Today as the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello receives the “Award of Recognition for outstanding Leadership and Efforts at Addressing Security Challenges in the Kogi State” from the office of the Inspector General of Police, one remembers with nostalgia how Kogi, perhaps the most arguably insecure State in the federation was transmogrified by the magic wand of the transformational leadership of the Executive Governor into a safe haven in such a short time of laudable impact.
Security scholars of repute will realise the peculiar nature and strategic positioning of Kogi State not only as a confluence province, but as a bastion of freeway outlet betwixt the North and the South and bordered unusually by ten whole States, unlike no other. This alone makes it a clandestinely porous state for criminal activities and insecurity challenges as security studies have shown that a border point is a scary hotspot for the infestation of fledgling crime.
No sooner had the extremely hardworking, focused and performing Governor been sworn in than he swung into action to re-position the State from its hitherto unenviable position as a nest of crime and one of the most unsafe destinations in the country into a very habitable clan, safe haven and the hub of security. This he heralded by massive investment in the security infrastructure and widespread protective apparatus in the State. Security concern thus became an integral focus of his administration because of his awareness and utmost realisation that without security, there can be no social progress and viable economic development in the state.
With concerted series of advocacy programme, awareness creation and mobilisation with important stakeholders like the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Navy, Mr. Governor’s quest to rebirth Kogi culminated into the attraction of the Nigerian Police’s deployment of a surveillance helicopter to the State in June, 2016.
By September 2016, Operation Total Freedom, a joint task force comprising the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Department of State Security Service, DSS, NSCDC and Nigerian Police, began its full operation to stem the tide of insecurity and crime in the state with remarkable results. They keyed into the Governor’s lofty objective of zero tolerance for crime and an absolutely secure Kogi State for the generality of Kogi people and the visitors alike.
The drive of Mr. Governor was largely predicated on several unsavoury reports about the security situation in Kogi State. Of worthy note is the United States’ Department of State’s August 2016 warning to U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria and recommendation that they avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States because the security situation in North East Nigeria remained fluid and unpredictable. It listed other 17 States amongst which is Kogi due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies and other armed attacks. Other states in their black list include Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara. This made the state a no-go area for expatriates and a State investors would not think of doing business in.
It is worthy of note that Kogi, which was listed as one of the most insecure states in Nigeria and investors dreaded, is one of the most sought after states for investments in various sectors due to the giant strides of the Governor in the area of providing adequate security. Little wonder the people of Kogi have been commending the Governor because of his sterling performance in the areas of the core purpose of governance- the welfare and security of the people.
These and many more make the Governor extremely deserving of this coveted award. The massive infrastructural development and investment drive of the Governor is worthy of commendation and applause. Beyond his revolutionary re-positioning of the confluence State from the State of fear to the State of freedom, his commendable quest to lead the Agricultural renaissance in North Central Nigeria sets him apart in the annals of our development history as a pace-setting Colossus who is ready and willing to take the plunge of excellent direction to lead the strategically located confluence State with the capacity to be the commercial nerve centre of the country linking economic activities between the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria.
With this plausible feat and more, Mr. Governor has not only shown himself worthy of exemplary leadership in the area of securing his people, he has shown remarkably that he is imbued with the abundance of political will and muscle to confront every monster that is capable of hindering the socioeconomic and political development of the State. He has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he has the right gizmo of leadership that would yield the right results for development of the State. It is in the light of this that the President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces must be deeply appreciated for his invaluable support and for complimenting the lofty efforts of the Governor in providing adequate security for the people of Nigeria in general and Kogi State in particular.
All we can wish the Governor as he adds this befitting cap of deserving reward for a job well done is sound health, more wisdom and continued focus as he continually steers the wheels of Kogi government on the golden path of prosperity, progress, delivery of democratic dividends, security and stability.
Petra Akinti Onyegbule is the Chief Press Secretary to the Kogi State Governor.