Address by his Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State at the New Direction Administration’s 7th Anniversary
3. Ẹ k’àbọ̀!
4. Great Kogites and friends, I am excited to speak to you on this 7th Anniversary of our New Direction Administration. 7 years ago, precisely on 27th January, 2016 we commenced a journey of destiny for our wonderful state and people when I stood on the podium at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja and took the Oath of Office for the first time as the 4th Executive Governor of Kogi State.
5. On that day I made several far-reaching promises on behalf of myself and my Team in the new Government. We promised that Change had come to Kogi State and that our people were the proprietors of that Change while those of us in Government were merely chauffeurs employed by them to drive it. We promised that long-standing divisions along tribal, religious and other fault-lines were over and that fairness, equity and justice to all would be guaranteed. We swore to eliminate the out-of-control insecurity Kogi was notorious for back then and we undertook to make all of Kogi’s resources work for all of Kogi’s People.
6. With the fear of God and love for our land and people in our hearts, we gave assurances that our past of backwardness and underdevelopment in Kogi State were over. It has been my privilege and pleasure since that First Inauguration to oversee an accelerated and proportional transformation of our State through innovative thinking and prudent management of all resources – human, financial, material and natural.
7. Our Administration did not underestimate the amount of work we needed to do to overcome the abysmally low levels of socioeconomic development we inherited, but we also refused to glorify impossibilities. We assembled a multidisciplinary team of Consultants to develop our New Direction Blueprint as a governance roadmap to help focus our efforts in executing the promises we made to Kogites.
8. Put simply, we met great problems but we also mobilized great courage and inventiveness to solve them together. Till today, we continue to tackle our challenges with stoicism and the heart of a Lion. For the first time since Kogi State was created we programmed equity into the spread of government appointments and projects.
9. Merit, fairness and justice determined the selection and placement of persons who worked with us, and when it came to projects, we have tried to spread the love proportionately between our 3 Senatorial Districts. Tribe, religion and class are no longer the determinants of who or where gets what. They play no role except as a measure of proportionality, and only in the pursuit of inclusivity.
10. We also made it a deliberate policy to observe affirmative action. For the first time in our history, the youth and the womenfolk occupied the largest number of high profile positions in government, and they were not only entrusted with high office, but were allowed to wield real power and influence. It is to their credit above all others that the Kogi State which has begun to emerge under our stewardship is beginning to take the shape of the greatness we could only dream of at inception.
11. Kogi is a microcosm of Nigeria and possesses the same diversities that, often mismanaged, have caused so much tension and conflict in our nation. However, in the last 7 years of this Administration, working together as fellow Kogites, I can say with every sense of responsibility that we have been able to recalibrate attitudes to the point that we have a state today that is more secure, united and peaceful than at any other time since her creation.
12. In 2019, Kogi State showed us great appreciation with their electoral support. They reelected Mr. President and the Vice President with very sound margins before giving us a clean sweep of the various legislative seats. APC candidates won 3 out of 3 Senate seats, with one being reclaimed in subsequent rerun polls. We also took 7 out of 9 House of Representatives seats and all 25 seats in the Kogi State House of Assembly.
13. On November 16, 2019 when I came up for reelection for a second term, my people surprised me with a historic vote tally that saw me beating my nearest challenger with over 215,000 votes! That election also signaled a drastic paradigm shift in how we play our politics. Henceforth, politicians and their parties will be obligated to court every constituency if they wish to govern Kogi State. Like I said in my 2nd Term Inaugural Address on 27th January, 2020, I am indeed grateful that Kogi people counted me worthy to be the protagonist of these new realities. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
14. We have worked assiduously as an Administration to fulfill the mandate which our people have so enthusiastically entrusted to us twice now. We have executed life-transforming projects across the length and breadth of Kogi State – from City to Town to Villages, even Hamlets. At a time when the Naira has been steadily contracting in real value and supply, our Administration can boast of an array of projects numbering in their thousands.
15. Many of these projects have been completed, while many more are racing to completion. They include hundreds of primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare and educational institutions which we have built from scratch or substantially reconstructed. Others are brand new infrastructure and utilities that cut across all sectors which we designed and built to improve the lives of our people in both urban and rural areas.
16. I shall resist the temptation to go into a detailed listing of our projects, there will always be a time and place for that. Moreover, anyone can find them easily on our various websites, especially www.kogipedia.net and www.kogistate.gov.ng. It is enough therefore to point out that a few, such as the Reference Hospital, Okene which houses both an MRI Centre and Nigeria’s first hyperbaric treatment facility are of national, even continental, significance. The Ganaja Flyover and Interchange at Lokoja is the first, but certainly not going to be the last, in Kogi State.
17. Other projects are the Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara which we founded, the Confluence Rice Mill, Ejiba, the GYB Model Science Secondary Schools, the Muhammadu Buhari Square (Civic Centre) at Lokoja, hundreds of kilometres of urban and rural roads, innumerable water supply schemes, a state universal healthcare insurance scheme and simply uncountable number of projects sited everywhere you look in Kogi State.
18. Our performance matrix is rooted in an overall mission statement as an Administration, which reads thus: ‘To develop Kogi State into Nigeria’s foremost and most secure emerging commercial hub through optimization of the state’s geographical location, natural endowments and human resources for a sustainable future.’ This mission is the passion that drives us.
19. We do have a lot to be grateful for, especially to the men and women who have given of their time and talents to make our achievements possible. Many of them were with us in the first term and did not make it back in the second, mainly due to the political realities of zoning and rotation peculiar to many constituencies. We thought of having an extended family Get-Together today to reconnect with some of them that we have not seen in a while but that was not to be. Nevertheless, we thank them for their service.
20. If you see me fixated on providing transformational leadership and good governance in Kogi State, it is because our President, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari has laid down solid examples which I find inspirational. Mr. President has surpassed every Nigerian president before him in the delivery of strategic infrastructure across Nigeria and I am compelled to follow suit in Kogi State.
21. My people, ladies and gentlemen, no single Governor can completely rebuild a society in the time available to one administration, but even if we vacate office today, we can live with a clear conscience, confident that we did our best for Kogites with the time and resources available to us. So, on this 7th year of our Administration in Lugard House, we celebrate our achievements for our people because they are the most important measures of how far and how well we have come.
22. To me, Kogi State is a metaphor for our Nation. We are the intersection at the heart of Nigeria where compatriots from different parts of Nigeria meet everyday on their journey of life, share a meal or a short rest and travel together to mutual destinations. Our aspiration is a Nigeria where we can all meet in our rich diversity, unite in our nationhood and travel together towards our shared greatness.
23. I thank the Great People of Kogi State for their trust and support from inception till date. We are going to count greatly on it for the rest of the journey.
24. In the end, we humbly return all thanks and praises to the Almighty God. He alone is the Doer of everything we can lay claim to have done in Office as a Government. Without His enablement we would have been both helpless and useless. To God be the Glory!
25. I wish all of us in the New Direction Administration and indeed all Kogites hearty felicitations on this 7th Anniversary of our Government. Let us pause briefly wherever we are now, observe a moment of prayer and of thanksgiving, and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. Then let us tighten our belts and sandals and get ready for the last and 8th lap of this race. I assure you that the next one year is going to be hectic as we intend to multiply geometrically in creativity, innovation and productivity.
26. My heartfelt appreciation to all and sundry.
Governor of Kogi State.