Oluokun Ayorinde/Abuja Bureau Chief
A group of respected elders and political leaders from Kogi State have cried out to President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP National Chairman Bamanga Tukur to arrest the serious drift in the state or risk the sudden death of the PDP in the state.
The group, in a statement made available to the media in Abuja, accused the one year old Idris Wada administration of lacking a sense of direction, plain incompetence, mind boggling corruption and illegalities. The statement was also copied to Senate President David Mark and Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker of House of Representatives.
In the statement jointly released by Senator Alex Kadiri, Senator Mohammed Ohiare, former Speaker of the State House of Assembly and former Acting Governor Clarence Olafemi, former state PDP Chairman John Odawun, Retired Air Vice Marshall Salihu Atawodi and former governorship aspirant Dr Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba, the group listed the underdevelopment of the state, the crisis in the State House of Assembly, the looting of state resources and several illegalities and undemocratic practices as serious concerns.
"We, the under-signed, are stakeholders and prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State. We wish to make our feelings known to you on the series of illegalities and undemocratic practices being perpetuated by the Captain Idris Wada administration and to urge you, as the leader of our great party, to take urgent measures to save our party from imminent death and the state from the coming anarchy", the statement reads.
"It is rather unfortunate that our beloved state has acquired notoriety for unwholesome political practices, arrested development, deepening poverty and primitive state of infrastructure -all due largely to chronic mis-governance and endemic corruption of the last decade".
The statement continued: "It is now very clear to all that Captain Idris Wada - the man who was not even a card-carrying member of our party when he was imposed on us
as governorship candidate in 2011- has absolutely no clue how to run a modern state. In nearly one year on the saddle, Wada cannot point to one tangible project executed by his administration beside a whitewashed roundabout in front of Government House, Lokoja".
"Yet, Billions of Naira have accrued to the state in the past 11 months of his stewardship. He has continued the tradition of his political god father and immediate past governor of the state of squandering state resources on acquisition of personal properties with government funds, on the avalanche of court cases against him, compromising judges and party officials in his desperation to hang on to power".
The elders said they were saddened by Jonathan's reluctance to do something about the grave state of the PDP in Kogi State, as well as lack of governance in the state. Despite the already bloated state workforce, Wada has employed 57 Special Advisers (the State House of Assembly approved only 24), 74 Senior Special Assistants, 20 commissioners and innumerable special and personal assistants. They said a big chunk of scarce state resources is going to be spent on the salaries of political appointees many of whom have no schedules of duty.
"Party members are disappointed that the national headquarters of the party seems to have turned a blind eye on the plight of party members in Kogi State. They are angry that some highly placed individuals in the Presidency have continued to provide underserved cover for such illegalities in the hope of reaping selfish political benefits", they continued.
"We wish to remind Mr. President about his invitation and subsequent meeting with PDP stake stakeholders on 30th Nov 2011, two days to the Kogi gubernatorial elections, at the Presidential Villa, where you appealed to us to participate and work for the PDP, despite our serious misgivings about Captain Wada. That meeting, called at your instance, was to avert what the PDP National Secretariat, and your office, saw as a looming doom for the party in Kogi State. You discovered that the then governor had been lying to you that he was in charge of Kogi State, and that there was no cause for alarm".
"We were ready to make a fundamental change in Kogi State because we were tired of the maladministration and looting of the last 10 years. Following your appeal, we agreed to work for the success of the party since all the damaging issues raised against Wada were said to be too late for the party to make changes. Regrettably, things have gone worse. Kogi State is now run by the clique".
"We reject the illegal and undemocratic removal of the leadership of the Kogi State House of Assembly, and insist that all parties involved return to status quo ante. The support and recognition given by Wada and the police and the federal authorities, to the illegal leadership of the House of Assembly should be withdrawn."
"We insist that the Kogi State Government should as a matter of urgency, obey and implement the judgment of Kogi State High Court, declaring local council Caretaker Committees or Liaison Officers, illegal, null and void. These judgments were delivered over a year ago, and the state government had not appealed".
"We call on all anti-corruption agencies to probe the looting of the state treasury from 2003 to date and to prosecute without delay all those found to have abused their positions. All genuine efforts made so far to ensure greater accountability and transparency in the management of public resources in the state have been compromised by some powerful forces in Abuja. Petitions to anti graft agencies are never taken seriously. The people of Kogi are very frustrated".
"Also we insist that the report of the House of Assembly on budget appraisal, the fear of which led to the current crisis in the Assembly, must be made public, as well as other reports bordering on accountability and transparency. Kogi people can see where their looted funds were utilized within the country, and we do not want a situation where they will be pressed to a point of forcefully re-possessing these properties, since they feel that government is not prepared to protect their interests".
"We demand a close monitoring of the judiciary by the anti-corruption agencies, to check the unwholesome practice of using state resources to procure court judgments, and to buy the support of highly placed individuals in the Presidency. We can say with certainty that almost all the money Kogi State has collected from the Federation Account since the beginning of the year has been returned to Abuja to bribe people at all levels, yet, the state can neither pay salaries nor execute capital projects".
"Mr President, Kogi State is strategically located. A crisis in the state can have repercussions elsewhere in the country, if it is not nipped in the bud. The state is also politically volatile. The recent killings in Okene and Ejule, the constant threat of extremist forces, and the presence of thousands of angry and abandoned flood victims who were forced to march in protest to Government House in Lokoja recently, have left the state very vulnerable and tensed. Mr President must not allow the state to implode. We demand that justice should be done urgently".
"Mr. President, we the undersigned, strongly feel and believe that your body language, silence, inaction, apparent lack of interest and seeming disconnect with Kogi State, leaves us with only one conclusion, i.e. that we are on our own, and that the only option open to us is to seek self help. This is not right".
"We feel scandalized that the party has chosen to watch helplessly as this charade and impunity continues in Kogi State. This is not acceptable. The party, our party should not cross one river and insult the crocodile, because there are more rivers ahead for the party to cross".