NLC, group urge federal government to halt anarchy in Kogi
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the umbrella body for all socio-cultural groups in Kogi East, the Uk’omu Igala have asked the federal government to take immediate steps to curb the decent to anarchy, intolerance, insensitivity and impunity in Kogi state.
While the NLC said the government must realize that recent development in Kogi state represent strong threats to the nation’s democracy and should not be condoned, the Igala socio cultural Organisation said the attack on the Kogi state House of Assembly by political thugs was a direct attack on the people of the state and an insult on the country’s democracy which should not be allowed to go unchallenged.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the Government should not be under the illusion that the developments in the state will simply peter out with time. It will be a criminally negligent assumption, and therefore dangerous.
Wabba said: “For those who may not have been in the know, last week, the speaker, Honourable Alfa Imam was forced out and a more pliant one installed. The offence of the former Speaker was that he had initiated a legislative process to look into the disbursements of the Paris Club refund following non-payment of salaries and pensions and the industrial tensions in its aftermath.
“But the former Speaker was lucky to have gotten off “lightly” as the House Member who moved the motion for this process ended up in Plaster of Paris (POP) courtesy of the thugs dispatched to disrupt the House proceedings.
“The Kogi State mess represents the height of intolerance, insensitivity and impunity, and a precursor to dictatorship and anarchy and should be condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians and apprehended by the Federal Government before the situation spins out of control.
“Accordingly, we call on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, commence investigations into the disbursements of bail-out funds (50% percent of which it had directed should be applied for payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities); continuous non-payment of salaries and pensions; endless staff audit which has become a convenient alibi for owing salaries and pensions.
“We also believe that the Federal Government should be concerned that the state-contrived industrial disharmony in the state is slowly, but steadily degenerating into a political crisis as exemplified by the clamp down on ASUU and the State-sponsored violence in the House of Assembly and other acts of witch-hunt in the State’s socio-political space.
“We need not remind the Federal Government that these represent strong threats to our democracy and should not be condoned. Government should not be under the illusion that the developments in the state will simply peter out with time. It will be a criminally negligent assumption, and therefore dangerous.
“We at the Nigeria Labour Congress similarly consider ourselves duty-bound to remind the Federal Government that it should not sacrifice the interests of the people of Kogi State on political considerations or convenience. The Kogi State situation has dragged on for too long and the Federal Government cannot continue to look the other way. The time to act is now.
“We are guided by the dictum that it is better to build strong institutions instead of strong individuals, because whereas strong institutions protect our democracy, strong individuals threaten it.”
On its part, the Igala socio cultural Organisation said in a statement by its national leader, Major General Patrick Akpa (rtd), that the attack was an “affront on democracy” and an “intimidation of a constitutional arm of government” in Kogi State which should not be allowed to endure if the North-Central State must witness the highly-needed political and economic developments.
General Akpa said, “The House of Assembly is the political body that represents the over two million people of Kogi State. They are the voices of the ordinary indigenes of the state who voted them to make law and serve as a check on the executive arm of government. This intimidation and assault on members of this constitutional body is a direct attack on all the people of Kogi State, a criminal act that should not go unchallenged.”
The Uk’omu Igala Organisation urged the Presidency and the National Assembly to wade into the situation because an insult on democracy in any constituent part of the country is a direct insult on the country’s democracy in totality.
He said, “The Acting President should set up a high-powered panel to investigate the mayhem carried out in the full glare of law enforcement agencies in Kogi State. The allegation that policemen drafted to the House of Assembly complex to forestall the foretold violence stood akimbo while thugs laid siege on the legislature, brutalized Hon Friday Sani Makama, a duly elected lawmaker, and disrupted the activities of the Assembly should not be allowed to go unpunished.
“The National Assembly should also investigate the criminal act and take appropriate steps that would prevent the re-occurrence of such intimidating act in future. We call on the lawmakers to realize their role in the administration of Kogi State. They are there to make laws and to check the Executive arm of government.
“If they have ignored their own importance, sold their souls for a morsel of bread to other forces in the state, they would have themselves to blame. A situation in which the Assembly has become subservient, and acquiesce to the whim and caprices of other arms of government would embolden their sponsors to violate their rights and powers as lawmakers.
“We welcome the resignation of controversial Speaker Umar Ahmed Imam after the mayhem and call on the newly-elected Speaker of the House, Hon Matthew Kolawole, to provide a dynamic leadership that would position the Assembly as a truly independent arm of government in Kogi State. If not, this stock of lawmakers would go down in history as those who failed their people in this turbulent dispensation in the political history of the state.”
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