6th December, 2010
If there is anything that is giving the Okun speaking Yoruba people of the WestÂ Senatorial District in Kogi State a nightmare under the present politicalÂ dispensation in our country, there is none other than continued marginalization ofÂ Okun land by the state government and the recent decision of the Federal GovernmentÂ in locating the slot of the Federal university meant for the North CentralÂ geographical political zone in Nassarawa State as against its location in theÂ well-deserved West Senatorial District of Kogi State.
It is rather unfortunate that out of the 108 Senatorial Districts in Nigeria, theÂ West Senatorial District, populated largely by Okun peopleÂ is sadly the onlyÂ Senatorial District that wears the toga of open marginalization both at a stateÂ level on one hand and at the Federal level where is nothing to write home about asÂ far as federal presence in the senatorial district is concerned.
The marginalization and the deliberate drawing backward of the Okun people by theÂ past administration in the state since the creation of Kogi State in 1991 governmentÂ lopsided distribution of both state and Federal- owned tertiary institutions in theÂ state has undoubtedly been brought to the attention of not only the present stateÂ administration of Governor Idris Ibrahim but the country and the world at largeÂ through newspaper publications in the P.M. News of Thursday,11th March, 2010 (pageÂ 4); Daily Champion of Friday, 19th March, 2010(page 10); P.M. News of Thursday, 1stÂ July, 2010 (page 4); Compass Newspaper of Wednesday, 7th July, 2010 (page 11);Â Sunday Punch of 11th July, 2010 (page 11) and The Crusader of 30th September, 2010Â (page15).
It would be recalled that since the establishment of the Kogi State University byÂ the Abubakar Audu administration in 2000 i.e 10 years ago, it is unimaginable thatÂ neither that administration nor the present one led by Idris Ibrahim ever consideredÂ it to site a campus of the university in any part of Okun land which predominantÂ occupation is education. It would also be recalled that the recent obnoxious demandÂ by Governor Idris Ibrahim for the siting of the proposed Federal university for theÂ North-Central geo-political zone in the East Senatorial District which already hadÂ in its kitty the state university and Federal high institutions further goes toÂ buttress the harboured hatred and oppression of the Okun people by hisÂ administration.
As for the absence of Federal presence in the entire Okun land of the WestÂ Senatorial District of Kogi State, the attention of the Federal Government has beenÂ brought to this development by one of the illustrious sons and a true representativeÂ of the Okun people, Senator Smart Adeyemi, the Chairman of Senate Committee onÂ Federal Character and Inter-Government Affairs.Â He has been at the forefront in theÂ clamour for the citing of a Federal University in Okun land where education moreÂ than anything else has continued to remain the main occupation of Okun people fromÂ time immemorial.Â It is no gainsaying that all Okun people both at home and inÂ diaspora will continue to identify with Senator Adeyemi in his quest for advancementÂ of education in Okun land.
When the news of the establishment of a Federal university in the six geographicalÂ zones in the country went on air, the joy of Okun people both at home and inÂ diaspora, as expected, knew no bound as they saw the pronouncement as not only aÂ turning point for their aspiration but also as an imminent end to theirÂ marginalization and sidelining as far as establishment of Federal-owned higherÂ institution in Okun land is concerned but unfortunately, the joy of the people wasÂ aborted by the siting of the university in Nassarawa State and not in the WestÂ Senatorial of Kogi State. It is also rather unfortunate that the action of the stateÂ governor in asking that the proposed Federal university be sited in the EastÂ Senatorial District, where he hails from and where the Kogi state university isÂ already sited at Anyingba , rather than the marginalised West Senatorial DistrictÂ where Senator Smart Adeyemi hails from tantamounts to a Yoruba sayingÂ â€œkaka ki ekuÂ je sese, ki a kuku fise awadanuâ€ meaning â€˜rather than you have what is at stake, IÂ rather spoil everthing so that neither of us will have itâ€.
It is pertinent to let Mr President and the Federal Executive Council that approvedÂ the establishment of additional Federal university for each of the six geographicalÂ political zones in the country to know that as now, all the Federal-owned tertiaryÂ institutions in Kogi State are sited only in the East and Central SenatorialÂ Districts in Kogi State, thus leaving the West Senatorial District with no federalÂ presence as far as federal-owned tertiary institutions is concerned.
Infact, there is more than meet the eyes on the swift manner by which the FederalÂ university slot for the North Cental geo-political zone was sited in NassarawaÂ SWtate as was the painful case on the Kogi state federal-backed refinery which wasÂ hurriedly located in the East Senatorial District by Governor Idris Ibrahim (theÂ Senatorial District where he hails from) while debate on the appropriate location ofÂ the refinery was still being hotly contested between the East Senatorial District onÂ one hand, and the West and Central Senatorial Districts on the other hand.Â It isÂ rather unfortunate that the dust of disagreement over the action of Governor IdrisÂ Ibrahim was yet to settle when a similar scenario on the siting of the FederalÂ university played out on the West Senatorial District of Kogi State.Â It would beÂ recalled that debate and sharing of public opinions on where to site the proposedÂ Federal university in the North Central geo-political zone had hardly begun when, inÂ a jiffy, the news of the choice of Nassarawa State was read in newspapers.Â If theÂ adage â€œonce bitten, twice shyâ€ is anything to go by, then the President and theÂ Federal Executive Council should take an in-depth look into how Nassarawa State wasÂ hurriedly given an edge over other states on the siting of the Federal universityÂ slot for the North Central geo-political zone.
It is therefore hoped that the God-fearing President Goodluck Jonathan and theÂ Federal Executive Council, for sake of justice, fairness and equity, will redressÂ the continued denial of federal presence in Okun land that is further exemplified byÂ siting the proposed Federal university in Nassarawa State rather than somewhere inÂ the old Kabba province which is not only older than Nassarawa State, carved out ofÂ the old Adamawa province, but which has remained the only province that is yet toÂ boast of a Federal university through conversion of the existing College ofÂ Agriculture, Kabba that has remained a campus of the Ahmadu Bello University forÂ donkeyâ€™s years into a full-fledged university.
â€¢Oduayo Joseph writes from Kogi State