2019: “Anyone Who Says That The Next Senatorial Position Should Not Go to Yagba East Has No Honour”

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The current constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allows anybody who meets Electoral Law requirements to contest elections. In fact democracy, as practised in the West, makes elective option open to all, so long as they meet the existing rules. That is why George Bush Jnr was able to become President of the United States not too long after his father was President. In Britain, US and other core European countries, apportioning of political positions i.e. zoning is not recognised. It is important to note, however, that they have their own special balancing arrangements in order to achieve peace and stability.

In Nigeria as a whole, and in Kogi State, Okunland and Yagbaland in particular, democracy is young and the present level of cohesion in the society requires that we institute balancing arrangements that can help build unity, peace and development. The introduction of the Federal Character Policy is in recognition of the imperfect nature of democracy in a multi – ethnic, multi – cultural and multi – religious country such as Nigeria. Okun and Yagba have the same complexities that require special approaches within the ambit of derivative principles of the Nigerian Constitution.

We must therefore adapt our democratic choices to our peculiar situation. We must all agree and make sacrifices for the good of all rather than pull in different directions. No group or town in Yagbaland, however rich or educated they are, and whatever number of highly placed people they have, can make it alone, and none can impose its will on others. We must also stress that any individual, however powerful, rich, highly placed, who thinks he can go it alone to do whatever he likes without respecting the collective will of the people is a megalomaniac operating in self deception. A politician who makes his/her ambition more important than that of the collective whole, exhibits moral depravity. It must be the principle of all yagba that collective interest takes precedence over personal ambition.

Core principles underpinning a new political arrangement:
Fairness – justice – collective sharing – sacrifice – considering others to be legitimate members of the community who, though not as strong as we are, deserve consideration.

Proposal: formalising rotation / zoning principle
There is a laid down and agreed arrangement to rotate elective positions among the different sections/constituencies in Okunland/Yagbaland. If every section is sure that it will get its chance, and that it will go round, there will be far less acrimony and tension. Amazingly, this is not new! Our elders practised it and it worked. It reduced conflict and made us work together. Very fortunately most LGAs consist of recognised constituent groups:

Ijumu: Gbedde, Ijumu Arin and Ijumu Oke
Kabba/Bunu: Bunu and Kabba
MopAmuro: Amuro and Mopa
Yagba East: Isanlu and Oke Oyi (South East)
Yagba West: Area Council and Egbe.

Within each group, there are further sub-divisions:

In each Community/Ward, Councillorship rotated among different existing segments
In each LGA, Chairmanship and House of Assembly rotated among the segments/sections and ensuring that no section, however, big should hold both positions at the same time. What happened in Yagba West (where both were from the same section sometime ago) is an aberration

– It is not in the spirit of fairness and justice and must not stand.

House of Representatives position rotated among the LGAs in the Constituency. Different sections of an LGA rotated among themselves when it is the turn of that LGA.
Senatorial position rotated among the three Federal Constituencies after the initial back and forth between Yagba and BIK.

Practical examples

In fact it was the practice from 1979 till 2011. For example: Senate: The Senate slot started in Yagba Constituency (1979-Yagba West – 4 years) then went to BIK Constituency (1983-Kabba/Bunu – 3months). From there it went back to Yagba Constituency (1991-MopAmuro – 18 months) before going to Lokoja/Koto Constituency (1999-Kogi – 8 years). On its return to Okunland it went to BIK Constituency (2007-Ijumu – 8 years), without trouble. The slot should have returned to Yagba and Yagba East in particular in 2015. The trouble began when Smart Adeyemi, out of inordinate ambition and indecent insensitivity to the rights and morals of his people aborted the peaceful rotation pattern and attempted to go for a 3rd Term. He was beaten by Dino Melaye from the same Ijumu. In defiance of everything morally right under God and man, and contrary to the concept of good neighbourliness, BIK is currently on a Third Term. We now have personal greed taking over from group interest which our Fathers instituted for peace, unity and progress of Okunland.* House of Representatives: In Yagba Constituency it rotated among MopAmuro, Yagba East and Yagba West without trouble until Sam Aro and Sunday Karimi followed the pattern which Smart Adeyemi sowed to destabilise the peaceful rotation that our fathers laid down for the peace of Okunland. In BIK, it has done so between Ijumu and Kabba/Bunu without trouble, so far. The Chairmanship: rotated among the groups listed above in each LGA in the past and still subsisting. Councillorship: has rotated within Ward Units as much as possible.

It must be noted for posterity that no man can play God and get away with it. Successes may attend that path, but they are usually temporary, with catastrophic consequences in the end.

Story of how rotation was instituted in 1978/9 and beyond for historical records

Choosing a Senator (1978/9)
When the Military decided to restore Nigeria to Democracy in 1979 it was the responsibility of Okun Leaders to produce a Senator. Okun Leaders met in the house of Chief R. A. Jaja in Kabba to deliberate on it. Party Leaders, Elders and Politicians from Kabba/Bunu, Ijumu, Yagba East and Yagba West LGAs were assembled. There was great fear that the problem would tear Okun apart. Pa Chief Olumayegun (Oke Ere), the UPN Party Leader for West Yagba who chaired the meeting appealed to all gathered that for the sake of the future peace, unity and good neighbourliness of Okun People, we must peacefully resolve the issue of selecting our Senator. He then called for suggestions on how to go about it. In response, Chief Jaja of Kabba (Kabba/Bunu Party Chair), Chief Bodunde of Iyara (Ijumu Party Chair), Chief Ayeni of Ayetoro Gbedde and Chief James Fagbemi of Iya Gbedde (both Party Elders) collectively stood up. Chief Bodunde spoke for them and said, (I will try to quote as I can translate it) “We in BIK have met and resolved that there should be no quarrel between us and Yagba. Since we are all one people, we must work things out together and support one another. For this reason, we believe one section should produce the Senator this time and the other section should take it next time. If we rotate the position among ourselves there will be no reason to fight. To start the process, we in BIK acknowledge that by population Yagba is the larger of the two so Yagba should produce the first Senator”. There was silence for almost half a minute as people were dumbfounded by what they heard. Then everybody broke into clapping. Chief Olumayegun thanked BIK on behalf of Yagba for their maturity and spirit of fairness. Then the meeting, which lasted a few minutes instead of expected hours of acrimony, ended.

Yagba meeting to choose the Senator

The following week, Yagba Leaders met in the house of Pa Chief Ekun Ode in Isanlu Mopo, with Pa Chief Leslie Aina (Baba Elepo) (Yagba East Party Chairman) presiding. Pa Olumayegun was also present to support him. Chief Leslie Aina recounted what happened in Kabba and appealed for unity. He then asked for suggestions on the way forward. Immediately, Rev. (Dr) Moody of West Yagba (who was also present in Kabba as one of the foremost Party Leaders) rose on his feet and said (I will try to quote him as I can translate it) “I rise on behalf of the people of West Yagba to warmly greet East Yagba People and to applaud the warm and peaceful relationship that has existed between us. In fact we have lived together as brothers. Our Brothers in East Yagba have been privileged to host the Native Authority/Local Government headquarters from the beginning, with the associated privileges. Even so we in the West appreciate that you have never discriminated against us. I have been mandated by the people of Yagba West to plead with you to please give us the privilege of producing the Senator this time. We assure you of our total support when it next comes to Yagabaland”. Pa Chief Ronke of Mopa (one of the key Party Leaders) spoke next, saying that the request from West Yagba was a smart move which had tied the hand of Yagba East. He said that in the spirit of unity and brotherliness he recommended to Yagba East People that the request should be accepted. It was done by acclamation.

I was not there when Yagba West resolved on the choice of our first ever Senator, Senator Olu but the foregoing is the true story of how he emerged.


Based on the agreement on rotation reached in Kabba as recounted above, once Senator Olu completed his term Yagba DID NOT ATTEMPT to raise a candidate – THERE WAS STILL HONOUR IN THOSE DAYS. So BIK produced Senator Joe Obasaju who served from October 1983 until his term was terminated by the Buhari coup in December 1983.

Choosing a Senator 1990/1

After the long military era, Babangida’s transition required that we choose a Senator again in 1990/1. To review the situation another Okun Meeting was called in Chief Jaja’s house comprising many who were there some 20 years earlier and many more. Chief Leslie Aina of Isanlu presided and asked what was to be the step forward after recounting what had happened since the last meeting. The same four Elders of BIK got up again and Chief Bodunde spoke for them thus (I will quote as I can translate it) “We agreed we were going to rotate the position of Senator between BIK and Yagba Constituencies. We regard this agreement as permanent. Even though our own Senator Obasaju had his tenure truncated, it was not Yagba’s fault. For the sake of orderliness we agree that we have had our turn. It should go back to Yagba. We hope we will have a better chance next time”. Everybody had thought that BIK would demand that slot having had their tenure truncated. That is how Chief S. B. Awoniyi (Mopa, now in MopAmuro LGA) became Senator, 1991/92.

The position taken by BIK at this meeting, in spite of their own tenure being truncated to only 3 months in 1983, to me, makes that Okun’s finest hour in history. Can it come again? Yes, if we allow what we call personal ambition (which in reality is personal greed) to take back seat behind the overall interest of all.

Choosing a senator 2007

Lokoja/Koto Constituency occupied the Senatorial seat from 1999 to 2007 and it was due to return to Okun. In 2006 many had declared interest in Yagba East, MopAmuro and other places. A Committee set up by Okun Leaders Forum met in a marathon session in Late Dr Stephen Olorunfemi house in Kabba. After a lot of debate, a set of three boxes, each representing a Constituency, was drawn showing the disposition of senatorial tenures as it would be in 2007. Lokoja/Koto had 8 years, Yagba, 5 years 6 months and BIK, 3months. I drew the attention of everybody to these boxes. In the comments following this, the issue of justice, equity and fairness began to creep in. At this point, Chief S. K. Adedoyin and I (the only ones in the Committee who attended bot Kabba Meetings) told the story of the two Kabba meetings described above. That led to a resolution presented to, and adopted by Okun Leaders Forum, that “…the Senatorial position shall be zoned to BIK in 2007 and shall rotate to Yagba East in Yagba Constituency in 2011”. This was announced to the press at the next Leaders Forum meeting as the just, equitable and fair thing to do. All the aspirants on the field from yagba at that time rejected that resulution and called the okun leaders forum all kinds of abusive names. Some of them were active members of the forum but when what was fair, just and equitable was called for, they rejected it because it was against their personal ambitions. I hope we have learnt a lot of lessons as yagba failed miserably at the ensuing party primaries.

My people in Yagbaland, anyone who says that the next senatorial position should not go to yagba east does not know God, has no honour and has made his belly his god. And it shall have consequences.


The challenge before Yagba people now is to agree among themselves to reduce the tensions inherent in our political activities by adopting zoning/rotation from now on. We can even sign a memorandom of understanding on zoning/rotation which shall be binding on all parties after the widest consultations. An arrangement where each section knows that it will be its turn sooner or later will reduce tension, fighting and wastage of funds in campaigns, court cases and even visits to babalawos.

Long live Yagbaland.

High Chief (Dr) Oluwayomi David Atte
OHOMI I of Gabu Kingdom
Presented at the Yagba Consultative Meeting
30 December 2017.

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