A New Twist: Seeking Re-Election on Non-Performance

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As a young man growing up, I had a rare privilege of flipping through some books once in a while for the purpose of winning arguments. We usually had a rendezvous under a fruit tree planted by my father when I was still a baby in the village. Little did we know it was going to serve as a base for intellectual discourse. The truth however must be told as the initial aim of our gathering  under the tree was not to brainstorm.

It all started when my immediate elder brother with his friends will hibernate to have a glimpse of beautiful damsels who will be returning from the then Government Girls Secondary School. I will be asked to go after anyone. The one who tried to be stubborn not to stop over for a chat. I will innocently go after you insisting you see my big brothers or I will not let you go. We naturally inherited the pattern just for the fun  of it growing up with my own friends until a twist of fate led us into discussing issues ranging from cultural, religious to political matters. Hence,  many years later, one of my elderly friends proposed to me to write a book one day to be entitled  Under the tree. The idea is not foreclosed yet,reason being that ; more than two decades later,I read the autobiography of former American president and arguably the greatest in the most recent times, Bill Clinton which isentitledCLINTON MY LIFE .In the book I came across where he used to relax as a young boy called the  Politicoseum- where the politicos usually gathered to analyze politics. I have taken you on this long political synopsis in order to drive  home a point . A point which really forms the basis of my topic for discussion today. It was in the course of gathering under similar  tree like Bill Clinton at a tender age that I became an omnivorous reader. This was with the intent of having an edge while engaging my other friends in a chat for the purpose of learning.

A clear demonstration was found ona book I read, written by one of the best  African writers that ever passed through the surface of this earth, Chinua Achebe entitled; The Trouble with Nigeria. The portion of that piece which helped me then have even become more compellingly relevant to Kogi state today. Achebe said:

 “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character… The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which is the hallmark of true leadership.”

This is absolutely true in the case of Kogi State today. Kogi is a state which is rich in both human and natural resources yet in the comity of states today is the poorest. What an irony. For the present government today, it is not about vision but spoils of office. The government has become so insensitive to the plight of the people he is supposed to provide for their welfare that one would have to go back to Idi Amin’s era for comparison. I say this with all sincerity of purpose as recent study released by Economic Intelligence Unit (a body of United Nations) shows five criteria to make a place livable:

1.Political and social stability.




5. Access to health.


Now, which among these indexes of good living can the present APC led government in beat its chest to be pursuing in Kogi State talk less of achieving it in eight years-God forbid !

We are talking of Kogi State that produced the likes of Chief Sunday Awoniyi of blessed memory and Major General David Jemibewon (rtd) who in 1998 had the rare privilege of birthing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Nigerians through presentation of party constitution and manifesto. Kogi is groaning under the current leadership of Yahaya Bello and needs to be salvaged.

Today, workers have forgotten how many months salaries they are been owed. When I went to pay condolence to the family of Sani Ogu few days ago, I met a pensioner who was once a Ward Chairman and worked directly with Sani Ogu where he narrated his financial plight to me. For the past four (4) months according to him, his pension account had been credited with #420.00(four hundred and twenty naira). What a scandal?.

 A family man with seven grown up children and a wife. My grouse in all of these is his courage to seek reelection. This is where I derived my title- A new twist from. In deed , it is new twist in politics because the norm is that your performance qualifies you for another term.

 On what basis is the present government seeking reelection. I hate the pedestrian argument that it is his right to contest second term. But we need  not forget the fact that right is not absolute. There are limitations attached to it, where yours stopped, someone else’s right begins. The fact that you have right to contest election and preside over the affairs of a state where we are all stakeholders. It does not permit another person to be denied his monthly salaries after working for the month or make people perpetually go hungry. The thinkers and framers of democracy and rile of law couldn’t have contemplated giving an usurper and political upstart an opportunity to inflict first degree hardship on the people. Performance is an open thing and there is no controversy about it. I  was amused recently when Chief Olabode George says this of Lagos State governor – Akinwunmi Ambode,

 “I say without any equivocation that this young man who is there now – Akinwunmi Ambode – he has raised the stake of performance (in Lagos state ) especially in infrastructure. “

This is coming from an opposition, a former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, a National Chairmanship Aspirant of the party during the last national convention and a very strong supporter of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for 2019 presidency. This compliment does not change the fact that he remains in PDP. I say this to buttress the fact that if you are doing well in office, even your critics will acknowledge it. In other words, a man whose ways is at peace with God, even the ungodly will favour him.


My brother governor, what will the people of Kogi State say about you when you leave office January 20th, 2020? What are your legacies?. That is why I’m taken aback over your guts and confidence in seeking re-election. A new twist in politics really !. Seeking reelection on non performance?

I do not intend to make this intervention a warning rather it should be taken as a ‘red card’, apology to Samuel Ortom. I say this because I wish to recall a letter written by my political mentor, a public intellectual, a political philosopher, a thinker, mobilizer, humanist, legal icon, the greatest political strategist Nigeria ever had and according to Late Odumegwu Ojukwu, the best president Nigeria never had Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote to Shagari in July 1981,which is still valid today, thus;

 “There is a frightful  danger ahead. Visible for those who care and are patriotic enough to look beyond their narrow self- interest. Our ship of state  is fast approaching a big rock, and unless you, as a chief helmsman, quickly rise to the occasion and courageously steer the ship away from its present course, it shall hit the rock. And the inescapable consequence will be an unspeakable disaster such as is rare in the annals of man.”

 I will only add that the government should not bother to rise up as my mentor advised supra,because in the instant case, they have nothing to offer. There is a Latin maxim that says; Nemo dat quod non habet– you cannot give what you don’t have. In Shagari’s case he had credible and intellectuals like, Prof Pat Utomi, Late Chuba Okadigbo, Audu Ogbe, Adamu Ciroma etal around him. Here, I weep for leadership recruitment method which is strictly on man-know-man considerations and other mediocrity making rather than on competence which signifies unpreparedness to political office of the worst kind.


If Kogi were to be a medical patient undergoing psychiatric evaluation, it would be obvious that the state is showing all the symptoms of first degree madness. And like the trauma of parents whose child is mad lives with a permanent psychological torture and emotional disorder. It will not be out of place to conclude that the new twist in politics and governance as defined by these new sets of politicians is to intimidate, harass electorate and hijack, – I mean hijack ballot boxes at polling units where they are not popular knowing fully well INEC will cancel such units as it happened at Lokoja /Kogi Federal House of Representative elections two weeks ago where 17 polling unit results were cancelled.


Abraham Lincoln, (attributed) 16th president of US (1809 – 1865) succinctly puts; “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”.


Bob Marley wittingly paraphrased Lincoln expression thus; “you can fool some people some times but you cant fool all the people all the time”. Invariably, it worked two weeks ago Lokoja/Kogi Federal House of Representative elections, it cannot work next time. Women are been sensitized to be party agents come next elections. Everybody who registered at every unit will vote and remained in the units until results are announced. Let us see how the thugs will fight their mother’s or kill them. I challenge aspirants at all levels to articulate alternatives to his government and by so doing challenge him on his policy articulation. He must not be given the latitude to engage on ethnic division. After all, Igala is de jure deputy governor and de facto governor.


Going forward, we must bend backwards to answer two important questions which must form the basis of new realities  and alliances as we prepare for 2019 elections. First, if Steven Makoji Achema were to be alive, would he have condoned this gross abuse of power, insensitivity and contempt by the current government on the people of the state? Secondly, if Prince Abubakar Audu who the people truly voted is to witness a state he once governed and won six trophies in the area of infrastructure, health, education, rural electrification, etc as adjudged by journalists and civil societies anchored by the then Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana under PDP Federal government be happy to see the state under this mess? If your answer is NO, do the needful by embarking on aggressive mobilization across the state with a view to voting out all the people associated with this government beginning from State House Assembly and National Assembly elections next February.


– Sylvester Ojogbane

Sylverline communications, Abuja.

0806 446 8507

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