interviewBy Usman A. Bello
Lokoja — Jacob Edi is the Special Adviser on Media and Strategy to Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada. He speaks on the administration's one year in office.
Your principal will be a year old in office on January 27; how will you describe the journey so far?
Jacob Edi: There is no doubt that the journey has been rough given the situation we met on ground and the crises we have to confront in the last one year. However, when you have a focused and committed leadership in place, every problem is surmountable. The feat recorded in the last one year was a result of quality leadership the state has been bestowed with. The governor has done creditably well, although you cannot begin to assess the performance of a government that has a four-year mandate in just one year. But we can beat our chest that tremendous achievement has been recorded in spite of the deliberate and orchestrated distraction. In fact, the record available to me shows that Governor Idris Wada within this one year executes at least three projects in one day; so if you multiply what we have by 360 days, you will arrived at a tentative figure.
The assessment of your boss' performance contradicted that of the opposition, which believes that the state has relapse into oblivion in the last one year.
If the opposition doesn't criticise the ruling government, they will become irrelevant within the system, but the tragedy with this kind of criticism is that they are not constructive. You don't criticize a government for the fun of it; you don't just attack a government just to gain recognition, and that is what is happening in Kogi State. We have record of 163 projects within the period under review. This is an enviable feat.
Many believe that Wada is not really in charge. How would you react to this?
Well, this is a normal song of the opposition, it is just like saying the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Chairman in the state is not in charge, because former Lagos State Governor and leader of the party, Bola Tinubu is breaking his neck here. You see, the opposition is busy looking at other people's backyard while its house is on fire. We know what happened in other parties when wives were given tickets and declared winner from the bedroom. Governor Wada is the chief security officer of the state; he is totally in-charge.
Recently the government initiated an agriculture programme for the youths, how will this benefit the people?
First of all, you have to look at the philosophy of that project; now we had a flood issue, and when we studied the situation, we realized that some of the houses that were affected were on waterline. Unlike in some states where cash were given to flood victims, what Kogi State doing is unique. We are constructing a whole new village complete with the required infrastructure for the flood victims. We are turning the areas affected into rice farms and cocoa plantations. This will encourage employment as youths of the state would be gainfully employed. We are also boosting food production through an articulated policy to address any shortages occasioned by the effect of the last flood and provide employment for our teeming youths.
You see, if you study the classic theory of development, it is not about infrastructure only, but human development is also a cardinal and critical aspect of development. Do you know how well YARD has impacted on the youth in the state? How many youths are today gainfully employed under it independent of government? Every year universities across the country churn out thousands of graduates into the labour market looking for nonexistent jobs. In Kogi State today, the structure is on ground ensures that graduates are trained to be on their own. By just limiting development to physical development, it betrays lack of understanding of the cardinal principle of development.
Today thuggery has been eliminated in Kogi State completely; it is an achievement that is unquantifiable, people can now move freely without fear. The governor gathered the youths and told them that it is more honourable than being given pittance to go and kill and have blood stain on your hands, which they understood. So it is no longer lucrative for one to say his ambition is to become a thug.
Let us look at the flood issue; there are allegations by victims that the state government is not taking good care of them and even the donations made for them were diverted.
It is an allegation and we leave it at that, but I can tell you sincerely and confidently too that the money that came into the coffer of the state as flood money is being utilized judiciously.
What will the people of the state expect from the governor in the next three years?
The people will get more infrastructure, government have started the development of agriculture with rice across some local government areas of the state. It is also into cassava, palm oil and sugar cane production. Youth empowerment is a continuous process. So far, 15,000 youths are targeted in the first phase. The system is very unique because government provides land, machinery, fertilizers and other input. Captain Wada is the only governor in this state's history whose administration offers free medical treatment to the people and the gesture has now become a state policy through periodic intervention.
How does the administration intend to solve the problem of ghost workers?
First of all, the government has displayed rear courage by accepting that there are even ghost schools in the state. That is a major step toward solving the problem. The problem of education is not peculiar to Kogi State. The problem that has existed for over 13 years, you do not expect some body to solve it in 365 days, but the policy on ground points to the fact that there is a determination and political will to solve the problem.