Distinguished Senator Abubakar Ohere,
When I write about governance and politics in Kogi state, I try to be mostly factual and leave the rest for my personal sentiments to render. Therefore, let me first congratulate you on becoming the Senator-elect of our dearly beloved Kogi Central Senatorial District. Every Tom, Dick and Harry would agree that the election was a fierce rollercoaster, the toughest after the Presidential election. Barring any later decision by the tribunals, you are our Senate-elect, and your name has been successfully etched in the genealogy of Senators to ever represent the district. Congratulations!
Losing the Media
That said, you will also agree with me that you lost the media. I am not saying this as a media strategist and Public Relations professional, but as a citizen of the land who monitored the processes that produced every winner of elections conducted in the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello. You were part of that government, and you all failed the people in certain germane areas. That is the primary reason why the election was that fierce, and why oppositions could succeed in media campaigns to muzzle your ambitions despite efforts by your supporters on social media.
The other reason would be that your media strategy was so weak, that if I picked the ticket of the Labour Party against you in that election, you will still win the election, but I will win the sympathy of the people and paint myself as the oppressed and cheated in the election. The most interesting part for me was what transpired at Adogo, because against what was sent to the media for vuvuzelas, blogs and media influencers to feast upon, I ensured my investigation was right to make informed decisions on what to believe.
When I said I monitored, it included the tenure of your predecessor in the Senate, Yakubu Oseni. He is a humble and focused man who became guilty on the media for the singular reason of being the Governor’s favorite in the primary election that produced him. Take a cue from Senator Oseni who did his best both in legislation, empowerment of the people across boards, and infrastructural development, but was the most derided and insulted by those who have made it their stock in trade. Insults were hurled at you prior and during the elections, but that’s the tip of an iceberg waiting for your tenure. You are going to be derided too, even if unperturbed, image and legacy are two essentials that you must consider in your term. Therefore, you must make impact.
As a Mining Engineer and former Commissioner with proven professional qualifications and experience in governance, I should not doubt your competence, but remind you that half of your colleagues at the National Assembly do not have any leverage over you. Therefore, you must go in there to take your place boldly as a true Ebira man, and let us hear you at home while you speak in Abuja. The essence of taking your place in the National Assembly is because you have a lot to gain and attract to our land.
The governorship election of our state is fast approaching, and if it moves from our senatorial district, your responsibility to our people is going to be doubled to go beyond legislative activities. You will have to act as a lawmaker and an executive. Be prepared for that task. Okene Local Government may have saved you in the elections, but be the leader of all the people whom you represent. Ensure equitable distribution of job offers, constituency project nominations, interventions; speak for all of us when our fundamental human rights are threatened. More importantly, do not forget what the people demanded of you during your campaigns.
Thus, times have changed. Do not neglect the media in your quest to succeed. Do not arrest our youths who are critical of your government. Once a wall is raised to shadow-ban and cast aspersions on your efforts and strides, your successes may appear to be nothing. Still, the local media (radio stations and blogs) should be your friend. I do not know how you are going to do it, but let your projects speak for you in veracity and projection. Governor Zulum is a typical example. His projects and efforts spoke for him, and they were made readily available on the media. This is you, winning the public perception going forward.
Of Ajaokuta Steel Company: My Reservations
I may be naïve or even myopic with my reservations about Ajaokuta Steel Company, but I will put it out there. I do not believe you or any Senator can revive the company. I do not mean the company cannot be revived, but a senator can only cry for the revival. At best, gain access to the villa to table the matter before Mr. President, but that is where it will all end if there is no executive will. So many assemblies have visited the plant on oversight functions, some even wept at the sight of the potentials laying waste there, bills have been passed, agencies have been established; yet, the only progress made was clearing the debts owed in the name of the company.
I beseech you therefore, to do your best in active legislation while pulling strings to remind the President of his campaign promises when he came to Kogi. I wish you well in good health and wisdom to deliver.
– Alex Adeiza, a journalist, writes from Kogi state.