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OPINION

Putting Square Pegs in Square Holes – Keem Abdul

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Adeshina Akinwumi
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Sometime in 2017, the United Nations through its Economic and Social Council sought for taxation experts from across the world to sit on its committee to proffer solutions to issues on international taxation and cooperation. In August of that year, Antonio Guteress, Secretary General of the United Nations told the world that they had been able to get 25 of the world’s top minds in matters of taxation and the Committee inaugurated for their deliberations was called the United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation.

A Nigerian was one of the 25 and was selected from among his selected peers to be the 1st Vice Chairman of the Committee. His name is Babatunde Fowler and he currently heads Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
 

This August, Mr Fowler’s tenure as head of Nigeria’s tax collection agency comes to an end and given the heavy and often dirty politics surrounding top positions such as the one he currently holds, he may not be rewarded with a reappointment to continue the great work he has been doing. Therein lies one of the perennial problems with Nigeria. There are too few good people leading the country and where there are any, they are often victimised and chased away by the fierce, petty and sometimes diabolic jostling for power by Nigeria’s ruling elite. When that happens, they are often recruited by top global organisations and they go on to do very well, leaving Nigeria to continue its steady slide into its predicted, self-inflicted and pretty much assured doom. Dr Oby Ezekwesili and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are examples of this but so that the trend is not mistaken as peculiar to women only in a clime where patriarchy is still entrenched, then consider the case of Dr Akinwumi Adesina who currently heads the African Development Bank (ADB).

Dr Akinwumi Adesina had served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Goodluck Jonathan administration and was globally acclaimed for his phenomenal work that helped make Nigeria one of the world’s fastest growing economies at the time. Forbes had named him its Africa Person of the Year and then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon appointed him as one of 17 world leaders to galvanize support for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

As Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure ended in 2015, it was expected that the incoming presidency of Muhammadu Buhari would at least draw on the strength and wisdom of Akinwumi Adesina, if not officially by retaining him, then unofficially in any capacity. Instead they appointed an old blundering politician as his successor and Nigeria has lost the gains made during Akinwumi Adesina’s time as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Yet Adesina has continued to shine brighter outside Nigeria as head of the AFB and he continues to garner several laurels and numerous accolades across the world. Some people even believe that he is deserving of being elected to serve as Nigeria’s President and they hope that he will forgive the nation for her errant ways and run for high office in the near future. The big question in focus now however is, “Will Nigeria ever learn to ensure that her square pegs are correctly placed and retained in square holes?”

In any progressive country in the world, the stellar display of Babatunde Fowler as head of Nigeria’s premier tax and internal revenue generation agency would be rewarded with another tenure especially if the constitution allows for it. With him at the helm, the FIRS has greatly improved its revenue generation, such that in 2018, the agency collected approximately N5.32 trillion, which also bested its 2017 annual revenue of N4.02 trillion. To put that achievement in its proper context, the Agency had never before earned those figures in its history and the revenue generated with Babatunde Fowler at the helm proved to be profoundly beneficial to the Federal Government as Nigeria went through an economic recession that would have been worse if the FIRS didn’t generate the additional revenue it did to support the Federal Government.

Perhaps the only reason that Babatunde Fowler may not be reappointed as FIRS Chairman is because of his perceived closeness to the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It is suspected that Bola Tinubu is lining up to contest for the office of the President in 2023. In certain quarters where that is a threat to other political calculations and ambitions, allowing Fowler who they believe has risen by the help of Tinubu to continue as the head of such an important national agency would further empower Tinubu to achieve that goal, if it were indeed true. It is indeed true that it was when Bola Tinubu was Governor of Lagos State that Babatunde Fowler first entered public service but that does not in any way make Fowler beholden to his former boss. It is undeniable that his phenomenal work increased the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from an average of N3.6 billion per month in January 2006 to a monthly average of N20.5 billion in 2014. That he was able to replicate and surpass that feat at federal level heading the FIRS is enough reason to give him a second tenure. However his perceived ties to Bola Tinubu might see to it that he does not. Already the Asiwaju’s political opponents have come out with their guns blazing and Fowler is being targeted by an unscrupulous smear campaign.

If indeed Babatunde Fowler loses his current job at the FIRS, it would be to Nigeria’s gain if he were to be deployed to the Central Bank of Nigeria, an organisation in need of able leadership and one that he is eminently qualified to run. He would also be a great pick for Minister of Finance. However if he is entirely schemed out and is ultimately taken out by Bola Tinubu’s enemies, perhaps the Jagaban Borgu should position him to become the next Governor of Lagos after Babajide Sanwoolu. Several top global bodies and business organisations are reportedly waiting to snap Fowler up and it would be to Nigeria’s detriment to lose yet another shining star to the darkness that pervades our political spaces. Nigeria must learn to always put its square pegs in square holes.

OPINION

Olympics: Team Nigeria Ready to Compete among World’s Leading Athletes

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By Olanrewaju Akojede

Team Nigeria will begin a fresh phase of participation when the 2024 Paris Olympic Games begin on July 26 in Paris, France.

The Paris Olympics, which is its 33rd edition, is scheduled to end by Aug. 11 while the Paralympics is expected to hold from Aug.

28 to Sept. 8.

Nigeria’s target is to put up a master class performance akin to its famous outing at Atlanta 96 Olympics where the country garnered six medals at the Games.

Nigeria is fielding a strong team of 82 sportsmen and women who will compete in 11 sports at the 2024 Games in Paris.

Track and Field is leading the contingent in terms of numbers with 32 athletes, consisting of 14 males and 18 females at the Games.

Nigeria will also be represented in Basketball, Badminton, Boxing, Canoeing, Cycling, Football, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Weightlifting and Wrestling at the Paris Olympics.

With a total medal haul of two gold, one silver and three bronze at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, the country’s performance till date remained the first and only time that Team Nigeria won two gold medals in the Olympics.

Leading the medal zone was a fantastic brilliance of Chioma Ajunwa, who leaped to a 7.12 metres to set the record as the first West-African female athlete and the first Nigerian to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field.

Nigeria also created another memorable record by winning another gold medal in the male football event against all odds and against the big guns in the sport such as Brazil and Argentina.

Nigeria’s football team, tagged the ‘Dream Team’, was led in that epoch-making event by Kanu Nwankwo, the then African Footballer of the Year.

The team comprised other football greats such as the mercurial midfielder, Austin Okocha.

Their defensive wall was marshalled by Taribo West, Uche Okechukwu, Sunday Oliseh, and Celestine Babayaro, with attacking power play of Daniel Amokachi, Wilson Oruma and speedy winger Emmanuel Amuneke among others.

They went on to record an incredible comeback 3-2 win over Argentina in a dramatic final and claimed their first-ever gold in football at the Olympics.

Other success stories at the 1996 Olympics included a silver medal in the women’s 4x400m with the quartet of Falilat Ogunkoya, Olabisi Afolabi, Fatima Yusuf and Charity Opara.

Also, Nigeria’s woman of candour in sprints, Mary Onyali, powered to a silver podium finish in women’s 200m, while her compatriot, Ogunkoya, won a bronze in the women’s 400m.

Ace boxer Duncan Dokiwari won a bronze medal as well.

Since that historic performance about 28 years ago, subsequent performances in the quadrennial Olympics had been measured by the performances in the 1996 Games.

Till date, for Nigeria, no Olympics show has outperformed the 1996 spectacle.

Indeed, Nigerians had wondered why subsequent Team Nigeria failed to replicate the feat recorded at 1996 Olympics.

While the flag-off of the 2024 Olympics remains just a few days to go, Nigerians are, no doubt, expecting the present squad of 82 sportsmen and women to equal and surpass that record.

Nigeria’s powerful squad in athletics is led by the country’s Queen of the track and World Record holder, Oluwatobiloba Amusan, in company of Rosemary Chukwuma, Favour Ofili, Tima Godbless, Ella Onojuvwevwo in Women’s 400m as well as Esther Joseph, at the Games.

Others in the mix include Ruth Usoro (Women’s long jump); Ese Brume (Women’s Long jump); Prestina Oluchi Ochoogor, Obiageri Amaechi (Women’s discus); Ashley Anumba, Chioma Onyekwere, Oyesade Olatoye (Women’s hammer throw); Women’s 4×100 metres Relay and Mixed 4×400 metres relay.

Nigeria’s Super Falcon also returns to the show in the Football event with an 18-woman squad after several years’ absence.

The Super Falcons, in a tough group with Champions Spain, Brazil and former world champions Japan, are, however, tipped for a podium finish at the Games in spite of the odds against them.

According to the Secretary-General of Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Tunde Popoola, Nigeria has a strong football team to scale through their group.

”Also, we expect medals in Athletics, Weightlifting and Wrestling. We will surprise Nigerians with bags of medals,” he said.

Another female team, D’Tigress will also aim to better their record in the female orBasketball event with their 12 players on parade.

Nigeria will also parade three boxers to be led by Olaitan Olaore, who aims for a good show in men’s heavyweight; Dolapo Omole, who will also compete in men’s featherweight category; and Cynthia Ogunsemilore, who reigns in the women’s lightweight class.

It is worthy of note that, for the first time since 2016, Nigeria will send three boxers to the Olympics

Also, Nigeria will have high hopes in Weightlifting relying on the form of Rafiatu Lawal and Adijat Olarinoye.

The 24-year-old Olarinoye is not new on the world stage as she has earlier won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham two years ago.

She will seek to make Nigerians proud at a bigger podium at the Paris Olympics.

In other sports Nigeria will have two women in Canoeing, one female representative in Cycling while Aruna Quadri with Olajide Omotayo will lead the men in table tennis alongside Offiong Edem and Fatima Bello in the women’s category.

Taekwondo will also feature one female; Weightlifting will have two females while Wrestling will have a male and five females for a total of six athletes.

Team Nigeria will be fielding 20 males and 62 females at the Paris games.

The Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Owan-Enoh, knowing the task ahead and the need for Nigeria to improve on their performance has been talking and doing the work to get the athletes in top shape ahead of the quadrennial games to be hosted by France.

At the presentation of N100 million donated by the House of Representative members, the minister said that the aspiration of the ministry was to surpass the previous best Olympic record achieved in 1996, at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

He also said that the cash contribution from the House of Representatives would go to athletes.

He also announced increased allowance and bonuses will accrue to the athletes.

Owan-Enoh said,”Just like it was with the African Games in Accra, Ghana, I will spell out from A-Z, the entitlements for our athletes.

”My aspiration is for the nation to surpass our previous record from our best Olympic Games performance in 1996.

”We’ve been working on this goal through our preparations, arrangements, and performance team working with athletes in Germany. I am getting reports on the progress every day.”

”We want to get our athletes to feel appreciated and wanted by our country.”

He also said,” The entire N100 million donations from the Federal House of Representatives will entirely go to the athletes.”

In addition to this, athletes will receive local camping allowance, foreign training grants, foreign training camp allowances, Olympic Games allowances, and winning bonuses.

The Minister also told newsmen in Abuja that the Federal Government had approved more than N12 billion for Team Nigeria at the 2024 Paris Games.

The Minister’s commitment to transparency and support for the athletes underscore the federal government’s dedication to ensuring Team Nigeria’s success at the Games.

As the clock ticked within a few days to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Owan-Enoh said that his ministry, as the supervising arm, was ticking all the boxes.

He said that the atmosphere was frenetic and excitement palpable as showmanship and calisthenics set the stage for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

He said that Team Nigeria is in top spirits as it prepares to fly its colors at this quadrennial sporting showpiece of global attention.

He also said that Nigeria’s contingent encompasses talented and world-class athletes who are set to take the world by storm.

He said, ”With several months of preparation and training, athletes such as Oluwatobiloba Amusan, Ese Brume, Blessing Oborodudu, the two Favours (Ashe and Ofili), Odunayo Adekouroye, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, Aruna Quadri, among other names too numerous to mention, the nation flies to Paris with strong hopes.”

Sen. Owan-Enoh also urged Nigerians to throw their weight behind the nation throughout the Games.

”Our athletes are putting in tremendous effort and dedication in their preparations.

”We are confident that with the support of every Nigerian, our team will excel and make the nation proud,” he said.

Owan-Enoh said that following the domestic camping, the contingent proceeded on foreign camping to acclimatise, focus and step up preparations for the Games.

”The Super Falcons camped in Spain, while the other athletes camped in Saarbrucken, Germany,” he said.

He also said that the prioritisation of the welfare of athletes had been demonstrated by the increase in bonuses and allowances payable to them.

”Additionally, domestic camping allowances, foreign training grants, foreign training allowances, Olympic Games allowances, and winning bonuses will be given to ensure our athletes are well-supported.

”Let’s unite in support of our athletes as they embark on this remarkable journey.

”Our aspiration is not just to participate but to excel and bring home the medals,” Owan-Enoh said. (NAN)

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OPINION

A Peep into Dangote’s Refinery, the World’s Engineering Wonder

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By Cletus Akwaya

Call it Dangote Republic and you would not be wrong, for that is what it means in real sense.

The ultra-modern Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical complex located at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos is the World’s Engineering wonder.

A guided tour for top Media executives in the country by the President,  Dangote Industries Group himself, Alhaji Aliko Dangote on July 14, provided a rare privilege and opportunity to appreciate the project that has emerged as the World’s largest single-train petroleum refinery.

Dangote, the Kano-born business mogul and Africa’s richest man, whose vision for the industrial transformation of Nigeria led to the initiation of this project is certainly a fulfilled person, having accomplished such a gargantuan task in the spelt of just about 10 years.

The refinery is built and equipped with the latest technology in the industry. It is a behemoth sitting on a huge land space of 2,735 hectares, approximately seven times the size of Victoria Island, the octane section of Lagos, which has become the abode for the very rich in the nation’s commercial nerve – centre over the decades.

The land was provided by the Lagos state government after the payment of $100million dollars by the Dangote Group as cost of the land.

The edifice didn’t come easy as the engineers had to reclaim 65million cubic metres of sand through dredging of the Atlantic coastline to pave way for the construction of the refinery and its accompanying facilities especially the Jetty.

The Dangote refinery is not a stand-alone project as it has a coterie of associated industries and infrastructure making it a self-reliant complex.

For instance, the company has a fully developed port (jetty) for maritime operations for both in-take of crude and discharge of refined products. This perfectly compliments the huge pipeline network that lands into the Atlantic for intake of crude and loading of refined products to ships.  

Its Jetty, which stretches 9KM into the international waters in the Atlantic Ocean and 12.5KM from the refinery is perhaps one of the most modern in the world built with sand piles that shield the final landing points from the violent oceanic waves, thus providing for safety and stability of ships, barges and oil tankers.

The complex is accessed by 200KM network of concrete under-lay and well asphalted road network to ease vehicular traffic. The refinery has its dedicated steam and power generation system with standby units to adequately support operations of the various plants in the complex.

 It has successfully completed a 435 MW power generating plant for its operations. The power generated from this plant surpasses the entire distribution capacity of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, which supplies electricity to five states of the Federation including Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara.

The Dangote refinery with a capacity of 650,000 bpd of crude oil is designed to handle the crude from many of the African countries, the Middle East and the US light crude. Its petrochemical plant is designed to produce 77 different high-performance grades of polypropylene, which is the major raw material for numerous industries and other refineries. 

With a huge refining capacity, Alhaji Dangote said the products from the refinery company would easily meet 100 per cent the needs of Nigeria’s demand for gasoline, diesel, Petrol and Aviation Jet with 56 per cent surplus for export, from which the company projects to earn a princely $25billion  per annum from 2025.

The company has facility to load 2,900 trucks with its various products in a day by land and millions of litres of products through the waters depending on where the orders come from. The $25million projected revenue in 2025 could translate to a huge relieve for the nation in dire need of foreign earnings to shore-up the value of the nation’s currency.

The associated industry, the Dangote Fertilizers Limited also situated in the complex utilises the raw materials from petrochemicals to produce different varieties of fertilzers especially Urea, NPK and Amonia grades of fertilizers. Apart from the local market, Dangote is already exporting its fertilizers to other countries including Mexico, a testament to its high quality that meets world standards.

This feat,  the President of Dangote Industries explained was possible because of the high quality, the company has opted to pursue. In between the refinery and the fertilizers complex lies a 50,000 housing estate, which provided accommodation for the construction workers at the time of construction especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, when workers remained encamped on the project site to continue with the work.

What stands out the Dangote Refinery is perhaps not in its sheer size and capacity but in the fact that it is perhaps the only of such projects whose Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) was done directly by the company without engaging the world-renowned refinery constriction companies like Technip Bechtel (USA)Technip (France) Aker Solutions (Norway) Chiyoda Corporation (Japan) SNC-Lavalin Group (Canada)J. Ray McDermott (USA) JGC Corporation (Japan)Hyundai Heavy Industries (South Korea)Foster Wheeler (USA) and Daelim Industrial Company (South Korea)

“The design of the refinery was handled by dozens of Engineers and technical experts assembled in India and Houston, Texas, USA to execute engineering designs of the refinery,” said Edwin Kumar, the Executive Vice President, Oil and Gas for the Dangote Group who midwifed the birth of the refinery complex.

“We didn’t give out contracts to anybody, we bought every single bolt and equipment ourselves and had it shipped into the country,” Dangote explained to his guests.

Part of the equipment imported into the country was the procurement of over 3,000 cranes to handle the evacuation of huge consignments of machinery from the wharf and for subsequent installation at the construction site. The cranes have become an unusual assemblage of such equipment to be found in one place on the African continent.

If there was any doubt that Alhaji Aliko Dangote is Africa’s richest man, the successful completion of the refinery and petrochemical complex at the cost of about $20billion has further confirmed his status as Africa’s leading businessman and entrepreneur.

However, Dangote does not really accept that he is the richest man on the continent,

“When you are rich, you accumulate cash, but when you wealthy, you create wealth,” he told the top Media executives on tour of the huge project, explaining that he would rather prefer to be referred to as a “Wealthy man.”

And consistent with his business philosophy, Dangote hinted of plans to list the refinery on the Nation’s stock exchange by the first quarter of 2025. His vision is to avail the public of 20 per cent of the shares so as to ensure participation by Nigerians and even international portfolio investors.

The refinery company and the entire of Dangote Group at the moment provides direct employment to about 20,000 Nigerians and much indirect jobs to Nigerians, making it the highest employer of labour outside the government.

Most interestingly, the highly technical operations of Dangote refinery is operated by over 70 per cent of local manpower who work in the refinery control, centre, the numerous production and quality control laboratories among others. Some of the staff who explained their tasks to the visiting media executives said they were graduates of Engineering and allied disciplines recruited mostly from Nigerian universities and trained in various institutions abroad for periods ranging from sixth months – one year to master refinery operations. Through this strategy, Dangote has ensured transfer of technology to thousands of Nigerian youths.

“We don’t  know where they come from as long as they are Nigerians and if they decide to leave and join international oil companies for better job opportunities, we have no problem with that,” Dangote responded to a question on the strategy to retain the technical manpower for stability of the refinery’s operations.

The Dangote Refinery is a Republic of some kind,  at least an economic or industrial Republic.

But the man who presides over this ‘industrial empire’, Alhaji Dangote says his only ambition is to boot the nation’s economy and ensure netter life for Nigerians.

“When you import any product into Nigeria, you are importing poverty and exporting our jobs to those countries from where you are importing” Dangote said  adding “this is why I want economic nationalism in Nigeria.”

Dangote’s vision even goes beyond Nigeria as he has cement factories and other business concerns in about 13 African countries including Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, etc. This signifies his continent-wide dream to transform Africa’s economies.

There has been attempts by some international oil companies to frustrate the successful take-off of the refinery, through overpricing and in some instances outright denial of crude supplies for processing. This made Dangote to commence the importation of crude from the US. However, the cheering news that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has finally approved a supply arrangement has raised hopes that full operations will commence and that the long-awaited Dangote oil products will reach consumers around the country from August.

At last, the Dangote Group may have achieved its objective to serve as the elixir to Nigeria’s industrialisation effort. This is perhaps the greatest legacy of Africa’s richest man to his country of birth.

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OPINION

Ahmed Ododo Usman: A Half -year Report Card  

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By Tunde Olusunle

Minders of Ahmed Usman Ododo the governor of the confluence state of Kogi flung him into the public square of opprobrium and derision last May. Ododo by the way was the Auditor-General in-charge of local government under Bello.  The orchestra of sycophants he inherited from his benefactor and predecessor, Yahaya Bello, eager to ingratiate themselves to him articulated a “First 100 Days In Office” programme for him.

These included Ododo having to name his specific achievements within his preliminary months on the saddle.
Ododo’s meeting with Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser, (NSA); a civic reception organised in his honour in Okene his hometown and his participation in a meeting of the “Progressive Governors Forum,” (PGF) in Abuja, were listed as his notable achievements.
Within the period, Ododo alongside his colleagues from Ondo and Taraba states, Lucky Aiyedatiwa and Kefas Agbo, had a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari. This perfunctory obligation was also recorded as one of his feats within his First 100 Days. 

Days and weeks thereafter, Ododo was cadaver for analysts and public scholars, scandalised by the newcomer governor’s ludicrous yet proudly publicised report card. Many people from Kogi became the butt of jokes by those who believed the state was capable of better quality brand ambassadors. Ododo’s case was not helped by the fact of the circumstances of his emergence as governor and successor to Yahaya Bello. The latter’s hellish and brutish, eight-year sojourn in *Lugard House,* Lokoja is best forgotten. Ododo emerged courtesy of a benefactor who visited so much malevolence and meanness on the polity. This credential easily blighted his candidature and acceptability. Bello’s current travails in the hands of the nation’s foremost anti-graft agency which has made a scurrying fugitive of the man who patented himself the “white lion” during his virtual monarchy, is largely construed as karma come to justice. A successor installed by such a character must of necessity share his DNA, was the understandably popular belief. 

I have in the course of duty over the decades, encountered and engaged robustly with all but two military and civilian governors of Kogi State since the inception of the state. From the foundation military administrator in 1991, Colonel Danladi Zakari, through Abubakar Audu, (the departed pioneer civilian governor of the state) who appointed me Director of Information and Public Affairs in 1992, I was intertwined with the evolution of the state. Paul Omeruo, also an army Colonel who succeeded Audu in 1993, appointed me his Chief Press Secretary in 1995. He passed me on to Bzigu Afakirya, (of blessed memory), his successor in 1996. I didn’t get to meet Augustine Aniebo who replaced Afakirya in 1998. I also had varying degrees of latter day relationships with Audu who returned as democratically elected governor in 1999, and his successors Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada. 

I had a fleeting encounter with Bello back in 2017 while I pursued state assistance for the young family of my colleague, brother and friend, Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo who tragically passed earlier that year. Bello was inaccessible to the two-man delegation empanelled by the “Board of Trustees of the Adinoyi-Ojo Onukaba Endowment Fund,” to follow up with him on possible state assistance for our fallen compatriot’s family. Maxwell Gidado, SAN, OON, professor of law and my good self constituted that team. My chance meeting with Bello in Lokoja, mid-2017, was at an event organised by the Kogi State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ) which invited me. I graced the high table with Bello at the event and he promised to get his Chief of Staff to fix a meeting on the subject. He never did. That was my first ever, and only encounter with him. 

Beyond glimpses of him on television and in photographs of media reportage on him, I’ve never set my eyes on Ododo. He doesn’t know me either. Except if he’s been following my work as a media practitioner, who comes from his state. Ododo may yet surprise many, however, judging from his much spoken about humanistic performance thus far. He may be gradually trying to carve an identity for himself, despite the backstage encumbrances of his erstwhile boss. Ododo we are hearing is humble,  unassuming and sensitive. He is said to have prioritised workers welfare thus far. They tell you he began by paying a markedly improved 80% of salaries compared to his benefactor’s who undermined his constituents with unbelievably mendicant sums. Ododo now, however, is said to now pay 100% emoluments to his constituents. Kogi State remains a “civil service” entity. It is no where near your Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Delta, Oyo, which are blessed with sundry producing and manufacturing concerns which impact their domestic economies. The local economy of Kogi State is powered by the spending capacity of civil servants. Whatever impacts the wallets of bureaucrats therefore takes a heavy toll on their capacities to patronise the open markets, shops and pharmacies. 

Kogi State was notorious for state-induced violence and insecurity under Ododo’s former Principal. Political top shots were alleged to have cultivated and sustained “private armies.” The streets were ruled by substances, machetes and automatic weapons. These combined to scare indigenes of the state and indeed risk taking investors from the state. It is suggested that the air in Kogi State these days is more temperate. Ododo was reportedly on the front foot when some miscreants terrorised student communities in Adankolo, Bassa, Crusher and Felele districts of the state capital, in March. Three suspects were arrested and have since been arraigned in court. Ododo equally made vociferous appeals to the nation’s topmost security commands when students of the state-owned *Confluence University of Science and Technology,* (CUSTECH), were abducted weeks ago.

Helicopter-backed special detachments were swiftly deployed to comb the forests and thickets of Kogi, including the state’s abutments with Kwara and Ekiti states. Kogi State by the way, is bordered by nine states in the North Central, South West, South East and South South zones. Not forgetting its close proximity to the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT). This geographical reality therefore makes the state susceptible to infiltration from different entry points. Working with ground troops, local hunters and vigilantes on the recent operation, some kidnapped victims were rescued and some of their ransom-seeking abductors summarily apprehended. That episode is said to have sent a clear message to criminal venturers that Kogi State is forbidden zone for mischief. It also rekindled the belief of the people that the incumbent leadership in the state can protect its own after all.

The Ododo dispensation has also embarked on an ambitious infrastructural renewal effort at the local levels. Internal roads in major communities in the state are at various levels of completion. These include roads in Egbe, (Yagba West); Aiyetoro-Gbedde, (Ijumu); Mopa (Mopamuro); Felele-Agbaja (Lokoja LGA); Oguma (Bassa LGA); Idah, (Idah LGA); Abejukolo, (Omala LGA) and Anyigba (Dekina LGA). Instructively, this first list of communities which will benefit from a gradual community rebuild programme precludes any community in Ododo’s homestead in Kogi Central. Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR) in the state, recently posted a remarkable leap towards a monthly average of N2 Billion. For a state like Kogi, this means a lot. This upward ascent of the state’s IGR may be a result of increasing transparency in the revenue collection process, just maybe.

About 200 tractors we hear are being recalled by the Kogi State government for rehabilitation. This is just as the Ododo administration is reported to be tapering towards the prioritisation of agriculture. The government is launching a “Wet Season Agricultural Intervention Programme” to this effect towards ensuring food security. The agenda also involves making agriculture attractive to the teeming youth population as against the subsisting craze for “political involvement.” Farm locations have been identified in 76 communities, in the 21 local government areas in the state. Government intends to prepare 7000 hectares of land for farming in the first instance. This may seem a far cry from the one million hectares which Umaru Bago the Niger State governor has prepared in his state.  But every journey, the old saying reminds us, begins with the very first step. Farmers will be provided free seeds and chemicals towards the actualization of this project. Three crops: cassava, maize and rice are being emphasised in the experimental endeavour. 

At harvest, the state government hopes to buyback the produce, concede 60% of the earnings to the farmers and take the smaller 40%, as incentive to ambivalent farmers. If Ododo is thinking and acting in the directions we have identified above, he could be said to have set about on the right course. Kogi State has lost substantial segments of its near 33 years of existence to laggards and loafers in the name of helmsmen. He needs to do much more though to rekindle the faith of his constituents in the committed sensitivity and service of his era to have their backs round the clock, round the calendar. History is ever in the firm grips of the neck of the pen, as evergreen assessor and unforgettable retainer of institutional memory. Kogi State must awaken from perpetual sedation. And now is the time. 

*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA)*

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ShareFrom Mike Tayese, Yenagoa Organisers of the Governor Douye Diri National Scrabble Championship have confirmed that the fourth edition will...

NEWS2 hours ago

Cross River NAAPS Stakeholders Appeal to Otu for Secretariat

ShareFrom Ene Asuquo, Calabar National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAAPS), Cross River State chapter, has appealed to the...

NEWS2 hours ago

Why Apo/Karshi Road Has Taken over 13 Years – FCT Minister

ShareBy Laide Akinboade, Abuja Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike on Tuesday explained why the ongoing Karshi/Apo road...

NEWS2 hours ago

Third Phase Ex-agitators Slams PND over attack on INC President, PAP boss Otuaro

ShareFrom Mike Tayese, Yenagoa The Third Phase Ex-Agitators of Presidential Amnesty Programme, has condemned a group styled Project Niger Delta...

NEWS2 hours ago

Conflict between Dangote Refinery, NMDPRA Troubling – Atiku

ShareBy Johnson Eyiangho, Abuja Former Vice-president Atiku Abubakar has described the disagreement between Aliko Dangote’s Refinery and Nigeria Midstream and...

NEWS2 hours ago

Diri Warns Youths against Unlawful Removal of Paramount Rulers, Violent Protests

ShareFrom Mike Tayese, Yenagoa Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri has read the riot act to youths of Ogboinbiri community...

NEWS15 hours ago

Breaking News: Again, CBN Raises MPR by 50 Rasis Points

ShareThe Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), on Tuesday announced another increase in the country’s Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), known as the...

National Orientation Agency, NOA National Orientation Agency, NOA
NEWS24 hours ago

NOA Tasks Jigawa Residents on Vigilance Against Impending Flooding

Share The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has urged residents in Jigawa to be vigilant and heed to safety measures to...

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