In many years of my journalism practice, I hold on to the natural opium of justice by fairness. Even the holy books enjoin us to dig into the truth and hold it tenaciously. Therefore, when journalism came up with the theory of balanced reportage, it is only aligning with a universal principle of justice and fairness to all.
Since the inception of the present administration in Kogi State, transparency and accountability have been the bulwark of its bond of trust with the people of the state. For the first time in the history of the state, government came public on its bank accounts and graphic records of income and expenditure. Not out of compulsion but because of its belief in doing what is right.
Governor Yahaya Bello has put in place mechanism for stringent financial management to make the people the biggest beneficiaries of government policies. That is why, when some people tell some lies as faceless as they are, government officials wave them off.
For instance, it is ludicrous for these faceless characters to insinuate that the present administration collected N18 billion as allocations for six months whereas, the actual amount that came to the state in that duration was N13 billion. Their arithmetic fallacy shows they are striving to squeeze truth from falsehood. Those who seek accountability must as a matter of principle come to the table with verifiable facts.
It is also laughable to claim that N20 million is being deducted from the account of each local government area every month and submitted to the office of the Chief of Staff to the governor. The local government councils in the state have accounting officers. The Chief of Staff to the governor is not one.
One of the major steps of the governor, upon assumption of office, was the abolition of obnoxious deductions from the accounts of the councils. They now enjoy financial autonomy. The vehicles bought by the council administrators were on hire purchase, to be defrayed over a period of time. The idea was to ensure it does not take heavy toll on their finances. There is no room for fraud under Governor Bello.
With the dwindling allocations, it has become increasingly difficult for many states to pay salaries. The success of the administration in securing the bailout funds is an indication of its compliance with due process and the mechanism for transparency. In the blatant falsehood peddled, it was quoted that contracts were awarded without due process and that the Agasa road project was virtually non-existent.
Every contract awarded in Kogi since January 27, 2016 went through due process. On the Agasa road, our evaluators have assessed the level of job done and discovered that the contractor has done more work than the funds released. The lack of facts on the part of the hatchet jobbers also became manifest when they reversed their “no job” claims to “why we pay contractors when we are in court.” We cannot deprive contractors of their legitimate pay just because the governor is facing tribunal cases. Case or no case, the people of our dear state deserve good roads.
For some hitherto respected blog sites to annihilate investigative journalism by reporting falsehood is pitiable. We imagine how much people are losing their credibility to the need to defend people who are doing everything to extend their political fiefdoms. We pity them.
The people of Agasa and other towns and cities know what projects are going on in their places. They laugh when they read some people writing that such projects are non-existent. They laugh at how people have lost their sense of decency to commercial journalism. They laugh at how deep people can go to make a nylon sink!
It is no more news that the PDP misgoverned this state. They ruled without ideas and direction. They ruled with the sole intent of promoting kleptomania. It was no surprise that Governor Yahaya Bello defeated Idris Wada even in his local government area during the supplementary poll. That is the level of rejection, not necessarily of Wada, but the party that drained our nation.
The Governor has goodwill despite the politically motivated attacks on his person by people who messed up the system and are now trying to re-mould into his New Direction agenda. The sound judgment by the lower tribunal has no doubt, jolted opponents of the governor. The fear of losing at the Appellate Court is causing the pedestrian approach of calling the judiciary a bad name to discredit the temple of justice ahead of the judgment. The governor has shown great respect for the judiciary. Apart from upgrading the environment of courts in the state, he has ensured prompt payment of salaries to judiciary staff.
The claim by some faceless groups as promoted by discredited blog sites that the state government owes six months salaries is laughable misinformation. The governor has paid salaries six times in six months. The Lokoja township roads are wearing new look, while the previous state of insecurity inherited has been tamed with a strong political will. So far, 18,000 ghost workers have been discovered. This will save the state about N16 billion annually. Many investors are trooping into the state as the right environment is being created with Ajaokuta and Itakpe ready to herald the diversification revolution of the Nigerian economy. It is going to be better with unity and cooperation.
Fanwo is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.