would know that baba is back.
Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, an Ebira man, became the governor after Audu who the people voted for never lived to see the end of the election. Bello who initially lost the race to Audu at the level of party primary election was obviously not voted for by anybody but God. This was a major indicator of the grace behind the Ebira man.
Bello was re-elected in 2019 having downsized the overloaded state workforce, collapsing of tribal wall, bridging the gap between the people and the government and was obviously ready to build on the foundation he had laid.
Aside winning the war against insecurity, Bello has been able to plant crops of development in all the nooks and crannies of Kogi State because the evils of disunity and bottlenecked processes in reaching the government bedeviling the state were cast out by the power in the hands of the youthful government.
His remarkable achievements are endless, but like I once said, we can only take a drop off that ocean. To begin with, Yahaya Bello just begun the construction of about 30 roads in Kogi State. And for verifaction, the roads earmarked to be constructed include Bishop Court – Kasuwa Hotel-Ganaja Junction Road; Adankolo Cemetery- Zenith Bank Road; Dunamis Junction- Federal University Road; UBA Adankolo- Housing Estate Road; Cemetery-Baptist Church Road; Kewon Hotel – Lokoja LGA/Federal Road Safety road; Sardauna Junction – Cemetery /Maigari Palace Road; asphalt overlay of Paparanda Square- Nataco Junction Dual Carriage Way, grade separation intersection (Flyover Bridge) at Ganaja Junction; Agassa- Irucheba Road; Ozuwaya- Idozuni Road; Idozumi- Idoji Road; Spurs-Ahache – Enyinare Road; Ateba – Idozumi Road; Spurs, Obehira- Makaranta Road; Library – Inike Road; Agassa- Ekuku – Dam Road, Agassa- Anyava Road; Iyah- Fadile Junction Road in Kabba; Dada Onicar Bestway- NTA Junction Road; Inuraje Road; Ogo Oluwa Street; Surulere Road; Ipele Street – Barnabas Cathedral Road; St. Banabas Roundabout Road; Obaro Odoafin Road; Bolorunduro Road; Ekirin-Ade/Ohun- Ife Olukotun Road; Poyan-Jegede/ Ejuku-Ijowa Road; 55km Idah-Ajaka – Umomi-Ejule – Anyigba Road; 8.3km Dekina Township road; 31km Ibana-Okpo-Ogugu-Ete Road; Old Egwume Road; Ofejikpi Road and Ankpa Abejukolo Road.
In August 2020, Gov Bello signed the bill for the establishment of Confluence University of Science and Technology, Osara and Central Reference Hospital, Okene. The execution of both projects are in top gear and massive employment is ongoing. Its expected that Kogi would, in no time, begin to churn out graduates in science and technology which is where the world is titlting towards.
Before now, Bello constructed a magnificent Library at the Kogi State College of Education (Technical), Kabba; Donation of Science School of a Hybrid Manual/Electronic Library at Dekina; Construction of 50 Bed capacity hostel block for Government Girls Secondary, School Obangede; Completion of students hostel block (A) at G.S.S.S Icheke in Omala L.G.A of Kogi State.
He also constructed the Confluence Advanced Medical Diagnostic & Imaging Centre (CAMDIC), Lokongoma Housing Estate, Phase I, Lokoja; Cottage Hospital, Kpareke; Renovation and construction of new Hostel and Clinic for School of Nursing, Obangede; Construction of official residence of Physician to the Executive Governor of Kogi state; Renovation and construction of new Hostel and Clinic for school of Nursing, Obangede; Lokoja (Banda) – Kotonkarfe electrification project; Electrification projects of Abejukolo Town in Omala LGA; Electrification project of Transformer at Araba Salifu, Ajeni Gbelegu, Emewe Opada 1 & 2 Communities and Step Down of 6 Nos transformation at Odu Ochele, Afele, Odu – Ate, Odu – Ofomu, Odu – Gegeli, Odu – Anana in Dekina LGA, Kogi State.
Other infrastrural projects of Bello era are the execution of Special Intervention Projects in Government Day Secondary School, Adankolo Lokoja, Phase 1 (A) Block (A) phase 1 (B) Block B, phase 1 (C) Block C and phase 1 D, Block D; Dualization of Welcome to Lokoja/Barracks/Zone 8 Roundabout/Murtala Muhammed Road/New Market; Rehabilitation/Asphalt overlay of Chari Maigumeri Army Barracks Riry Road including street lighting and construction of Diagnostic Centre phase II, Lokoja; Installation of Kogi State comprehensive diagnostic and imaging centre (CAMDIC) in Lokoja.
He Repaired Total Filling Station area (Okene), checkpoint (Ajaokuta road junction) and section of Lokoja/Okene/Auchi road; Mobilization and commencement of rehabilitation /construction of Ankpa/Abejukolo road; Rehabilitation of Shintaku/Gboloko/Dekina road.
More so, Bello did the construction/rehabilitation of Lokoja township road I of III; Provisions of Solar – powered street light along Federal University/Ganaja/Baptist Secondary School road sections and access road to House of Assembly, Lokoja; Construction of Ogaminana/Ebugogo to Total junction with spur to Eika/Itakperoad; Construction of Ogaminana Ebogogo Ipaku- Kuroko junction; Construction of Obehira-Okengwe/Ihima Road; Construction of Agassa-Upogoro-Okene Road; Construction of Anyigba-Ajaka-Umomi-Idah Roads; Construction of Ankpa Township Roads, are all projects accredited to Bello.
He gave Kogi a face lift through the construction of Kogi State Revenue House; Construction of Kogi State Ministry of Justice office complex, Lokoja; Kogi State Secretariat Complex internal road network and Kogi State High Court Complex internal road network.
In addition, he commissioned Ultra- Modern Primary Health Care Centers in the three senatorial districts; Construction Of Nigeria Army Forward Operational Base In Dekina; Electrification Project In Zango(Provision Of transformer); Construction of a Hybrid Manual/ Electronic Library at Dekina; Construction of 50 Bed capacity hostel block for Government Girls Secondary, School Obangede.
Bello provided two points of motorized borehole drilling and 40,000 liters capacity pressed steel overhead tank on 9m3 stanchion at the 2017 flood victim’s camp, Felele; Reconstruction Of Ankpa And Kabba Markets; Construction Of Prototype Public Toilets Across The State; Accreditation of Twenty–six (26) schools for Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE); Donation of Science School of a Hybrid Manual/Electronic Library at Dekina
The rehabilitation of Ibana-Ogugu Road, inter roads within Okene, rehabilitation of Lokoja Township Roundabout, NUJ Building, Ejiba Rice Mill, Ejule-IDAH Road that connects all of Igala LGAs to their traditional ancestral hone, the first ever Government House Chapel that oppressed religious wars previously thriving in the state are part of the numerous projects that distinguished the era of GYB.
He also initiated Erosion control works in Dekina, OGUGU- Olamaboro and Okene and like I did say, the works of Bello are too numerous to mention. We can only take a pinch from its pool.
Without mincing words, GYB has delivered Kogi state and has set it on the path of speed in development. All he has planted might not have started yielding results but we would understand better in the coming years. He cast out the evil of illlegal employment in the state civil service and has anointed the state to excel.
As he gives our dear state finishing touches in the next 3 years, he is already leaving a better state compared to what he met. No doubt, Bello has done more than everyone, and without stress, stands as the best among the rest.