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Date Published: 05/09/10

How the Igala’s underdeveloped Kogi State By Joshua Ocheja jocheja@labarimedia.com

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I heeded to the doctor’s advice and took a sabbatical from commenting on issues in Kogi state. This leave of absence afforded me the opportunity to reflect on governance as a supposed birthright and as it relates to providing the basic necessities of life, using Kogi state as an example.

It was indeed a period of stock taking, measuring the index of development using a universal adopted yardstick for growth. As expected, research work, dusting books in the archives and other means available was worth the while.

It was a bit difficult contending with revelations, considering the number of years the Igala’s have been at the helms of affairs in the state. For the records, Kogi state was created on the 27 th day of August 1991, alongside Abia, Anambra, Adamawa, Edo, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun and Yobe States., while states like Gombe, Ekiti, Bayelsa and Zamfara were created in 1996.

For a clearer picture of the level of decadence in the state, I decided to juxtapose Kogi state and Gombe state that was created 5 years after, with little resources to compare with the bottomless deposits of resources in Kogi state. The difference was unimaginable. I asked myself countless questions as to why we are where we are today.

In the words of Dr Moses Wokili, in his article, “whatmanner of country isNigeria? Kogi State as a typical example reflects the harsh reality on ground in the state. Hear him: “The poor in Kogi State are groaning daily; they are voiceless, powerless and even fainting under the crushing loads of their total neglect. Most parts of Igala land including major towns where the governor hails from have no portable drinking water! They line their drums along the road and fill them with water bought from water tankers that come at intervals. Even the government house is supplied by water tankers sometimes. Yet the confluence of both rivers Niger and Benue is just some meters away! What type of government is this? The hospitals patronized by the poor, are mere consulting centers while the rich go to private clinics for medical care. While the rich people take their wards to private schools; the government schools meant for the poor lack basic amenities for learning, with some having sheds as classrooms; the pupils are consequently lacking in academic content and character as the teachers are too demoralized to instill discipline. Most roads are bad within the state and impassable during raining season thereby making it extremely difficult for farmers (that constitute majority of the population) to get their goods to the market for sale”

As incredible as the above sounds, it is a tip of the iceberg. A state in Delusion is the perfect description (Igala Land especially) Even the first lady of the Federation, Dame Patience Jonathan had a taste of underdevelopment the Kogi style when she had to fly a helicopter to Idah to attend the burial ceremony of the Governor’s mother In-law recently.

The Governor was obviously elated that a helicopter flew over the skies of Kogi state. He ostensibly forgot that the long stretch from Anyigba to Idah the traditional home of the Igala’s is sordidly impassable. He also forgot that Idah houses the Paramount ruler of Igala Kingdom, Agabiadu Attah (Dr) Aliyu Obaje, hence the wanton dearth in basic infrastructures.

This is such a shame for the revered Igala Kingdom in particular not mentioning other zones. This is a display of idiocy and clear lack of initiative, by a ruling class that views issues from the prism of their selfish and shallow minds.

There are pertinent questions we ought to ask ourselves in fairness to other zones in the state. We have constituted ourselves to a laughing item, we claim birthright to governance and in over 15years of tight fisted grab on power, we are still crawling when our contemporaries have moved ahead, consolidating and strategizing for the future.

The political system needs a systematic realignment; one that will marshal strategies that will manifestly translate the peoples hopes and aspirations into tangible realities. A shift that will lay a rock-solid foundation for the much awaited Kogi renaissance, bringing about an atmosphere that will advocate and inspire confidence in the viability and sustainability of investments and the abundant resources in Kogi state.

We should not wash our dirty linen in public they said, what if the linen is very dirty?  Kogi state deserves a change! 
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