By Phillip Nwosu
When Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State was elected in 2015, he made history as the youngest elected state chief executive in the present political dispensation. With zeal, he moved in quickly to tackle the problems bedeviling the state immediately he was sworn in January 2016.
According to close observers of political development in the Confluence State, his first four years in office as governor was remarkable, as he was able to position the state properly by tackling and resolving the security problem confronting the state before he came to power.
At the time Gov Bello assumed office, Kogi State was notorious for criminal activities, especially considering the fact Kogi is the only state in Nigeria that borders 10 other states. Upon assumption of office, he declared a full blown war against armed robbers, kidnappers and other criminals operating in the state. He provided over 200 utility vehicles and 500 motorcycles for security patrol. He employed the services of vigilance security outfit, Operation Total Freedom (OPT), established by his administration to stamp out criminal activities in the state and armed it with sophisticated gadgets for maximum operation.
According to analysts, Gov. Bello believes that the most common denominator on the spate of crime and violence activities in Nigeria is economy. In other words, the quest for money accounts for most of the crimes because the kidnappers abduct key figures in society and ask for ransom. The armed robbers also strike to get some financial gains. The terrorists are mounting roadblocks and asking for tax, which is also a way of making money.
In other words he believes that if the economy is solved and jobs are provided and youths are engaged, the security problems will be solved.
The Federal Government through the National Bureau of Statistics said a total of 134,663 cases of criminal activities were reported in the country in 2017, with Kogi, Kebbi and Bauchi States recording the lowest crime rates.
In the states with the highest levels of crime and insecurity, a few things were obvious. First, most of the crimes were done for money. Second, crimes with economic benefits ranked the highest. Finally, there was collusion with law enforcement authorities. A longer look at the problem also shows the answer.
For example, while Kogi State had no report on cases of burglary in 2017 due to some of the governor’s proactive steps to ensure that the people are economically in a good place, the state with the highest level of crime had 1,213 cases.
Apart from extinguishing the raging fire of crime and criminality in the state, the governor’s effort to attract investment had also yielded results.
In Q3 2020, Kogi State overtook Lagos as the state with the highest inflow of investment. According to the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, NIPC, the state received about $1 billion in various investments. Most of the investments are aimed at improving the state of infrastructure within Kogi State. This, in turn, will no doubt improve the economic realities of the people and strengthen the state’s record as a low crime state.
With some of these records, most Nigerians unanimously agreed that Gov. Bello is most qualified to ascend the throne of leadership of Nigeria as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces in 2023.
According to Alhaji Usman Ododo, the monumental achievement of the Kogi State Government under Bello in securing lives and property in the state is a clear demonstration of the mastery of both kinetic and non-kinetic instruments of national security by the Kogi Governor.
Alhaji Ododo, who described Bello as the best person for the job noted that it was only natural that the Governor would replicate the same string of successes recorded in the provision of infrastructure and security in all parts of Kogi State at the national level if elected the President in 2023.
While commending President Buhari for the renewed efforts in the military offensive against bandits and insurgents across the country, Ododo called on Nigerians to support the presidential aspiration of Governor Bello whom he noted is the only man ready to throw his hat in the ring to address current security challenges and infrastructural development in the country.
This, he noted, has been demonstrated through several projects, like the construction of Ganaja Flyover, Okene Reference Hospital and other health institutions across the state, as well road networks in all the nooks and crannies of the state. Also the security interventions by the governor, one of which is the recent arrest of all 25 armed robbery suspects, who attacked a bank in Egbe, Yagba West Local Government Area of the state.
Alhaji Ododo who expressed delight over the position of President Buhari on the expectation of his successor urged Nigerians to vote for a presidential aspirant, who has demonstrated unimpeachable capacity to secure Nigeria in view of the strategic importance of security in national development.
Equity and education for the future
In December 2015, Bello became the first Nigerian who went through the 6-3-3-4 education system to become governor of any state in the country’s history. Understanding this reality, there has been a burden of responsibility on him to ensure that many other young people in the country get quality education, become gainfully employed, and go on to become assets for the country. This is why he is said to have continued to invest in education at all levels in the state. This has been one of the reasons for the low crime rates in Kogi state.
United Nations human development indices have shown that the regions with the least levels of education in the country for an extended period of time go on to have high levels of crime and violence. Nigeria needs to further incentivise education to ensure that more people within the country have the skills to attain the economic status they dream of. Some need not be encouraged to send their wards to school; they would do it automatically because they know the benefits of education. But, the sad reality is that many more Nigerians need a push, a justification, or some kind of encouragement to get their children to school. It is the duty of government, and in the spirit of equity, to get every young person to school. A fair and just system not only caters for the strong but also for even the weakest in society. A system that embraces all classes of people and helps them to become better is a system on its way to drastically reducing the propensity of its citizens to get involved in violent crimes for the sake of money.
Let it be emphasized that the education that would solve this problem has to be the kind that is tailored for the future. For example, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment of software developers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2019 to 2029; much faster than the average for all occupations in the country. Data on migration to Canada also shows a high demand for technology-driven jobs.