Ibrahim Idris: Father of Modern Kogi

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State building is not accidental but is products of visionary men and women. State building is therefore the product of conscious statecrafts, not happenstance. State building is always work in progress; a dynamic process in constant need of nurturing and re-invention. State building never stops because all states are constantly facing new challenges. This is true about Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, a man regarded, and deservedly so, as the father of modern Kogi state. Today, Kogi state has become an important part of modern society, an evolution made evident by this former governor and leader of the state.

Ibrahim Idris built Kogi state through two important aspects. First, during his administration he built Kogi state as a political entity which corresponds to a given territory based on some principles, and a common citizenship.

Second, Ibrahim Idris built institutions, symbolizing this political entity- he strengthened institutions such as the bureaucracy, the economy of the state, the judiciary, university, civil service, and allowed civil society organizations to thrive. Above all, he built a Kogi state with common sense of purpose and a shared destiny.

Ibrahim Idris also built the tangible and intangible threads that hold the state’s political entity together and give it a sense of purpose. In this age of globalization having a viable state is inevitable. For building institutions and values which sustain the collective community in Kogi state in these modern times, Ibrahim Idris has, undoubtedly, become the symbol of modern Kogi state.

In Kogi, however, there are some people who represent our state’s importance by calling us a Great State. This characteristic, according to Idris, is astrictive. He sees Kogi state as being great only if it is earned and not by its potentials or the abundance of its natural resources but by the quality of our states institutions and values. He always stressed that China and India have the largest populations in the world, but they only recently emerged as important global players. Japan has few natural resources, but has long been a global economic power house.

Based on his belief that scientific and technological skills, industriousness, productivity, and competitiveness are the major determinants of state power, capability and greatness, Ibrahiim Idris deliberately set out to develop Kogi state and ingenuity of its citizens. Having identified our strengths, weaknesses and challenges, he evolved a system of leadership recruitment and accountability which produced the sort of leaders that helped him confront the challenges of the environment in a way that is beneficial for the state’s building efforts. He recognizes that states are products of the human will, ingenuity, imagination and the institutions that sustain their collective exertions. Thus, he strived through objective and forensic analysis to locate the dynamics – positive or negative – to develop the state.

Ibrahim Idris knows that one of the fundamental triggers of state building relates to how efficient and effective the crisis of identity is resolved. In this regard, he built a policy which culminated in the strengthening of community bond and common citizenship. He devised an appropriate means of ensuring that intra and inter tribe integration is made not only a continuous fact of the daily life of its citizens, but also a sustainable and enduring state phenomenon. Idris postulates that all this mix, leadership is perhaps the most critical factor. As a leader, Ibro sees leadership as a critical factor in Kogi state building process and he understands it in two important but related ways.

First, there are the personal qualities of vision, integrity, honesty, commitment and competence of the individual leaders at the top. Second, there are the collective qualities of common vision, focus and desire for the development of the elite as a whole. Indeed, the pattern and standards for recruitment and the performance of our individual leaders over the years have left much to be desired. Idris has the qualities adumbrated above, and has imparted to the leaders he recruited during his administration, which led to the development of the state. He is a leader with cognitive consistency to differentiate between symmetric and asymmetric warfare.

He sees a strong nexus between followership and leadership because leaders cannot lead without having well mobilized and politically conscious followers, nor can followers follow without being led.

He was able to convince a large section of the Kogi elite and the wider public about a vision for a greater tomorrow and this has led Kogi state on the way to greatness. Today, while our experiences in the past have been disappointing, we have every reason to believe that the future is likely to be better. Ibro developed a system for building a common citizenship as an important aspect of our state building process. Through his development of the economy and equal opportunities for all and through the development of social welfare nets, he tried to establish a baseline of social and economic rights which all members of the state enjoy.

He believes not to enjoy these socio-economic rights means that the people involved are marginalized from state life. He made sure that there is no serious variation in the enjoyment of these rights across the state as the consequence of not enjoying these rights can be dire, citizens are motivated to support the state and the society because he or she feels that the society and the state is adequately concerned about their welfare. Socio-economic equality, as introduced by Ibro across the state, dispelled fears and suspicions, keeping the people united.

Ibro entered into a social contract between the people and the state. He made the meeting the needs of the people the main thrust of public policy. Such an approach made possible a common experience of life for all Kogites instead of resorting to the divisive politics of tribes and regional dichotomy in Kogi state

– Musa Wada wrote from Abuja.


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