Address injustice on our people, Okun elders appeal to Wada
Elders from the West senatorial district of Kogi State, under the auspices of the Okun Development Association, have appealed to the state governor, Idris Wada, to address the cases of injustice against their people to save the state from crisis.
The elders who paid a courtesy call on the governor in Lokoja, drew his attention to the plight of its people in the state saying the state is “ailing and the ship of state is being assailed by a potentially disruptive storm” which has to be addressed as quickly as possible.
Former minister of health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo who spoke on behalf of the elders, said since the state is built on three pillars of East, Central and West senatorial districts, it behoves on all administrations in the state to treat all parts equally rather than the current situation where only one part is being favoured.
He said, “Based on repeated vicious circle of mistreatment, the average Okun citizen has become cynical, to the extent that he/she believes that there are positions in this State that he/she cannot and, indeed dare not, aspire to occupy simply by virtue of the place of his/her birth, curiously in a democratic/ civilian government.”
The group which listed some of the cases of bias against its people, said no Okun person has ever been the Chief Executive, substantive AccountantGeneral or the Permanent Secretary, Government House Administration in the state.
The elders said though some of the problems precede the current administration, it has persisted as it said of a weighted total of 293 political appointments by the Government of Kogi State, Kogi East carries the lion’s share of 166, Kogi Central, 51 and Kogi West 71 which amounts to 56.6 per cent for the East Senatorial District.
The group said it is alarmed by the dwindling presence of its people in the state civil service and unless urgent steps are taken to address the situation the prospects are grim for the people.
“At the creation of the state in August 1991, the size of the civil service stood at 19,806. Of this, Kogi East had 9,769 (about 49 per cent); Kogi West, 8,244 (about 41 per cent) while Kogi Central had 1,995 (about 10 per cent) members of staff. However, by 2013, the work force had ballooned to 35,209 (an increase of almost 78 per cent). Out of this, Kogi East has 24,621 (about 70 per cent); Kogi West, 6,519 (almost 19 per cent) while Kogi Central has 4,069 (almost 11 per cent). These figures show that while the relative share of the Igala/Bassa group has shot up consistently, that of the Okun/Lokoja/Kotonkarfe group stagnated for a while before it began to dwindle dangerously.”
It said also thatt currently, of the 18 commissioners in the state, nine are from Kogi East, five from the West and four from Central Districts respectively with Kogi East taking 50 percent of the allocation.
They called on the governor to take bold and urgent steps to correct the “patent lopsidedness in the distribution of political offices such that all parts of the state are made to have a sense of belonging.
“The administration should take steps to halt the continued decimation of Okun and Oworo people in the civil service and that qualified and competent Okun and Oworo indigenes in the service are appointed into positions commensurate with their training and experience.
It suggested that rather than the present approach of allocating political offices, “we would like to recommend that all available positions be put in a basket and shared based on the principles of equity and fairness. In this regard, for instance, it should be possible to correct the misnomer in having both the Commissioners of Works and Finance come from the same district.”