By Odih Daniel N., Lokoja, Kogi State
Before the unfortunate auto crash involving Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State, it was a naked reality that the state was swimming in the sea of poverty. It is still swimming in poverty and even much worse. The poverty started shortly after the removal of erstwhile Governor Abubakar Audu by the PDP government, in which Governor Ibrahim Idris was a representative. Idris' government held sway for almost nine years, amidst election tribunal cases that Idris Ibro was removed and installed shortly after the PDP's rigged election.
From my observation of the PDP government and its working, there seems to be an oath running through the veins of all the PDP states which says: "Thou shalt not do anything for anyone, for thou didn't come to power through their support. Thou shalt be answerable only to your Abuja and local godfathers". That is why things remain unchaged, especially in almost all the PDP-led states.
In Kogi State, with the billions of Naira allocated to the state every month, Ibrahim Idris achieved but minimal success when he built the Specialist Hospital, rehabilitated Lokoja-Ajaokuta Road, and started and completed the Greater Lokoja Water Project only.
Ever since the handing over of power to Governor Idris Ichalla Wada, the state seems to have moved from glory to story. Things stand still, and there seems to be no leader. People are dying everyday as a result of high cost of transportation, housing and feeding. The prices of things are higher in Lokoja than in Abuja. A careful observer can come to Lokoja to see things for himself.
The presence of hotels almost everywhere in Lokoja is an indication that only the politicians benefit from the state. The poor masses have nothing to gain other than the trouble the excessiveness of the politicians caused. The money given to the state by government and private organisations to take care of the flood victims has no record of what it was used for in the state. Some of the flood victims died as a result of frustration from the government's lackadaisical attitute towards their plight and the destruction of their life-saving items of property and farm produce.
The one and only main road in the capital city of Lokoja, Murtala Muhammed Way, has its most disgraceful status when it was made bad by constant usage and by flood, and there is no man, in the name of the governor who comes forward to see, let alone work on the road.
Kogi State has the highest number of youth restiveness as a result of unemployment. Youths move on the street everyday with haggard faces as if they were ugly or sick. They are frustrated. There is nothing in Kogi State, apart from Obajana Cement Factory that supports the lives of youths of the state. Private schools employ teachers, but because they know there is no hope from the government, people are used as if they had no value amidst threats of being laid-off. All these are as a result of having no choices in the face of poverty and the need to survive at all costs.
The state governor has never made any attempt to sustain, let alone create a new job. "Low jobs" like teaching can be created to add to the existing number, reducing unemployment and boosting education. But nothing is done by my government to improve upon education, housing, transportation, health and health system of the state.
The greater Lokoja water work is functional, but it is limited to the Murtala Muhammed Way alone, abandoning other streets and roads. Since I have no governor, there is nobody to help spread the water to the places where it is needed by the people. Where the water is available aside from the MMW, the people do it themselves.
When the people talk of local government autonomy, I support the autonomy of local governments because of what happens in Kogi State. Many Liason officers are answerable to the governor, and they have their allocations shared between their offices and the state government. Local government workers have their salaries either paid half, quarters or not paid at all for months, even years.
The city of Lokoja, like a village, has no touch of government, and there is no way we can talk of other local government headquarters and villages. Even the Government House has no touch of a living being. Villagers only know Wada is the governor. They do not know what a governor is supposed to do for the people. After all, have they not been coping without 'government'?
Unless jobs are created for the teaming youths, roads are constructed not patched, new roads are opened, new housing estates are built, not the one built by Audu between 1999 and 2003, water is made available to all the people of Lokoja - from Zango to Ganaja Village and from Adankolo to Phase II, businesses are encouraged, high cost of living as a result of high demand with limited supply in Lokoja is reduced, Lokoja town, and other towns and villages are beautified and given a touch of human presence, I will continue to say that Kogi State has no governor, and I stand by my words!