As the race for the successor of Gov. Yahaya Bello was approaching, there were various opinions. While some people were expecting a power shift to the Kogi West for equity and justice, some thought that the loyalty of the Deputy Governor for the 7 years and the man behind #Enemuneme should earn him the support of the governor to succeed him. There were people that felt Kogi Central should go for another 8 years before leaving the Lugard House.
The immediate past Chief of Staff was seen as a strong contender having been the governor’s gatekeeper for the last 4 years. The coming of Usman Ododo as the flag bearer of APC was unexpected and changed the entire game.
The Igalas, who want to get the power back after 8 years break, became angry as well as the Okuns who thought it is a good time for the zone to occupy the Lugard House. But the Ebiras on the other hand were excited.
Then, Dino Melaye from Kogi West secured the PDP ticket. You can call him any name you like, but he is not a walkover. Some Igalas, though not very prominent, secured the ticket of some other parties. Then ethnic agendas were flung into action among the 3 major tribes in the state.
There is the so-called Ebira Agenda to ensure that an Ebiraman succeeds Yahaya Bello. Another so-called Okun Agenda for an Okun man to have a taste of the Lugard house. Then, the so-called Igala Agenda for the Igalas to continue their reign as the permanent occupants of the Lugard house. I have listened to an audio from one of our Igala brothers with unpleasant words. He was expressing anger.
Do we really have Igala, Okun, Ebira Agendas, or the Agendas of a few individuals taking advantage of our narrow-mindedness?
How many Igalas were consulted when Ibro as the governor picked Wada as his successor when it was on record that Echocho had more impact on the life of Igalas? How many Ebiras were consulted when the present governor anointed the APC flagbearer as his successor? Is Dino, the PDP flagbearer, the choice of the generality of the Okun people? We only have politicians exploiting the people’s bigotry to their advantage. But then, who among the major tribes has an advantage from the set tribal agendas if all the 3 major tribes are bent on their respective so-called ethnic agenda?
I tried to dig into the current voting strength in the state from the recently concluded 2023 Senatorial elections. I choose the 2023 senate election because it was local and there was a good mobilization for it. The total number of votes in Kogi West was 139,485. There were 106,303 votes in Kogi Central. Kogi East has 217,460.
The votes for Echocho, the APC candidate that won the election were more than the total votes in KC senatorial election. As a matter of fact, the votes for the PDP candidate that lost at Kogi East were more than the vote cast for the APC candidate that won the KC senate seat. From the votes from the senatorial election, KE votes doubled the KC votes.
It is a dumb argument to set out for a tribal agenda and not expect others to do the same. You need to understand that if every zone should handle the coming election on the tribal line, KE will have an upper hand. It may be true that you have a large population scattered around Nigeria, but only those with registered PVC in the state can vote. The rest of us can’t and will only watch from the outside.
There must be strategies for a candidate from the zone with the least votes to win. Don’t rely on the 2019 “Tatatata” model, the model will not work in 2023, all thanks to BVAS. Incident forms were mostly used in 2019 instead of card readers which gives room for manipulation. That made it possible to have an unbelievable 95% vote from the registered voters in some LGs. That won’t be possible in 2023 with BVAS. That was reflected in the 2023 Senatorial election that APC struggled to win at the Central.
EBIGO and #Enemuneme have also crash-landed. The deployment of the model used to defeat Natasha has implications if the mutilated results do not match with the record on IREV. The Senator-elect still has the election tribunal to deal it.
Politics is all about numbers and Kogi East unfortunately or fortunately, has the voting strength advantage. To neutralize the doubled voter strength from the East Zone as compared with the Central Zone, the best option is for the Central Zone to work with the West Zone which also has better voter strength than the Central. The two zones put together can make a difference.
However, it appears that the Kogi West and Kogi Central are on their own and can’t work together despite being together in the old Kwara state. They are not even making efforts for that. The event of the 1999 gubernatorial election after the PDP primary election between Arc Olorunfemi and Alh. A.T. Ahmed is a good case study to review.
Some commentators from Kogi Central talk as if the Ododo project can be executed without any alliance. An election is not won on emotions but on strategic planning and alliance. As big and populated as the North is, Buhari could not win after three trials till the famous alliance of CPC with ACN and nPDP that produced APC. You should be worried if Yahaya Bello intends to execute this project on your behalf without any alliance.
The question that some people have asked was that on whose interest is this tribal politics in Kogi state? The politicians or the people? Why is it that the governor could not find a suitable successor from other places even if he/she is from the smallest ethnic group in the state? Is his choice about the state and Kogi Central or for some other reasons?
The surprising thing is that none of the agendas for the 2023 election make good governance their selling point. None is on the revival of our collapsed public basic education. None is on the emancipation of the basic school teachers. None is to end the percentage salaries to the few teachers in our basic schools that started before the coming of this government but got worse under this government. The Igala man that was receiving a percentage salary when an Igala man was the governor want an Igala man to carry on at the Luggard House. The Ebira man receiving 17% salary for the past year wants an Ebira man to continue.
None of the Agendas is on the provision of portable water for the people of the state. So, funny that we are celebrating an overhead bridge in a city without portable drinking water. No good governance agenda. The agendas are for our tribal men to occupy the Luggard House. Good governance can’t be an agenda because good governance has got no tribe, unfortunately.
Why are we driven by ethnicity despite our exposure? Some of us have experienced good governance outside this country yet we are stuck with ethnic bigotry against purposeful leadership. What progress have we made from it? Everyone wants his tribesman in office for a simple reason. With his tribesman there, he felt he is closer to the system for personal gains even if the system is bleeding. It is not about the state and the generality of the people but personal interest.
I hope to see a Kogi state and Nigeria where just like ASUU where the tribe and religion of the president are not important, it won’t matter the tribe and religion of who becomes our governor or the president.
– Alh. Ibrahim Isa-Amoka wrote from Lokoja.