Kogi 2016: Why Wada is still the best candidate for Lugard House, by Abu Micheal
The recent global economic recession has shown that the task ahead of leaders who govern there state’s is no doubt tough and arduous. Little wonder many analysts are of the view that with the contrasting state of revenue allocation from the federation account, commendation must go to Captain Idris Wada the Kogi State Governor for his prudent use of resources.
Regardless that opposition politicians would climb over the mountain to promise heaven on earth, the times we are in, is certainly not the best of times to hold the position of a Governor. Recent revelation has shown that in an attempt to improve infrastructures, and to also impress the people, the future of several states in the country has now been mortgaged.
In Lagos State for example, Raji Fashola left a debt of over N500 billion in his hand over note. Similarly, Sule Lamido in Jigawa State handed over a liability of about N200 billion. N90billion is the debt profile in Benue while it is N100billion in Kaduna state. In Kebbi, Rivers and other States, the figures is still in dispute as some of them will for the next hundred years to come continue with debt repayment. In Osun, Oyo and Ogun States just to mention a few states where there where no transition,there debt profile is yet to be determined. But in the State of Osun for instance it was alleged that the present governor have borrowed heavily, thus making the state to be heavily indebted. Little wonder the state after deduction at source from its monthly allocation received a paltry N544 million in March. Workers and pensioners in the state of Osun are being owed about eight months salary with the NLC calling on Dangote and other well spirited individuals to come to the aid of workers with foodstuff.
Time and space would not permit the listing of indebtedness of some other states as this will send shivers down the spine of innocent Nigerians. But the good news however is that Kogi State by the recent figures released through the Debt Management Office is only indebted to the tune of N7billion, a debt profile that began since 1991, with Prince Abubakar Audu, as governor said to have heavily plunge the state in debt during his time.
The present time no doubt calls for a thorough reflection, considering the fact that the nation’s economy has dipped to its nadir. The federal allocation which remains the main source of revenue for states has dropped to about half of its size same time last year.
The crash in crude oil price last year has triggered a sharp drop in Nigeria’s earnings and with all the attendant negative up thrusts.
Since coming on board as governor, Captain Idris Wada has ensured that prudence and accountability remains his watchwords. The state under his stewardship has received between N3.5 billion to N3.7 billion on the average since 2012.
The governor on assumption of office met a paltry N150million as internally generated revenue. The efforts by the governor through measures he put in place has now moved the IGR to about N600 million monthly.
Today and amidst the drop, Kogi State has a better rating as it relates to the payment of salaries. with a wage bill of N3.2 billion monthly, as well as one of the highest paid states in Nigeria, as at press time, Kogi State Government is not owing its workers.
Across the states of the federation, the thinking now is about prudence and diversification of revenue. Captain Idris Wada has since began thinking outside the box. Little wonder a look at the eleven Bond projects he is embarking upon revealed that most of them are revenue earners.
For example, the Lokoja trailer and modern motor park, the remodeled Kogi hotels, the diagnostic and imaging centre Lokoja and the seventeen storey Kogi House in Abuja when completed will rake in revenue for the government.
Similarly, a look at most of the projects shows that they are those with direct bearing on the lives of the people.
Projects such as the 500 housing estate at crusher and ganaja, the Otokiti – Ganaja bye pass, the welcome to Lokoja road, through to the international market and the reticulation of Greater Lokoja Water works to all adjoining towns of Lokoja as well as the upgrading of 35 water schemes across the state, some of the projects funded by the bond, are all having direct impact on the lives of the people of the state.
In most states, Governors are now thinking of trimming down on their over bloated workforce in nearly all ministries, agencies of government down to the Local Councils. This thinking is however different from that of Captain Idris Wada, who believes that, rather than lay off workers, it is better to share what is available.
For example, N1.6billion is needed to pay salaries of teachers in the state. The state received N1billion in March and April respectively to pay teachers. The saving grace that thus ensured that all the teachers get paid was to pro rata what was available. Though this did not go down well with few persons who are teachers, generally everyone got something from what was available. Similarly, the twenty one local councils in the state and with a staff strength of about 26,500 need about N1.5billion to pay salaries. Unfortunately what came in from the federation account in April was not able to pay, little wonder the resort to the percentage payment, having come to terms with the realities.
Captain Wada since the recession has made only projects and programmes with economic value a priority. The cost of running governance in the state has also been drastically reduced to reflect the mood. A concerted efforts has also been made by the Captain Wada administration to through areas it has comparative advantage lay emphasis on Agriculture, especially in the area of cassava and rice production.
Several efforts by dishonest politicians who are scared of the governor’s rising profile having come to terms with his managerial ability is to seek to malign him. Wrong perceptions have been created by the opposition that Captain Wada is not performing.
It is important to state that the Governor took over from an administration that believes in sharing money, spends before planning, where due process in award of contract is not followed while political thugs were celebrated.
But having introduced a new style to governance, where planning, prudence and transparency was the watchword, people were bound to hate the Governor when they discovered that it was no longer business as usual.
For doing what is right that should ordinarily be applauded in other clime, the governor like a magnet, keeps attracting enemy every day with the wrong perception created about him. Despite these distraction, the state has made progress on all front.
It is unfortunate, that in politics facts are secondary. People especially in Kogi are concerned about the hype. But coming from a background where he and his Deputy, Yomi Awoniyi have made success in there private lives, Captain Wada has made it abundantly clear that it would no longer be business as usual in government business.
Politicians now find it expedient and convenient to pay columnist to slander the governor and the state on the media and new media. These has however increased the popularity of the governor.
On assumption as governor, Captain Wada inherited N7 billion. The state’s debt profile still stands at that, with salaries paid till date, as well as visible projects available for all to see. What reality do we need to see and to show that Captain Wada is the best man for the job.
For the records, Kogi State Government is building a seventeen storey building at the cost of N2.2 billion. There was a time, tongues wagged when Orji Kalu, one time governor of Abia State built a storey building at the same amount in Abuja.
Aside the quality of work, the cost of the projects embarked upon by the Wada administration is the cheapest you can find. Similarly, Wada’s project when viewed against the background of financial challenges that have hit states, are projects when completed will earn revenue for the state.
For example, the Diagnostic centre, whose Civil work is at advanced stage, will serve as is a centre of excellence for medical diagnosis in the north Central region of Nigeria. Similarly, the Korean institute located at the state polytechnic when completed would have the best of Equipments for skill acquisition. The centre in itself would be self sustaining.
While it is important for politicians to clamour for offices as that of the governor of a state it has become expedient to say that the wrong perception created about Capt Wada has been overwhelmed by the reality when juxtaposed with projects completed and ongoing.
It is a reality that over 58 roads have been completed by these administrations. It is a reality that over 120,00 persons have been treated freely in the state’s free rural programme. Presently, all general hospitals and health institutions are been upgraded in the state as well as the establishment of four Zonal hospitals.
Another reality is that all Iconic schools in the state are now undergoing upgrade. Over 200 Primary and Secondary Schools have been built and renovated.
The State for now is occupying a pride of place in the Agric map of the Country in its agriculture transformation.
Captain Wada by all standard is no doubt a silent performer amidst the resources available.
His exemplary style of good governance that has made the state a cynosure may not be appreciative to those who do not want the progress and development of the state, but when assessed against the international best practice, Kogi State ranks amongst states where best practices is the order of the day.
From what Captain Wada’s ingenuity in these period of Economic realities has achieved, it shows that he is a leader that the state needs beyond 2016. Having Capt Wada beyond 2016 will ensure that economic policies and programmes that has stood the state out and as bail out in these period of Economic recession is consolidated upon. For now and under Capt Wada government business is no longer business as usual but a business that is unusual.
Abu Micheal, is the Press Secretary to Kogi State Deputy Governor.