Gov Wada: The Morning After by Zainab Okino

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Now that the election in Kogi State is over and the battle appears ‘won’ and ‘lost, at least before the courts take the reins, we can safely delve into a bit of reflection. Away from the antics of the two leading parties in the state – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), let me spare a moment to x-ray the man in the centre of it all, the out-going governor of the state, Capt Idris Wada and his legacy of exemplary leadership, notwithstanding the outcome of the election.

Shortly after the APC was declared winner of the election, I sought to see our governor in his Abuja office. In booking the appointment, I asked his personal assistant whether ‘Oga was in a good mood’, to which he responded in the affirmative, and with certainty.

Indeed, Governor Wada has not betrayed any emotion since then. He was at his convivial best and relaxed mood, while we both discussed the new political development and bemoaned the fate and future of democracy where money rules the roost. (By now we are all familiar with the role money played in the Kogi governorship election).

The governor has taken all the events that happened- the betrayals, backstabbing and controversies in his stride and with philosophical calmness; believing that God gives power to whom He wishes and at His appointed time even as he said elsewhere that fortune can smile on anyone at any time as it did smile on Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the governor-elect, in his providence-ordained victory.

At the PDP stakeholders’ meeting after the supplementary election, the governor was at his affable best when he spoke to the crowd. “From the inception of my tenure till now, I have been of the firm belief that God chose me to direct the affairs of our dear state at this point in time, not on the basis of my social pedigree, my economic resources or any unique ability, but simply by the scheme of the Almighty God who gives powers to whoever He wills. My case is a testimony to the veracity of the saying that the race does not belong to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”. These calmed all frayed nerves, and doused tension at a meeting in which many were prepared to jaw-jaw and trade accusations.

Governor Wada’s legendary humble disposition manifests in many ways, thus his readiness to offer apologies for offences that might have been committed by his appointees and lieutenants. Although this has often been misconstrued as a weakness and politically incorrect, there is no doubt about the fact that his is humanity at its best.

Already he has demonstrated respect for the power of the electorates by setting machinery in motion for the transfer of power to a new administration even though the courts are yet to dispense with the catalogue of litigations ahead.

In earnest, the governor has set up Transition and Steering Committees to work out modalities for transfer of power to the in-coming government. The transition committee is chaired by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede while the Steering Committee is headed by the deputy governor, Arc Abayomi Awoniyi. The Transition Committee has been working hard to meet the governor’s deadline. Such is the man, Capt Idris Wada, in his characteristic promptness and painstaking scrupulousness in words and deeds.

Mahatma Gandhi in one of his famous words on marble said: “The weak can never forgive: forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”. Some people think that it’s politically suicidal to forgive and bring on board, people who had worked against the governor’s interest in the past and stabbed him in the back.

Perhaps, Governor Wada draws inspiration from his firm belief in God’s words and takes admonition from great men like Gandhi. But one thing is certain; his large heartedness and good spiritedness are not in doubt. At an EXCO meeting held on December 9, 2015, the first after the election, the governor announced some of his itinerary for the next few days, among which was his planned trip to a part of Kogi West, to attend the funeral of the late father of a lawmaker and he was there; still aligning and identifying with people even in adversity and at a time he no longer needs them, politically speaking, that is.

As a newsroom administrator for years before I joined the Wada administration, I witnessed how people critical of his government, caused to be published negative stories and advertorials against Wada. Yet, those people wormed their way back to his heart and he took them back, again in his characteristic magnanimity and kind-heartedness.

The story is told of how he called labour leaders to introduce himself as ‘Capt Idris Wada, the governor of Kogi State’ after he took over in 2012. The comrades were taken aback. That accounted, in part, for the rancour-free relationship he had with organised labour and the near absence of labour crisis throughout his tenure; his humility, his transparent dealings with them in terms of the resources that accrue to the state vis-a-vis the enormity of liabilities have all combined to endear him to the usually ‘restive’ organised labour.’

This past week, the governor inspected the Lokoja Mega Terminal in preparation for the commissioning. The pack is one of the many laudable projects initiated and completed by the Wada administration. While at the site, I had a phone conversation with a friend, and I told him we were on an inspection visit to the site. He expressed dismay about the propriety of doing such a modern pack and why the governor would still be so concerned ‘when he is on his way out of office’. To some, the Lokoja mega terminal at Felele, the embankment project at Kabawa, the General Hospital and the 16km Ganaja-Otokiti road dualisation, and many others are all ideas whose time have not come in a rural backwater state like Kogi. I do not blame the nay sayers; Wada was largely misunderstood. However, that perception will/can’t obliterate his legacies and his genuine desires to live the state better than he met it.

With some of these projects, he is truly laying the foundation for a new Kogi State where, once upon a time, money was thrown at issues, haphazard jobs were done, equity, fairness and justice were thrown to the dogs.

Zainab Suleiman Okino is the Commissioner for Information, Kogi State

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