Kogi Central and the leadership question, By Shaibu Stephen Ojate

Posted by News Express | 20 July 2015 | 4,087 times

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This is the continuation of my recent article where I focused on marginalisation in Kogi State. In that piece, I took time to explain governance in Kogi State and power sharing among the senatorial districts that constitute the state. I also explained the divides in Kogi State owing to marginalisation, and how some people feel about it. I explained further how the people of Kogi Central and Kogi West axis were always schemed out in political appointments and project execution in a state where everybody struggled for its creation.

Much as I blamed the Idris Wada-led government for not being fair to other senatorial districts in terms of project execution and political appointment, we need to ask ourselves some pertinent questions. Where were the leaders of Kogi Central when issues of power sharing and project execution were being discussed? Where were Kogi Central assembly members when the house deliberated on budget for the next year? I certainly know that the governor can not propose the budget, get the project executed without seeking the approval of the Kogi State House of Assembly members. I know the governor cannot just nominate commissioners, special advisers and personal aides without first seeking the approval of the state assembly. The assembly members, by their constitutional roles, must give nod to the nomination of persons for commissioners, special advisers, board members and others.

If I am right in this case, why are the people of Kogi Central always crying out of being short-changed in a place where we have representatives? If we have good leaders who know what it takes to represent the society, the issue of marginalisation would not arise.

To make my points clear, I could recall that whenever the President sends ministerial nominees, board nominees, and others to the National Assembly, the members have constitutional right to either reject or accept it. The National Assembly members can reject some nominees on the ground that the area from which the person is coming has already been taking care of by the previous political appointment from the state. I could remember that the National Assembly members, at times do reject some nominees on the ground that the President of the has not observed the quota system as enshrined in Nigerian Constitution. This is one reason why the President is always conscious of his political appointments. Because of this, he strives to carry everybody along in the affairs of the nation, and he does this by balancing his political appointments.

Then if I am on the right track with this explanation, why is it that the Kogi State assembly members always find it difficult to replicate what is obtainable at the national level in the affairs of the state? Why is it that the eastern axis of Kogi State always have their interest pushed through in the house at the detriment of other senatorial districts, in terms of project allocation, project execution, board membership appointment, senior special advisers’ appointment and others when Kogi Central have representatives there?

Aside getting large share of political appointments, the eastern axis always reserve some political positions foe their domain. For example, positions like Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the State, Commissioner for Finance, Head of Service and Chief of Staff are exclusively reserved for persons from eastern senatorial district in the last 16 years. I can’t fathom why the assembly members from Kogi Central hardly raised an eye-brow on these? Does it mean assembly members from Kogi Central are dummies and dumb?  Does it imply that the crop of people we elected as leaders from Kogi Central are nonentities who do not have anything to say when important issues are being discussed? As one can deduce from above, the mode of nominating or electing leaders in Kogi Central is totally faulty. The implication of forceful fielding an empty vessel as leader is that you get nothing, which we are currently experiencing in Kogi Central. Leaders who got elected on primordial sentiment, such as, it is our clan’s turn to produce the assembly member, and not on the bases of what the person can offer the society. Our society parades educated illiterates as party leaders, who in turn foist one who would not challenge what they are doing. This later backfires on the general populace through poor representation. This is the resultant effect of having an intellectual thug as party leader, as their best stops at the local government. But when it comes to state issues, where the intellect comes to play, he remains a bench-warmer.

Notwithstanding, as new set of elected members take their seat, the assembly members from Kogi Central must put their thinking cap right this time around, whether they got elected by mistake or not. They should know that they were elected to represent the interest of the general populace and not their pockets alone. We must not wait to produce the governor to demand our due. If we know our onions, we can get the wrongs corrected at the right time.

Point to note, Niger Delta people never had the opportunity of producing the number one position in the country before pushing their interest through in a matter of national discuss in the time past. The Niger Delta ministry and many others were created to address their grievances, and this was made possible through the responsive representation of their leaders in the past. They were able to achieve these because they didn’t present ‘sit-down-look’ persons as assembly members, House of Representatives members or senators. Their representatives were always vocal and good at voicing out the feelings of their people at the National conference, National Assembly, and public gathering. Kogi Central assembly members must replicate same by pushing our interest through at the State House of assembly. They must do everything possible in curtailing the excesses of the governor in the area of project allotment, project execution and political appointments, with a view to addressing the plight of Kogi Central people. They should understand that funds for the development of the state are meant for all, and not a senatorial district alone. 

Upon resumption, they should make it clear that political appointment should henceforth be spread proportionately. The appointment, project allocation, project execution should be shared equally among the senatorial districts that constitute the state. They should make it clear that positions like commissioner for finance, commissioner for justice and attorney-general and chief of staff be given to persons from either Kogi West or Kogi Central, as both have not produced any of these before. They should equally make it clear that failure to heed to these will lead to the suspension of any other political appointment presented to Kogi State Assembly members for approval. They should make it clear that failure of the governor to execute and commission projects in Kogi Central and Kogi West will lead to non-approval of budget for projects in Kogi East. 

Also, the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party in Kogi Central need to start talking and not to be seen as behaving like morons on issues that bothers on our collective interest. They should learn to call the governor to order by telling him that the people of Kogi Central are not contented with the number of political appointments to our area. The PDP leaders should understand that the governor is a human being like them and not a masquerade; and even if he is, there is a way out to show our displeasure. They should stop the idea of sacrificing personal interest for the general societal goals. I want to see Kogi Central PDP leaders openly protesting over this anomaly in the state, to show the love they have for the society.

I am very convinced that when these are done, it will go a long way to minimise the incidence of over concentration of political appointments and projects in one senatorial district, as currently experienced in the state. Adopting these measures will go a long way to reduce complaints of marginalisation in Kogi and also accelerate even development across senatorial districts.

Ojate is a public affairs commentator and Managing Editor of Eagle Reporters, an online media in Abuja. Contact: 08052666344; 08102658380. Photo shows Kogi Governor Idris Wada.

Source: News Express

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