The politicization of almost all aspects of our lives in the society has gone on for too long; it is about time we begin to think rationally as a people and initiate ways to judge issues based on their merit rather than on our political, emotional, religious, ethnic and other mundane considerations. But one of the most difficult professions to be in today in Nigeria, nay the world, is to be a politician.
Politics has become so complicated and even tricky that those at the other side of the divide misinterpret the actions and utterances of the other for their own political end- to discredit the other. In doing this, what they do is make efforts to control the narrative of an ongoing event, situation and events yet to occur.
The Executive Chairman of Lokoja Local Government, Hon (Alhaji) Aliyu Baba Usman has told the people of the council since their return to office, thanks to the emergence of Governor Yahaya Bello, that he would continue to be transparent and accountable to his people, even more than he was before the Koton-Karfe High Court pronouncement that interrupted their tenure. True to his words, he has continued to carry the stakeholders and even common people of the council along in the scheme of things and development in the council.
Hence, the Chairman who felicitated with his people for the sanity that Governor Yahaya Bello has brought to Local Government Administration in Kogi State by stopping the illegal Joint Accounting System between the state and the Local Government Areas of the state. True to type, the Chairman has encouraged active involvement of multi-sectoral leaders from across board on decisions that concerns the councils affairs, especially finances and disbursement of same.
It is important at this juncture, to remind the public that despite the hues and cries from some quarters about the Chairmans performances when he assumed office, it is worthy of note that the biggest criers were those who wanted the councils vault to be opened for them to dip in, a thing Alhaji Baba Usman frowned against. They also had other interests that the Chairman, because of his determination to serve only the common man, could not allow.
People like the Local Government workers can testify to the fact that the Chairman was the only one that, despite the inability of his colleagues to pay workers salaries in full, was able to do so, more than once, at the detriment of his Security Votes. Yes, he is that passionate about his people.
He was also able to build some ensuring structures in the Local Government, both in Lokoja I and II such as blocks of classroom, remodelling of Lokoja Local Government Headquarters to a standard obtainable only internationally, empowerment programmes for Youths, women and the aged, capacity building for the people among others. But beyond that, he has and continues to make his people’s needs topmost priority.
Now, on the issue of 40% salary for teachers and it was arrived at, the relevant stakeholders such as the Nigeria Union of Teachers in the Local Government can attest to the fact that they were in the pictures of what transpired.
Other stakeholders such as the Union leaders: Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and others know that only a little over N115 million was the allocation of the Council, of which salary wage stood at the time to the tune of about N200, 000000. Out of the said allocation, before the Chairman could service the debt at the bank which has been owed long before he became the head of the Local Government Council and then pay political office holders, what was left was a little above N70, 000000 which the stakeholders mentioned above agreed should be shared across board.
Be that as it may, while we celebrate the Local Government autonomy granted by the governor, the responsibility falls on the Chairmen of LGAs in the state to appreciate the task they have been saddled as a result, a thing that Hon Aliyu Baba Usman does. He has said time and time again that the task is something that himself and his colleagues must strive to overcome and it must start with them actually understanding the staff strength of their various councils so as to prepare accordingly.
There is no doubt he is very much concerned about the welfare of his Council’s staff. He has demonstrated that before when he put their welfare above his own, despite the brows that were raised by his contemporaries. He continues to remain committed to providing needed succour for the people of the Local Government Area, inspire of dwindling resources at all teers of governance in the country.
Also, while expressing concerns over the plight of Lokoja Local Government staff, he has also promised not to rest on his oars until he address the problems of staff salary and welfare by ensuring 100% salary for them. In doing this, he has decided that he would work with his people and relevant stakeholders to improve the revenue accruing to the Council so as to be able to meet his objective of paying every staff what is due to them.
He has also further promised to operate an open door policy, where the people will be put in the loop of developments in the affairs of the LGA so bridge the communication gap between him and his people. He seeks a continuous cooperation and support of people to f the Local Government for his government and that of the State under the amiable governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
If there had been any form of shoddiness in the way the revenue was disbursed, the governor, holding unto his early warning would have called him to order, but nothing untoward was done, because His Excellency, Alh Yahaya Bello was aware of everything that was done and also realises that the Chairman did his best to ensure that he meets the promise he made to the people while reassuming office few weeks ago.
It is therefore hoped that the people of Lokoja Local Government in general and workers in particular, would show a bit of understanding to the plight of government in both state and the Local Government Area to addressing their concern.
The governor has promised to address the problems that confront them and the Chairman, Alhaji Aliyu Baba Usman has done same; so they are not resting until they are sure that issue of staff welfare is given the priority that deserves.
Yagabi Mohammed is the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Lokoja Local Government.