Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Former Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Matthew Seiyefa, at the weekend deplored the imbalance and unfair treatment of southerners at the federal level of government.
Most strategic and top federal appointments at the federal level including security agencies and the military are presently occupied by Northerners.
Socio-cultural groups, notably, Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo and Niger Delta groups have repeatedly called for balance in federal appointments.
The immediate past DG was removed by President Muhammadu Buhari on his return from a medical trip in United Kingdom.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had fired the then DG, Lawal Daura and replaced him with Seiyefa following the invasion of National Assembly by operatives of DSS.
Speaking at the weekend at the launch of Bayelsa State tertiary education loan scheme, Seiyefa said “identity politics is a fact of life in our nation.”
He said his short-lived tenure was only made possible by the grace of God and enjoined Southerners to embrace education as the only way to survive such deprivation.
“I want to thank two people who encouraged me during that period, Prof. JP Clark, who was in Lagos and constantly, encouraged me not to give in but to stay and His Excellency, our dear governor (Bayelsa).
“In fact, on two different occasions, he offered to employ me if I should leave, but I stayed the course”, he said.
Seiyefa stated that “when August 7 last year happened, I was told of the jubilation in Bayelsa State. That they heard that one of their own is the head of a federal agency. People went to beer parlours, they bought drinks and they were happy and that moment of shared stakeholding in the Nigerian nation is very important.
“That moment of celebration that we too belong here is very important. But people made it happen and His Excellency is one of them. I appreciate what we have been through as a people”.
He harped on the need for more education as the panacea to such deprivation.
“Education, as has been said, is it. I particularly want to encourage the boarding schools, because in the years to come, as far as I am concerned, that will be the game changer.
“When I look back at my own story, the secondary school that I attended made all the difference. And for the young people, at the corporate and federal level, the years ahead will be very tough, competition will be very fierce and hard”, he said.
The former DG lamented that “at the moment, at the federal level, critical agencies are thinly spread, our presence is very little. At the corporate level, we are virtually nowhere, but those are opportunities for us because we cannot all be here struggling for crumbs, we need to be out there too.
“But how to be there and survive depend on education, the quality of education you have. I went through a lot of difficulties, but the education I had put me through”.
He asserted that “because you are from here, you are already disadvantaged. But if you are also poorly educated, then that is double jeopardy and you will be doubly endangered.
“As it is, we are poorly represented at the federal level. Since you are already disadvantaged coming from here, if you don’t have quality education, then you don’t stand the test of time.
On occasions, during my career, I was denied promotion, not because of anything else, but because people were being positioned”.
According to him “that is the reality. But if you are good and have a point to make, they will look at you in the end because you don’t have any traditional ruler to run to, no religious leader to run to and that is the reality. Identity politics is a fact of life in our nation.”