By Danlami Nmodu
Kogi State Governor ,Capt. Idris Wada has dispelled any fears that there has been a deliberate neglect of Kupa land in the state.He was reacting to a question over the failure of successive governments to open up Kupa, a development that has made the people cross River Niger to Katcha in Niger State often for commercial activities.Several boats have capsized in the process with attendant loss of lives.The two main roads to the area :one, from Aiyetoro-Gbede to Abugi and Eggan and the second , from Jamata to Mami and Abugi remain uncompleted projects.But the governor said the lack of roads and other infrastructure in Kupa is not deliberate.
The governor who made this clarification while addressing senior editors in Lokoja said, “Yes, it is true that not much infrastructure has been done there.I have had requests from the leaders, political leaders in the area and I have promised them that I will take those roads one by one.
He said further,“Particularly, the one from Felele. And I told them that by the grace of God, soon after the end of the rainy season , we will do everything we can to award some contract for a portion of that road.It is a long road and it’s very expensive.So we cannot bite more than we can chew.I have told them that it will be done in phases.Hopefully, God willing, we’ll award the first phase.And then after that, we’ll do another phase before we go to the other roads.But there is no deliberate policy to neglect Kupa land by us.Funding and various challenges make it as if that is the case but that is not the case.
Governor Wada used the interactive session with the editors to address some of the major projects being embarked upon by his government .He explained the philosophy behind the new 4-lane road in Lokoja .” That road is the main road is the main road through our capital city.And we came up with the idea that we should do it properly.Every time that road was completed,within a year, you will see that because of its topography and the water close to that road, it starts developing potholes,craters and things like that.So we thought that it should be done properly this time with pedestrian lanes to be like a signature road into the city and enhance the beauty and aesthetics of our capital city with proper lighting and all that is necessary to make it a reference road when you come to Lokoja.We believe that it will change the face of Lokoja and it is a worthwhile project.And we have awarded the contract.We approved the payment of mobilization today(2nd October 2014)And I believe that the contractors will mobilize to site very soon
He also addressed the new steps being taken to expand Lokoja city and stop the tendency of people building houses and living dangerously on hills. “With regards to people living on hills and our attempt to expand the city,we have done a map of the city and we are doing proper layout of segments of the city along the Lokoja -Okene Road.They are new layout, where the Federal University, their permanent site is there.We have mapped it out.We have mapped out industrial area and we are also mapping out the by-pass that you saw.The new road by-pass.We are also laying out that whole area to ensure that people can live in an organized way, not building houses anyhow.We are also looking at the Eastern side of our state which is separated by the River Niger and Benue here in terms of construction of a bridge.We ve had Memorandum of Understanding on a Public Private Partnership Project with a company with the hope that if they are able to raise the funds, they will build Shintaku Bridge which will be from Lokoja here to Shintaku which is on the Eastern side of our state.And the Eastern side has very flat land.Unbelievable large amount of flat land so that we’ll have Western side of Lokoja and Eastern side of Lokoja.That will give us further opportunity to expand the state capital.You know many capitals of the World are separated by rivers like that.
He added that, “ the main challenge is construction of a bridge which is a very expensive project.So every strategy possible.We are doing Geographical Information System for this capital.It’s part of the bond projects and that will give us a clear satellite imagery of Lokoja and any area that we believe is habitable, people can build proper houses, we will map them out ,structure the and allocate them to interested investors or private individuals to build their houses,so that they don’t build on hills.So these are some of the steps we have taken so far to create suitable land for houses…(She is just reminding me about the embankment project,the ecological project along the road).Yes,by the river bank there.It’s a project that we have awarded the contract.They will soon mobilise.The water level now is about 8.6 metres.So it needs to go down a bit before the contractor can move on to site.That will also help to protect the shoreline here in Lokoja and give us the opportunities for development..
Addressing the issue of how his regime tackled thuggery he said he made it clear during campaigns that nobody should fight ,and fortunately the cooperation of the security agencies ensured the curbing of thuggery.Explaining what has been done in practical terms for the youths, the governor said: “one of our first programmes was to create opportunities for youths and we have a programme we call Youth Advancement Programme for Kogi,YAD4KOGI .And this programme is across the 21 local governments of the state.Every three months, we take 1000 youths to the NYSC camp in Asaya.It’s in Kabba/Bunu local government.We bring in resource persons from universities, Polytechnics,some consultants to reorientate the youth, to increase their morale.We also involve the military,they wake up at 5.30am, they do marching,so within three weeks, you will be amazed at the transformation of these youth from people who look hopeless and fed up with life to people who are very excited and proud of what they can do by themselves.After that ,we deploy them on public works or sanitation duties and pay them a stipend per month.We also ask our local governments to pay them an additional stipend .And in the course of the year,we expect them,we advice them to save some money.And what they do during the day is between 8 am and 12 noon.After that,they are attached to any vocation they choose.If they want o do tailoring,theywant to do motor mechanic, anything,hair dressig or whatever they want to learn, we encourage them and attach them to people in such business.And at the end, they get trained.If they are able to save let’s say N30,000 or N50,000 at the end of the year and they now want to set up their own business,the state government will now give additional funds,double it for them to set up and give them and have working capital to start their own business.And we have another programme where we give graduates after orientation and training N250000 to start business.Some of them go to agriculture.Some make trinkets…”
By Danlami Nmodu