Thursday, January 28, 2016

KOGI: Under Wada, it was business unusual



By Abu Mike.

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 smear the person of the Governor, Capt Idris Wada, needs to be praised.

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. In Kebbi state, 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 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 2015. Workers and pensioners in the state of Osun are today being owed about eight months salary.

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 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.

Capt Wada inherited a debt of N38billion, and his inability to pay salaries for October to December added another N7.7billion debt to what the state is now owing.

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 until the last three months 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.

Across the states of the federation, the thinking now is about prudence and diversification of revenue. Captain Idris Wada thought 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 believed that, rather than lay off workers, it is better to share what is available. Unfortunately, the workers have choosen to pay him with an ill timed strike action after his lost in the governorship election.

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 last year. The saving grace that thus ensured that all the teachers got 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 with a staff strength of about 26,500 need about N1.5billion to pay salaries. Unfortunately what came in from the federation account for a long time until July last year for example was not able to pay, little wonder the resort to the percentage payment, having come to terms with the realities.

Captain Wada because of the recession made only projects and programmes with economic values a priority. The cost of running governance in the state was also drastically reduced to reflect the mood. A concerted efforts was also 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.

Capt Wada took over from an administration that believed in sharing money, spends before planning, where due process in award of contract was not followed and one in which 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 Wada when they discovered that governance in the state was no longer business as usual.

For doing what was right that should ordinarily be applauded in other clime, the Capt Wada like a magnet, kept attracting enemy every day with the wrong perception created about him. But despite these distractions, the state has made a lot of progress on all front.

It is unfortunate, that in politics facts are secondary. People are more 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 made it abundantly clear that it would no longer be business as usual in government business.

On assumption as governor, Captain Wada inherited a N7 billion debt. The state’s debt profile still stands at that, with visible projects available for all to see.

For the records, Kogi State Government is building a seventeen storey Kogi House in Abuja at the cost of N2.2 billion. This project and others embarked by Wada when completed would shore the state's IGR. 

For example, the Diagnostic centre in Lokoja, whose Civil work is already completed, serve as a centre of excellence for medical diagnosis in the north Central region of Nigeria. Similarly, the Korean institute located at the state polytechnic has the best of Equipments for skill acquisition. The centre in itself would be self sustaining.

It is a reality that over 58 roads were completed by these administration. It is also 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 have been upgraded in the state as well as the establishment of five Zonal hospitals across the state.

Another reality is that all Iconic schools in the state have been upgraded. Over 200 Primary and Secondary Schools have also been built and renovated.

Kogi 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.

From what Captain Wada’s ingenuity in a period of economic realities has achieved, it shows that he was a leader that the state needed beyond 2016.

Under the Capt Wada government, it was no longer business as usual but a business that is unusual, a style many criticized and never liked.
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