Bello Should Probe Contracts Awarded By His Predecessor – Abdul | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Bello Should Probe Contracts Awarded By His Predecessor – Abdul

Posted: May 4, 2016 at 3:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Idris Miliki Abdul, Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) Lokoja, Kogi State, in this interview with AUGUSTINE ADAH speaks on the 100 days of Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi State and other issues. Excerpts:

 The Yahaya Bello’s administration is just 100 days in office, what is your assessment of his performance so far?

It would be recalled that on  January 27th 2016, the Alhaji Yahaya Bello government was inaugurated and since that date, it has become another page in the history of Kogi State. While 100 days in office might not be enough to assess the progress or otherwise of any administration, it is pertinent to note some of the decisions that have been so far taken under this administration in Kogi state. The major thing among others is the unfortunate demolition of all roundabouts in Lokoja, the state capital, the on-going screening of civil servants in the state civil service. The avoidable crisis rocking the State Assembly, which the Governor is the shadow party in that conflict, the vote of no-confidence passed by the Executive members of the ruling APC in the state. It is also important to note the current situation where appointed Special Advisers now parade themselves as acting Commissioners in the state. The practice is condemnable; rather he should appoint Commissioners without delay as the state cannot function properly without the appointment of some commissioners like the State Attorney General and commissioner of Justice as well as Commissioner of Finance.  The governor also suspended all Permanent Secretaries and Director of Administration and Finance, including the Head of Service, turned Directors as acting Permanent Secretaries.

In the midst of these wrong steps taken by the governor, how best do you expect him to confront the problem?

Why it is the prerogative of any employer to screen or verify its workers, it is a wait and sees game as several of such verifications that were conducted since 2012, had not yielded any meaningful result. We therefore call on the current government to conclude this exercise without delay and make the reports public. We call on the Yahaya Bello-led government to constitute a judicial panel of inquiry into the past administration in the state, particularly in respect to contract awarded, how much had been paid and the stage of work done.  We are worried that the state is littered with numerous uncompleted projects in all the 21 LGA of the state.  The judicial panel if constituted would also serve as screening exercise, as screening should not be targeted only at workers. While we condemn the demolition of roundabouts in the state capital, we urge the government to as a matter of necessity; commence the reconstruction of demolished roundabouts immediately. While the parliament is another arm of government, the on-going crisis in the Kogi State House of assembly is worrisome and condemnable. We urge the Governor to put necessary machinery in place, along with other stakeholders, to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, as the continued crisis would affect the state in general. While we congratulate the Governor on his 100 days in office, we urge him to cultivate the habit of broad consultations as governance is not a personal business, so as to encourage the citizens to have sense of belonging. We also call on the governor to declare his assets publicly so as to restore confidence and boost his credentials and transparency.

The tenure of present local government chairmen in the state would soon expire; do you anticipate the present administration conducting fresh local government very soon?

It is worrisome that despite the fact that the tenure of the out-going Local government councils would come to an end on the 6th of May 2016, the agency responsible for the conduct of elections at local government level in the state which is State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), and the Kogi State Government, is yet to make pronouncement on the preparations or otherwise on the conduct of elections to the local government councils, despite the constitutional pronouncement of this on the process and procedure for such elections. We therefore call on the current government in the state, not to toe the line of past administrations and appoint care-taker or any such nonsense nomenclature in to the leadership of the local government councils. We recommend that the Directors of Local Governments (DLG) at various LGA be appointed to manage the affairs of the LGAs as provided in the constitution, while the state government put the necessary machinery in place to conduct the elections into the local government councils in Kogi State.

The anti and pro Saraki supporters took their protests to the National Assembly last week. In view of what is happening do you think it is morally right for Saraki to continue to preside over the affairs of 8th senate?

There is nothing like morality, it is a constitutional matter. Some people may call it morality but for me, it is the path of honour for him to resign and save the reputation of the senate.  It is important that when you are occupying an important office and allegation bordering on corruption, the best way to handle it is for the accused to step down and refrain from actions that will jeorpadise the ongoing trial. But our case in this part of the world is different.   Though the offence is still an allegation but I don’t see how he would survive the ongoing trial because the allegations  and evidences are weighty. Imagine, he was accused of collecting salary after leaving office as governor for a year as a senator.  I foresee two things going to happen at the end of the day, Saraki would either resign or be removed by senators because he cannot continue to preside over the senate that would deliberate on corruption bills in the country. It is unfortunate that politicians, who are elected to serve the people, turned the opportunity to amass wealth to the detriment of those that elect them in office.