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MISGOVERNANCE CAUSED POWER SHIFT AGITATION – SEN. SMART ADEYEMI

By NBF News
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Some people insist that the agitation for power shift in Kogi politics it is a non-issue and that the best material should be allowed to rule because it is an evil agenda. But some people contend that the issue of power shift is important. How do you see this agitation?

If there was good governance, there won't be need for agitation for power shift in the first place. Good governance in terms of a government that appreciates the needs and the aspirations of the people of each of the zones that makes up the state.

I always made reference to what was obtained in the first republic when sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the premier of Northern region. The people from Kwara and Kogi who are Yorubas didn't even remember that they were Yorubas because the man gave them sense of belonging.

Social amenities were provided for them; but when there is obvious discrimination like we have in Kogi, then you will have this type of agitation. Even as a father with four children and you are treating two very well, the two others are likely to ask you if truly they are your children. It is when you discriminate against a people that they start asking questions and they will be saying 'do we really belong here?'

The issue of power shift is a result of the absence of people who can appreciate the diversities in the state and consciously play them down. In Kogi, projects are sited in one senatorial district and every appointment is going to just one section and everything good is going to one section, then the other people left out will ask questions whether they re needed here.

Are you saying that the people of Kogi West are marginalized in terms of appointments and infrastructure?

Go and see for yourself and you will appreciate what I am saying. Let me give you statistics. When the state was created, Kogi West had almost twice the workforce of Kogi East in the state civil service; today, that has been reversed.

I am the chairman of the Senate committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental affairs, and I know the workforce of each state and federal ministry, and I know that more than two-third of Kogi quota at the federal level were taken up by people from Kogi East simply because they have people in office at the state level who push their case.

Apart from the time of Obasanjo when he insisted on balancing these things by picking from all the senatorial districts, everything has been going to the East. In this time of Governor Ibrahim Idris, everything has gone to the East and you cannot be slapping my people and I will see it and then expect me to keep quiet.

Over 12 people from Kogi West are aspiring to take over from the outgoing governor and they are all ready to go to the primaries without any compromise. Is that not a problem?

I agree that is a problem. But the beauty of democracy is that everyone can aspire but when the time comes we will tell him where he actually belongs. We will still x-ray most of those that are on the field now.

Are you saying they will still be pruned down to a manageable number?

The leaders of the people of Kogi West are meeting and they will come out with those that will represent us. Having a governor from the West is not the main issue but the issue of having someone who will deliver, not someone who will go there and disgrace us. We want someone who will get to office and perform.

What happened to a recent attempt to zero in on a particular aspirant?

I think it was too early. There is need for us to allow people to market themselves. Let the aspirants talk to us and I think we are about to decide on who will be representing us.

The agitation is not because we feel we should be governor of Kogi in 2011, but because we realised that in time past we have allowed people who are less qualified from other districts to rule. It is basically not about Kogi West, it is for the benefit of the whole state; we realised that we have people who are eminently qualified, people who appreciate the problems of the state and had done research on how to solve the problems.

The agitation is not about saying we want to rule as Okun people, but our own way of saying Kogi State has had far too many people who are not doing anything in office, and we have better people who can do it to the benefit of all.

But the Igalas too are on the field for the same job and the man that is going is an Igala man; how do you see that?

The issue of power rotation is not a constitutional matter but we will reason together and let them see why they are not the one for it. It is not a bad idea that they are in the race

Why is it difficult for politicians in Kogi central and Kogi west to work together and get the position?

Martin Luther said that when minorities fail to come together they would end up in penury and may likely perish. I think a time will come and they will realise the need for them to bury their differences and work together.

It is in the interest of the people of Kogi East to support someone from West to be governor because now they cannot agitate against their son on the seat, but with a Kogi West man on the seat, they can agitate that water and electricity be installed in their area. They are presently suffering and smiling and that is why they should allow power shift to West.

The position of the opposition in Kogi is that PDP has failed and that the power shift needed is for another party to rule Kogi in 2011, will you agree with that idea?

There is no opposition in Kogi State. The people have been so oppressed that everyone is looking for something to eat and they joined PDP. The opposition that exists in Kogi is in PDP, they have joined the PDP to wine and dine with them.