The Kogi media tour: An eye opener to Governor Bello’s infrastructural ingenuity.
By Dada Ahmed.
The media tour embarked upon by journalists in kogi state in alliance with the state government on February 4, 2023 has come and gone, but not without leaving, on its own trail, fun memories and food for thought for all lovers of peace.
For those who believe in the concept of good governance, the tour remains an indelible mark in the efforts of the media practitioners and the executive arm of government in moving kogi state to the next level realistic social, economic and political development
What more, the exercise is also a food for thought for journalists and information managers of the state government on the imperative of synergy between them to smoothen the process of governance.
This becomes imperative in a state like kogi blessed with rich and natural resources, coupled socio-political and economic complexities.
Discerning minds in public sector of the economy have argued that a symbiotic relationship between information managers and the journalists will go along way to ease means of informing the public, on how government has been able to deliver dividends of democracy to the people and elicit feed back.
To the journalists in kogi state, the relationship between them and the government cannot be overemphized as is supposed to to pave way for effective coverage and dissemination news about government policies and programmes to the people.
Political observers, however, note that where such mutual relationship is lacking, discontentment, disenchantment, suspicion, misconstrue, disloyalty, rumour mongering and other negative tendencies often set in.
This scenario, they further argued,often precipitate negative response to government genuine intention to better the lot of people.
The essence of mutual relationship between the media and government notwithstanding, it must be noted that until recently,the local media space in the state was filled with negative reports about the state government activities.
The negative development which gave concern to the people of the state tend to give impression that the government has done nothing to impact positively on the life of the people.
The people cannot blamed, after all information is power and they need such power to be able to know what government has in stock for them in terms of dividends of democracy.But as it were then, the coverage of government activities in the state by journalists , particularly those of national outlook,remained at the low ebb.
This might not be unconnected with break down in communication by the parties involved in information management and those charged with the responsibility of disseminating government activities to the people.
Suffice to say that the development, no doubt,impacted negatively on reportage of government programmes, particularly the numerous projects executed across the three senatorial districts of the state by the dynamic administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
Eventually, there came the light came at the end of the dark tunnel in 2022 when truce was reached between the parties, a development facilitated by a notable media consultant in the country.
This development,which journalists describ as cheering news, put pay to more than six years of not-too-rosy tie between the journalists and information managers on the government side, with mark improvement in the coverage of government activities at Lugard House, the seat of government of the state. This is more so with particularly reference to journalists representing national newspapers.
No doubt,the new down of relationship between the journalists and government media managers invariably shore up media coverage of government activities and returns the state to the orbit of national limelight in terms of wider audience getting to know about happening in the public sector of kogi state.
The new development consequently, change peoples’ negative mindset towards the government and its genuine intention regarding their welfare and well being.
To test the efficacy of the new relationship, journalists in the state and government organized a media tour to inspect what turned out to be an eye opener to the monumental and endearing”legacy projects” executed by the Bello government to better the lot of the people of the state.
The media your kick-started from Lokoja, the state capital and ended in Okene after solid 10 ten hours during which journalists criss crossed the length and breath of West and Central Senatorial districts of the state,inspecting projects.
The tour which received the blessing of two Commissioners: Messrs. Wemi Jones of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and his counterpart in charge of Ministry of Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, was an exercise worth its salt as it revealed a lot about the state government’s impactful infrastructural development in the social and economic life of the people of the state.
The energy-sapping tour started from Muhammadu Buhari Centre to GYB Model Science Secondary school, Adankolo quarters and zoomed to the newly inaugurated flyover bridge,all in Lokoja.
At the Muhammadu Buhari Square, located in the heart of Lokoja,the Journalists were welcomed to a magnificent recreational outfit, equipped with modern facilities capable of accommodating over 3,000 people for social social and economic events, thus boosting social cohesion and generating revenue for the state government.
From the square, the Journalists moved to the flyover, the first of its kind since the creation of Kogi State.
Commissioner Fanwo told the journalists that the state government constructed the facility at the cost under N5 billion instead of the N20 billion conservative estimate for the project it inherited from the previous administration.
The Commissioner expressed delight that the facility had gone along way to put an end to gridlock and accident and other impediment to vehicular and human traffic often experienced by motorists at the popular Ganaja junction.
He attributed the successful completion of the project to the prudent management of the financial resources of the state and effective supervision of the project under the watch of Governor Yahaya Bello.
GYB Model Science Secondary School, Adankolo, was the next port of visit where Education commissioner reeled out the achievements of the state government in education.
At the school,Wemi Jones Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, presented to Journalists, a well equipped secondary school by all modern standard.
The school has three hundred capacity hall, equipped with computers and other modern science and technological tools to aid students’ learning of science and technology subjects.
According to him, the state government established the school to prepare science incline students for admission into the newly established state-owned Confluence University of Science and Technology CUSTECH, Asara to produce scientists and technologists that would harness the natural resources of the state for the good of the people.
The Education Commissioner also told the Journalists that the school has 18 classrooms and capable of accommodating over 1,000 students at all gone in one year.
He said the state government was in the course of replicating such model school in the three Senatorial districts of the state as well as implement other educational programmes to boost education in the state and to demonstrate the concept of equity and fairness in the distribution of projects across the three senatorials of the state.
Not done with the tour, all road led to the newly established statee-owned Confluence State University of Science and Technology,CUSTECH,Osara, near Okene,where the Journalists listened attentively as the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Salawu Sadiku, as he reeled out the efforts of his management in putting the fledgling but promising institution on the course towards attaining greater heights in no distant future.
He disclosed that CUSTECH commenced operation in 2021, admitting students,adding that the National Universities Commission,NUC, had approved all the courses presented to it by the Senate of the institution
According to him, the university has also commenced the construction of massive infrastructure with funds from Tetfund and the state government.
Prof. Sadiku, who took Journalists round on another tour of the ongoing construction work at the university, spanning an hour,said the aim of the Bello-led administration in establishing the university was for the production of a crop of science and technological based manpower for the state and the nation at large.
The professor of mechanical enginerring expressed optimism that such manpower would boost the workforce that would work in Ajaokuta Steel project when it eventually commences operation in the nearest future.
The CUSTECH boss said the coming into existence of the institution had also solved the challenges facing indigenes of the state in securing admission in other universities in the country.
Many parents such as Mohammed Alli in Okene and its environs, said the establishment of CUSTECH was a big relief for them as they no longer looking for admission in other university with little or no success.
Perhaps, the most interesting part of the numerous projects inspected by the journalists, led by the state chairman of the union, Alhaji Adeiza Momoh-Jimoh, was the breezing of men of the pen profession to the premises of the much talked about Reference hospital,Okene.
The hospital, inaugurated by the former President Muhammadu Buhari before leaving office on May 29,2023, boasts of an imposing edifice of the latest scientific and medical equipment of world class standard some of which cannot be found in other hospitals in the country and in some African countries.
The elated state Director, Medical Services, Ministry of Health,Dr. Olusegun Barnabas, who conducted Journalists round the hospital, said the health institution comprised of advanced level of MRI, six dialysis machines, Citi scan and other up-to-date and other sophisticated medical equipment for diagnosis and treatment various diseases.
He expressed confidence of the staff of the hospital to handle any disease in the world and perhaps better than any other hospital in Nigeria and else where in the world.
The director assured the people of the state and Nigerians in general that with the calibre of the latest equipment in the hospital, they should forget about going abroad for to seek health in the name of medical tourism which usually drain the nation’s foreign exchange.
Dr. Barnabas added that the hospital had gas plant where it produces adequate oxygen for to safe life of the sick patients and for sale to other hospitals in the country thereby boosting revenue generating effort of the state government.
According to Dr. Barnabas, the hospital also boasts of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment.of diseases, the first of its kind in the history of hospital management in the state and perhaps in the country.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing of pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a well-established treatment for decompression sickness, a potential risk of scuba diving. Other conditions treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy include: Serious infections, according to mayoclinic.org.
Commenting on the hospital in an interview with Journalists at the end of the tour, Fanwo described the novel facility as a big blessing,not only to kogites but also Nigerians in general.
According to him, the establishment of the hospital is in fulfilment of one of the five thematic programmes of the Bello’s campaign that he promised the people of the state during his campaign in 2016.
He described the Yahaha Bello-led administration as one government that executed “massive legacy projects”, more than the previous administrations in the state.
Adding voice,the number one Journalist in Kogi, Alhaji Adeiza Mimoh-jimoh commended Governor Bello for the establishment of the hospital and other people-oriented projects,aimed at boosting the social and economic wellbeing of the people.
He said Journalists embarked on the tour to be able to see the efforts of the state government in making meaningful impact in the life of the people and to be able to speak with adequate knowledge and insights about the programmes and policies of the current administration in the state.
By and large, the media tour, besides its major objective, also served as a rally point for media practitioners and representatives of government to renew relationship and shared ideas and thoughts on the way forward for the state.
What more, many of the journalists described the tour as a golden opportunity for them to ponder on ways they could synergise with government information managers to enhance their respective statutory responsibilities to the public as critical stakeholders in information management and dissemination.
The atmosphere of conviviality that defined interaction between the Journalists and the two Commissioners during the tour ,many inquisitive minds believe, is a reflection of a new dawn of the era of cordial relationship between the media and the Executive arm of government.
The biggest gainers, political analysts, argued are members of the public who now read, see and listen to the efforts of the Bello-led government, in the print and electronic social media, more on the reality and g and gains of the social contract Bello administration signed with them on January 27,2016.
According to them, the media tour has also provided an ample opportunity for the people of the state to feel the impact of the conscious efforts of the Bello-led administration to change the narrative of “decay infrastructure in kogi state.”
At the end of the tour when the Journalists bid good bye to another at the NUJ Press Centre, Lokoja at about 6:30 p.m, they all agreed that their effort for the day was not in vain after all.
They acknowledged the fact that they came back from the tour armed with more than enough stories to write for their various media houses for onward dissemination to the members of the public eager to know more about happenings in the state.
Since the media tour, the media space has returned to an atmosphere where by more news is being heard about the efforts of the Yahaya Bello government to provide good governance to the people of the state.
To the government officials on the tour, the exercise signals the new dawn of better relationship and understanding of the role of Journalists as critical stake holders in the corporate development process of the state.
Yet, other government officials, who did not take part in the media tour, the tour marked a radical departure from the seeming cool relationship between them and journalists in the past.
The Journalists on the other
hand believe that they must also reciprocate the gesture of government in organizing the media tour, through increased and objective reportage of government activities to avail government, feed back about its programmes for the people.
Such thing is necessary to pave way for possible re-alignment or improvement of policies and programmes,where necessary, to ensure good governance.
Besides the gains of the media tour, other projects executed by the Bello-led include, the construction of Kabba township roads with street lights, GYB model science schools in Isanlu, the annex of Reference Hospital, Isanlu, and Gegu.
Others are Omi rice milling in Yagba West, Kogi Reference Hospital, Lokoja, the imposing Kogi State Revenue House, Lokoja, the Internal road network and faculty building at Kogi Polytechnic, Lokoja, and the new Presidential House Chapel, Lokoja.
The state government also rehabilitated the Lokoja mega terminal at Felele highway and made it a functional facility for travelers around the state, constructed internal roads in Kogi West, constructed Ojaoja township roads, and Renova theme
It is also on the record that the state government constructed and renovated mosques and churches as a way of ensuring religious tolerance for across the 3 senatorial zones of the state.
Experience showed that all these projects were not actively reported in the media before the truce.
Similar projects were also executed in all other parts of the state by the current administration in the state in alliance with the equity and fairness mantra in the distribution of projects to the people of the state.
All said and done, the media tour underscores the importance of the roundtable as the best mediating mechanism and its effective application in resolving crises.
This method journalists and the relevant organ of the Kogi state government deployed in resolving the seemingly “friction” between them in the course of discharging their statutory responsibilities to the people and they are better for it.
It served as a litmus test for the two parties to listen to the voice of reason in putting beside, hinderance curbing their aim to serve the people of the state in the best of their abilities.
This has assured effective coverage of government programmes thus boosting the success of the enthroned good governance in Kogi state, which is the cardinal objective of Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello.
Dada Ahmed publishes The Reporters.