Last year ended on a sad note for civil servants in Kogi State when 1,774 workers, 8 permanent secretaries and some directors were relieved of their duties by the state government on the 29th of december, 2017. The reason for their dismissal according to the state government is that many of them joined the civil service with fake certificates while some were disengaged for engaging in fraudulent activities. This action has been trailed by widespread condemnation from all and sundry both within and outside kogi state especially after Mr Alphonsus Ameh, a director of administration and finance in the state’s pension board and one of those affected by the retrenchment exercise, suffered a cardiac arrest and died 54 hours after receiving his sack letter. Just like they did last year; when another director in the civil service committed suicide due to poverty brought about by the inability of the state government to pay salaries for a year, the governor’s spin doctors quickly spun a yarn putting the blame for the doctor’s death on himself for his alleged participation in fraudulent activities.
Since Yahaya Bello was elected as kogi state’s chief executive in 2015, he has embarked on a sacking spree of kogi state workers. In 2017, he sacked 135 lecturers of the Kogi State University and refused to reinstate them despite a court order mandating him to do so. Health workers have been on strike for several months now and the governor has threatened to sack any doctor in the state government’s employ who joins the strike. We were forewarned by the Nigerian Labour Congress during the strike action in kogi state two years ago about the state government’s plan to sack over 60% of the workforce but many did not take heed. Now the governor is seemingly bent on achieving this negative goal without considering it’s impact on the ordinary man in kogi state. Does the governor not know that the continuation of this sacking spree will only succeed in increasing the poverty level in the state? How can a man who has not paid worker’s salaries for 17 months be sacking workers? Kogi state has a monthly revenue accrual of N8 billion naira monthly yet the governor finds it difficult to pay worker’s salaries of N4.8 billion naira monthly. In the midst of all these, the governor and other political appointees in the state who are supposed to be serving the people have enjoyed constant payment of their salaries and and often over-bloated allowances.
The activities of governor bello has only confirmed what i have always believed and known to be true that the most important requirement for leadership is character and competence and not age since governor bello at 42 is currently the youngest governor in Nigeria. The governor’s building and commissioning of a multi million naira mansion in Okene his hometown with pomp and pageantry; his gifting of masquerades with cars and several millions of naira, and his great intolerance of political dissent are just a few examples of the gaffes and missteps of the governor at a time when many are dying of hunger in the state.
I salute the courage of Rev.Fr John Femi Ogunleye in writing an open letter to the governor outlining the hardship faced by the people of the state and calling on him to change his ways. Kogi state deserves better than this.