It becomes more unfortunate and disconcerting when one realises that such profligacy is being perpetuated in a state described as the “confluence of misery and poverty”, and in which Okada riding is possibly the most ‘lucrative’ enterprise employing hundreds of graduates.
Last week Friday, Premium Times published an exclusive report, “How Kogi Governor, Bello, Squandered Over N260 million ‘Security Vote’ Days After Assuming Office”, exposing the financial recklessness of Kogi State’s rookie governor, Yahaya Bello. To balance the report, in line with core ethics of journalism, Premium Times ensured that the state government told its side of the story.
The exposé clearly exposes the profligacy of the Yahaya Bello-led administration. Unfortunately, the response of the State government through its Chief Press Secretary, Fanwo Kinsley, lacks the clarity or depth to convince even children in the kindergarten to believe its side of the story.
Fanwo shot himself in the foot in a bid to defend the fiscal recklessness of his greenhorn principal by putting up a pale, false and unsatisfactory defence, which stakeholders in Kogi are querying, for its attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of folks is too brazen to be ignored.
First, that Fanwo confirmed to Premium Times that his principal withdrew the sum of N260 million as security votes “barely a week after he became governor of Kogi State”, counters his earlier statement on the issue. Screenshots don’t lie. The same Fanwo, via his tweeter handle @fanwonkings on February 11, 2016 had said, “Kogi Governor, Alh. Yahaya Bello rejects 150m naira security vote, says he will put his people first”(sic). Mind you, since he tweeted this, he never publicly complained that his Twitter account was compromised at any point in time. Could this be hypocrisy in government circle?
So, a simple Juxtaposition of Fanwo’s defence statement and the tweet reveals that he lacks integrity and moral rectitude; he is eating back his vomit in the attempt to defend the financial recklessness of Governor Yahaya Bello. It shows Fanwo cannot be trusted to speak the truth. As such, I wouldn’t waste space and time countering his false claims that Kogi State had “drifted into criminal hotbed” or “Kogi became a haven of robbers and kidnappers”. Perhaps, he was hallucinating or talking about another State, not the relatively peaceful Kogi State in which I have lived for over two decades, and which I am well acquainted with.
Again, I thought that a smart defence statement for the withdrawal of over N260 million as “security vote” by Yahaya Bello ought to contain a breakdown that answers questions like: how many surveillance crafts, patrol vans and security dogs were purchased by the state government with the funds, and at what cost? That is if they were purchased at all? And, how many CCTVs were installed at strategic points within the State with the money? How much of it was spent on training and retraining of officials of security operatives? How many town hall meetings were held between the government, security operatives, local authorities, local vigilantes and the people on security matters in the State? And perhaps, how many ‘prayer contractors’ were paid to pray for “peace” and the “security” of Kogi lives? However, the statement did not say anything beyond admitting that indeed N260 million was collected as “security vote” barely a week after Yahaya Bello became governor.
I find it contradictory that an administration that is so determined to rid Kogi State civil service of legions of ghost workers milking the state dry, could extravagantly expend such amount of money on the furnishing and renovation of the government house.
By extension, Fanwo’s justification for the expenditure of N140 million on furnishing and renovation of Kogi State’s government house – in which an erstwhile governor, Capt Idris Wada, had just vacated – in the face of a severe cash crunch that had forced the state to go cap in hand, begging for bailout to pay salaries, reveals how insensitive and reckless the present major actors in the state government are.
In fact, I find it contradictory that an administration that is so determined to rid Kogi State civil service of legions of ghost workers milking the state dry, could extravagantly expend such amount of money on the furnishing and renovation of the government house. It becomes more unfortunate and disconcerting when one realises that such profligacy is being perpetuated in a state described as the “confluence of misery and poverty”, and in which Okada riding is possibly the most ‘lucrative’ enterprise employing hundreds of graduates.
That Fawon said, “If you have ever been to Kogi State Government House in Lokoja, you will appreciate the rot of the architecture…” and that “In tandem with the present administration’s drive to turn the economy of the state to a private sector driven one, we need to start our charity at home. People must love to come our Government House to transact business”, gives observers an insight into the frivolous priorities, cluelessness and ineptitude of this administration.
I stand to be corrected, but the influx of investors into a state is not dependent on how gigantic or cozy the state’s government house is, but on how conducive the entire state’s business environment is to investors.
For crying out loud!, with Yahaya Bello’s wealth of experience in transportation business, he must be aware that N140 million is more than enough to resuscitate the moribund Kogi Travellers – Kogi State’s transport company – that would certainly create jobs and bring in revenue for the state. But, how would the renovation of the government house drive the state’s economy forward, rather than guarantee irresponsible opulence for the governor at this difficult point in time? How would the funds spent on unnecessary comfort enhance the base for the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR)?
That said, I wish someone could inform Yahaya Bello that the ‘fragrance’ on Kabawa/Kpata road alone is enough to ‘attract’ tourists/investors and ‘encourage’ them to visit and invest their wealth in Kogi State. And that, by the time the renovation and furnishing of our 10-star government house is completed, it would automatically make up for the “architectural rot” of Lokoja, and transform it into another ‘Dubai’ in Nigeria.
What an interesting execution of priority for a rookie governor who apparently can’t act beyond what he knows.
Ahmed Oluwasanjo; firstname.lastname@example.org; @ahmedrazak3