Have you been a beneficiary of Lagos State government ram gift every Eid-el-Kabir festival in the last 10 years or more? Please, don’t expect any ram gift from the government this year. We have it on good authority that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has instructed all ministries, parastatals and agencies not to raise any voucher for Sallah gift this year.
Although, no official statement was released to this effect, we gathered that the HOS, Mrs. Olabowale Ademola called a meeting of permanent secretaries, Head of parastatals and agencies to inform them of the governor’s decision. The permanent secretaries, head of parastatals and agencies in turns went back to their offices to tell management staff of the decision of the governor not to distribute any ram gift this Sallah.
When we called Mr. Jide Lawal, the Public Relations Officer of the Public Service Office (PSO), he denied the HOS holding any of such meetings with permanent secretaries, head of parastatals and agencies.
According to him, “HOS did not have meeting with anybody.”
When asked if he was aware of the instruction to the effect that there would not be ram gifts this Sallah, he said, “Since there was no such meeting, such instruction couldn’t have been passed.”
Since there was no official pronouncement on the reason why ram gifts are not distributed, there have been speculations on why the governor banned it.
An official of the government who spoke to us on condition of anonymity said the governor did it in the spirit of economic recession in the country.
Another one suggested it may be because of the fraud perpetrated by some of the civil servants in the course of the distribution of the rams.
Ram distribution as gifts during Eil-el-Kabir started in the days of Brigadier-General Buba Marwa as military administrator of Lagos State (1996-1999).
The tradition was continued during the eight years of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN).
The Protocol Officer of the governor were usually in charge. They are the ones that will buy and distribute all the rams for traditional rulers, prominent politicians and citizens in the state.
The office of Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor is the one in charge of buying and distribution of rams to all heads of media houses in the state.
Aside the Protocol office and Chief Press Secretary office, each ministries, parastatals and agencies also buy their own rams and bags of rice for distribution to different people and their staff.
So, in all, it is difficult to get the actual number of rams the state government buy every year or the amount used in buying them.
Many civil servants we spoke to are not happy that the government did not only stop distribution of ram this year but also rice and groundnut oil that they have been accustomed to in the last 16 years or more.
They expressed fear that since the governor did not distribute rams and rice during this Ileya festival, certainly he would not do the same during Christmas and New Year celebration.