There seem to be a slight upsurge in the rate of crime in the past few weeks after some significant progress in the last few months. What is the reason for the upsurge?
Security operatives and intelligentsia are currently working round the clock to tame the criminals. Any criminal in Kogi State is surely in the wrong place. We will go after them and Kogi will win the war. We need improved collaboration with the people. For instance, who are the people supplying kidnappers food and other daily needs? We need to disconnect criminals from their supplies which law enforcement agents are doing. Government is also working on improved surveillance. Governor Yahaya Bello is deploying massive technology against criminality in the state. All Kogi people must come together to support the anti-crime drive of government. The way opposition celebrate each time crime is committed is something that should win the attention of law enforcement agents. Are they happy with insecurity? Are they encouraging insecurity? Are they supporting insecurity? Is corruption fighting back in the guise of insecurity? Why will “kidnappers” tear and destroy certificates and other documents meant for Verification by the Screening Appeal Committee? For Kogi to continue to record success in security, all Kogites must be involved. Criminals must be exposed. They are not ghosts. They live in our communities. Anyone who harbours or conceal information about a criminal is also a criminal.
To whom is the Governor Yahaya Bello dedicating this award?
As he always says, “Na God win”. He dedicates it to the Almighty God who is the Chief Protector of the Kogi people. He dedicates it to the good people of Kogi State. He dedicates it to the law enforcement agencies who work day and night to protect the people of the state. He dedicates it to his critics who have brought out the best in him.
Let us digress a bit to the Staff Verification Exercise. Many people believe the exercise has brought untold hardship to the people of the state. What is your take on this?
Kogi is very lucky to have a Governor with the courage and political will to right the endemic wrong in the civil service. We have a civil service with thousands of unintended beneficiaries drawing salaries while not rendering any service to the people of the state. Many of them live and work for other organizations outside the state and Kogi continued to pay them hundreds of millions of naira that would have been used to construct roads, build schools and hospitals. We have a civil service in which political leaders enlisted their children that were below 18 on the payrolls. We have a civil service in which some Secondary Schools Vice Principals can not fill ordinary biometric data. We have a civil service in which a secondary school certificate holder was employed as a Medical Officer on GL 13 while medical doctors were not getting job. We have a civil service that is top-heavy. No employment, no promotion, yet the wage bill was soaring. For a New Direction government, this is unacceptable. The reform will serve the people and they know the facts. The exercise is an absolute necessity to build an efficient and effective civil service.
How long will the exercise take?
We are at the Appeals stage of the exercise. Government has given a window of justice to the affected workers to ventilate their complaints and seek redress. The Governor has insisted that no genuine worker must be shortchanged. As a man of justice, the Governor wants every worker to be treated and judged on merit. We are also streaming the activities of the committee live to the world. After the screening, the state will boast of the best civil service in the nation. We went to ASCON to bring professionals to help our drive. The Reconciliation Committee has also commenced sitting. The Committee is to handle issues of short-payment, overpayment, wrong placement on GL and other related issues. We are leaving no stone unturned to have a great exercise. We know what the people are going through. We feel their pains. We are in it together and Kogi will reward their sacrifices.
You recently celebrated the Governor’s first year in office. Can you let us into your scorecard?
It has been a first year of excellence, of proactive and responsive governance. We have turned Kogi to a construction hub as construction works are going on around the state. We have commissioned architectural edifices of the Revenue House and the SDG; we have commissioned other legacy structures across the state. We are making progress in our determination to take agriculture to another level and we are also repositioning our civil service. Governor Yahaya Bello has also initiated a number of healthcare programs that have enabled the less privileged access to healthcare. What he has done so far has given hope for a better tomorrow. The surface dressing of the Lokoja-Okene road as well as other major federal roads has also been applauded. Our Local Government Councils now enjoy full autonomy while our IGR is soaring. Lokoja is unfolding into an excellent state capital with better roads, improved environment and better security. We are hopeful we shall get there.
There has been increased opposition to the Governor from his party, the APC. What is the way out?
The party is behind the Governor. Those against him know why they are against him. They are against the Governor because the Governor has chosen to serve the people rather than service their pockets. They should join hands with the Governor to reposition the state.
Hon. James Abiodun Faleke allegedly reported the Governor to the Presidency recently. He alleged that the Governor is misleading the state.
Faleke can only report the Governor of Lagos State because he is actually representing the people of Lagos. Kogi is witnessing progress under Governor Yahaya Bello, a situation that is not helping their selfish agenda. We are not looking at the next election, but how to use the present opportunity to better the lots of Kogites. This is not the time to play politics but service to the people.
Are there reconciliatory moves between both the Governor and Hon. Faleke?
I wouldn’t want to comment on that. But the Governor is for nobody but for everyone. He has continued to express his readiness to work with anyone who believes in the Kogi project