Many years ago, His Excellency Alhaji Idris Ibrahim wanted to contest for his second tenure, and his political opponents who wanted to occupy the same Lugard House included my cousin Senator Muhammed Ohiare (his mother was Wokili’s daughter!) among others. I remember that in my bedroom, I was brainstorming on the pending gubernatorial election, with my hitherto bosom friend Tunji Mathew who became my friend since 1973 when we were in year two in a secondary school.
My desire was to support someone who was most inclined to development with pedigree, whose programme would positively affect the poor ones in Kogi State and who would implement my blue print program with the objective of creating a level playing ground to initiate, assist and sustain healthy and progressive competition among the wasting talents in the state.
Therefore, the basis of supporting any of the contestants was clearly well defined with no ambiguity. It was an objective and NOT subjective assessment based on my perceived truth and available facts, all in the best interest of not self but the public especially the downtrodden masses who I will ever continue to love till I exit this wonderful experiential world!
I still strongly believe that with the abundant human and natural resources in Kogi State, any Governor of the state with development driven vision and mission founded on selflessness, should be able to a create an oasis-state in the midst of the desert-Nigeria. Three years of such uninterrupted transparent and accountable governance should be able to run the state independent of the monthly hand-out called revenue allocation from the Federal government.
My strategic approach was to support someone in ALL ramifications to produce a governor for the state, without collecting a dime from him. With the strategy, I reasoned that I would be able to have the listening ears of the person and then make him to implement my blue print for the benefit of the masses. My personal interests must be set aside during his reign, without asking or receiving any appointment or contract from him so that I could have the temerity of telling him the truth at all times.
Why The Strategy?
My nature is of selfless service, I am a sacrificial giver and unable to stand the suffering of my neighbour if I am in a position to help. This character trait is in-borne and not learned! I do it effortlessly and sacrificially that elicits joy in me, and doing otherwise elicits sadness. With good governance, the population of the needy will be reduced in the society thereby taking away a great burden from me. Consequently, a greater percentage of my limited resources can then be translated into my personal comfort.
My resources are limited because till date, I have never done any government contract, never worked as a civil servant with the government and never received any political appointment from the government. The only political appointment offered to me was a Federal Board membership by the Late President Yar’Adua which was rejected by me BASED ON PRINCIPLES.
Prince Abubakar Audu is to be credited for the Federal appointment. This was years after I met him. He submitted my name to the then President without my knowledge. The appointment was almost through before Audu intimated me and immediately I protested, telling him that I would not accept the appointment for the SINGULAR reason that the government was doing enough to alleviate the suffering of the common masses.
I reasoned that if an appointment would not afford me the opportunity to change the system, why should I accept it?
I pleaded with Prince to replace my name with the name of one of my political supporters that I was ready to offer him. He said it was too late to make any change. The appointment came as expected but I did not go to the Federal Ministry of Agric to collect the appointment letter despite several telephone calls to me! The news of the appointment is still out there on the internet for confirmation.
The Critical Choice for My Support:
After considering all the available facts, I opted to campaign for the Late Prince Abubakar Audu, someone of different tribe who I had not met in my life. This critical choice was made at the risk of my life because it was the period that Kogi Central comprising my tribesmen, the Ebiras, insisted on producing at all costs, my cousin to succeed Ibro as the next Governor of Kogi State!
The mass movement was branded “Ebirra Agenda” and anyone who opposed it that time was guilty of instant death through open physical elimination! Violence was at its zenith at Kogi central at the time of taking this “sacrilegious” option! I was undeterred!!
Please understand me well – I have no joy in going against any popular tide, neither am I sad flowing along the current of the public. Some people perceive me as unbendable, too principled to be bent! You are very wrong and too wrong! Nobody has the monopoly of wisdom and ideas and only fools do believe otherwise. In fact I consider myself as a learner till I exit this world and I am always ready to increase my reservoir of knowledge and experience which can be sourced from superior reasons offered by people who want my decision changed.
For a fact, I like healthy competition of ideas with the inclination to learn so that the best and most objective decision is taken for the benefit of all. When we are taking a joint decision, I will like to listen, empathically placing myself in your psychological state so that I can deeply understand the basis and spirit of your reason and decision. This way, I can easily compare and contrast your reason with mine as your narrative goes on, with an open mind to learn, as if I am not an interested party.
At the end of it all, I will either change my opinion or affirm it not without pointing out where I feel you sincerely miss it. As a follower, I can flow with majority decision but as a leader, my final decision is critical and should be in the best interest of the masses, knowing that it will affect many lives.
Before I take any personal decision, I will sit down and REASON, spending quality time in the process. Then a decision is arrived at after taking into consideration all possible factors and scenarios in a very objective manner. This type of decision becomes a QUALITATIVE ONE. Therefore, if you want me to change my decision, you need to pay a price, that is, give me SUPERIOR reasons to counter the reasons upon which the decision is rested. Since the decision is not sentimental, I will never accept any SENTIMENTAL reason as the price.
Traditionally, we are very sentimental in Africa. Therefore, it is not uncommon when for an example, an elder wants his junior to change a decision, his reasons are usually like: “look here this boy, I am more experienced than you. Don’t be rude, do what I say, I am your elder”. Wonderful! He has spent so much time stating the obvious without any iota of effort to simply give a superior reason! Such imposition does not work with me!! Be of any age, colour, or tribe – just give me simple superior reasons, and you will find me rolling back my mat of decision, in addition to commending you for your superior intellect that enables me to add to my knowledge. I am as humble as that.
There were instances when I confessed to some labourers at my construction sites while supervising them. I would advise them to do certain tasks using my own method. They would use their discretion to do same work their own way or modified my own method to achieve success with lesser time spent. I had severally confessed to many site workers at different times: “Do you know that you are more intelligent than myself. I could have done it spending longer time. You are supposed to be my master but it is just an opportunity that makes it otherwise. Thank you very much”.
Specific Reasons for Not Joining The “Ebirra Agenda”:
The Ebirra Agenda at that time was founded, to my own humble opinion, on a foundation of undiluted sentiment. What was the sentiment? “An Ebirraman MUST be the next governor. The Igallas have been taking the shot, why not an Ebirraman? Let an Ebirraman be there and do whatever he likes as long as he is our own”. What a suicidal agenda!
To me, the reason was not superior to the one that directed my choice of Audu. The Ebirras were not considering ANTECEDENTS, QUALITIES and INLCINATION to perform as a governor for the benefit of all! To me, if my biological father will be a governor to earn me despair and hopelessness, I will rather prefer even an Indian to be my governor with the dividends of joy, peace and comfort accruing to me!
Yeah, of course if after assessment of candidates, it is found that an Ebirraman takes bracket first position with another tribe, I Moses will go for the Ebirraman because he is still the best in that case. While I was choosing on the basis of QUALITY and INCLINATION to PERFORM, they were hinging their agenda on TRIBALISM. For a fact, the Igallas and Okuns may be highly tribalistic in their choices but we should know that without the votes of the Ebirras, none of their choices can emerge as the governor.
We can therefore, use our numerical electoral strength to institutionalize good governance in the state by insisting on the best qualitative candidate, not in terms of financial wealth but in terms of humanism, disposition to good governance backed up with verifiable positive antecedents.
My Journey to Ogbonnicha:
With the choice of Audu among other contestants, I was set to go to Ogbonicha to meet an ex-governor cum contestant for the then gubernatorial election. Off on the way to Ogbonicha with Tunji Mathew. We drove all the way from Kaduna and met Audu for the first time among hordes of supporters including his Deputy Candidate, the Late Alhaji Idris Attah, another cousin of mine. I excused the Prince from his sitting room and he took me into another room for the private discussion.
I introduced myself and told him of my mission i.e I had preliminarily chosen him for my free support but my further discussion with him would elicit my final informed decision. I asked him many questions after which I affirmed that I did not make mistake in choosing him. I assured him that I would start campaigning for him, free of charge, with all the resources available to me. He was surprised and the discussion that followed was like this:
The Late Prince: What is your interest?
MYSELF: My only interest is for you to implement my blue print titled – How to emancipate the poor people in Kogi State. Once you implement it I am ok.
THE LATE PRINCE: What if I offer you the post of commissioner?
MYSELF: Having an appointment is completely out of the question. My only and sole interest is for you to implement the blue print. You should assume that the resources (money, time etc) that I am going to use for you, are contributed by the poor people across Kogi State. Therefore, you will be NOT be owing me a dime but rather you will be indebted to the poor people throughout Kogi State once you win. And the only way to pay back the debt is by implementing the blue print to emancipate them. I will not even accept contract from you. Just implement the blue print and the agreement will be considered as honoured by you.
This was our CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT!
My Self Appointed Campaign for Audu:
I was not stupid not to realise the dangerous path I had chosen. The Ebirras were completely behind one of their sons to take over Lugard House at all costs. Anyone marketing a stranger was considered a renegade worthy of instant death! Their passion was almost spiritual; their commitment was of the spirit. Was it in that kind of a place, circumstance and situation that I was going to campaign for Audu? Yes, you can see my ‘holy madness’!
As a Christian, I went on my knees and poured out my heart aches to the Lord God in Christ Jesus. It was like: “Lord, you know that my intention is exclusively for the public good and not in any way selfish but rather sacrificial. I am going into the lions’ den (Kogi Central) but I trust that your Presence will override and overrule any danger on the way. Let your presence never depart from me and grant me your unmerited grace and favour through everyone that I will ever meet. Let the Blood of Jesus Christ answers, speaks and works for me at all times. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen”.
The first place I went after leaving Audu’s place was not my house but a house at Aso Drive and the person I met was no one else but my cousin who was a contestant, Senator Muhammed Ohiare. I told him of all the steps taken so far by me and my decision to work for Audu and NOT him. I begged him not to take it personal or offensive and that I still respected him as an elder brother but the public interest must override my own or that of anybody else. It was a decision based on principled reasoning.
He earnestly counselled me not to risk my life to go home in the name of any other tribal person if not I would be killed. His reason as rightly pointed out by him, was that the “Ebirra Agenda” was real and it was like a spirit that possessed all the Ebirras. Their anger against my step could and would certainly be fatal as he genuinely feared for my life.
The advice was genuinely offered by him with his desire that I continued to live. I expressed my profound gratitude for his concern and insisted that I would in fact be going home immediately to start and continue the campaign for Prince Abubakar Audu, assuring him that with God on my side, I would be safe!
Before I left, I also offered him a piece of advice that his party should form an alliance with that of Audu to defeat the incumbent governor. That way, he would benefit from my campaign as a Deputy Governor. He said, never would such a possibility take place, for the simple reason that Ebirras wanted an Ebirraman to become governor and NOT deputy. I left for Kaduna to prepare for the onward journey to Kogi Central to kick start my campaign! We agreed to disagree!!
– Dr. Moses Wokili
Part 2 and other parts to continue…
(My campaign for Audu at Central, My philanthropic community services during the campaign, Senator Ohiare becoming his Deputy Governorship Candidate, their failed election & court case, how I became Audu’s Deputy Governor Candidate after Ohiare’s decampment to PDP, and my parting ways politically with the Late Prince before his most unfortunate death).