Kogi State, the Confluence state is one of the most important states in Nigeria blessed with the true heart of the Country. Psychics, metaphysis and the mystics can quote me wrong, this is the actual Power State and not Niger. This is a place that held the powerful river Benue and tied a knot of marriage with the very rich dynamic and very long river Niger, making them one and emptying their wealth into the Atlantic Ocean. The name Nigeria, the natural divide of the Nation into three regions can be attributed to the rivers routes. No wonder the Colonials saw Lokoja as a fit Capital for the country. In our primary school history names like Mango Park, Richard Lander,Lord Lugard the Clappertons are few of the names you hear associated with Lokoja, Kainji and a place New Bussa.
This is a state that mingles with the Igbos, Hausas and the Yorubas. That is if you want to discount the other tribes, like the Edo/Deltans, The Nupes, The Gbagyis, the Egedes, Idomas, Tivs and the Ogoris. Kogi State is so cosmopolitan that you will find all the cultures from time amalgamated at the Lokoja Confluence.
For me, it became a home away from home, on a night we spent at an Okene Police Station avoiding arm robbers on the Okene – Auchi road, while travelling to University of Port Harcourt for a NIFES (Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students) in 1983. Till date this state is sleepless with commuters traversing the North, South, East and West of the Country.
On resources, this is a state that could be the Industrial Capital of Africa, if the Steel Industry is steered rightly. With Cement, Agriculture and Fisheries, kogi can compete with any viable state. With the dredging of the Niger to allow for an Inland Water port, Lagos might see some decongestion from importers/exporters.
It was the Ibrahim’s Administration I advised through Alh Habu, his son on the making Lokoja a Dubai in Nigeria, how?
1. Simply create a big Industrial / Commercial layout off the Major Highway.
2 Remove / reduce taxes (give incentives).
3. Build the needed infrastructures to enable manufacturers / Importers, from Aba, Onitsha, Nnewi, Lagos, Ota, Ibadan to warehouse their products in Lokoja.
4. Do the same for Agricultural products from Kano, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi. Plateau, Jigawa, Adamawa and Niger.
5. Get luxurious and Long distance transporters to Night stop in Lokoja with incentives.
6. Promote the Free Commercial / Trade Zone to business concerns in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Benin Republic, Ghana, Togo, Central African Republic and Sudan.
7. Energise the Chambers of Commerce to carry on.
8. Go and rest.
That was the cursory proposal. I believe if that had been done, Northern business travellers will get goods cheaper in Lokoja, than Onitsha & Lagos at a much shorter time and so will southern travellers, instead of reaching Sokoto for Onions, it is at their doorstep and cheaper. Lokoja is already a 24/7 town, business will now become so too. Transport consumes so much of the traders profit, any means of reducing cost of transport will attract the worst cynic.
Nigeria is one country that is feeding so many countries in Africa through the informal channels and so marketing in far away Benin, Ghana, chad, Niger, Sudan et al is no waste.
Why am I drifting instead of speaking elections? I will tell you. The Tsunami or Hurricane called Buhari is not good for so many states and legislative seats, it brought in some people who have no reason whatsoever to be in leadership, as can be seen in their lack of vision. They are still waiting for Buhari to cough from the centre, so they can catch cold, in this day of ‘business at the speed of thought’ (thanks to Bill Gate). Kogi state electorate need to wise up and look between the candidates, then elect people they are sure have the interest of the state at heart and have the vision / capability to move the state forward.
This is not time for tribal, religious or party lines. The best persons should be voted in. What I pray for Kogi state is to see a state that can compete with Lagos in Internal Revenue Generation, a State where the potentials seen by the colonials (making it a capital) is exploited for Tourism and history. A state where every state of the Federation will want to have a liaison office to cater for their persons and concerns. A centre of Trade, Industrialization, Sports and Entertainment. For once let us make the likes of the Attahs, Ado Ibrahims, Sunday Awoniyis, Adamu Attas et, al smile wherever they are that the labours of the heroes past are not in vain. May God grant us a very Peaceful and Successful Elections. May the Winners and Losers be humble / mindful of the fact that, it is not by their power or might; The Almighty, can raise or bring down whoever He wills and at whatever time. Let us learn to give thanks to Him, whatever the outcome, because He knows what is best for the people. In finality, Because some of us are praying, (we love our country), persons planning evil, should beware, the Nigeria’s change Mantra is divine, don’t be caught in the wrong. God bless the Federal Republic.