The energetic former Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Kogi State on Students Matters, Comrade Omonu Joshua who is popularly referred to as ‘Levels Pumping’ is no doubt a youth of capable repute. It was against the backdrop of his commitment to youth and student causes that the current administration found him worthy of appointment into that position. He was able to use the position to blood in the students and youths to buying into the idea of the government for improved students welfare. He went down memory lane in this interview to reveal to our Insidestory how Governor Bello empowered bettered the lot of students in tertiary institutions across the state and beyond.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Comrade Omonu Joshua. I am popularly known as Levels Pumping. I am from Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State. I was the Senior Special Assistant to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello on Student Matters, a position I used to propagate the New Direction message of this administration to indigenous Kogi students in all tertiary institutions across the country.
As SSA, I took it upon myself to see that the unity of purpose being canvassed by the administration reached student groups through their leaderships and all stakeholders in higher institutions across the country. By the grace of God and through the support of Alhaji Yahaya Bello and his Deputy, Chief Edward Onoja and other people in government, we were able to bring prestige to Kogi students everywhere in Nigeria.
It was while we were in government that His Excellency was gracious to increase students bursary by 300%. It has never happened before. We saw the fire, the passion, the commitment and dedication of the Governor to making that happen and all we did was ignite it. One thing to tell you is Alhaji Yahaya Bello is not your average youth Governor, he is a man that is passionate about anything that adds value and encourages the people of Kogi State to have the best version of themselves and that was what the Governor was doing for the students. All we did was be there to implement his agenda and ensure the target demographic, students in higher institutions, got what rightly belonged to them.
Before I forget, under us, we brought unity of purpose, unity of direction, cohesion and drive to the various zonal student bodies from the West, the East and the Central Senatorial Districts and ensured there was no rancour in the transition of leadership. Be it the Joint Campus Committee of the National Association of Nigerian Student (NANS), the National Association of Kogi State Students (NAKOSS), the National Association of Ebira Students (NAES), the National Association of Igala Students (NAIS) and the National Association of Okun Students (NAOS) and their affiliate bodies and other campus based student groups. We made sure they were united for common causes by preaching unity, discouraging all vices that hamper peace on the campuses, especially cultism, examination malpractices and others which ensured they contribute to moving the state forward.
So we did all of that and more for the students and made sure that the administration was in regular touch with them on their campuses through programmes and projects for their benefit. Thus, I must tell you that Kogi has never had a more loving and caring Governor like Governor Bello since its creation when it comes to the welfare of students of the state in higher institutions.
What, in specific terms, did your office do to actually promote the government as you have stated?
Let me reiterate here that whatever we did was to the glory of our Governor. As a person, there was nothing I could have done if I was not empowered by the Governor. He is a true friend and father of students of the State. For instance, when there was a flood that ravaged some lodges accommodating students of Kogi State Polytechnic Lokoja sometime in 2019, the Governor immediately swung into action and directed I went to ascertain the level of damage done for those identified to be compensated and that was exactly what he did. Severally, he would direct that I went to one institution or the other with my former Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Comrade Sani Ogu Salisu to make sure one problem that may have been identified or the other were solved and we were doing that. There was swiftness in responding to issues affecting the welfare of students across all higher institutions.
There is no doubt that the Governor gave my office the tools necessary to work and I must tell you that this is the first administration under which students of higher institutions constituted themselves in the run up to an election to campaign for a particular candidate. They formed themselves into a students campaign council to ensure the re – election of the Governor. They were everywhere canvassing for votes for the ruling APC because Governor Bello had done for them what no government has ever felt necessary. It is only a worthy father that can do that for his children and Governor Bello is that father.
What do you think would be the policy direction of the administration towards the students in this second term?
I know the government of Alhaji Yahaya Bello is so passionate about them and his beautiful agenda which impacted positively on the vast majority of them was not a one – off thing because the Governor loves the students and wants the best for them. If not for the Coronavirus pandemic that has slowed things down, I am sure you would have been seeing several progressive programmes designed to the benefit of Kogi State Students. Whatever they have benefited, I am positive that Governor Bello would do more in those regards. Incidentally, ‘Let’s Do More’ was the mantra for his re – election campaign. I am very optimistic of better days for them. When the schools open, you will see.