It was a fitting reflection of President Muhammadu Buhari’s reputation for talking straight as he arrived Kogi State on Thursday, December 29 that he pointedly told his audience that what Governor Yahaya Bello had laid out for him was indeed an arduous task.
For the people of Kogi who had not caught hold of the president in the last seven years apart from flying campaign visits, the task of commissioning a myriad of projects was one that the president who just celebrated 80, confessed was indeed arduous.
Speaking at the Ohinoyi’s palace in Okene, Buhari was quick to applaud Governor Bello, one of his most consistent disciples, in fulfilling what he said were his promises to the electorate.
”I have been briefed by Gov. Yahaya Bello for the numerous projects he has executed for the people.
”The Confluence University of Science and Technology at Asara, Rice mill in Ejiba, hospitals in Idah, Kabba and Okene, construction of roads in the three senatorial districts, GYB Model Secondary Schools among others,” the president said.
The world class Reference Hospital may have been the cynosure of many eyes given the strategic value that the hospital is to play in the envisaged role in reversing the trend of medical tourism abroad. The hospital is said to have a number of equipment that have spurred many Nigerians to seek medical treatment in India, Europe and America.
Even more, the hospital which is to also serve as a training arm for the newly established university in Osara could also help to stem brain drain out of the country. It will be especially so for medical experts frustrated by the lack of working tools in the country.
However, the reference hospital was not the only project presented for commissioning by the president that fateful day as the august visitor confessed earlier.
The president being human and indeed, elderly, may not have been able to go round all the newly constructed projects, it was nevertheless significant that he made symbolic touches with the infrastructure landmarks laid by Governor Bello.
Worthy of note is that besides the hundreds of kilometers of newly constructed and reconstructed roads spread through the three senatorial districts are the GYB Model Schools that have been applauded by many.
The GYB schools with their unique designs are spread across the three senatorial districts and have been lauded for the unique environment they provide in the well documented approach by the Bello administration in lifting the education sector in the state. It is worthy of mention that in the approach to the visit that the Kogi State administration had been lauded for its commitment to education funding being perhaps the only government in the country setting aside 30% of its budget for education, above the 26% as recommended by UNESCO.
Also worthy of note is the collaboration that the Yahaya Bello administration has brought to play in ensuring that the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, arguably the boldest industrial scheme in Nigeria’s history is brought to fruition.
President Buhari speaking with optimism that Thursday said:
”No project that is dare in our heart like the Ajaokuta Steel Company located in Kogi, which we inherited in moribund condition from previous administrations.
”The steel company has dispute both locally and internationally. I am glad to say that through our concerted effort we are able to settle the dispute by paying some money and the company is now ready for concessioning to competent private investors that will operationalize it for the people of Kogi State and Nigerians at large.
”We are in talk with a reputable company in United State and by God’s grace Ajaokuta very soon will come back to serve the people of Nigeria,” he said.
According to Buhari, the significance of making Ajaokuta steel working again is enormous as it will generate over 500, 000 jobs for Nigerian youths and also generate high revenue for the state and the country in the tune of over 1.6 billion dollars annually.
It was as such not surprising that President Buhari’s visit turned into a celebration for the people of the state who described the visit as the best thing that had happened to Kogi since Bello’s assumption of office as Governor on Jan 27, 2016.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN which interviewed some citizens reported Mrs Eunice Idoko, a retired teacher, as saying “this is the first time President Muhammadu Buhari is visiting Kogi since he became our leader.
“We, the residents of Kogi, are very grateful to the president for appreciating and considering what our governor is doing in terms of infrastructure development, ” she said.
Also speaking, Sunday Karimi, APC flag bearer, Kogi West Senatorial District, said the visit was in fulfillment of what was long overdue and expected by Nigerians to witness President Buhari’s visit to Kogi.
Karimi said that he as other residents of Kogi were very satisfied that the legacy projects of Gov. Bello had been successfully commissioned by the president.
To Alhaji Jibrin Momoh, the State Accountant-General, the visit of the president was “very apt and historic”.
He congratulated his boss Gov Yahaya Bello for a quality service delivery in kogi, in terms of developmental capital projects.
Momoh said, “Little did the masses know that something like this visit, which will remain memorable in the history of our dear state will ever happen to us”.
“As a staunch follower and apostle of Bello’s leadership dynasty, I graciously congratulate our governor on the official unveiling and commissioning of some of his remarkable achievements in capital projects in kogi that have direct bearing and immense impact on the masses,” Momoh said.
Also, the Executive Secretary, Kogi Office For Disability Affairs, Mr Zacchaeus Michael, said the triumphant entry of Buhari to Kogi to officially commission star projects, was a blessing to the people of the state.
He said that members of his Commission, disability community and the teaming supporters of All Progressives Congress, were proud of Bello, whose achievements he said, surpassed all other administrations put together.
Giving his motif as a worthy disciple of President Buhari, Governor Yahaya Bello had said:
”When I was sworn on the 27th of January, 2016, we were determined to serve our people and we quickly commissioned multidimensional sector to form what we call New Direction Blueprint.
”From that period till date , this particular document has served as a guide for accelerated development in Kogi State.
”We took our time to move round the state to determine what the people are lacking and what they really want that could improve the standard of living.
”Every year we zero down such need to our budgetary provision and we ensured that we follow it to the latter, ” Bello said
Bello stressed that his administration had fulfilled all its promises within the available resources and today those projects would be commissioned as well as others that may not be reached in other parts of the state.
”We ensure that the entire people of Kogi State benefit from our projects executed from internally general revenue, national resources and every other resources God gave to us in Kogi state.
”Mr President, we hit the ground running and you told me to be courageous in Leadership and how to bring out my best and today the projects is an attestation of our best to the people of Kogi State.
”I followed your footsteps in ensuring that projects and infrastructures that has direct impact on the people,” he said.