That Kogi State is in dire straits is not in doubt in view of the pitiable condition of its workforce at all tiers of government and the deplorable state of its infrastructures; roads are dilapidated, power and potable water are epileptic. This is ironic considering the status of the state as the Confluence State of the largest rivers in Nigeria. What is disturbing is that despite its endowment, the state and its traumatized citizens are saddled with so much pain and agony.
However, the leaked documents revealing the methodical misappropriation of the state’s meagre resources have revealed prodigality unequalled in the history of the state and the apparent hopelessness and helplessness of the people seem pathetic.
On his first day in office, the Permanent Secretary in the Government House, Ilemona John was said to have initiated a memo titled ‘’Request for Security Fund’’ in which Alhaji Bello was requested to approve N15 million as his Security Fund. He approved the payment of the fund two days later on January 29, 2016.
It was gathered that the same Permanent Secretary, in what will be a recurring practice, raised another memo just four days later on February 2, 2016 with a fresh request for Security Fund that has been jerked up to N20 Million.
The Governor, we were told, expressly gave approval for release of the fund on the same day.
Amazingly, another memo was reportedly raised the following day, February 3rd 2016 for the release of more security fund apparently due to the insufficiency of the funds released earlier. But this time, just N5 Million was requested for ‘Replenishment of your Excellency’s Security Fund, which has just been exhausted’ and the approval was said to have been granted immediately by Gov. Bello.
Preposterously, later the same day, 3rd February, 2016, sources said that the Permanent Secretary returned with another request seeking Gov. Bello to release another N20 Million for ‘the replenishment of his security fund which has just been exhausted’ that the Governor benevolently approved.
“On February 8, 2016 which is just five days after, the Permanent Secretary (Government House) initiated another memo that Gov. Bello’s security fund had again been exhausted, which will require N100 Million to be ‘released’ to replenish and approval was graciously granted the following day, 9th February 2016 but a few hours later, Permanent Secretary John Ilemona raised another memo informing the Governor that the fund approved and released earlier had been exhausted for the umpteenth time and will have to be reimbursed with another N100 Million, which Gov. Bello expediently granted approval,” a source told us.
We were reliably informed that for just 12 days, between 29th January and 9th February, 2016 the sum of N260 Million was siphoned under the spurious tag of security fund.
Apart from security fund, Gov. Yahaya Bello is allegedly equally milking his supposed cash-strapped state through other dubious means and he got in his Permanent Secretary (Government House),a willing tool and accomplice because the memo, dated 1st February 2016 that was raised titled ‘Request for the furnishing and maintenance of the governor’s office, Kogi State Government House’ was said to have been the work of Rev. John Ilemona wherein he requested for the Governor to approve the sum of N99,983,994.00 as contained in a proposal by Maj Global Construction Ltd.
‘This as with other memos before it, got prompt approval by Gov. Bello on the same day,’ said a reliable source.
In what we were told has become a norm, the Permanent Secretary (Government House) allegedly raised another memo on March 4th 2016 informing the Governor that the initial sum released for the furnishing and renovation was grossly inadequate and will require an additional N48, 593,250.00 for additional works on ‘the renovation/furnishing and maintenance of the Governor’s office at Kogi Government House’ and Gov. Bello reportedly gave approval on the same day the request was made with the release from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development as ‘Grant/special Imprest in favour of the Permanent Secretary in the Government Administration.’
Interestingly, the CPS to the Governor, Kingsley Fanwo confirmed the series of bizarre expenditure but said that it was necessary in view of serious security breach in the state for a while. He equally claimed that the rot of the architecture of the Government House was not befitting of the most historic Government House in Nigeria.
But the question that becomes imperative is; what is the need for another needless renovation of a Government House renovated with colossal sum of state resources by the immediate predecessor of Gov. Yahaya Bello, Capt. Idris Wada less than two years ago?
On the security score, opinion watchers are saying that why did Gov. Yahaya Bello discard the laudable structure availed by the Kogi State Security Trust Fund established by Capt Idris Wada? They are also asking that why has Kogi State retained its notoriety as the headquarters of kidnapping in Nigeria apart from the various security breaches, which include senseless killings and armed robbery that has rendered banking an endangered sector in most parts of Kogi State?
With an IGR of about N600 Million, a bond balance of N12 Billion yet to be drawn, N20 Billion bailout fund recently released and over N2 Billion monthly federal allocation, state workers and pensioners are reportedly yet to be paid for months, while Gov Yahaya Bello and his kitchen cabinet are said to have engaged in spending spree to satiate their ostentatious lifestyle.
“With a contrived crisis that has kept the minority faction of the state House of Assembly running the show, it is obvious that Gov. Yahaya Bello now has unhindered and unscrutinized access to the state till and he is having a field day.
“Loans are being taken without recourse to due process and unfortunately kleptocracy reigns supreme in Kogi State. The sad situation is that, apart from the misery and agony the people grapple with, infrastructure are decayed and insecurity now heightened. Consequently, the traumatized people of Kogi State are living with pain, agony and poverty and their future mortgaged with illegal loans that do not in any way add value to the lives of the people.
How long the absurd profligacy in Kogi State under Gov. Yahaya Bello will persist remains to be seen,” said a source, who pleaded anonymity.
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