The Okun people in Kogi West senatorial district have called on the state governor, Captain Idris Wada, to urgently redress the alleged marginalisation of the zone in appointments into political and administrative positions.
Making the call yesterday during a visit to the governor in Lokoja, the state capital, the Okun people under the aegis of Okun Development Association (ODA) led by Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, said the Okun-Yoruba people are on the verge of extinction in the civil service with appointments made to favour a particular ethnic group at the detriment of others.
While giving the details of cases where Okun people had been edged out, Lambo, who is former Minister of Health, said since the creation of the state, while no Okun person has ever been governor of the state, no one has been appointed as a substantive accountant- general or even permanent secretary at the Government House.
The people also pointed out that sensitive appointments at the Kogi State University, Ayingba, which was being funded by all the 21 local government areas in the state are also being manipulated in favour of a particular ethnic group.
THISDAY can authoritatively say that the Igala-speaking people in Kogi East senatorial district, who have produced governors in the state since its creation, had dominated practically almost all the state’s political appointments.
In the aspect of political appointments, the Lambo’s group noted that of a total of 293 political appointments made by the government, 166 went to the east, Kogi Central, 51 and West, 71. Meanwhile, Ijumu local government area in the west did not produce a commissioner at all.
Worthy of note is that in 1991, when the state was created, the size of civil service was 19,806 out of which the east had 9, 769, about 49 per cent. As at then central and west had 1, 995 and 8,244 which was 10 and 41 per cent respectively.
But that has since changed because even as the state civil service now stands at 35, 209, only the east produced 24, 621 of the workforce, while the west has only 6,519 and central, 4,069.
It was also noted that the area is educationally disadvantaged as the entire Okun land has no functional tertiary institution despite the fact that its people seek education. It was against this background that the ODA urged Wada, to as a matter of equity, fairness and justice address the lopsidedness.
Wada however, noted that issues raised by the people were already there before he became governor of the state. But he assured the people that his administration was not given to marginalising any section of the state.
According to him, a commissioner did not emerge from Ijumu local government because of conflict of interest among some political leaders in the area, saying that a commissioner would soon be appointed from the area.
To address the issues raised by the concerned members of the association, Governor Wada immediately set up a committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, to look into the various areas of oppression raised by Okun speaking people from Kogi West.
Wada restated that all segments of the state irrespective of tribe, religion and political differences would be carried along under his administration in terms of sharing of available resources and top government positions in the state.
He emphasised that equity, honesty and transparency in the running of the state affairs would not be compromised in the face of all odds as he thanked the association for its show of solidarity and support to his administration.
He said that heâ€™s focused on how to turn around the living condition of the people of the state for the better and urged the various ethnic groups in the state to join hands with his administration’s effort to move the state to where it ought to be.