NUJ, veteran journalists commend Gov. Yahaya Bello over infrastructure, security, media empowerment

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  • Say he’s finishing strong

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

Before 2016, Kogi State was always in the news for negative things. It was so disturbing that media organisations regarded the state as a hot bed for bad news. Paramount of these ugly happenings was insecurity.

kidnappings, banditry, terrorism and robbery were the order of the day. The state had statistics of an average of 25 kidnap cases per month as deplorable road conditions fuelled abduction and other criminalities across the Confluence State.

However, the horrible story has significantly changed ever since Alhaji Yahaya Bello was voted and sworn in as the governor of the state in January 2016. Owing to the governor’s security template that has proved to be so effective in restoring peace to the state, Kogites have since the emergence of Governor Bello, been sleeping with their two eyes closed.

Findings revealed that Bello changed the narratives through his strategic security approaches in line with his constitutional duty as the Chief Security Officer of the state.

In order to achieve his plan, Bello declared a full-fledged war on armed robbers and criminals operating in the state by using security apparatus to pursue kidnap kingpins in the state who were earlier seen as untouchables.

Eventually, their residential buildings and hideouts where the nefarious activities were schemed and executed were also demolished. He also constructed the Army Forward Operation bases at different places across the state to enhance the security of lives and property of the people.

The governor also provided over 200 utility vehicles to security agencies for patrol. Additionally, he procured sophisticated gadgets for the Operation Total Freedom established by his administration to stamp out criminality in the state.

Revealing other plans and policies of Governor Bello in stapling out insecurity, the Kogi State Security Adviser, Navy Commander Jerry Omodara (retd), said aside from the demolition of houses associated with insecurity, the present administration embarked on harmonisation of security agencies, creation of homegrown neighbourhood watch and provision of logistics for security forces.

Omodara, while presenting a paper on “Fight Against Insecurity: Achieving Results in a Challenging Environment (The Kogi Example)”, at the 3rd Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB) for Nigeria’s Political and Crime Correspondents and Editors in Abuja at the weekend, noted that the governor would not go to sleep despite winning the war against insecurity.

He said, “The issue of security is key to us. It was no longer news that before Governor Bello took up the mantle of leadership in 2016, Kogi people were in a hopeless situation as regards insecurity. But, for the first six months dovetailing into one year, people started heaving sigh of relief and can now sleep with their two eyes closed.

“This feat was achieved by the will power of the governor, role of non-state actors and policies underlying the fight against insecurity. This success achieved in a challenging environment like Kogi could not be possible without the trust and acceptability of the people.”

The security expert explained that demolition of houses used as hideouts by criminals, harmonisation of security agencies and establishment of homegrown neighbourhood watch, provision of security patrol vehicles among other actions by the governor had changed Kogi from the capital of crime to the safest state in Nigeria.

He advised the Federal Government to pay special attention to Kogi, adding that funding was a major challenge for the state in the fight against insecurity.

Omodara submitted that, “a safer Kogi is a recipe for the Federal Capital Territory,” and that the government at the centre must rejig its recruitment policy for all services.

Since security is key to development, the Commissioner for Information, Kogi State, Kingsley Fanwo, said the state had been witnessing infrastructural development and economic growth since peace became the order of the day.

In his presentation of paper on “Benefits of Youth Inclusion in Governance: Kogi as case study,” Dr. Jibril Oludare, the Special Adviser, Youths and Students to the Governor, pointed out that Bello’s youth-friendliness and priority had contributed in tackling criminalities in Kogi.

According to Oludare, the governor, through his policies on employments, appointments, education, empowerment and skills acquisition, have taken many youths off the streets, engaged them meaningfully and given them a sense of belonging to take up legitimate means of livelihood.

Oludare disclosed that the governor recruited 5,000 youths into the vigilante and other security operations in the state, adding that the governor empowered youths in agriculture by providing tractors and other modern farming equipment to them. He added that the establishment of two state universities by Governor Bello had a milestone, which had further catered for the growing academic pursuits of youths.

To this end, many were not surprised when Kogi State, under the leadership of Governor Bello, was adjudged as one of the most peace-enjoying states in Nigeria.

At the seminar, notable stakeholders in the Nigerian project, including the President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Eze Anaba, who was represented by his predecessor, Mustapha Isah; President, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo; Editor-in-Chief, Leadership, Azubuike Ishiekwene, commended Governor Bello for his giant strides.

Some other journalists who commended the governor for his strategic security approaches in his state, advised the Federal Government and the Nigerian governors to adopt Bello’s security template in their respective states in order to curb criminalities currently bedeviling the country.

Relying on the fruits of his efforts so far and present plans being put in place by his administration and security agencies, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, assured the people of the state and Nigerians in general that the governorship election scheduled for November 11, 2023, would be the most peaceful ever held in the state.