Kogi @32: The House that must not fall.

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By Dada Ahmed.

(c).Research gate.

Kogi State, carved out of the old Benue and Kwara States by the regime of General Ibrahim Bababgida on August 27,1991, has been described at various fora as a state whose birth came at the right time.
This is because for almost 40 years, the people of the present d kogi state had agitated for the creation of their own state , the dream of which became a reality 32 years ago.
Governance commenced in the state on August 28,1991 with Col.Danladi Mohammed Zakari as the the first military administrator,followed by Col.Paul Omeruo, then Col.Bzigu Afakrya and lastly, Col.Augustine Aniebo.
Prince Abubakar Audu was the first democratically elected governor of the state, succeeded by Alhaji Ibrahim Idris who handed over the leadership to Capt.Idris Ichalla Wada and in turn succeeded by Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello whose second term in office is expected to end in January,2024.
The yearning for the state of their own is anchored on the remarkable potentialities of the area which marks it out as one of economic hubs and life wire of the then Northern Nigeria, according to Profesdor Olayemi Akinwumi.
Made up of several ethnic and linguistic groups such as IgalaeEgbira, Okun and others, kogi is endowed with iron ore, tantalite, limestone,coal, petroleum among which if well effectively harnessed, will shoot the state into national and international limelight.
Cultural enthusiasts also believe rich culture and tradition of the kogi state can hardly be eclipsed by any other culture in Nigeria and beyond the shores of the country.
Wikipedia adds that the creation of the state is a dream fulfilled and one which seeks to put the State on the threshold of rapid socio-economic transformation.
This, no doubt, is in consonance with the dream of the founding fathers of the state, the sixth of its type created in north central Nigeria in the 90s.
Kogi State occupies 29,833 square kilometers and it is the most centrally located of all the states of the federation, share boundary with about 10 states of the the federation and peopled with various ethnic nationalities living peacefully with one another.
As a matter of fact, apart from being a state, some citizens prefer to call kogi, figuratively, a “House,” peopled with different ethnic nationalities, whose varied political interests, shake the corporate standings of the “House.”
Addressing the people of the state in his broadcast to mark the 32nd of the state, the Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, noted that “Kogi State “emerged as an entity from parts of Benue, Niger, and Kwara States, full of the promise and possibility of a new era for our people.”
He is ,however, not umindful of the power of collective responsibility propelling the process of meaningful development of the state and the attainment of such lofty heights since its creation in 1991.
He reminded the citizens of the state that “any success we have seen as a state, since we became one of the federating units in the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not the work of a single individual or administration, but the collective effort of every Kogite.”
Commenting on the socio-economic and political relevance of kogi state in the political equation of Nigeria at a public function in Lokoja,Alhaji Suleiman Baba Ali,
Ga’abi of Lokoja & Mutawallen Arewa of Nupe, also confirmed that kogi state is blessed with lots of human, natural and mineral resources, too numerous to mention. He was represented at the event by Alhaji Adama Yahaya, former manager, kogi United FC of Lokoja.
Above all, he added, “Kogi State, being a Confluence State of opportunities plays host to strategic socio-economic national and local assets such as Ajaokuta Steel Company, the Obajana or Dangote Cement Company amongst several others.
What more, its citizens are some of the highly educated Nigerians, home and abroad.
This according to him is coupled with historical and tourism monuments and sites in Lokoja, Idah,Okene and indeed, in almost all the 21 LGAs in Kogi State.
However, political analysts believe that despite the social, economic and political development of the state, various political interest groups threaten the soul of this enviable entity figuratively called “House” and stress the need to check the negative development before it blows out of proportion. The urgency of ensuring political stability of the state becomes much more imperative as the November 11,2023 gathers steam.
Speaking as the Chairman, 2023
edition of the Nigerian Post annual lecture and award ceremony, with the theme,“Kogi@32: Sustaining Unity, Peace of The Confluence, This House Must Not Fall,” Baba Ali described the topic as apt but called for sober reflections.
He said as someone who knew the struggle that went into the creation of the State by the patriotic statesmen from the East, West and the Central senatorial districts of the State, “there is every cause for us to celebrate and nurture this over 30 years old and growing State of ours.”
He was, however,quick to warn that the dint of hard work and consistency in making sure that Kogi State, now 32 years old develop,by successive administrations in the state;military or civilian,must not die in the quest by political actors seeking for leadership position.
“In all of these, what we have as a major asset is our peaceful disposition to one another, irrespective of ethnic, religious or political affinity and affiliation. We are one Kogi State and we will always remain so by the grace of God!”,he said.
According to him,the several political interest groups fighting for the control of the soul of the State are simply expressing their underlying interests which may or may not represent the general interest of all the people of the state.
“For me, and indeed, for most of us who are determined and committed to building our common heritage, there is no better time than now to renew our hopes in moving Kogi State forward through concerted effort.
He called on the people to work beyond physical boundaries and look more at the bigger picture of a Kogi State that would be a confluence of opportunities, when properly harnessed,” and can cater for all our needs, be they basic or otherwise.”
The chairman of the occasion, noted that kogi state is blessed with all resources required to build a virile State that would be prosperous and can accommodate all genuine aspirations of its citizens.
He expressed optimism that when such attitude is adopted, it would pave way for the emergence of “an egalitarian State where all of us can and should be equal partners and be seen to be committed in making sure that the sacrifices of our heroes past are not in vain.
“As we approach the 2023 Kogi State Governorship Election, it is my candid opinion that capacity, competence and the unity of our heterogeneous State should be the watchword and not ethnicity, religious or political consideration that would do us no good.
“Let our choice be Kogi first above all other considerations,” he urged the the political actors and the people.
Toeing the line of the chairman of the occasion, the guest speaker, who is also the Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Lokoja, Professor Olayemi Akinwumi, observed that the opportunities that abound in kogi state notwithstanding, there were major problems requiring the attention of critical stakeholders- state and non-state actors- to find lasting solution to.
He identified such problems as development planning, security and harmonious co-existence.
Represented by Professor Abdullahi Musa Yusuf, Akinwumi called on the state government to put more efforts into its development plan programmes and harp on “sustainability question” to enable the state re-evaluate its past , assess its current resources, opportunities, encumbrances and chart a future sustainable development agenda.
He said, ” As a state, we must make conscious efforts to harness and maximize our environmental opportunities and resources, and government must provide the required leadership.
“Other issues that a good development plan should capture include the attraction of massive foreign direct investments in the direction of our commercially viable natural resources and the building of massive infrastructure covering education, health ,electricity, roads among others,” the VC further urged.
On security,Prof.Akinwumi,said that if the state would survive, government must continue to invest in the security of lives, property, and all sources of livelihood.
The guess speaker, who commended the Neighbourhood Watch of the state government, called for its sustenance, adding that the role of critical stakeholders- government, traditional rulers, religious leaders,community associations and security services- must be recognized and funded.
He stressed the importance of the role of security services in intelligence gathering, calling attention to early warning signals and red flags and promoting the idea of good neigbourliness in security management.
On harmonious co-existence, the erudite Professor of History, who described kogi state as a home to many ethnic groups and cultures, argued that while kogites must recognize their centrifugal and centripetal forces, they must promote the centripetal or uniting forces that bind the state together.
“There must be a deliberate synergy by all to enhance the well-being and development of the state,” he said.
He further called on the people of the state to play down their political difference by looking at kogi as a common project which must be guided, nurtured and sustained to the envy of all.
Governor Yahaya Bello, represented by the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr.Wemi Jone, said the principle of his administration is based on justice, unity, equity and fairness in siting projects in the three senatorial districts of the state.
According to Bello, the current government under his watch also makes sure that appointment of management of eductional, health and other establishments is based on fairness,equity and justice to ensure peace in the state.
He cited that where an appointee of the state government from one senatorial district is made the overall head of the.state-owned institution, government make sure that the deputy comes from another district in such away that no district would feel marginalized.
This style of his administration, the governor said, helped in no small measure to ensure peace in the state and hoped that such positive development would continue even after his tenure.
In all, it is instructive to note that the government and the people of the state have what it takes not to allow the “House” called kogi to fall.
The import of this is that, kogites, irrespective of differences in religion, ethnic, culture and tradition, must have it as a cardinal responsibility to display avowed patriotism towards peace and development of the state, more so as the governorship election in the state gathers momentum.
The consensus opinion among most people that attended the the Nigerian Post lecture has been that, political gladiators and their followers would do the state good by playing the game of politics according to the rule for the peace and development to reign supreme so that “This House called kogi, will not fall.”
Like Sunny Okosun of the blessed memory once sang in one of his evergreen songs,”Together we shall win forever, forever we shall win together” but as one indivisible entity.
For this to be a reality in the quest for the attainment of a peaceful state, every kogite must shelve his or her divisive expressions and stick to those developments that unite the state.
The journalists and security agencies also have a stake in ensuring that the House does not fall by adhering strictly to the ethics of their profession and shun escalating fake news and enhancing effort in ensuring security of life and property respectively.
In the same token, parents must be up to their responsibility by keeping eagle’s eye on the conduct of their children, to prevent them from falling prey to the lure of some politicians ready to use them to settle scores with perceived political enemy,especially during contest.
When we do this, in unison and sincerity of purpose, we would have made the founding fathers of the state, dead or alive, feel that their labour for the creation of the state is not and will never be vain.
This is absolutely necessary so that the “House”, built by the founding fathers of kogi, to provide an enviable social,economic and political platform for its citizens to be proud of and make it a shinning example for other states in Nigeria does not fall.
Dada Ahmed publishes The Reporters.
ahmeddada008@gmail.com .

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