If the permutations of some major stakeholders in Kogi State, particularly those mooting collaboration between the West and Central senatorial districts is anything to go by, a political paradigm shift is imminent during the next governorship election in the state. Shola Oyeyipo writes
Since the creation of Kogi State in 1991, the Igala people in the East senatorial district have produced every civilian government at the detriment of the Ebira in the Central and Okun people in the West. The Igala have maintained political dominance in the state with its claim to majority of the voting population, priding also themselves as the main force in elective politics.
Before the 2003 general election, a group of youth under the auspices of Igala Youth Descendant Union (IYDU) had circulated hand bills purporting that “we are born to rule.” True to it, it would be extremely difficult if not totally impossible for an Okun person to become the governor, where it occupies just six local government areas of the 21 in the state. The Igala have a population of about two million while the Ebiras have 884,396 people and the rest left to the Okuns.
But with the introduction of the Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC), which shows the actual number of accredited voters, the Igala supremacy may be challenged by the two marginalised districts that have continued to claim that the population figures were falsified to allow the people of the East sustain their dominance in the state.
Apparently understanding that their separate but similar quest to produce a governor in the state would continue to elude them if they allow the mutual mistrust between them to persist, some of the very notable politicians from the two districts are already finalising plans to collaborate such that will make Central and West senatorial districts present a candidate and give such individual maximum support to facilitate victory.
Though there have been some unsuccessful attempts in the past to forge collaboration between the two districts, this time around, the people, who are united under the umbrella of Kogi Central and Kogi West Forum for Equity and Justice, seem more determined to push through with this initiative time around
Thus, on Monday, June 29, 2015, the proponents of the idea met in Abuja. The meeting was attended by over 100 representatives of the 12 local government areas of the two senatorial districts. They reviewed the current social, economic and political situations in the state since its creation and concluded that Kogi State has not lived up to the expectations of its founding fathers.
It is believed to have been starved of economic and political development as a result of unconscionable level of marginalisation and oppression of the people of Central and Western senatorial districts.
Some of the attendees at the meeting, which was co-chaired by Professor Eyitayo Lambo, Professor Yusuf Aliyu and Alhaji Idris Yusuf Tawari were Senator Dino Melaye, Senator Salihu Ohize, Hon. Kabir Ajanah of the House of Representatives, Dr. Tom Adaba, Mr. Olatunde Ayeni, Dr. Abdulrahaman Adeiza, Professor Olu Akerejola, Ambassador S. A. Lawal, Ambassador P. B. Fadumiyo, General J. O. S. Oshanupin, Chief Tunde Ayeni, Professor Angela Okatahi, Chief J. O. Omuya and Professor I. Abdulsalam.
Others are Dr. Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba, Alhaji Isiaq Ajibola, Chief Tunde Olusunle, Chief Femi Ajisafe, Yahaya Bello, Prince Emmanuel Omadivi, Sanusi Abubakar, Sufyanu Abdulmalik, Alhaji Mohammed Suleiman, Pastor Joseph Suleiman, Dr. David Atte, Chief J.O. Yusuf, Hon. Abiodun Ojo, Dr. Martins Makoju, Professor Mike Ogirima, Alhaji Sheidu Ozigis, Retired DIG of Police Abdulraheem Yusuf and Hajiya Mariam Ibrahim.
Also present were Dr. Ayo Ade-John, Dr. Tunde Arosanyin, Femi Ojo Melefa, Chief Dan Kunle, Salihu Akawu, Suleiman Baba Ali, Tanko Musa, Ibrahim Usman, Idris Miyali, Colonel Olu Oloruntoba (Rtd), Hon. Matthew Keyi, Engr Sam Uhuotu, Engr. Ako, Ahmed Garba, Dr. Adinoyi Yusuf, Barrister (Mrs) J. Y. Ajanah, Mohammed Aliyu, Brig-Gen. Yusuf Abubakar (Rtd) and Stephen Yakubu, among others.
Explaining what spurred the renewed movement for the actualisation of change of baton of leadership from the Igalas, Dr. Tom Adaba, who is the chairman, Media and Publicity Committee of the group, said going by available statistics, Kogi Central and West senatorial districts account for 55 per cent of the population and about 85 per cent of the internally generated revenue, political and public service appointments and recruitments, adding that resources allocation have been monopolised by the East senatorial district to the extent of at least 80 per cent with Central and West senatorial districts having to share less than 20 per cent.
According to Adaba, the forum noted that since its creation in 1991, the state has been grossly and willfully mismanaged by successive governments with absolutely nothing to show for the trillions of naira that have accrued to it from federation account and the internally generated revenue.
“Having come to the conclusion that the present power relations in the state are unjust, unfair, iniquitous and indefensible, the Forum resolved as follows that the current situation must not be allowed to continue; it must change.
“We have observed that Kogi State has become a byword for mind-boggling mismanagement, endemic corruption and impunity; that in order to save the state from imminent collapse, the people of Kogi Central and Kogi West senatorial districts have come together as one strong, indivisible political bloc, irrespective of party affiliations, to enthrone good governance, equity, fairness and justice in the state.
“That in order to achieve this objective, Kogi Central and Kogi West senatorial districts will field a single candidate that is visionary, competent and dynamic in the upcoming governorship election in the state. Therefore, the Forum appeals to all political parties to take cognisance of this development and reflect such in the selection of candidates for the forthcoming governorship election,” he urged.
Usually, when an Igala candidate emerges, they often pick someone from either the Central or West as deputy. In the case of former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris; Dr. Philip Salau from the Central was his deputy and this time around, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, who is the deputy to Governor Idris Wada is from the West. But the new coalition says the two districts are not settling for the number-two job this time around.
“Any person from either Kogi Central or Kogi West, who accepts a deputy governorship position from Kogi East is on his or her own and will be treated by the two districts as a traitor,” adding that “All groups with similar objectives in Kogi Central and Kogi West senatorial districts are encouraged to fuse into this forum to actualise our dreams.”
According to Adaba, as part of efforts to drive the objectives of the project, the forum has set up committees on strategy, finance, contact and mobilisation, media and publicity and primaries and they are to commence work immediately ahead of the elections.
Feelers from the state have it that the largely disenchanted people of the two districts are elated about the development and are optimistic that it would yield expected result. And if this works according to plan, then the Eastern part of the state has a major crisis on its hand – the one that could take it away from the corridors of power for a very long time.
Feelers from the state have it that the largely disenchanted people of the two districts are elated about the development and are optimistic that it would yield expected result. And if this works according to plan, then the Eastern part of the state has a major crisis on its hand – the one that could take it away from the corridors of power for a very long time