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My dear people of Kogi State,
I give all the praise to the Almighty God for another Independence Anniversary – the 57th for our dear Nation Nigeria. Everyone who has access to international news media knows of nations which have been confronted with the selfsame challenges that we face here and have descended into war and crises. Today is thus another perfect opportunity for gratitude, if not for the good we have achieved, at least, for the evils which God has kept from befalling us.
Poor leadership, corruption, terrorism, militancy, separatist agitations, even a Civil War which ended 47 years ago constitute some of the self-inflicted troubles which we contend with in the Nigerian Federation. Unlike other nations which have proved incapable of working through their differences and have gone up in flames, we Nigerians have had the good fortune, if not the good sense, to keep talking.
We may not always speak in polite tones, and our passion may sometimes be irrational, but we have maintained communication, and therefore avoided conflict. This is a wonderful blessing, and we must be grateful to God for it.
In Kogi State, I continue striving to exemplify inclusive leadership. I am glad that none of my traducers have accused me of ethnicism or tribalism yet (although now that I have reminded them, they may start tomorrow). If anything, some persons are angry at me for not stuffing Cabinet and other organs of governments with my own kith and kin. I do not owe anyone an apology on this score.
From the inception of my Administration, I have ensured that proportional representation of constituencies across the 3 Senatorial Districts as well as the personal merits of individual appointees have determined who serves where in Government. This posture is founded on my belief that one does not effect change by doing the same old things the same old ways.
In order to force a paradigm and generational shift in politics, I realize that I must keep justice, equity and merit as the moral compass for Government. The only way politics in Nigeria can change to accommodate more young people in high positions of leadership is for youths already in leadership to demonstrate competence and capacity to lead. I shall not speak for others but I repeat a solemn guarantee to succeed well as Governor of Kogi State.
I know that today is not a day to start reeling out a roll call of Projects executed by my Administration in the last 20 months, but I assure Kogites that tremendous progress is being made. In another 4 months, we will mark our 2 years in Office and I promise that the second volume of a Compendium which will contain all ongoing and completed projects will be released to commemorate it. The first volume has been out since January this year and continues to showcase our verifiable achievements. Till then, suffice it to say that we are racing to achieve as much as time and funds will permit.
We are careful to ensure even distribution of projects across all of our constituencies based on needs assessment. All of the 5 thematic areas in our New Direction Blueprint are receiving simultaneous attention. Education, Health, Infrastructure & Utilities, Job Creation & Youth Empowerment and Public Service & Pension Reforms remain vehicles from which to unload our Change Agenda.
While Education and Healthcare remain atop our list of priorities, communities across Kogi State are also being provided with electricity, water supply, roads, etc.
In Education, we have focused on providing quality learning environment and materials in order to unleash the genius of our students. So much has been done in the sector. For instance, I personally flagged off construction of 240 blocks of 2 classrooms each in 80 Primary Schools across the 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State recently. Upon completion, each of them will be equipped with modern learning facilities and round-the-clock solar electricity to power the ICT components.
I was happy to hear from our Commissioner for Health a couple of months ago that we have met our 4-year target of 100% immunization against childhood killer diseases already. Our statistics on Maternal and NewBorn Health initiatives also show-marked improvement from what we met on ground. Most pregnant women in Kogi State today have access to free maternity kits and care today.
Primary and Secondary Health Care Centres across the 21 Local Government Areas have either been renovated or built from scratch and equipped with drugs and equipment. We also recruited scores of medical personnel to help improve access to medicare for our people. 12 state-of-the-art ambulances were bought and distributed across Kogi State to facilitate speedy evacuation of critically ill patients to larger medical facilities in urban and semi-urban areas.
Empowerment and welfare programs for our youth and other population groups have been held to one level or the other in all of the 21 Local Government Areas. We have also been lauded as one of the most responsive state to the Social Investment Programs of the Government. Like I said in my New Year message earlier this year, 2017 is going to be a hallmark year for projects.
The Administration will continue to apply dialogue where it can make a difference in any industrial dispute. However, at this stage in our Public Service and Pension Reforms, we have a duty to pay more attention to the law, including the Public Service Rules as well as the sustainability of the reforms we are putting in place. The whims and caprices of vested interests cannot therefore be admitted to determine our responses in any way.
We do not understand what could possibly be wrong with putting into the hands of individual workers the tools to determine their own rating (and therefore progress) on the job, even after we have left office. Our aim with the clock-in, clock-out devices which Labour Leaders are rejecting is to empower each worker to leave a digital footprint which authenticates his or her participation during the typical work day. If this aim is defeated, all of the aspirations of genuine and conscientious workers to be assessed based on actual performance will remain a mirage, like in the past.
Prompt payment of salaries is still a vexed issue, but we will do our best to keep our workers happy given the competing demands on the income of the state per time. However, it is inevitable that from time to time we must ask workers to stand with us in sacrifice. We hope they will oblige in the overall interest of the state.
In similar vein, prompt payment of Gratuities and Pensions is only possible within the ambits of a Contributory Pension Scheme. Like the automation of the workforce, a Contributory Pension Scheme for the Kogi State workforce is inevitable reform. We commend workers who come around to work to the overall interest of the State. We cannot allow ourselves to become deterred from implementing much-needed reforms. We also urge all workers not to be misled as Government is doing everything possible to address the various challenges confronting the workforce. We are a responsible Government and we shall live up to our responsibilities.
The Administrations was gratified to be invited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to send a Team to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York City as one of only four states in Nigeria considered success stories for their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our Team enjoyed a successful outing at the United Nations Headquarters, made a presentation at the Nigeria side event and signed a Memorandum of Understanding for deeper collaboration with the UN and her agencies. This is good for Kogi State and her people.
Let me remind us that the rains are still here and there is still need to remain vigilant against flooding and other associated natural disasters. The most potent tool against flooding is to keep existing drainage systems free of garbage and other rubbish. The next is to be wise and evacuate to higher ground if flooding appears imminent and you live in a low-lying area.
On our part as Government, we have designated camps for Internally Displaced People in each Local Government Area deemed at risk, and should it become necessary to deploy a Camp in any locality, Kogites can expect their Government to act with despatch in sending fast responders and launching emergency protocols.
As I conclude this address this 1st October morning, in the year 2017, I find myself in bitter-sweet mood. The sweet feelings flow from the GREAT POTENTIALS which Nigeria possessed long before Independence, and which remain unabated despite 57 years of checkered history. The pain comes from bitter emotions evoked when I consider the COUNTLESS MISSED OPPORTUNITIES we have had from October 1, 1960 to October 1, 2017 to transform our great potentials into great progress.
The British may have had their own ulterior motives when they amalgamated the old Northern and Southern Protectorates into one Nigeria in 1914, but I believe they also provided us an opportunity which hitherto did not exist, i.e. the opportunity to be much more greater than we would have become as individual tribes or territories.
In my opinion, and I think most Nigerians will agree with me, that even though we have not harnessed our gains after amalgamation, the present Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR is making efforts to optimize our potentials as a Nation. This is evident in a more secured Nigeria after years of terrorism threat, we are consciously diversifying our economy to Agriculture and Mining, the very vulnerable are now being focused on using various current programmes and policies – e.g Condition Cash Transfer at National level, N-power and Market Money, Home Grown School Feeding Programme etc. as a State, the GYB Food Security Project, Youth and Artisan Empowerment Project and the upcoming GYB water for life Grassroot Project and finally, GYB Model Primary and Unity School to foster cohesion amongst the upcoming young ones and quality education.
I reiterate our commitment in Kogi State and Nigeria where there is room for all citizens and constituencies to achieve their maximum potentials.
In the spirit of our 57th Anniversary as a Country, I wish all Kogites, Nigerians and our motherland, Nigeria, Happy Independence!
May the Almighty God bless us all.
YAHAYA BELLO
EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR, KOGI STATE

NEWS

80-Year-Old Herbalist, Two Others Behead, Remove Mobile Police Sergeant’s Eyes [PHOTO]

Gbemileke Ajayi

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An 80-year-old herbalist, Ussaini Musa, and two others have been arrested by operatives of the Katsina State Police Command for allegedly beheading and removing the eyes of a Police Sergeant, Unana Ishaya.

The Police Sergeant was attached to 56 PMF, Special Duty, Operation Safe Haven, Jos, Plateau State.

The Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Muhammadu Wakili, paraded the suspects on Wednesday.

Wakili gave the names of others as Abubakar Sani, 35, and Abubakar Muhammed, 28.

While Sani resided in Katsina, Muhammed and Musa resided in Jos.

He said the victim was in mufti when the incident happened.

He said the suspects beheaded and removed the eyes of Ishaya for charm.

The suspects allegedly told the herbalist that they wanted the invincible jacket to enter a house where huge sums of money were kept.

The herbalist reportedly told them to get the eyes of a human being who was alive as part of items to make the jacket.

Sani said they wanted to use the charmed jacket to rob the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Jos, where they suspected there was a huge amount of money, without resorting to forceful break-in.

Wakili said: “So they surprised the officer, who was on a special duty at a joint, though not in uniform, and beheaded him.

“According to them, the policeman was drunk, though an investigation is in progress to ascertain what happened.

“Part of the requirements is to dry the eyes.

So they were arrested while drying the eyes in their apartment.

“The suspects have confessed to the crime, each stating the roles he played.

“They will be arraigned immediately investigation is completed.”

The eyes of the policeman were among exhibits recovered from the suspects.

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NEWS

Muslims Blow Hot As Principal Ejects Students For Wearing Hijab To School, Blame Ambode

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President of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria in Lagos State, Alhaji Saheed Ashafa, has condemned the ejection of five students of Isolo Senior Secondary School by their principal for putting on hijab (Muslims head cover) to school.

Ashafa blamed the Akinwunmi Ambode-led Lagos State Government for the situation, accusing it of failing to enforce a court order which was in favour of hijab.

He noted that after being sent out of school on Wednesday, the students converted a tricycle popularly known as ‘Keke Napep’ to their classroom.

The Principal, Mrs. J O Sadare, had last Friday allegedly announced at the assembly ground that students should not wear hijab to school.

After the announcement, some of the students wore the hijab to school and were given a letter to come with their parents on Tuesday.

When the students got to the school with their parents, the principal allegedly walked them out of her office after their insistence that their daughters must put on the hijab.

Narrating the incident, Ashafa said: “The entire drama started on Friday in the school when the Principal announced to the students that no one is allowed to wear hijab in the school.

“Surprisingly for her, some of the students still wore the hijab to school on Monday. She gave the students letters to invite their parents to school. In the letter, she threatened that the students will not be allowed into the school without their parents.

“When she shared the letter, a majority of students fidgeted and agreed to stop wearing the hijab. She collected the letters and let go of those ones, but about five of them refused to return the letter. When we were contacted, we asked the parents to honour the Principal’s invitation.

“They went there with our (MSSN) representatives but were embarrassed by the Principal, who gave them the option of either their children’s education or religion. She eventually walked them out of her office after they insisted that their daughters must put on the hijab.

“The parents subsequently proceeded to the Education District in charge of the school and they were assured that something would be done. With the hope that her (the Principal) superiors should have spoken with her to realise that what she was doing was wrong with the subsisting Appeal Court judgement, the students went to school on Wednesday (today) and were still prevented from entering the school.

“These are Senior Secondary School Two and Three students who need to study hard for their examinations. When we got to the school this morning, we saw some of the students copying notes for lessons they have missed on Monday and Tuesday while the others were teaching themselves old lessons inside a tricycle on the street.

“This is disastrous for us. While their colleagues were in the classrooms learning, they were on the street just for being Muslims. As we speak, the assistant head girl, who is one of the students that refused to put off her hijab has been removed and replaced.

Ashafa explained that the Lagos State Government has continuously disobeyed the Court of Appeal ruling granting the use of hijab in schools.

“We wish to inform the general public that we have been very peaceful on this matter. Even when some of the principals harassed our members, we go there to engage them amicably. We will not allow this to stay. This Principal must be sanctioned, removed and the students must return to school immediately.

“As a law-abiding student-based organisation, we approached the Court of law on the usage of hijab by students. At the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on October 17, 2014, Justice Modupe Onyeabo banned the use of hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.

“But we headed to the Court of Appeal. A five-man special appellate court panel, presided by Justice A.B. Gumel, on July 21, 2016, overruled the October 17, 2014 judgment of Justice Modupe Onyeabo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, which banned the use of hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.

“While striking down Justice’s Onyeabo’s verdict, the Justice Gumel panel held that the ban on hijab was discriminatory against Muslim pupils in the state.

“Dissatisfied with the decision of the appellate court, the Lagos State Government approached the Supreme Court after failing to secure a Stay of Execution, but no judgment has been delivered yet. In law, where there is no other contrary judgement, the subsisting judgement remains valid.

“Thus, the ongoing harassment of our members is not only unconstitutional, an infringement, but also a contempt. Again, we repeat that this will never be allowed to stay. We will give this lawless, anti-democratic and anti-masses government what it wants and likes to witness.”

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BIG STORY

Ex-Kebbi Governor Writes Tinubu, Seeks Forgiveness For Ambode

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Former Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero, has called on the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to allow Akinwunmi Ambode continue in office as the governor of Lagos despite the perceived political crisis between them.

Aliero, in a letter he personally signed and addressed to Tinubu, pleaded with the APC chieftain to allow Ambode retain the party’s ticket ahead of next year’s governorship election.

Aliero, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, while commending Tinubu for his immense contributions to the nation, the South West region and APC, also pleaded with him to give Ambode a second chance, adding that Lagos State and indeed the entire South West is crucial to the fortunes of the APC in the forthcoming general elections

According to Aliero: “I am writing this letter out of concern for the odious, concerning news in the media about your relationship with your protégée, Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State.

“I have known you for ages – long before you assumed the leadership of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, APC. You and I have, over the years, had cause to discuss Nigeria on many occasions; never have you, at any time, left any iota of doubt about your love – indeed, passion – for this great country and your desire to make optimal contribution to its growth and development…

“Lagos is growing faster than Nigeria because of your commanding and purposeful leadership. It would therefore not be too much for me to ask you to allow Ambode to retain the ticket of the party. No reward should be bigger for you than the victory of the APC at the forthcoming general elections.”

Continuing, Aliero, who hailed Tinubu’s leadership qualities and ability to spot, groom and nurture brilliant leaders, urged him not to pick a quarrel with Ambode, but rather use his image and status to secure victory for the party at the forthcoming general elections:

He said: “Our dear Asiwaju, knowing who you are – a visionary leader with a distinctively outstanding ability to identify and work with brilliant, focused and hardworking young men and women, I know of no endeavour that would have denied you your standing and image in the Nigeria of today. In view of your giant status as the undisputable leader of our great party and considering the times in which we are, I am certain that you will not, without good reason, pick a quarrel with Governor Ambode.

Lagos State, indeed the entire southwest, is crucial to the fortunes of the APC in the forthcoming general elections. It is in the same spirit that I want to plead with you not to spare any sacrifice that is necessary for the stabilization of the ship of our dear party in Lagos State.”

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