ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE TO THE STATE ON NEW YEAR’S DAY, 2019. 

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My dear Kogites,

 

Once again I thank the Almighty God for the gift of a new year. I am grateful for every citizen and resident of Kogi State who made it into 2019. As individuals and collectively as a state, we must pray hard and work harder to make it our best year yet.

 

By now, it must be clear to anyone who has been paying attention to happenings in our state that upon assuming office we gave to ourselves the New Direction Blueprint as our roadmap for accelerated development of Kogi State in all her constituencies.

 

For enhanced focus and ease of execution, the New Direction Blueprint is disaggregated into 5 Thematic Areas, namely, Education, Health, Infrastructure and Utilities, Job Creation and Youth Empowerment as well as Civil Service and Pensions Reforms.

 

Over the little less than 3 years we have been in office, my team and I have been committed to executing this governance template, even as our ability to do so remains severely curtailed by a sluggish national economy and the dearth of pre-existing socioeconomic frameworks here at home upon which to build.

 

Nevertheless we have forged ahead resolutely and I am glad that in 2018 we were able to record some notable progress, mostly in security of lives and properties and the expansion of our ongoing reform processes in the civil service and pensions administration.

 

Kogi State is now consistently one of the top performers in any credible ranking of Nigerian states on peace, security, low crime rates, sanitation and hygiene, among others. In her 2017 ranking of Crime Statistics by reported cases, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) puts Kogi State as possessing the second lowest incidences of crime in the federation. The Nigeria Peace Index also corroborated the NBS by ranking us No. 2 Most Peaceful State in 2018.

 

Of course, security of lives and properties assumes other dimensions beyond the absence of crime, and includes livable cities and safety from adverse environmental events and the effects of Climate Change.

 

In this regard, our capital Lokoja is rated the second cleanest state capital in the country in 2018. This is no doubt traceable to our deliberate efforts to improve the living spaces and experiences of our people. In particular, the ministries of environment and water resources have ensured that Lokoja and some other major cities are no longer eye sores through prompt disposal of garbage and steady supply of portable water to households and business premises.

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It is no longer in doubt that we are increasingly at the receiving end of the adverse effects of Climate Change on the Rivers Niger and Benue. In 2018, we were confronted by our worst flood disaster since we assumed office. More than 200,000 individuals across over 200 communities were affected, either directly or indirectly. We also lost 122,653 hectares of agricultural land under cultivation.

 

The magnitude of the disaster forced the Federal Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to declare the flooding a National Disaster in Kogi and 3 other states, thereby allowing emergency protocols to be deployed.

 

It is estimated that the loss of lives and properties in Kogi State could have been tripled but for our prompt implementation of Early Warning Systems, Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation as well as the comprehensive post-flood remediation activities which are still ongoing.

 

We cannot thank Their Excellencies, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the hands-on assistance. We also thank NEMA and other federal government agencies which made sacrifices to help our people. The Nigerian Navy and the other security agencies including the Police often went over and beyond the call of duty to secure affected individuals and evacuated communities.

 

As part of our efforts to improve life for residents and commuters through our state, we made sure to eliminate the horrendous traffic gridlocks for which the NATACO axis of Lokoja had become notorious during the festive seasons, especially Christmas and New Year.

 

The foregoing efforts, which characterised our 2018 are in keeping with our New Direction Blueprint as well as relevant targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goals 11 and 16 in particular demand that we ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ and that we ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’. We are committed to doing just that.

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My Administration did not neglect infrastructure and utilities in 2018. To date over 100 communities have been added to the electricity grid, or received upgrades to their existing connections.

 

We have also provided, refurbished or improved over 150 rural water schemes in communities across the 3 Senatorial Districts.

 

About 9 major road projects are currently at advanced stages across the state. We are working hard to ensure a couple of these roads will be commissioned as part of our 3rd Anniversary programme of event later this month along with other critical infrastructure and construction projects.

 

In 2018, we also reached a watershed moment in our Civil Service and Pensions Reforms with the Pay Parade cum Table Payment conducted in November through December. This mop-up exercise also facilitated biometric capture of our workforce for prompt access to payments and other government services.

 

As with every stage of our reform process in the civil service, we have been able to dislodge hundreds of suspected fraudulent beneficiaries from our payroll. Right now, we have hundreds of unclaimed cheques for which no claimant has come forward even though their names were found on the payrolls.

 

This does not include the workers who have gone on a needless strike in solidarity with the curious refusal of the Kogi State Judiciary to participate in the exercise. These workers in the Judicial Arm have their several months salaries sitting in the bank. I plead with the Judicial Service Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) Kogi State branch to spare everyone this trauma and allow her members to do the needful.

 

Our 2019 Budget tagged ‘Budget of Consolidation’ was prepared with our previous progress in view, and is intended to consolidate and strengthen them. In 2019, we plan to complete many ongoing projects and commence new ones in tandem with the needs of our people, our governance objectives, and our financial objectives.

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Highlights of major projects for 2019 include:

 

Dedication of 15% of total 2019 budget to Education to underscore our resolve to put human development and literacy above everything else.

 

Comprehensive renovation and expansion of 42 schools 2 per Local Government in 2019 under the GYB Legacy Model Schools Project.

 

In order to confront the menace of flooding in the State, we commit ourselves to the construction of embankments in the vulnerable areas starting with Lokoja beach.

 

As part of our efforts to strengthen technical education in the State, we shall procure science, technical and vocational equipment for Government Science in the 21 LGAs of the State.

 

Completion and utilization of Modern Medical Diagnostic and Image Centre in Lokoja.

 

Continued support for women and youth and Agriculture in 2019, in partnership with the Social Investment Programmes of the Federal Government.

 

We shall continue to strengthen critical road infrastructure across the State in such places as Ankpa, Idah, Okene, Mopa, Isanlu, Anyigba, Abejukolo, Ogori-Magongo etc.

 

We also intend to construct a post flooding housing Estate in the State.

 

Commencement of Ultra Modern Civil Service Centre in Lokoja.

 

Commencement of Eastern water projects at Ejule, Odu-Okpakili, Idah, Ankpa, Agaliga, Imane, Ajaka, Abejukolo, Anyigba and Oguma

 

Commencement of Western water schemes at Kabba, Ogidi, Mopa, Isanlu, Egbe, Aiyegunle-Gbede and Omi.

 

Commencement of Central water projects at Okene, Ekuku, Adogo, Ogori, Magongo, Esumi, Ege, Idogi, Kuroko, Obangede, Nagagi, Oboroke and Ikuehi.

 

 

I thank our people for their support for President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) since 2015. I call on all Kogites to remain committed to the cause, keep faith and join the rest of Nigeria to massively re-elect him, and all the candidates of the APC in February.

Once again, I felicitate with all of us on the New Year and wish us renewed hopes, revived efforts and resounding successes throughout the year 2019.

 

Thank you.

 

YAHAYA BELLO

GOVERNOR, KOGI STATE.




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