IS THIS THE KOGI STATE OF OUR DREAMS?
Paper presented at a public lecture organised by The Nigerian Post Newspaper by T.E. JOEL, a lecturer at Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja.
It is with a sense of appreciation that I have once again being saddled with the task of giving this public lecture organized by the Nigerian Post Newspaper.
A sense of appreciation because I am aware that Kogi State is not in short supply of egg heads, that will without doubt do justice to this topical issue, which I will be introspecting into in this paper.
The Nigerian Post Newspaper has already assumed a unique role of presenting to the public balanced news reporting, unbaisness and also a plethora of features at every edition of the newspaper. The Annual and public lectures series of the newspaper has also assumed a critical platform where intellectuals can Jaw Jaw on issues affecting Kogi State and Nigeria as a Nation. The importance of these public lectures is brought to the fore as Kogi State faces challenges of development, and Nigeria as a nation with centrifugal and centripetal forces that intends to pull her apart, more in recent times.
The questions that come to mind considering this topical issue of, is this the Kogi State of our dreams? Are multi-dimensional, who is dreaming about Kogi State? Why was Kogi State created? Who are the individual that agitated for the creation of Kogi State? What were these objectives? Are these objectives met? Any prospects for Kogi State? What is happening to the dreams on Kogi State?
Etudaiye (2011) states “This is not the Kogi State of our dreams” Kogi State was created on the 21st of August 1991, by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, together with eight other states, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ijgawa, Kebbi, Osun, Taraba and Yobe. The capital of Kogi State is Lokoja, a town rich with several colonial heritage. The state has twenty one (21) local government areas, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela-Odolu, Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, Koton-Karfe, Lokoja, Mopa-muro, Ofu, Ogori/Magongo, Okehi, Okene, Olamaboro, Omala, Yagba East, Yagba West.
Kogi State is the most connected state in Nigeria, the state shares boundary with ten states in Nigeria. Anambra, Enugu, Benue, Nasarawa, Niger, Kwara, Ekiti, Ono, Edo and F.C.T. little wonder Kogi State is referred to as the Confluence State.
Kogi State is home to the largest iron and steel industry in Nigeria, established in 1991 on 24,000 hectares of land, but a present source of National embarrassment to Nigeria as a Nation. Since the Steel complex has been left by successive Governments in Nigeria Moribund, regardless of the fact that the complex has the potential of being the bedrock for the industrialization of Nigeria and a means of reducing unemployment in Nigeria.
There are three main ethnic-groups in Kogi State, and other ethnic groups, the three main ethnic groups in Kogi State are Igala, Ebira and Okun with other minority ethnic groups such as Bassa Nupe main in Lokoja environs, Gwaris, Kakandas, Oworos, Ogori/Magongo, Eggan community under Lokoja Local Government and others.
The state has huge mineral deposits that highlights the states potential for economic development, there are over (29) twenty nine minerals resources which are available in commercial quantities in the state, coal, dolomite, iron ore, bauxite, feldspar, Gold, limestone, etc and each of the (21) twenty one LGAs in the state has at least 2 mineral deposits of commercial quantity.
According to the Ministry of Budget and planning in Kogi State, in a related report asserts that Kogi State is perhaps the most blessed state in terms of solid mineral deposit in the country. The states has no fewer than twenty one (21) out of the thirty three (33) solid minerals identified so far Nationwide.
Limestone and marble deposits are found in Ajakouta, Jakura, Ososo, Osara while Lassiterite, columbite and tantalite are found in Egbe Yagba West, Gold is also found in Egbe Yagba East, while iron-ore can be found Itakpe Okene. The Coal reserve in Okaba district of Ankpa LG, which alone holds reserve of 99 millions tones of coal, can play a critical role in Nigeria’s energy mix, if the political will to diversity Nigeria’s economy exist.
This paper attempts to examine the evolution of Kogi State, creation in 1991, highlight the intrigues and suspicion that characterized the agitation for the creation of Kogi State, briefly appraise developments and challenges, facing the state since it was created and proffer possible steps that could help fast track the developmental leap the state needs.
Evolution of Kogi State
The initial agitation for the creation of Kogi State can be traced to the formation of Kogi State Movement (KSM) a movement the articulated there agitations for the creation of Kogi State through writing of articles, organizing conferences, meetings. The movement aggregated various strands of interests together, and their agitation later culminated in the creation of Kogi State in 1991.
The movement crisscrossed the then old Benue State and Kwara State during the struggle for the creation of Kogi State. The (KSM) under the chairmanship of Dr. Ahmadu Ali, C.O.N. Navigated the dangerous tribal cum ethnic divide and mutual suspicion that pervaded the political atmosphere of that time and to achieve the goal of the creation of Kogi State.
The KSM met at Lokoja on the 15th of March 1980, with (83) eight three delegates from Bassa, Dekina, Kogi, Okene and Oyi Local Government Areas, and they resolved that they will pursue objective of the creation of Kogi State. The movement met at Ankpa on the 23rd of August 1980, where serious acrimony arose and the acrimony resulted into a fiasco then. Another meeting held on the 6th September 1980 at Lokoja, another meeting held on 20th October 1980 at Gboloko, Obangede 3rd January 1981, Dekina 24th January 1981, Okene 28th March 1981. The movement resolved several contentions issues, such as the issue of the name of the state was to be called, where the capital of the state was to be situated. These contentions issues created serious divisions in (KSM) and eventually some delegates broke away from the (KSM) to start the Okura State Movement (OSM) and the coined the slogan then No more crossing. No more crossing.
However, these issues did not deter the movement.
The KSM held series of rallies to educated people on the issues central to the creation of Kogi State, and to counter and dispel the arguments of the protagonists of Okura States Movement (OSM). Subsequently KSM broke into chapters to validate the agitation for the creation of the new State. Hence the eight L.G.A.s in the old Kabba province that formed the proposed Kogi State Constituted Chapters of (KSM). These chapters organized the agitation for the creation of Kogi State, to counter the antagonist of the dream of creating Kogi State.
Eventually a formal letter requesting for the creation of Kogi State accompanied by a memorandum was submitted to the president of the Nigerian Senate then, Dr. Joseph Wayas on 20th May 1981, signed by Senators are House of representative members from the proposed Kogi State.
The process that was put in place by the second republic Government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari to see to the actualization of the creation of Kogi State was truncated by the Military Juntas that intervened in politics in December 1983, it was eventually General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida who created Kogi State 27th August 1991.
The first Military Administration of the new state was headed by Col. D.M. Zakari September 1991-January 1992, followed by the Administration of Alhaji Abubakar Audu Jan. 1992-Nov. 1993, followed by the administration of Col. Paul Omeruo December 1993- August 1996, followed by the administration of Col. Bzigu Afakirya August 1996-August 1998, followed by the administration of Alhaji Abubakar Audu May 1999-May 2003, followed by the administration of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris May 2003-2011, followed by the administration of Alhaji Idris Wada 2011-2015, followed by the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Belo 2015 till date.
Kogi State Since Creation
Kogi State has experienced development, since the state was created in 1991, for those who are familiar with Lokoja the State Capital before Kogi State was created, and how Lokoja is today will agree that there has been a tremendous transformation of Lokoja, Kogi State capital and a fair assessment of the three senatorial districts of Kogi State will establish the fact that there has been noticeable development in all the senatorial districts. However, it must be stressed that there is room and need for serious development “leaps” in Kogi State in general.
In contemporary social science it can be perceived by discernable scholars that there is a growing concern about assessing administration and governance of any social grouping in isolation, there is of course a sense in which a particular administration of say a state or country could be assessed, but generally administration need be viewed as a flowing continuous continuum, which implies that successive administration of a particular grouping should be viewed holistically, highlighting of course the strength and achievement, of each administration in a comparative sense, what should not be encouraged in assessing any administration is for the end of assessments to portray any administration in bad light, or possibly to deride any administrator.
This paper intends to periscope Kogi State since creation with this background in mind, the essence of assessing Kogi State since creation is mainly to project the achievement of the state since creation which is the result of the combined efforts of the past administrators of Kogi State both military and civilian.
In the educational sector Kogi State has made tremendous progress, the state is home to College of Agriculture Kabba, Federal Polytechnic Idah, Federal Advance Teachers College Okene, School of Health Tech Idah, College of Education of Ankpa, School of Nursing Obangede, School of Midwifery Egbe, Kogi State University Anyingba, Kogi State Polytechnic Lokoja, and several privately owned institutions.
In the health sector, Kogi State has made progress, the state has a Federal Medical Centre, a Specialist Hospital and other several health institutions, scattered all over the state.
Kogi State is home to two major National Industries the Ajaokuta Iron Ore and Steel Complex, located in Ajaokuta LGA. The National Iron Ore Mining Company located in Adavi LGA, Kogi State is home to the Dangote Cement factory the largest cement factory in Nigeria.
Also the federal government has earmarked citing of a Nuclear power plant in Kogi State, and two other states at the federation to be built in the near future. And many foreign firms especially from China and some other countries are presently making effort to establish manufacturing plants in Ajaokuta Kogi State.
In the area of infrastructural development of the state, there is progress, the Otokiti Ganaja by pass multi-lane carriage way is being constructed, the construction of Ogaminana Ebogogo Ipoku-kunko junction is ongoing, the construction of Obehira –Okegwen Ihima road is ongoing, the construction of Anyigba Ajaka-Umori Idah road is ongoing and several other road construction projects.
Kogi State has been faced with various challenges, since the state was created, challenges ranging from corruption, nepotism tribalism, Ghost workers syndrome, marginalization and lately security challenges, kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism etc.
Successive administration in the state has made several efforts to tackle these challenges imploring various strategies and levels of achievements have been recorded in the past. However the present administration of Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello has taken the bull by the horn in attempting to deal with some of these challenges bedeviling Kogi State.
The present administration has embarked on a comprehensive staff screening exercise in the state, to root out ghost workers from the state pay roll.
The present administration has also taken the issue of security very serious. So as to combat and reduce the rate of insecurity in Kogi State. Nevertheless the paper is of the strong opinion that Kogites like Oliver twist still desires that the present administration will do more to checkmate the activities of the men of the underworld.
Also the Herdsmen-farmers conflict and feuds is reflected in more than (15) fifteen LGAs in Kogi State, and these security challenge must be tackled headlong by the present administration of Kogi State. This is to ensure that the Agriculture revolution pet project of the Executive Governor of the state is not derailed by this Herdsmen farmers crisis in Kogi State Igbokwe (2016) opines 16 LGAs are mostly associated with farmers herdsmen conflict in Kogi State.
The other states created in 1991 together with Kogi State are at various levels of development, also facing challenges peculiar to them, from Abia to Anambra, to Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun and Taraba state, the challenges differs. However, Kogi State must harness available resources and ensure that Kogi State experience developmental leap.
Developing Kogi State
Notwithstanding the achievements of the past and present administration in Kogi State, the state needs a developmental leap, mainly because of the potentials of the state.
Good governance can ensure the realization of the Dreams of the state’s founding fathers, on August 22 1980 Dr. Ahmadu Ali C.O.N expressed his Dream of Kogi State he opines “I see a vision of a most Democratic Powerful and Efficient State in the proposed Kogi State”.
Another Dreamer of Kogi State Late Christopher Enefola states “my prediction is that Kogi State is destined to be the best in the whole of Nigeria”.
How can the Dream of Kogi State’s founding fathers be realized. A lot is dependent on the rebirth of a new philosophical outlook in governance and administration, Professor Sam Egwu argues what is most significant today, however is that the new administration in Kogi State under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello appears to have made a sufficient Diagnosis of the challenges of development and progress in the state, but even more significantly the new administration has expressed political commitment to reverse the trend”.
The Governor of Kogi State has developed a New Direction Agenda, a road map towards moving Kogi State in the Direction of development and progress. He opines “The New Direction blueprint is a definite roadmap for accelerated socio economic development of our state in all its constituencies. The New Direction Agenda is the special purpose vehicle for its actualization both reflects our collective aspiration for the building of a new Kogi State.
He stressed that the New Direction blueprint is a definitive roadmap for accelerated socio economic development of Kogi State, since the multi-disciplinary team of consultants that drew the roadmap traversed the (21) twenty one local government areas of the state, before they drew the roadmap.
The actualization of the Dreams of Kogi State founding fathers must encapsulated around the New Direction blueprint of the state government. Also the Government in Kogi State most concentrates on human development; infrastructural development must be keyed into human development.
Professor Sam Egwu opines “Give priorities to the development of human capital above all other endeavours because the conventional wisdom of development its build on your comparative advantage, Kogi’s comparative advantage lies in the development of human capital, evident in terms of access to western education by the standard of erstwhile Northern Region.
The state government also need to partner with development partners i.e non governmental bodies, to engender development in Kogi State.
Kogi State was reknown for industrial development in the recent past, the enabling environment must be created by the incumbent administration to revitalize and reinvigorate the establishment of cottage industries, industries, businesses concerns in Kogi State. In the recent past, Kogi State was home to Mopa Valley food, Jakura Marble, Oluyori bottling company Okura, the sanitary ware company at Idah.
The government must need resolve all differences and collaborate with federal legislators to engender development for Kogi State.
Kogi State without doubt is a state with tremendous potential; all these potentials must be harnessed to engender development and progress of the state.
Etudaiye (2011) states “Kogi State has enormous potential, but the potentials of the state must be harnessed to engender development in all its ramifications.
The Governor of the state must renavigate the state from ethnic agitations to ethic collaborations, where every Kogites see each other as brothers.
– Mr Temitope Joel
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