Lagos indigenes allege marginalisation, discrimination in Ambode’s appointments
• Urge Wole Soyinka, Omo-Okauro to quit roles
Prominent Lagos indigenes yesterday voiced out their discontent with the current administration in the state, describing it as discriminatory against the bonafide indigenes of Lagos.
The indigenes, led by traditional rulers and elders, said that their marginalisation played out in governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s appointments of non-indigenes into key positions in the State, a development made worse by recent summary dismissal of 15 Permanent Secretaries that are Lagos indigenes.
Of particular mention in the said positions is that of the Chairman of Lagos golden jubilee anniversary committee, allotted to Prof. Wole Soyinka from Ogun State and the Chairman of Lagos’ N25b Employment Trust Fund board, occupied by Ifueko Omo-Okauru from Edo State. Both occupants have been urged to decline the offer.
The indigenes, under the aegis of Eko Foundation and Association of Lagos State Indigenes, said notwithstanding the cosmopolitan nature of the State, it was no longer acceptable to see democratically elected government allot to non-indigenes the same roles that could have been filled by more credible and competent Lagos indigenes.
President of Eko Foundation, Prof. Imran Smith, at a briefing in Lagos, said that successive governments in the stat retained the penchant of marginalising “true indigenes” for the past 18 years, saying they would henceforth resist such “insensitive” actions.
Smith alleged that Ambode was not any different since he came on board some 10 months ago. Meanwhile, “there are very many elders, octogenarians, septuagenarians, former governor, ministers, academicians, public and civil servants and other indigenes both at home and in the Diaspora that are more than eminently qualified to celebrate their state (in the case of Lagos at 50 commemorations).”
“Prof. Wole Soyinka’s choice is an insult to the indigenes and he should decline to serve, to accord with his reputation as a protester, who has tirelessly protested wrongs and injustice in the better part of his adult life,” he said.
Smith, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), added that the choice of Alhaji Rasheed Gbadamosi, an indigene, to co –chair the committee with Soyinka, was “a deception and mischievous make-believe, of which the governor already knows better.”
He said further that at least six Igbo indigenes occupy the seat of Lagos in the Federal House of Representatives at the moment; a non-indigene as a senator; a large chunk of non-indigenes also occupy the Lagos State House of Assembly and executive council of the state.
“In the past, indigenes of other states had taken over ministerial slot and occupy positions in various parastatals both in the state and at federal level.
“Other examples will include the fact that the present Chief-of-Staff to the present Lagos State Governor is truly an indigene of Ekiti State and His Excellency, despite protests, appointed Mrs Oyemade, an indigene of Ogun State as Chairman of the Lagos State Civil Service Commission who took over from the former Chairman who hails from the same Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State.
“The implication of this abnormality, which are not replicated in any other State, is that we ‘true indigenes’ will necessarily passionately appeal to Mrs. Oyemade to secure employment for ourselves and our children in our State Civil Service. We protested but so far ignored.”
Smith said that in line with objectives of founding fathers of Eko Foundation, established some 30 years to fight injustice, the group had decided to cry out against “blatant disregard for provisions of Federal Character Commission Act and injustices to true Lagosians.”
“We can no longer afford to keep silent and pretend that all is well when in fact there appear to be no future for the indigenes of this state and the generations yet unborn in the state.”
Smith said further that the indigenes would henceforth closely monitor and periscope the activities of the present administration in the state, warning that appointments in the state must conform with Federal Character Commission Act, the constitution of the country and other subsidiary legislation.
The Setenne of Badagry Kingdom, Gbonugan Sehubo Ajose-Harrison said that the cosmopolitan nature of the State that is often used as a shield was not unique to Lagos, but also the case in cities like Kano, Port Harcourt, Akure and including Abuja.
“But it is never heard of that non-indigene is appointed or did contested to any public office in these places,” Ajose-Harrison said.
Continuing, he queried: “So, why Lagos? Lagos should never be all-comers affairs. We indigenes of Lagos know ourselves and Prof. Wole Soyinka cannot claim to know Lagos more than we the indigenes.”
President of the Association of Lagos State Indigenes, Chief ‘Layi Ajayi-Bembe added that it would be most unfair for non-indigenes to take the accommodating posture of the indigenes for granted and treat them like they do not exist.
Ajayi-Bembe recalled that while military administrations lasted in Lagos, military administrators were in the habit of consulting with indigenes of Lagos prior to making appointments.
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