A rejoinder to Alh. Abubakar Rajab: Re Kogi Salary Issues

I woke up this morning to your poorly written and mischief ridden write-up. While going through your justification for the return of th...


I woke up this morning to your poorly written and mischief ridden write-up. While going through your justification for the return of the worst Governor in the history of Nigerian Democracy, Yahaya Bello, it was clear that you were struggling with the failed realities confronting his government.
Before I go on to remind you of some unquestionable facts in case you have forgotten, I will like to ask, when did you become a friend of this government? Was it at the inception or after your benefactor, Jibrin Isah spilled the blood of igalas on his way to being a Senator?

As it is often said when humans are confronted with reality, they either face it or avoid it. Capt. Wada as Governor of Kogi State, faced the reality, of which Yahaya Bello has refused to. Kogi has always been a state that has struggled with resources, hence no leader of the state should live an ostentatious life style. Leadership in Kogi requires financial prudency and lifestyle discipline. Wada was all of that. While Bello is none of it.

Now to the issues of Salaries, when Wada came on board he met a minimum wage structure that had been implemented a few months before he became governor. Kogi’s wage bill was the fourth highest nationwide. Lagos, Bayelsa and Ondo were the only States that paid higher than Kogi. For example a director in Kano earns N222,000 monthly, while that of Kogi earns N444,000 monthly. Despite the fact that Kano has a much better revenue profile than Kogi, yet Kogi’s wage bill was higher than Kano.

Rather than go around complaining about this anomaly, Wada went about the business of governance by running a lean government that focused on the welfare of the civil servants and Kogites in general. He didn’t invest in frivolities like buying bulletproof vehicles for his commissioners and chief of Staff, or flying private jets all over the country. For he knew that there was no room for wastage.
You can twist facts for all I care, but facts speak for themselves. As the saying goes, a hungry man is an angry man. The current anger in the land is as a result of the hunger policy implemented by the Bello administration. If I may ask, why were the civil servants not dying in hospitals or committing suicide over non-payment of salaries during Wada’s tenure? Could it be there was something he was doing right that kept them alive?

As of January 29th 2015 when Wada handed over, his government was owing 3 months Salaries to the State Civil Servants namely: March 2015, November 2015 and December 2015. In the month of March 2015, the allocation that accrued to Kogi dipped significantly. Rather than the traditional monthly 3 billion Naira allocation they were used to, it dipped to about N2.4 Billion. This amount was not enough to offset the wage bill of N3.2 Billion Naira. He summoned an emergency meeting with NLC where he presented the facts on ground. He further proposed that civil servants from level 1-6 should be paid in full while those from level 7-16 should be paid 50% pending when he is able to solicit for more funds to offset their arrears.

Unfortunately the then NLC led by Edoka was already a politicized entity. Rather than cater to the welfare of the civil servants, they opted for partisanship. They out rightly rejected Wada’s offer. Threatening to spill blood on the streets of Lokoja if the Government went ahead with its plan. They further suggested that the Government should hold on to the allocation until it had enough to pay them in full. That’s the story of how the story of how the civil servants did not get their March entitlements. The subsequent allocations improved and regular salary payments resumed.

I also observed that you jumbled a lot lies regarding the bailout loan. You were a banker for a lengthy period before you moved to being a lottery administrator. Banking tenets are totally different from gambling. Let me rehash facts again just in case you’ve chosen to forget. Kogi was able to get approval for the N50 Billion bailout loan because they were the least leveraged State across the country. As at the time of the approval, Kogi’s exposure to commercial banks was a paltry N800 Million. Hence their eligibility to borrow that much. In fact many states tried to do the same but the CBN rejected them, citing their unpleasant financial exposure to commercial banks.

Shouldn’t we celebrate a leader who didn’t mortgage the future of the state to commercial banks? Furthermore the bailout was meant to offset the one month arrears owed to the State Civil Servants, percentage arrears owed to the local government workers and complete some of the ongoing legacy projects of his administration.

The then APC led by the late Prince Abubakar Audu applied pressure on the CBN to prevent the release of the bailout funds. They claimed the government was going to use the funds for elections, hence they should be denied. For Audu and his cohorts, the welfare of the workers was traded in favor of political expediency.

After the November 22nd elections, the APC leadership pressured the Banks into withholding the November and December allocations. This action prevented the state from paying November and December salaries. It is on record that Bello inherited three months allocation from Wada (November, December and January). In addition to that, he also inherited N800 Million Ecological fund domiciled in UBA. The fund was meant for the completion of the Nataco/Ganaja/Kabawa Embankment.

You also furthered your mischief by stating that Wada was unable to execute any projects during his tenure. In case you have selective amnesia, let me take you down memory lane.
Wada remains the only Governor in the history of our State, who made completion of his predecessor’s projects a fulcrum of his governance. For him the funds used to kick-start the projects belonged to all kogites, hence abandoning them will amount to wastage. This singular policy led to the completion of the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja Water Works, The State Secretariat, Idah Township roads, amongst others.

While doing so, he went on to embark on significant legacy projects that were meant to elevate kogi to the next-level. Some of these projects include: Kogi Hotels opposite Government House, The Lokoja Mega Bus Terminal (First of its kind in Nigeria), Kogi House in Abuja, Nataco/Ganaja Flood Embankment, The Otokiti/Ganaja Bypass road that was meant to divert traffic from lokoja town, 250-bed Kogi State University Teaching Hospital, Diagnostic and Imaging center at Specialist Hospital Lokoja (all equipment had been fully paid for), Expansion and provision of drainages for Lokoja Township roads and the 500 Housing Unit along Ganaja road.

Despite the aforementioned, Wada’s crowning legacy remains the eradication of thuggery and the restoration of peace to our communities.
Bello in his bid to impose himself on the people has brought back our shameful past of thuggery, and made it daily way of life.

If I may ask, who started the current Kogi Hotel project that Bello is desperately rushing to completion? In his bid to prove to the APC National that he has performed wonders in the state.
If your benefactor had done so well, the issue of he not being given the ticket won’t arise. He would have easily been the darling of the youths across the country. Considering that age is the only bragging point he seems to have professed. Unfortunately, the mere mention of Bello across the country is met with scorn and disgust. Except off course among his retinue of sycophants of which you are one.

Rather than transfer the failure of this maladministration to the past Governments, Bello should carry his cross and leave the past administrations to carry theirs. Bello nailed himself the day he decided to jettison workers welfare in exchange for maladministration. As he continues to battle it out with the APC, he needs to be reminded to save some of his energy for the day of reckoning with Kogites.

- Haliru Alih Abdul

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ANYIGBALEFT: A rejoinder to Alh. Abubakar Rajab: Re Kogi Salary Issues
A rejoinder to Alh. Abubakar Rajab: Re Kogi Salary Issues
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