Kogi State, Senatorial Rice And The Heated Crucible Of Ignorance

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18 Houses Used By Kidnappers, Armed Robbers Demolished In Kogi State

Kogi State, Senatorial Rice And The Heated Crucible Of Ignorance, By Gbenga Olorunpomi

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Politics is not for emotional people.

When it comes to the difficult reforms Governor Yahaya Bello is undertaking in Kogi State, as opposed to the media narratives put out by those who feel excluded from the elite feeding trough that was government in Kogi State before he took office, people ought to ask questions before making comments, or acting. It can be excruciatingly embarrassing for such people otherwise.

This piece was written by Gbenga Olorunpomi. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

Unfortunately for the Nigerian Senate, every time they have allowed their beloved whippersnapper to lead them into the Kogi terrain, they have ended in the sloughs of discredit. First, they agreed with him on an alleged assassination attempt on his life by principal officers of the Kogi State government. Imagine the pie on their faces when audio evidence emerged that he had set the whole thing up, and so shoddily too.

Next, they joined him in aluta against his impending recall by fed-up constituents. They even tried their hands at helping him interpret the law to put his recall at their beck and call in order to kill it on arrival. They are still being schooled by the real lawyers, while the enfant terrible has run from pillar to post, court to plenary, and is now on the run from INEC and court bailiffs to prevent the recall.

This time, they have escorted him into the blind alley of declaring Kogi State an Internally Displaced Persons Zone. He knelt before them, raised his hands to heaven and swore that Somalia is better than Kogi under Yahaya Bello. The wonder of wonders is, distinguished senators believed him and began the charade of donating rice with tears dropping out of one eye or both. It shows just how much they think the average Nigerian is worth. Not their time – they could not be bothered to raise a fact-finding mission to Kogi. Not their money. One month’s donation of their humongous, world record salaries and emoluments will probably keep Kogi State, not just the civil servants, with rice for the rest of the year. Bags of rice only.

Like someone said, NEMA ought to double the watch on her warehouse till all the donated rice comes in.

While the Senate was playing out its carnival, the world dumped a dose of reality on them. Not done with inviting Kogi State to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York last month as one of four Nigerian success stories in the SDGs, the UN again showcased her at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week. Then, the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the 2017 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPIs) showing the incidence of poverty in all Nigerian states. Lo and behold, Kogi State under Yahaya Bello is one of the few to record an actual reduction in poverty rates!

I will not go into minutiae, but you can see for yourself here http://www.cfrmagazine.com/2017/10/see-2017-poverty-rate-of-all-the-36-states-in-nigeria.html?m=1

I know this is not the type of news that gets attention when the lynch mob is out baying for the head of an administration, but for those really interested in human development, it is actually the most sensational news out today. Looking at the new ratings, one can see that the percentage incidence of Poverty in Kogi State in the just released Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2017 is 26.1 percent. This is the poverty rate in the state based on data from 2016 back. On the other hand, the poverty rate in Kogi in the 2015 MPIs released nearly half a year before before Governor Bello took office is 26.4 percent. See http://www.nairaland.com/24189 94/ranking-nigerian-states-pov erty-rates.

Remember Governor Yahaya Bello was sworn-in on January 27, 2016. It means in just one year, his New Direction Administration reduced the poverty rate among his constituents by several decimal points. 26.4 percent dropping to 26.1 percent may not seem like much, until you remember this was during a period when the ‘high-flier’ states remained static, neither improving nor deteriorating in the Index. For instance, Anambra State did not move from 11.2 percent poverty prevalence between 2015 and 2017. Likewise Lagos maintained her national lead for least poverty rate at 8.5 percent over the same period. Many other states actually worsened, no thanks to the recession and general dwindling of incomes of governments across board. In fact, the national aggregate for Nigeria worsened from 30 percent in 2015 to 53.3 percent in 2017.

Governor Bello’s Kogi managed a marginal improvement by swimming against strong tides. Acting unconventionally. The administration pushed her reforms through despite unbelievable obstacles. Sociopolitical roadblocks it has had to surmount include a viciously contested election, followed by even more viciously prosecuted legal challenges, which practically stalled governance while they were on. 17 court cases in all, and all firmly resolved in Governor Yahaya Bello’s favour, all the way from the tribunal to the high court to the supreme court.

Resources were also seriously plummeting due to the global slump in crude oil earnings, which is Nigeria’s economic mainstay. Kogi, along with all the other states, had to wait on their monthly shares from the federal purse to fund local budgets. Then, the great recession arrived and the bottom dropped out of everything. While this was on, the Kogi State government was simultaneously contending with the insecurity of lives and property as she was – before the coming of the administration – among the national leaders in kidnappings and armed robberies. At the same time, she was managing back-to-back strikes and shut-outs, while engaged in a battle of wits with all the major labour unions over her civil service reforms.

According to Wikipedia, “The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was developed in 2010 by the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme and uses different factors to determine poverty beyond income-based lists. It replaced the previous Human Poverty Index.”

It is this prestigious global benchmark, which has asserted that Governor Yahaya Bello’s young administration has somehow reduced the poverty rate in its state at a time others were struggling to maintain their status quo. The interesting thing is that Kogi’s improved MPI ratings are coming in the very same week a series of unfortunate incidents related to the death by alleged suicide of one Edward Soje, a high-ranking civil servant in Kogi State allegedly owed 11 months’ salaries by Governor Bello’s administration, which has led to postulations that the state is one huge IDP Camp.

Observers and commentators alike are therefore forced into a confrontation on the basis of the conflicting ratings between their conscience and their partisan political leanings. This conflict is usually resolved in one of two ways.

One, conscience wins for those whose objectivity tells them that the MPIs are rooted in the most trustworthy, professional and rigorous analysis of microeconomic and macroeconomic data the planet can boast of, and that the efforts of the Kogi State government is an amazing feat that must not be eclipsed, no matter what.

Two, partisan political leanings win hands-down for those who do not know about the MPIs or who believe that the collaboration between an Oxford University think-tank and a UN Agency, which develops them, is somehow in cahoots with Yahaya Bello or worse, in his pockets, hence the pass mark bestowed on him.

To each his or her own.

Of course, in the objective world partisan political leanings versus conscience freed by knowledge is a no-contest any day. Conscience actuated by pure knowledge has no match, despite the foibles of partisans. Put simply, it is the difference between food and nutrition. It is one thing to consume a mountain of Akpu and watery soup and entirely another to eat a small plate of a balanced diet. The first man has a bloated tummy and little else, the second the required nutrients for healthy growth.

What then does the fact, that despite the general gloominess the administration still managed to do the right things to be internationally acclaimed while squeezing out some improvements in the general poverty outlook for her citizens, say about the vision and tenacity of the Team in Government House, Lokoja? You be the judge. Conscience? Or partisanship?

Nobody ever said reforms, or even change itself, were or is ever going to be easy, but it takes mindless opposition in the political space or incorrigible ignorance of what’s really happening, to kneel down in public and pronounce that a baby’s teething pains is cancer of the jaw in order to inveigle support for a sagging political career.

So, for the senators who donated 1260 bags of rice to Kogi civil servants at the instance of Dino Melaye, you have just been had, for the umpteenth time, by a niggardly demagogue. One who was nowhere to be seen just last month when floods predicted long ahead of time by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) were ravaging wide swathes of his constituency. An obnoxious charlatan whose people would have completed his recall from the Senate by now but for the usual underhanded stratagems characteristic of one who rode to the Red Chambers on the back of Hurricane Buhari, with no personal merit at work, and no hope of a repeat.

But the thing is funny sha. When we heard senators were hustling to donate rice to Kogites, we were happy. Our boy from Kogi West is finally waking up. We were planning a convoy of 200 Dangote trailers at least to go and bring home this our share of the national cake from the Senate to our people only to hear that after all the yanga, na only 1260 bags drop for a workforce of at least 65,000.

Shuo. Did Dino not tell them that the Kogi Alhaji Yahaya Bello received from them has the largest official and unofficial workforce in West Africa? He should at least have told them that appointees from only Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State did much more than that for their constituents during a recent holiday? How can our Senators yab derself like dis nah?

On top of that, we read that even Deputy Senate President Ekweremmadu donated 100 bags after Dino’s drama. His native Enugu State has remained stagnated at 28.8 percent poverty rate on the MPIs for years now, despite his 15 years or so in the Senate. This is well below Kogi State even before Governor Yahaya Bello years of renaissance.

Please, how can people whose kinsmen are faring worse than Kogi workers on the MPIs abandon those who actually elected them to improve their lives and join one feckless ‘ajekuniya’ crooner crocodile tears and rice donation to their betters? Wo, Kogi workers shall raise 20,000,000 mudus of rice for the people of Enugu-West Senatorial District, with nonsense and ingredients on top. We haf vess ni o.

Ultimately, the voters in every constituency in Nigeria must make a choice to elect people who will take the hard decisions and swim against the tide, if necessary, to provide them with good governance. The kind that catches the attention of the those that matter in the development world and endures for future generations. in spite of the initial pains involved. People like Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

Na God Win!

Gbenga Olorunpomi is digital strategist, political analyst and serves as senior special assistant to the Kogi State Governor on electronic media.

This piece was written by Gbenga Olorunpomi. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.



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