A News Analysis by Lizzy Okoji, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Describing Kogi as Nigeria’s most strategic state will not be out of place considering its location on the country’s map — the confluence state and gateway from one end of the country to another.
The one-time seat of the colonial masters that forms a vital part of Nigeria’s history is also rich in vast natural resources, arable land for agriculture, tourism and cultural attractions and human resources.
For this, it is expected that Kogi could pass as one of the country’s economic hub and a source of boosting Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment.
Attaining this goal has however been the focus Gov. Yahaya Bello since his assumption as governor of the state on January 2016, determined to drive the state to economic prosperity and stability.
Setting his priorities right, the governor began the revamping all sectors of the state under what he called: “The New Direction Administration’’.
This has, no doubt, yielded several successes, among which is the attraction of foreign investors to Kogi, considering also the giant strides achieved by Bello in making Kogi one of the safest states.
“We will continue to strategically secure our state and people because, without security, there can be no meaningful development,’’ he said.
Taking cognizance of the importance of boosting the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state, Bello revamped the almost defunct Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS) with an overhaul of the building and services.
Living up to its mandate, Acting Executive Chairman, KGIRS, Mr Yusufu Aubakar, said that as at end of 2020, the agency had collected N17.5 billion as IGR, with efforts in progress to generate N1.3 billion monthly.
The IGR has, however, helped in development projects across the state to support the state’s monthly allocation from the federal government which is among the lowest receiving states.
These funds have invested across all sectors to make laudable impacts in the state and in the lives of the residents.
The state in Bello’s led “New Direction Administration’’ has witnessed visible successes in the health, education, agricultural, culture and tourism.
In the health sector, Bello has invested heavily in health financing and payment of health workers, the reason why doctors in the state won’t join nationwide strikes of the Nigerian Medical Association.
The administration has also built and renovated several buildings health facilities in the state, upgrading the Okene General Hospital to a state-of-the-art reference hospital.
The reference hospital is expected to serve as a teaching hospital to the newly established Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara.
Bello noted that this would reduce the rate of medical tourism in the country and the hospital would be built at world-class standard to respond to any type of health situations.
“The ultra-modern reference hospital is designed to meet international standard with the state-of-the-art health facilities.
“The hospital will meet the need for better healthcare delivery and mark a total end to medical tourism in Kogi and Nigeria,” Bello said.
The education sector has also not been left out with the establishment of CUSTECH to join other institutions in the state, payment of bursaries to students, award of scholarships and grants to students, among others.
Bello said that CUSTECH was established to boost Nigeria’s education system and bring to a logic end the inability of Kogi indigenes to study desired courses for lack of admission in other institutions.
“My administration was greatly disturbed by the painful experiences of hundreds of Kogi youths who were unable to pursue careers in science and technology due to very limited openings in universities outside Kogi.
“This trend became so worrisome that we just had to act as a government to bring it to the only logical end. Problems make me combative for solutions,” Bello said.
The agricultural sector has also received a boost from the New Direction Administration which got the World Bank to applaud Bello for introducing sustainable agriculture programmes to the state.
The administration has also ensured prompt payment of salaries, construction of roads across the state and embarking rural development projects to take development also to the grassroots.
The giant strides in security amid the high rate of insecurity across the country have also gained the governor a lot of international and national accolades, enticing foreign investors to the state.
In November 2021, a Dutch Firm, Euro LPG BV Holland indicated interest to build gas plants in Kogi.
The international company specialises in the engineering, manufacturing and supply of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Liquefied Natural Gas and Industrial gases and its related equipment for storage and transportation.
Chairman of the company, Dr Wahaab Abdullah, said that Kogi was chosen for the project because of the sustained security in the state.
One of Bello’s frantic efforts to driving Kogi as economic hub in the country was realised with the recent announcement of President Muhammadu Buhari, naming Kogi as one of Nigeria’s oil producing state.
This will again boost economic activities to the state and create job opportunities for the locals.
The governor, in fulfilment to his pledge of revamping the state’s economy, also in November 2021, inaugurated the commencement of hydrographic survey and charting of the Lower Rivers Niger and Benue Rivers from Lokoja to Burutu.
Bello lauded the initiative which was birthed by the Private Public Partnership of Nigeria Export-Import Bank Plc. in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy and National Inland Waterways Authority.
He said that the project would provide more than million direct and indirect jobs for the youths in the state and the country.
Bello has pledged continuous efforts to developing policies and projects that would make Kogi to take its place as a one of Nigeria’s economic hubs.
Beside these, Bello said that his administration was keen on ensuring the revival of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
He noted that he had been in talks with President Muhammadu Buhari to make the company work before the end of his administration.(NANFeatures) (www.nanews.ng)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)