As the clime is now set towards the long awaited All Progressives’ Congress, APC, primary election in Kogi state, recourse need be made to a brief political history of the Ebira speaking Central Zone of the state which may help to offer a predictive stance on the prospects of the minority in the endless struggle to occupy Laggard House. Like it has been the trend previously, the Kogi Central and West Forum for Equity and Justice earlier this year championed the aggressive campaign for power shift from the Igala-speaking eastern zone where political power has been domiciled since the creation of the state in 1991. The forum which started quite seriously seem to have met a waterloo with the failure to produce an APC consensus candidate that’s acceptable by all party stakeholders in the two regions.
Indications have emerged also that this Saturday contest may not be too different from the previous ones, though a possible shocker is not impossible. At least 12 out of the 27 aspirants that picked the APC nomination form in readiness for the August 29th gubernatorial primary election are from both minority Central and Western zones. From the central senatorial districts alone the five contenders are Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Dr. Ojo Onukaba, Sen. Nurudeen Abatemi, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq and Alhaji Abubakar Sanusi. Apparently, political gladiators in the Central zone have successfully secured their delegates’ trust (vote) such that none may spill in favour of an eastern aspirant. However, giving a bulk vote to one aspirant from the zone is imperative for winning the contest and this is where lies the red flag.
Recall that on the 2nd of January 2003, what seemed like the brightest chance of the minority to become the governor of Kogi state was aborted after the event that held at the Cinema Hall, New Layout, Lokoja. At such a time when the ruling party, PDP was hell bent on grabbing the state from the opposition, ANPP, all emphasis was on the primary election. To any PDP flag-bearer then, the party guber ticket was almost like the Certificate of Return as the main election was seen as a walk over. This was in spite of the fact that the sitting governor, Prince Abubakar Audu was the concensus candidate of the opposition party, ANPP in that election. The 2003 PDP primary election which ended in favour of the then Abuja based business man Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, an Igala man has Senator A. T. Ahmed, an Ebira man from the Central district, as the first runner-up.
The late senator A. T. Ahmed was an iconic figure in Ebira politics. He can be described as the finest politician produced by Ebira land in a very long time. His overwhelming political stamina commands respect from both the old and young and as such he dictated the political direction of the majority of the people in Kogi Central during his days. He was the only aspirant from the Central Zone that has credible structures in Kogi West and East. He was a close political associate of the Kogi eastern giant, late Dr. Steven Achema. Base on his experience in government, intelligence, academic achievement and his inter-district acceptance in the state, he was endorsed by the five local councils in Kogi Central Senatorial District as their consensus flag-bearer.
The major factors responsible for the defeat of the legend Sen. A. T. Ahmed in that historic election was the failure of the Central and Western zones to reach a consensus and the few votes lost to other contestants from his region. Other Ebiras who in spite of the endorsement of A. T. Ahmed as the Central Zone consensus participated in the PDP primary include Mr Ahmed Onogo, Dr Farouq Abdulazeez, Chief M.Y. Obaro and Dr John Lawan. Sources alleged that in the eve of the election, the western allies presented the golden condition for a possible coalition: that all other candidates should step down for Dr. John Lawan, an underdog in the race albeit a successful medical doctor of international repute and a two-term commissioner in the old Kwara state, who in the opinion of the western power brokers is the most trustworthy of all. The desire to have a candidate with a high tendency to keep the West/Central agreement sacrosanct brawled with the determination of Senator A. T. Ahmed to become the governor of Kogi state; hence the failure of the coalition to pull through. It was also gathered that some of these other contestants from the Western zone occasioned their presence in the race solely with the aim of frustrating the ambition of the amiable Senator.
Irked by the increasing murkiness of the APC gubernatorial bid in the Central Zone, the Ohinoyi of Ebira land, His Royal Majesty, Alh. (Dr) Ado Ibrahim on Wednesday 26th August 2015 called a meeting of all the aspirants to discuss the need for a unified efforts in the pursuit of the APC ticket. The meeting which was attended by only three (Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Dr. Ojo Onukaba and Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq) of the five aspirants ended on an inconclusive note. It is pertinent to say that if nothing more happens to bring all the five candidates involved to a consensus, it may as well be a repetition of the 2003 saga. Already Alhaji Yahaya Bello (FairPlus), unarguably the most popular of all, has put in place some fine political structures that may likely scoop a few additional votes from the eastern and western flanks of the state. But how far can he go when other contestants are sharing the home vote is a question that bogs the mind. The business man turned politician, Yahaya Bello, has in a short time enjoyed an incredible support and massive followership from every region of the state and across all age groups. This may be attributable to his excellent track record as a successful entrepreneur and prudent resource manager, young age (40), philanthropy, detribalized political ideology and his clear-cut vision forecast for Kogi state.
Kogi is in a deplorable state having failed to live up to expectation of its founding fathers. It’s one of the poorest states in the country judging by all standards, in spite of its abundant human and natural resources. The single most important factor in the sorry state of Kogi is leadership failure. Another opportunity comes this year 2015 for the good people of the unfortunate state to liberate themselves from the grip of the cabals who have continually siphoned the state’s resources for personal enrichment and to the detriment of the masses. Emphasis must be given to the more important things in the choice of the next governor of Kogi state. Change is imperative! Without sounding immodest, Gov. Idris Wada is the worst in the series of bad governors of Kogi state since creation. Whether or not Kogi state will be delivered from Gov. Wada’s inept governance this year is best determined by the outcome of this APC primary election; hence, the much concern it’s generating.
The paramount doctrine of a true democratic setting is touching the lives of the people with good governance. While it is important for all groups of people that constitute a political entity to have a sense of belonging, participation and active representation, emphasis must never shift from the actual act of good governance which should be all-inclusive and holistic. This I think is obtainable irrespective of the ethnic background of the chief executive. The fundamental prerequisite is to have a selfless servant-leader who has proven his capability to judiciously utilise the resources of the state for an all-round development.
- Comrade Ahmed Idowu Victor, President, National Association of Kogi State Students (NAKOSS), University of Nigeria, Nsukka.