President Muhammadu Buhari,
President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Discountenance Of Ondo State in Respect of Federal Government Appointments.
Mr. President, I greet you wholeheartedly in the spirit of this season. I write you as a patriot and indigene of Ondo State. I hope this letter meets you in better health than you have managed this past months.
Admittedly, the rigours of your office takes it toll on its occupant but my prayers and that of a multitude of well-meaning Nigerians is that God grants you strength and also importantly, wisdom, to see through the demands of your office and the fruition of the several promises on whose waves you rode into office.
I have keenly followed the turns and twist of your Presidency, firstly, with a sense of hope but further with a tinge of regret especially over some of the choices, decisions and appointments made under it. I will, however, restrict my concern to the issue of Federal Government appointments particularly with regards to the neglect of the Sunshine state (the Ondo state) and it’s people. The just celebrated Easter season afforded me the ample opportunity of traversing the length and breath of the state, interacting with key stakeholders, traditional leaders and opinion molders, it was very easy to opine, Mr. President, that there is a consensus of thought-line regarding seemingly political exclusion of the Ondo state people from the Federal Government as it relates to appointment and patronage.
Mr. President, I must remind you of your own very words and promise just this past year on the occasion of your visit to Ondo state during the gubernatorial election. During the said visit you paid a courtesy call at the palace of the Deji of Akure where you defended your promise of an all inclusive government by making promises yet fulfilled. In your own words you stated that, “I came here for your votes which I got, so, there is no reason why indigenes of this state should not enjoy equal benefit as indigenes of other states”.
The above statement credited to you concedes an important point, which is that the people of Ondo state have played their own part in showing support and belief in your government and, by extension, your party as the just concluded governor-ship election in the state re-affirms.
However, with regards to the concerns raised then about the neglect of the state in federal appointments very little or next to nothing has been done. This begs the question, what is the grievance of your Presidency with the people of Ondo state?
Ondo State is a strategic fertile land that has contributed immensely to the economy of Nigeria from the foundation of the nation. First of all, Ondo State has been a major contributor to the Nigerian economy through its robust cocoa sub-economy at the time agriculture was the mainstay of the economy.
Secondly your, Excellency, it is important to note that when the economy shifted its base to oil, Ondo State became in turn a pivotal contributor. It is equally important to state that Ondo is not only a strategic fertile land that serves as a major connecting point between the northern and the southern part of the country, it also sits on one of the largest deposits of bitumen in the world. All these summed up places Ondo state in a position of great importance especially with regards to the Nigerian economy, now and in the future.
With a land mass of about 15, 000 Square Kilometers, a population of about 3.5 million and a red-hot tub for mineral and natural resources, Ondo state inspires reactions, especially among multinationals contemplating doing business in it. At one end of the spectrum is the geographical location and it’s ocean front with the longest coastline in Nigeria and at the other is the God given natural resources spreach richly across its length and breath.
Politically, it has played a great many role in the Nigerian space, being pivotal to a great many political events that have defined the course of the political history of Nigeria. It’s people are loyal, informed and progressive-minded and have repeatedly demonstrated a readiness to embrace new dynamics or change for the betterment of its people and the Nigerian community at large.
During the 2015 Presidential Election, Ondo state voted massively and overwhelmingly in favour of your Buhari/Osinbajo ticket despite doing so against the backdrop of its PDP stateship at the time and it being a member state of the Niger Delta Area states(oil producing states) – a community to which your main opponent, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s Bayelsa state is a sister-member.
Catalogue of Neglect.
The schedule and character of appointment by your administration has shown no consideration for Ondo state and it’s right and entitlement as defined by Federal Character, the constitution and political propriety. This has been so from the very first day federal appointments began as I will sufficiently show as follows.
It all started during the Ministerial appointments with Ondo state not making the first list even as one of the oil producing states in Nigeria. That list became a premonition of subsequent appointments list as even when Ondo state was eventually considered for a Ministerial position it ended up with a representative as a supportive Minister of State for the Ministry of Niger Delta, a Prof. Daramola Omoyele, a position bereft of distinct authority and a mere second fiddle to a substantive Minister.
As if Ondo State committed an offence, we were recently omitted from the list of career ambassadorial nominees with the excuse that our dear Sunshine state did not have a qualified indigene in the federal civil service that could be appointed as career ambassador. If not for the ruckus and agitations of other few affected states, Mr. President, there would have perhaps been no readiness on your part to reopen considerations for neglected states in the ambassadorial election.
Just two weeks ago there were appointments made into federal parastatals where appointments were made by you to fill in boards for over twenty-five (25) agencies and parastatals. While this would have been an opportunity to even the spread of appointments across board, Sir, we the people of Ondo state watched again in despair as no single person from the state- politician, civil servant or technocrat, made the list either by merit, luck or even an appointment error.
The Political Irony of Trust.
For the Chapter of the APC in Ondo state the irony of this whole affair is not lost on them. I say this not as an apologist of the APC in Ondo state but as a patriot and progressive-minded individual much too democratic in principle to be hindered by party politics. There is also the matter of rewarding the faith expressed by Ondo state and it’s people in your government given all other constitutional entreaty have been largely ignored. It is important for you, Mr. President, Sir, to demonstrate your commitment to equity and fairness by putting action to words and re-affirming your stated belief in an egalitarian Nigeria.
This much summation is likewise extended to the occupant of the Office of the Governor of Ondo state, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN. Mr. Governor, Sir, as you begin your journey in office please be reminded of the trust reposed in you by your people. It is equally important that you demonstrate your resolve to pursue in earnest all matters or issues that concern your people, with a view to bettering the lives of the people of Ondo state.
This is expected of you and rightly so. The neglect of Ondo state in several federal appointments made so far appears more deliberate than not. As such, it is hoped, Mr. Governor, Sir, that loyalty to your people and the office you now occupy will spur you to take the path of duty and honour by tackling with your vested authority said issue.
A major premise of the promises made to the great people of Ondo state was the call to make it a state aligned with the Central authority and this became so as the people voted massively for the APC ticket in the state. It would amount to a political volte face and place a question on the integrity, commitment and honesty of Mr. President, Sir and the state Governor to abandon these and so many other promises made to the state.
I wish to conclude, your Excellency, by reiterating the urgency of giving to the good people of Ondo State their fair share of appointments and representation in your government. This will enable them to have a good sense of belonging in your government and you will continue to enjoy their support towards the success of your administration. It is only fair and equitable to do so beyond any other considerations. The people of Ondo will continue to endorse your Presidency only to the extent that they are made to feel as an important and needed part of your government, Sir.
Please have my sincerest regards.
Olukayode Ajulo, PhD.