Opinion | Kogi State: The Misfortune Continues (2) By Capt. Daniel Omale. #KogiGist (Must Read)

A-plague-commemorating the-lowering of the Royal-Niger Company flag in-Lokoja Kogi-state

A-plague-commemorating the-lowering of the Royal-Niger Company flag in-Lokoja Kogi-state

By Capt Daniel Omale

If you missed the first part of this article, read it HERE

The overwhelming response to the first part of this article shows the high level of discontentment with the current government of Kogi State.I would like to thank those who boldly displayed their anger and frustration through SMS to my phone or the online response page on the Saturday column, my column in this newspaper.

To clear any misconception about my article last week on this topic, I have had no personal dispute with Captain Wada, the governor of the state. In fact, I have not seen or spoken to him since he became the substantive leader of the people of Kogi State. And prior to his ascendance to the podium of power, we never had any dispute or disagreement on any issue. Therefore, for one of the respondents who asked the question about possible animosity between the governor and I, the answer is exactly what I have said above.

Captain Idris Wada is my senior in aviation. He was a teacher to those who taught us flying in Zaria. On a professional level, he is our professor and we adore him immensely.

But the issue of Kogi State is beyond professional aviation. It is about the welfare of every citizen, indigene or bona fide member of that great but abused society that comprises about 3 million or so people of various tribes.

One respondent asserted that the governor cannot change the fortunes of the people of the state in just three years. My question to him is what programme does Wada’s administration have in place that will yield progress and economic prosperity for the people of Kogi in the next five years? There is nothing visible to show the populace that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Virtually everyone in Kogi is in a state of hopelessness, because time and time again, those whom the people have entrusted to bring social and economic progress have ended up raping and looting the state treasury, with uncountable investments in Abuja and other cities but Lokoja, the capital.

The idea that a governor of a state can ‘do and undo’ does not augur well for democracy anywhere in the world. If in three years the people of Kogi State cannot point to a project in the state that will one day germinate into economic prosperity for the people, then everyone has the right to question the commander’s intentions.

Captain Wada has not demonstrated to the people of Kogi State that he has conceived plans that will sooner or later transform the future of the state into some form of economic fortress. The governor spends most of his time outside the state in pursuit of what is still invisible to the majority of the indigenes.

There is no magic to appeasing the people that, supposedly, should be able to recall an unwanted elected representative. This is the core of democratic principles. If a governor like Captain Wada was certain that his actions and inaction could warrant his removal, he would have dedicated his administration to serving the people. There wouldn’t be any need to question his ineptitude and poor performance.

The governor and his team, this week, met with the minister of aviation. They went to seek approval for the construction of an airport in Kogi State. The big question is what will an airport, at this time of abject poverty in the land, do for the people who are mainly subsistence farmers? How can anyone think of establishing an airport that will support our farmers produce when every crop in the state is planted and harvested for household consumption?

The priority should be support and encourage the farmers to go into large-scale mechanised farming that will enable food production beyond subsistence agriculture. This programme of encouragement and changing the mindset will take at least ten years to yield positive results. An airport would be the last item on the list of encouraging and supporting large-scale farming.

If the governor is sincere about promoting commercial farming, he should start by establishing a farmers’ union whereby the state government would guarantee to buy back excess farm produce at reasonable prices from the farmers, store and resell it to the public during dry season when such crops would be in high demand. The process would require the erection of storage facilities like silos and other forms of protective storage of crops.

Practical motivation for the creation of agricultural cooperatives is related to the ability of farmers to pool production and/or resources. In many situations within agriculture, it is simply too expensive for farmers to manufacture products or undertake a service. Cooperatives provide a method for farmers to join together in an ‘association’, through which a group of farmers can acquire a better outcome, typically financial, than by going alone. This approach is aligned to the concept of economies of scale and can also be related as a form of economic synergy, where “two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.”

Once Kogi farmers are convinced of government support and patronage through the purchase of excess crops like yams, beans, rice and others, they will double their efforts to engage in commercial farming. A farmers’ union will cost the state government nothing to establish. This will be the first step to economic freedom for the majority of the people of the state.

If Captain Wada is in dire need of an airport for the state, he can ask Aliko Dangote to help in expanding his private airfield at Obajana. On the other hand, the state could partner with Dangote Group to transform the air strip into a full-fledged airport. This will require very little expenditure, if at all it is necessary at this time. But I don’t think so. Once again, I do not have any hard feelings for my mentor and teacher, but everyone in the state is tired of perpetual maladministration, deception and chronic misrule.

Advancing sustainable human development requires true democracy, not the parody we practice here in Nigeria. It is only in a democracy that people can be empowered to demand and shape better policies, express grievances, seek justice and hold leaders and the private sector to account. Societies with strong, democratic institutions empower people to influence their government to prioritise national development that is equitable and sustainable. In a true democracy, people can demand better policies, express grievances, hold leaders to account and seek justice from abuse.

Good governance is essential to achieve development, while true participatory democracy ensures that development is equitable and sustainable. Public institutions need to be able to manage public resources and conduct public affairs in a manner that is free of corruption and abuse, that upholds the rule of law and protects and promotes the realisation of the rights of its people. The true measure of good governance is the ability of a government to recognise people’s human rights and deliver sustainable and equitable development. Good governance is derived through transparency, accountability, participation and responsiveness to the needs of the poor, marginalised and under-represented groups.

Although participatory true democracy is visibly lacking here in Nigeria, Captain Wada should strive to ensure sustainable economic development in Kogi State. So far, he has failed to do so.

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