Zakari Alhaji Alfa; cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Opinion by : Victoria Musa-Ojogbane
Three things can be taken for granted in Kogi State as currently administered – the first is that the state in economic and social tatters and also on the verge of bankruptcy. While the second is that the current government has served it’s usefulness and must exit come 2019, the third and perhaps the most important is that the instruments of leadership must be handed over to such individuals who have proven capacity to manage public institutions and possess a tremendous economy amount of composure, restraint and maturity required to manage a state like Kogi State.
2019 is around the corner and already, the search for an acceptable and ideal replacement for both the APC and Gov. Yahaya Adoza Bello has commenced in ernest. Whereas not a few persons have declared interest in being governor, the enormity of the task ahead, the peculiar nature of the challenges of Kogi State and the seriousness of handling a matter as sensitive as value based leadership and governance in Kogi State has singled out just a handful of distinguished individuals as options.
Kogi State is for the records the second richest state in North Central Nigeria using federal allocations as measurement yardstick. Excluding the FCT, Kogi State is second to Niger State. In terms of mineral resources and other comparative advantages including proximity to the FCT and access to the sea, Kogi State is well placed and ordinarily should rank at par with Lagos, Rivers, Anambra, Delta and Akwa Ibom States.
The painful reality however suggests otherwise. Kogi State is rich but over 85% of its entire population live in sheer penury and amazing misery. Kogi State is endowed but it’s endowment has not rubbed off on human capital and community development. Kogi State has unfettered access to the coastal shorelines but less than 20% of Kogi people have access to the dividends of good governance.
From all aspects of society – education, trade, IGR, agriculture, infrastructure, security, health, tourism and even ethics, we have in our hands a state that makes the news only for the most appalling reasons. Whereas, an average citizen of Kogi State is enterprising and creative, the last 3 years of the administration of Gov. Yahaya Bello has institutionalized maladministration which as a multiplier effect has weakened the social fabric of Kogi People in a manner which has caused young people to imbibe such attributes that are not at one with the ideals the founding fathers of the state hold dear.
The die is cast and notwithstanding the obvious truth that Kogi State has been plagued with about Nigeria’s most rudderless team at its helm, Zakari Alhaji Alfa is in the class of exceptional leaders who have said a resounding NO to the continuation of an organized and systemic plundering of our common patrimony by a band of bad leaders who fortunately for men and women of goodwill are in the weak minority.
I’m not unaware that many people are already questioning the suitability of Zakari Alhaji Alfa. I’m not ignorant of the fact that sooner or later, more and more questions will emerge. I’m more than certain that it’s just a matter of time before the credentials of this colossus starts being questioned but I’m confident that just as it’s often said, “all is politics”.
Why therefore is Zakari Alhaji Alfa in the rank of distinguished stakeholders who have answered the patriotic call to come rescue Kogi State from the grip of shylocks who do not give a damn about the tomorrow of Kogi today?
Before I offer veritable testimonies of His suitability, I consider it important to first and foremost answer the question of His experience.
My response is simple and concise and it is to the effect that the narrative often built around “experience” in politics within the Nigerian context has long lost steam and must be relegated to an obscure position in the background. Experience in leadership and governance has not led us anywhere neither has it brought about the most sought after dividends of leadership, governance and democracy. All the while experience was the anthem and a big deal, roads weren’t built. Jobs were not created. Healthcare did not improve, the processes of governance and the ease of doing business suffered diverse forms of infractions just as crime and youth restiveness soared.
If these plagues have over the years defined the times of individuals who trade and believe that experience is a crucial yardstick to measure capacity, I beg to posit here and now that Zakari Alhaji Alfa is totally inexperienced and rightly so – He isn’t experienced in mismanagement and outright pilfering of public funds. He’s not experienced in apportionment to friends, family members and associates choice properties collectively owned by Kogi people.
He’s not also experienced in collapsing public institutions of learning while sponsoring His children to attend the most expensive schools in Europe. He’s not experienced in the nefarious acts of blackmail, gagging individuals and groups who hold contrary views just like he’s a novice to the entire concept of arbitrary abuse of executive power and privileges especially the conversion of public funds to private use.
Kogi State is in dire need of economic surgery and rehabilitation. Nothing is working and just everything has grinded to a halt – hospitals, schools, economy, trade, industrialization, community development, youth empowerment, human resources development, security and just every crucial government institution with exception to perhaps only the kitchen in government house and the bank accounts of selected state officials.
Who will intervene?
Zakari Alhaji Alfa comes along with a unique kind of baggage – a baggage of tremendous goodwill built on the strength of over three decades of active service in the financial sector but should this really mean anything to the man on the street?
Yes it should!
The most economically viable states in Nigeria namely Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Anambra and even Delta States did not achieve their status against the backdrop of nothing just as it is impossible to build substance on nothing. These states realized the need to pursue, obtain and foster a synergy between themselves and development partners from organized private sector most importantly financial institutions. This they did in realization of the fact that there’s an idle pool of diverse resources which can be harnessed by any serious government to create plenty opportunities of growth and development in society. This pool of resources are mainly domiciled in the private sector and only an influential member of that sector with unblemished records of integrity, transparency and excellence can access them. This is where Zakari Alfa Alhaji comes in handy.
Look no further!
He rose to the peak of a fecund career in financial services as an Associate Director of First Inland Bank, currently trading as a member of the First City Group – a quoted company on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and capped it by growing the books of Empire Securities, Nigeria’s most influential securities and stock management firm as Chief Executive Officer.
Which other proof suffices to show that He is a factor and a force to be reckoned with in the Banking and Finance sector which I stand to be quoted is the most regulated sector of Nigeria’s economy?
And guess what? He was once a Commissioner in Kogi state, a feat most people did not know.
At this juncture, it is imperative to note in very clear terms that it is now a global trend for capital intensive infrastructure projects to be financed by governments in conjunction with financiers from the private sector – housing, tourism, power generation, industry, health, education e.t.c. If this is a trend, we must agree that the inability of the current government of Kogi State to access financing on very competitive terms is to the disadvantage to innocent Kogi people whose lives deserve to be uplifted above and beyond excruciating poverty.
Founder of the Coscharis Group, Dr. Cosmas Maduka once opined that lack of access to finance is the biggest challenge faced by businesses because in His opinion once access to limited funds is guaranteed at all times, businesses will grow because there’s so much that can be explored and achieved by business owners
Accessing support requires a great deal of credibility on the part of the eventual manager of the said support which can often be in form of cash or other forms of collaboration along the lines of technical support, technology transfers advanced knowledge sharing and skills development. Where the man at the helm is perceived to be deficient in integrity and other forms of effectiveness, the development are reserved with the right to decline to intervene.
Kogi State has lost so much in this regard. Kogi State and Kogi people has immensely suffered and has lost immeasurable opportunities because a peep into the profile and attributes of majority of the incumbent players in the current administration will reveal they are just a group of gullible juveniles driven by an obscene passion to exploit the seal of power to the benefit of themselves and their immediate families while hiding under the cloak of servant leaders. As much as they pretend and try to hide their true images, they are known by various development agencies especially from outside Kogi State as persons making up a group into whose hands and custody anything of value should not be entrusted. Just so much has gone wrong under their watch.
Shall we not nip this ugly trend in the interest of the next generation?
Rare times require the intervention of rare men and women of courage and vision, passion and commitment to serve, sheer humility and brotherhood, capacity and credibility, candor and strength, tack and proven competence. These are about the most important attributes that define Zakari Alhaji Alfa. It’s is therefore not in doubt that He will bring them to bear in the interest of Kogi people.
The next gubernatorial elections in Kogi State is too important to be left in the hands of people who pass as traditional and professional politicians with no known second address. It is too sensitive a matter to be allowed to be staged managed. It is the defining moment for Kogi State and Kogi people. It is the last chance we all have to return our dear state to the path of economic prosperity.
Zakari Alfa Alhaji has stepped into the arena. While rising in acknowledgment of this shining star, we owe posterity an obligation to refuse to be on the sidelines. We owe the founding fathers of Kogi State a responsibility to stand with Zakari Alfa Alhaji. We owe ourselves the most profound sense of pride which only comes with us ensuring that our dearest state is placed in the hands of individuals who can be trusted to deliver to the people a new kind of veritable growth and value driven development.
The hour has come; it is the 2019 elections. The man has come, He is Zakari Alfa Alhaji. Kogi State is broken and bleeding, Zakari Alfa Alhaji will mend and heal it.
– Victoria Musa-Ojogbane wrote in from Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.