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Gov. Idris Wada and the Dead Nine

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“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

- Frederick Douglas (1817 – 1895)
At this point in our national life, it is important to ask ourselves: Why do we elect people into office? This question has become pertinent in view of the degree of irresponsibility, meanness, cruelty and wickedness being exuded by those entrusted with the governance of our polity. They are not only exuding irresponsibility and wickedness; they are competing among themselves as to who is the most heartless, cold-blooded, uncaring, unfeeling and merciless.

It is important to really examine the question as to the purpose of the political process. Is it just for the personal aggrandizement of the office holders or for the benefits of the people who are the tax payers? Are people elected just to do what they like or see to the welfare of the people they govern? Why are the elected representatives of the people so uncaring and so mean-spirited? Why are they so merciless and unfeeling?

According to news reports, the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Inua Wada had instructed the General Magager of the Kogi State Transport Company, Mr. Augustine Tokula to ask all the 142 workers of the company to proceed “on compulsory leave without pay.” This was contained in a circular dated June 30, 2011. There was no reason given for this decision. No explanation whatsoever. It was like the Governor just had a brainwave and that was it.

The governor did not tell the Kogi people whether it is because the workers were not making any profit or breaking even for the state owned Transport Company. He did not offer any explanation if this was a new policy direction and what would be done with the workers that were being sent on compulsory leave. He did not make any explanation why such a decision was taken and why it was in the best interest of the Kogi people. He just did not have any sense of responsibility to explain to the people who elected him why he was taking the means of livelihood of all the innocent workers.

It is now over four years when this horrible decision was made. The workers were never officially sacked. They were not given the option of retiring from their jobs. And if they did not retire, they could not be given severance pay. They were only told to proceed on “compulsory leave without pay.” They were just thrown under the bus to be mauled mercilessly. Governor Wada has kept quiet over this for the last four years.

In the last four years since this has happened, your guess is as good as mine as to the fate of these workers. They have been impoverished, penurious and ruined. Their children have been out of schools. They have been going hungry. Their landlords have chased them out of their homes. Their lives have been ruined. So far, nine of the 142 workers are now dead. And these workers have put in between 10 and 25 years of their lives into the service of the Kogi State Transport Company before they were treated in this callous way.

All those years of service did not mean anything to Governor Wada or any of his advisers. All those years of service did not and still do not mean anything to any of the traditional rulers in the state who ought to have interceded on behalf of the miserable workers. All those years of service did not mean anything to the leaders of thought in the state to try and appeal to the humanity of the Governor to make a decision in relation to the fate of the workers.

Since the last four years when he has taken this decision, Governor Wada has been feeding fat on the tax-payers money, taking care of his own children, ensuring that his wife or wives are properly taken care of. He is living in the opulence provided for by the commonwealth of Kogi people. He did not care about the people he has been governing. He did not care if they died. He did not care if their children died and their wives become destitute and deprived.

What kind of a man is Governor Wada? What is his excuse not to address this matter in the last four years? Why is he so heartless and wicked? Why does he not care about the lives of his people? Why does he not have any milk of human kindness flowing in his vein? Does this man pray to Allah five times a day? What are the things he says to his Allah every time he prays? Does he read the Quran at all? Does the Quaran teach him to be mean, cruel, wicked and heartless to innocent workers?

If Governor Wada did not want the transport company any more, why did he not do the right thing by retiring the workers and pay them severance pay? What has happened to the assets of the Transport Company in the last four years? Are they just left to rotten? Does that sound like a prudent management? What kind of a manager is this Governor Wada? What kind of politician is this man?

I have read it in the news that the workers are planning to go on strike as a result of their misfortune. In a statement signed by Messrs Ndakwo Mohammed and Anate Audu, the workers are just getting ready to protest their fate? What have they been looking for the last four years? Why are they just waking up? What has been preventing them from battling this mean Governor Wada to a standstill in the last four years? Have they been compromised for them not to realize the seriousness of the situation?

Haba! The whole situation reeks. From a mean and cruel Governor Wada to the incompetent and compromised leaders of the workers, the whole situation reeks. It is embarrassing and disgraceful. Did it have to take the death of nine of their colleagues to realize the seriousness of this matter? If the Governor is deaf, mean and unfeeling, it was the responsibility of the workers and their leaders to call attention to their situation.

Governor Wada has been able to get away with “murder” for the last four years because the workers have allowed him to. The workers have been too docile, ductile and docious. While I do not want to blame the victim, they have been unduly tolerant of tyranny. They have allowed fascism to fester. They have allowed despotism to dig in. The workers endurance has allowed Governor Wada to dismiss and ignore them. The workers are partly to blame for the death of their nine colleagues for waiting this long to put up resistance.

Governor Wada obviously does not care. But he has to be made to care. The workers have to camp out in front of the Governor’s office until they get a positive response from this mean Governor. The media should come to the aid of the workers and expose this wicked governor. This is not an acceptable behavior in a human society. It should not be allowed to subsist. No excuses could be good enough for this kind of behavior.

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”

- John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

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Articles by Remi Oyeyemi