28th September, 2020
Alhaji Yahaya Adoiza Bello,
The Executive Governor of Kogi State,
RE: OPEN LETTER TO THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE FROM MAGONGO DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION
With due respect, the Ogori Descendants’ Union (ODU), the umbrella body of all indigenes of Ogori, in Ogori-Magongo Local Government Area of Kogi State, both at home and in the diaspora is constrained to respond to an open letter addressed to Your Excellency, by Magongo Development Association (MDA) alleging marginalization in both elective and appointive positions in the State, apparently skewed in favour of Ogori.
Inasmuch as the MDA has inalienable right to seek redress for any perceived injustice, it is regrettable that the Association and her co-signatories which are supposed to be apolitical will allow themselves to be dragged into political matters and worst still, make unfounded allegations, not backed by facts.
As a body, the ODU has always played a fatherly role, mediating peace and preaching unity, while also staying away from politics as much as possible.
It is therefore most surprising that MDA allowed itself to be driven as the war chest of politically unguided individuals and political jobbers, to make insinuations to the effect that Magongo is being marginalized in terms of both elective and appointive positions.
This is far from the truth. To the best of our knowledge, appointments in the Civil Service are largely based on merit.
We are not however surprised that the MDA wants merit to be sacrificed, having secured a Permanent Secretary position in the State Civil Service through the backdoor. The appointment of the Head of Service was purely on merit, on the contrary.
Your Excellency, appointments into political offices as we know it, are always at the discretion of successive Executive Governors and not determined by respective communities.
Perhaps, MDA should tell the world if Ogori community or better still, MDA, had a say in the appointments of Hon. Albert SojeAdeshina and Late Prince Edward Akpata as Commissioners both from magongo, by the administrations of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and Captain Idris Wada, respectively.
Ogori as a community has never shortchanged its sister community of Magongo in elective positions.
The facts are there and facts, for us, are sacred; not twisted to achieve selfish intents. You may wish to note that since the return to democratic rule in 1999, the Local Government had produced six House of Assembly members and they are: Late Hon. Godwin Oritogun (Ogori – 1999-2003), Hon. Albert Soje (Magongo -2003-2007), Hon. Godwin Osiyi (Ogori – 2007-2011), Hon. Gabriel Daudu (Magongo – 2011-2015), Hon. Godwin Osiyi (Ogori – 2015-2019) and Hon. Moses Akande (Magongo – 2019 to-Date)
At the Local Government level, there were Heads of the LGA, who were either appointed or elected, largely due to the fact that elections at that level were never conducted as and when due. In order to avoid vacuum, successive administrations had in their wisdom, made stop-gap arrangements. The names and places of origin of those who have had the rare privilege of superintending over the affairs of the Local Government since its creation in 1996 will suffice here: Late Mr. Michael Aturu – (Ogori – Pioneer Sole Administrator); Hon. Reuben Kehinde Jubelo – (Ogori- 1st Elected Chairman), Late Prince Edward Akpata (Magongo – DLG Overseeing the LGA, after the removal of the elected chairman), Hon. Emmanuel Olufade (Magongo – 2nd Elected Chairman), Hon. Matthew Keyi (Ogori -Caretaker Chairman), Hon. Gabriel Daudu (Magongo, Secretary and later Caretaker Chairman after exit of Hon. Keyi as Caretaker Chairman) and Hon. Matthew Keyi (Ogori – 3rd Elected Chairman).
In between Hon. Keyi’s tenure, he was suspended from office and for months, Hon. David Bayesimi (Magongo) took charge of the affairs of the Local Government. Later Hon. Gabriel Daudu (Magongo) took over as Caretaker Chairman and when he resigned to contest election, Hon. Ojo Aturu (Ogori) stepped into his shoes. Hon. Daudu (Magongo) eventually returned as the 4th Elected Chairman.
When he had to contest the House of Assembly seat, he resigned and Hon. Ayo Sumbo (Ogori) took charge. Prior to this time, Hon. Anthony Awuru (Magongo) had served as Caretaker Chairman. Hon. Olafimihan Akerejola (Ogori) became Liaison Officer of the Local Government and subsequently got elected the 5th Chairman. When he was removed from office, Hon. Gbenga Alabi (Magongo) stepped into his shoes as the political Head of the Local Government. After him, Hon. James Adegbola (Ogori) was appointed Senior Special Assistant 1.
In the current dispensation, Hon. Moses Akande (Magongo) was appointed as Administrator and was replaced by Hon. Goke Oparison (Ogori) until he was appointed Senior Special Assistant to the Governor. So far, there have been eighteen (18) different administrations with each community having nine (9) apiece.
It is in the magnanimity of Ogori, a community with Six (6) of the Ten (10) Wards to condescend to rotate elective positions vis-a-vis the LG Chairman and Assembly Member, in spite of the fact that at no point was there an agreement to rotate these offices.
We challenge anyone with such an agreement to make it public and as it appears MDA is pushing its luck too far.
MDA was economical with the truth when it painted a picture that between 2015 and 2016, two (2) sons of Ogori were both Chairman of the Local Government and House of Assembly member respectively. It is on records that the then Chairman, Hon. Olafimihan Akerejola was rounding up his tenure, when it was the turn of Ogori to field a candidate for the House of Assembly.
The scenario then was different from the present intention and manipulative strategy of the MDA.
At the State level and at the discretion of the government in power, Ogori has produced three commissioners – (Hon. Omolara Obayemi, Hon. Yemisi Ogunmola and Hon. Bode Ogunmola) as well as two Special Advisers (Hon. Bode Ogunmola and Hon. Otayitie Eminefo) while our siblings in Magongo so far have produced two Commissioners (Hon. Albert Soje Adeshina and Late Prince Edward Akpata and one Special Adviser, Hon. Dare Adeshina).
Your Excellency, even as we agree that merit is the sole determinant of appointments in the Civil Service, we are constrained to react to allegation of dominance by Ogori in key appointments at the Local Government level.
Since the creation of the Local Government in 1996, Magongo has produced two (2) Directors of Local Government (DLG); Prince Edward Akpata (12 years) and Mrs. Catherine Orifunmishe (9 years), while Ogori has produced three (3);- Mr. C.A Aimila (One year), Mr. Sunday Ajeh (4 years) and Mr. Paul Amupitan (Less than three months).
The MDA also mentioned the appointment of Local Government Treasurers.
Simultaneously, people of Magongo extraction held the positions of DLG and Treasurer and given our understanding that it is by seniority, Ogori did not complain.
At a point, Magongo controlled all Departments in the Local Government, yet the Ogorians did not raise any dust.
Magongo has so far produced two (2) Treasurers;- Mr. Boyi and Nobert Oyedare, while Ogori has produced three: Mr. Taiye Awi, Mr. Stephen Aboluja and the current one, Mrs. Akande Aminat. But for want of space, we can give names of appointees and place both communities side-by-side.
Then, we would leave Your Excellency to judge.
Even in party administration, we are not unaware that all the political parties rotate offices.
From the foregoing, we do not have any inclination of where Magongo had been made to endure the “agony of terrible marginalisation” as claimed. It is clear that Magongo and precisely, MDA had not been telling the truth.
The MDA is out for mischief and it is only being used as a tool in the hands of overzealous politicians, who seem bent on rupturing the existing harmonious relationship between Ogori and Magongo.
If we had insisted, as it were, that politics should be a game of numbers, there is no way anyone from Magongo will have the privilege of getting elected as Chairman of the Local Government or House of Assembly Member.
Your Excellency, it is apparent that the MDA and its sponsors are merely playing to the gallery.
Ogori has never and will never marginalize Magongo for whatever reason.
We have allowed conscience to guide our dealings, politically and otherwise with our neighbors and more importantly, our sister community, Magongo. It is our counsel that Magongo looks for its political oppressors faraway from Ogori.
It is also noteworthy to state that it was never the fault of Ogori that Magongo has continued to field political neophytes for elective offices.
The open letter to Your Excellency is not only a product of ignorance it is a product of confused minds.
There is no gain saying the fact that the present member of Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Moses Akande, being from Magongo, already occupies the elective slot for Ogori-Magongo. Hence, the next elective position of Executive Chairman of the Local Government has to come from Ogori.
The positions happen to run concurrently.
In conclusion, we see the open letter to Your Excellency by the MDA as a great disrespect to the exalted office of the Executive Governor, particularly, that the letter is laden with outright falsehood.
It cannot be denied that Your Excellency has been fair, just and equitable to all in terms of projects and appointments. For us therefore, the letter by the MDA is very suggestive and we urge that the tissue of lies should go to the trash can where it rightfully belongs.
We assure Your Excellency, the Ogbuloko of Ogoriland – the courageous one, of our continued support and loyalty even as we wish you the good health, wisdom and grace to continue to discharge the onerous responsibilities of your exalted office.
ENGR. GBEMI OMOLE B.Eng, MNSE, C.Eng, FCIA