Dear Great People of Kogi State, I sincerely felicitate with us today as we mark the 59th Anniversary of our Nigeria's Independence from colonial rule. We cannot but remain grateful to Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer, Whose firm Hands have guided our nation through thick and thin to this day.
Since the 1st day of October 1960 when the British handed governance in Nigeria over to the founding fathers, this country has continued to make cautious but steady progress towards nationhood. The journey has been mostly rough and without doubt, we have lost our way a few times, but on this 59th Anniversary, I must insist that the road ahead of us is smoother than the one we have put behind us.
Just like I said in my address on Independence Day 2018 and repeat today, governance is not a popularity contest. It is far too serious for that. Governance is doing the right thing for the present generation and for posterity without fear or favour. Over the last 40 months that we have been in office, we have adhered to this principle. This means that toes must be stepped on and vested interests which compete with the overall best interests of the people have to make way.
In spite of widespread misunderstanding of our reforms in the early days, and even in the face of vicious opposition, we persevered in our determination to change how government business is conducted in the Civil Service and elsewhere.
Today, everyone can see the benefits for themselves. Contrary to predictions that the common people only understand stomach infrastructure, Kogites at the grassroots have shown great appreciation of our institutional reforms and have welcomed us in the community after community, and from door to door, with a lot of goodwill and support.
It also helps that as we get closer to the November 16 date for the 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections, we are campaigning for reelection with a strong suite of achievements to justify our first term. It is important that I seize this occasion to highlight some of the government records that we have set during this first term.
In 2017, less than 2 years into my tenure Kogi State was one out of only 4 states in the federation deemed success stories in the SDGs by the United Nations. We were invited to present our methods at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.
We inherited a Kogi State that was the kidnap capital of Nigeria with over 250 kidnap cases in 2015 alone. Less than 6 months into my tenure, those terrible numbers dropped drastically. In fact, for a 6 month period from July of 2017 to early January of 2018 we recorded no kidnaps at all. Till today, kidnapping has remained an opportunistic and isolated crime in Kogi State.
In 2018, we have rated the 2nd most peaceful state in the federation after Osun, and the most peaceful in northern Nigeria by the National Peace Index (NPI). Kogi State under my leadership was in the same 2018 rated the state with the second-lowest crime statistics after Kebbi by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Once notorious as a hotbed of armed robbery, communal clashes, home invasions, political thuggery and other violent crimes, our award-winning security architecture came at the cost of a Governor actually spending his security vote and other appropriated funds on the provision of security for his people.
Part of our what we did included the purchase of over 200 brand new patrol vans and 500 motorcycles, equally new, for distribution to all the security agencies operating in the state. We also supported them with modern communication gadgetry and provided finances and logistics. In addition, we built a Forward Operations Base for the Nigerian Army and smaller outposts across the state.
For the first time since Kogi State was created, we have enjoyed equity in the spread of government appointments and projects. When it comes to appointments, everyone knows that Yahaya Bello only considers merit, equity, fairness and justice in the selection and placement of persons who work with him.
When it comes to projects, I have ensured proportional representation for all constituencies in the state in government. Tribe, religion or class are no longer the determinants of who or where gets what. They play no role except as a measure of proportionality. We have also carried the youth and the womenfolk along and today they both occupy high profile positions and wield real influence.
Our Internally Generated Revenue has grown from about N350m monthly to over N1bn every month now, mainly by the elimination of waste and corruption and by improving collection.
This 2019, the World Bank Group gave us an award as the top performer in World Bank projects portfolio in the country. It bears repeating that since we took Office I have been intentional about meeting Kogi State's counterpart funding obligations to the World Bank Group and other development partners.
Still, in 2019, we were ranked the 7th top performer among all the states and FCT in basic education according to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). We have renovated, or constructed from scratch, over 375 basic education schools across the state.
Our secondary schools and Tertiary institutions have enjoyed serious attention from the administration, both in the provision of enhanced learning materials and physical infrastructure. As a result, several Tertiary institutions were able to receive accreditation for critical courses which have been outstanding for years.
Still, in 2019, the NBS rated us one of the only 9 states which reduced unemployment at a time the rest of the country slid further into it. This rating in particular discredited those who shouted up and down that my civil service reforms were a waste.
Even the vexed issue of non-payment of salaries and pensions have become history as I was finally able to fulfil my promise to pay, even before they are due. In August, and again in September, I paid our workers even before the month ran out. Henceforth, it is our plan, based on arrangements we have made with our financial institutions, that salaries and pensions will be paid from the 25th of every month.
We have also taken tremendous strides in the provision of physical and engineering infrastructure and utilities of all types. Identifiable hallmarks of my administration include major link and township road networks, electricity projects, rural water schemes, primary and secondary healthcare centres, specialist health programmes and empowerment initiatives for youths, women and other sections of our populace.
We have delivered electricity to over 200 communities across the state, especially in the Eastern flank and the Lokoja/Koto axis of Kogi West. On July 6th, I inaugurated the Project Light Up Kogi East (PLUKE) for accelerated electrification of at least another 200 communities in Kogi East.
The second-largest rice mill in Northern Nigeria is ready for commissioning at Ejiba in Yagba East of Kogi West. It is supported with about 800 hectares of cultivated rice and will provide between 3000 to 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. It will also serve as an off-taker for many of our farmers.
One project that is particularly dear to my heart is the Government House Chapel. We did the groundbreaking in July alongside the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria and we are on target to commission it by the end of this year. I feel gratified that a jinx of 28 years has been broken and we have brought balance and religious harmony in this small but significant manner.
Our partnership with the federal government has also proven to be very critical in bridging some gaps for us. Kogi alone received 6 roads in the first phase of the road for tax initiative under Executive Order 7. I am also pushing for the quick intervention of the FGN on the Lokoja-Okene and Ajaokuta-Itobe federal roads. I have no doubt that work will commence on them soon.
EXERCISE OF PREROGATIVE OF MERCY BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE PURSUANT TO SECTION 212 OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION OF NIGERIA (AS AMENDED) AND IN COMMEMORATION OF INDEPENDENCE DAY, 1ST OF OCTOBER, 2019.
My fellow citizens and residents of Kogi State, you may wish to recall that on 27th January 2017 and 1st October 2018, 17 and 5 convicts of various categories respectively were recommended for pardon and commutation of sentence by the State Advisory Council of the Prerogative of Mercy. I approved the said recommendations; which has been implemented.
Once again, the Kogi State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy acting in consonance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Kogi State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy Law, 1995, visited several Custodial Centres in some states of the Federation where condemned convicts and other categories of convicts are being kept.
Careful scrutiny of the applications of the convicts, supporting documents and testimonies given by the Officials in Charge of the various Custodial Centres were to the effect that some of the convicts deserve another chance in life, hence the recommendations made by the said Council.
Therefore, I, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of kogi State, under and by virtue of the powers conferred on me by section 212 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) do HEREBY this 1st day of October, 2019 render and pronounce in exercise of the said powers declare as follows:-
A. That the under listed convicts serving sentences in Custodial centres located in Kogi State and who have less than 1 year to be discharged are hereby granted pardon and should be released forthwith:
OKENE CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Shaibu Zakari
- James Sheidu
- Muhammed Yahaya
IDAH CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Sunday Adeyemi
ANKPA CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Ugbede John
- Ojonugwa Mathew
- Abdulmumuni Yakubu
- Muhammed Haruna
KOTON KARFE CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Daniel Ochonu
B. That Haruna Usman who is on death row in Koto Karfe Custodial Centre and awaiting the Governor’s pleasure has his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
C. That the sentence of Kashim Abdullahi who is serving a 15-year jail term in Idah Custodial Centre be reduced to 10 years.
D. That the following condemned convicts who are in various Custodial Centres across the country are hereby granted pardon:
KUJE CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Ejimoh Hassan Iregwu
- Ajoze Iregwu
SULEJA CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Shafiu Ibrahim Faari
MINNA CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Razaq Olarenwaju
- James Adegwu
- Peter Illiya Azabada
KADUNA CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Aminu Dio
- Victor Ayegba Abu
- Ganiyu Yakubu
KADUNA OPEN CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Rasheed Ayinde
- Akeem Abiodun
- James Afolabi
- Sule Adehi
KANO CUSTODIAL CENTRE, GORON DUTSE
- Yakubu Ali
GUMEL CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Jegede Adama
JOS CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Abubakar Haruna
- Audu Mustapha
- Sa’adatu Sani
- Oladele Benjamin
- Tahiru Yusuf
ENUGU CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Abdulrahman Amoto Sambit
ABEOKUTA CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Rasheed Kareem
E. That the following condemned convicts who are in various Custodial Centres across the country hereby have their death sentences commuted to life:
KUJE CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Sunday Egwuda Ajodo
KADUNA CONVICTS CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Kyambe Ambe
- Garba Ibrahim
- Idris Amodu
- Ade Ayedun
KANO CENTRAL CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Jimoh Salawu
JOS CUSTODIAL CENTREDanjuma Ibrahim
b. Pastor Sunday Alfa
c. Friday Olorunfemi
d. Jimoh Michael
ENUGU CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Gashius Soba
KATSINA STATE CUSTODIAL CENTRE
- Benjamin Oyakhire
I hereby use this medium to call on the individual communities of the beneficiaries of this amnesty to tolerate them, absolve them and to also give them another chance in life. It is human to err but to forgive is divine.
The beneficiaries of this exercise should be given every form of assistance they may require to settle down and to also move on with their respective lives. And I expect the beneficiaries to reciprocate this gesture by eschewing evil and living at peace in their respective communities.
Fellow citizens, our greatest asset as Nigerians and Kogites is our diversity, and our greatest need is for transformational leadership which can foster the Unity we need to make our diversity work.
Nigeria is endowed with all the natural and human resources to become a developed country in a relatively short space of time. With the right leadership, we will have plenty of reasons to look to the future with optimism.
Those who will thrive in the next level Nigeria which is emerging under the current leadership are those who can reach beyond the challenges of today to lay hold, with great expectations, on the promises of tomorrow. May you be such a person.
I cannot end this address without thanking the great people of Kogi State for the unprecedented support we received during the 2019 General Elections earlier in the year.
Kogites voted the APC for the Presidency and helped reelect His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for a 2nd term in office. They also voted the APC into 2 out of 3 three Senatorial seats, 7 out of 9 House of Representatives seats and a historic 25 out of 25 Kogi State House of Assembly seats.
We are grateful.
Please come out again on November 16 to vote for the APC ticket in the 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections, comprising myself and my running mate, Edward David Onoja. We will never let you down.
Thank you, and God bless.
Long Live Kogi State
Long Live Nigeria
GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE