Engineer Sadiku Abubakar Ohere is the Special Adviser to the Governor of Kogi State on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, in this interview with Joseph Amedu, Ohere sheds light on recent developments in the state, especially the status of traditional rulers.
What are the principal programmmes of the local government, the ministry where you are its Special Adviser to the Governor?
The Ministry of Local Government and chieftaincy affairs is concerned with matters affecting local government and local government administration as well as issues relating to chieftaincy matters in the Kogi state. More than ever, Governor, Yahaya Bello places high premium, on the traditional institutions. He has high regards and respect for the traditional stools in Kogi State.
Many people may think you don’t really have much work to do as a Special Adviser on local government to the governor when there are administrators in the state. What would you say your responsibilities are?
You see the local government is the nearest to the people and as such a lot is needed from them. I do a lot of work and the responsibilities of my offices are enormous. My office and I in particular, monitor the activities and performance of all Local Governments in the State in order to ensure compliance with the local government laws and other regulations made under the law.
The monitoring of public utilities under the local government, coordination of the statutory allocation to local government councils inclusive of loans and grants as well as coordination of the affairs of all local government councils are the things I do. By so doing, I submit periodic reports thereon to the Governor of the State who looks into it and ensure that what is needed is done.
Presently in Kogi State, there are a lot of developments going on in our local government in the state; this is because the governor has made the office very functional, attractable and important. That is why you see that life has returned to the local governments in the state with many of our councils undergoing viable projects.
What is the state of the traditional institutions in Kogi state today; against reports that the governor is using them to his advantage?
You see, people who do not want anything good to say about somebody will say anything for saying sake. My office ,on assumption ,created a very robust relationship as it is expected to be of the office with our respected and highly valued traditional leaders. Our traditional leaders were merely existing before now, because of the respect the governor have for them, he has in recent time ensured that their welfare was placed on priority through incensement of their salaries, allowances of village and district heads, settling of outstanding disputes in various traditional communities, appointment of traditional rules where vacancies exists and ensure that their welfare and security are maintained.
When you go to other states, the palaces of their traditional rulers are talk of the town; in poor conditions, but the story is different in Kogi state before Governor Yahaya Bello came on board, and we have renovated several palaces and provided mobility for our fathers to make their work better.
That is why you see them not hiding their emotions –coming out in their number from the various senatorial districts to endorse the governor for a second term. Nobody is forcing anybody, you need to hear them talk about the situation they have passed through in recent times, and you will see that this administration has really done well for them. Governor Bello has elevated the status of traditional rulers beyond what it was in the state.
You all about projects, it is very unusual of local government. What are some of these projects?
Have you been to our local governments of late? Most of the roads that are not passable are now motorabel, we have a brand new local government secretariat in IgalaMela/Odolu local government called the new direction House, and there is also the construction roads into various headquarters, empowerment of local vigilantes and a host of other human developmental projects that our Administrators have used the recourses accruing to them to do.
There are reports that your party, [APC] in the state is not interested in fielding the governor for the second term. Why the loss of confidence?
First and foremost, there is no member or leadership structure of the party in Kogi state that will say such a thing. Loss of what confidence? The confidence is growing daily. Not even in the dream. I can tell you authoritatively that APC in Kogi state is the most united. Now, the governor has contributed in building the membership base up to five hundred registered members and beyond. Is it that party that will now say they don’t want him? I think the performance of the Governor; the white lion has so much glairing that instead of focusing on how to field a candidate, the opposition is focused on the governor’s activities. But you see, what we did during the last election is a rehearsal of the actual thing that will happen in November 16. We shall more than ever, mobilize our members to all levels who will as usual, vote and have their votes protected. And those at the local level who are great beneficiaries of this government will champion that cause.
Is that why the governor has refused to conduct election at the local government level?
His Excellency has said it repeatedly at several occasions that lack of funds is responsible. You election is very expensive and we are making sure that salaries are paid and infrastructural development is improved upon. So this is the reason and this will be history soon because the governor is seriously talking about that.
Are you sure the people at the local government level are interested in the second term of your governor, especially with the recent scanting statements allegedly credited to the National Chairman of your party Adams Oshiomhole?
I hope you must have also have heard that the chairman, Adams Oshiomole has cautioned Kogites and Bayelsans to be careful of fake news, misinformation and disinformation credited to him. In that report, the APC national office said “neither the party nor the National Chairman has made any statement at any forum regarding these elections. He went on to say the numerous quotes being ascribed to the party and the National Chairman are mere fabrications intended for mischief”. But you see, my joy is that those focusing on his Excellency Yahaya Bello not to be given the APC ticket already know his capacity, strength, political spread and tenacity to win in the November elections.
You were recently accused of misappropriating public funds up to a billion plus and a ground is calling for your prosecution, what are the issues?
There is nothing like that. We have a lot to do with money and who will leave such money for anyone to misappropriate? Is it the governor who is bent on ensuring due process that will allow that happen? It is the usual political propaganda and usually they target those that are very useful to the political story of the Governor. The publication was a very malicious and childish one and authored by a faceless organization known as Kogi Conscience and Liberation Forum, Abuja and signed by one Gabriel Enoh. Both the name of the organization, address and signatories are syndicated. They don’t exist just as their allegations are fake.
I must say that it is unfortunate that the said mischievous write-up had found its way into some online media platform where to help generate traffic for the online operators. More laughable is the fact that the content of the write-up was poorly written and lack lots of coherence. I only fear for the public that will read it because it is misleading and a clear attempt to tarnish image. My joy is that they claimed they have submitted the document to the EFCC. But I must say, it is an exercise in futility as there is no iota of truth in the concocted publication. The said account has been dormant for over ten years ago .So, professional journalists and respected media organisations like yours should always make their independent enquiry on public officers before going to the press.
What are your words for the people in the state given agitations and tensions with respect to the November election?
I think election should not divide us. In the first place, we are brothers and sisters and secondly, it is about the progress of the state. I think everyone should go about his or her campaign when the time comes and support your preferred candidate with facts. The governor has spent billions of naira to ensure that we have peace in the state today. This is commendable and should be celebrated. He has done a number of things that have united us more than the past, but you see, the elites will always want to use the common man on the street against the government. For the governor, he speaks less and does more of what is expect of him constitutionally. After the last election, some politicians who contested but did not succeed for now, joined the news direction. It shows they meant well for the state and also shows that they are ready to help the governor do more. At the end, the governor will finish his terms and the state will still be ours. So let us go about our campaigns in due time decently and remembers that we are one after all.