Kogi State is in the news again. Still reeling from the aftermath of a severe flooding crisis, the state government has signed an agreement with a Chinese firm, Hytera. The agreement is worth an eye-watering $60 million for a security project in the state.
What’s the project exactly?
According to the state government, the project involves the use of digital technology for real-time surveillance to prevent attacks. However, there are worries that the government plans to snoop on its residents. And if you think people are overreacting, then it’s because a Kogi State official, Abdulkareem Siyaka, said this about the project, “We’re putting the whole state on the map — real-time, virtual, audio and visual. The idea is that the moment you come into the state, we’ll see you; if you’re driving, walking or talking, we’ll be able to pick it. If you do something wrong, we’ll be able to intercept you using our field personnel on the ground.”
How’s Kogi State justifying this expense?
The Kogi government believes it needs to beef up security because it shares borders with 11 other states it has no control over. The government also expects the project to create over 685,000 jobs and attract over ₦591 billion annual investment. How it came about these figures remains a mystery.
How is Kogi funding this project?
The simple answer is debt. The state’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year was ₦145.8 billion. According to a breakdown of its security budget, ₦4,182,038,000 is marked for special security expenses, ₦9,548,000 for the purchase of security equipment, ₦90,048,000 for the purchase of security gadgets, ₦25,000,000 for federal and state security, ₦4,111,000,000 for security votes, ₦397,103,885 for security services and ₦666,429,214 in the state security trust fund.
It’s important to note that some of these funds aren’t for the benefit of everyone in the state. For example, out of the over ₦90 million allocated for security gadgets, ₦80 million of that is for high ranking members of the government.
The Hytera project costs close to ₦27 billion, when converted at the official rate, even though the state’s security allocation isn’t up to ₦10 billion. So assuming in good faith that they do spend everything in the budget allocated for security, there’s still a ₦17 billion shortfall that can only be covered by debt. And Kogi State has lots of that already with a domestic debt stock that stands at over ₦70 billion.
What have reactions been like?
Not everyone’s sold on the idea apparently.
And there’s some satire too.
Ultimately though, the Kogi State governor is answerable to the Kogi people. If they’re fine with this project, all we can do is observe and hope that it delivers on its fantastic promises.