Compiled and edited by Abdul Aji.
Sule Abubakar Lucky Mark, a Writer and Sociologist and Felix Omachoko Solomon, Senior Special Assistant, Political, to the Deputy Governor of Kogi State expressed their views on a political slogan that generated misgivings in Kogi East during the 2019 governorship election in Kogi State.
While Sule Abubakar Lucky Mark gave “The Anatomy of ‘Énémunémé’; Felix Omachoko Solomon listed out the developmental efforts of Governor Yahaya Bello and his deputy, Chief David Onoja in Kogi East.
“Before the 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State, a catchy and politically-wooing slogan was invented which is ‘Énémunémé’. It can be roughly interpreted as: ‘A stranger is better or another person (different from your own tribe) is politically better to rule…’ It is just a mere electorate-wooing slogan; No undercurrent of betrayal.
“And contrary to the long-held, popular belief that the political slogan was invented by the current Deputy Governor, Chief Edward David Onoja, I want to debunk that common myth that the originator is a certain late Alhaji Linco Ocheje from Ankpa, not Edward. But, in a rare moment of candour, Edward boosted the overwhelming popularity of that slogan, as he even wore a T-shirt conspicuously emblazoned with the slogan pre-2019 gubernatorial election. And now people split hairs as to why an Igala person would wear such a ‘treacherous’, ‘tribe-selling-out’ T-shirt. But, if you ask me, I’ll say it’s part of our politicking, and a campaign strategy to woo the electorate for his principal.
“Edward may not be a bigot of tribe or religion, but the Linco’s revolutionary political concept – ‘énémunémé – which he popularised during the 2019 gubernatorial election may have him hoisted by his own petard because it stirred up tribes against tribes, tongues against tongues and religion against religion. I must remain objective here.
“Admittedly, too, having given it the tremendous momentum that it needed to spread like wildfire, the slogan — énémunémé — caused inter-and-intra-tribal schism because the Igala felt that they had been betrayed by their own. And there was also a burning animosity between the Igala and other tribes because the Igala also strongly felt and believed in their own majoritarian supremacy that they were relegated to the league of slaves. Hence, the inter-tribal hostility.
“And so, whether the concept of énémunémé has an undertone of betrayal or not, we have to first understand the mechanics of politics. The political success of any careerist politician relies exclusively on the wheel of symbiotic reciprocity, that is, for any clever politician to succeed, he/she will have to engage in a give-and-take kind of union with other actors. Namely, giving of trust, loyalty… you name it!
“The general gist of this article starts now. In the case of Edward, if he had or had not shown undivided loyalty he was trapped in that devil and the deep blue sea, both would’ve been tantamount to digging his own political grave. What determines most politicians’ action is the personal or political expediency of the situation. And whatever action would Edward have taken then, could’ve still generated a heated political controversy as it is now. And so, after all options were carefully considered, he had to make a virtue of political necessity to show unswerving loyalty to his principal, because failure to do so would have still made him look like the Biblical Gehazi – Gehazi was Elisha’s loyal servant and trusted representative, but because of Gehazi’s insatiable avarice to sate his material and pecuniary urge, he cunningly betrayed his principal’s trust, and so lost all the fortune he would’ve got from his master, Elisha.
“Edward would’ve been thrown into the dark part of history as a protégé who did show undivided loyalty to his principal when he was needed most, and not also doing so, would’ve equally nipped him in the bud, politically. So, he had to choose the lesser of the two devilish options!
“However, you decide to look at it, the support given to the concept of énémunémé by Edward will probably affect his votes from some quarter if he eventually gets the APC gubernatorial ticket, especially from those that still feel bitter that he ‘sold them out’. But we have to understand that Edward was the Chief of Staff to His Excellency, Gov. Alhaji Yahaya Bello then, so his political allegiance should be given to his principal and their party alone. It doesn’t make any sense for Edward to work against the re-election bid of his principal, so he had to deploy every means — whether morally reprehensible or not — to boost the bid for the power of his principal. In politics, most politicians act out of expediency, and not really out of moral principles. That’s why the Italian philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli, said: ‘politics have no relation to morals.’
“Loyalty is a fundamental ingredient in politics. The same way a bank has some fiduciary duties or obligations to its customers, so does a protégé to his principal and vice versa. Loyalty is a cementing factor in the principal-protégé relationship, as it is in the banking system. Edward knew then that he would be vying for the position of governor someday, so he had to be absolutely loyal to Gov. Bello because the political success of Edward, more or less, lies in the hands of his boss. So, politically speaking, Edward didn’t betray his tribe. He showed loyalty to protect his own political interest, his principal’s interest and that of their party. People are only saying he betrayed his tribe because they are looking at what happened from the moral or emotional lens. No puritanism in politics!
“Out of curiosity, I always ask: were you expecting Edward to work for his tribesmen even when they’re not in the same party so that Edward’s principal would lose his re-election bid? Who does that? Is PDP an Igala party? Why should Edward be crucified for working for the success and growth of his own party? And if he had even worked for his tribesmen, which most definitely would’ve destroyed him politically, the same people that are malevolently vilifying him now that he sold them out would’ve still been the ones calling him a ‘notoriously treacherous wily old fox’. And so, this brings us to another question: What do men really want?
“The vilification of Edward at the moment is not germane, so let everybody sheathe their sword because there are bigger fish to fry! Ideally, Edward couldn’t have protected the interest of his tribesmen who were not in the same party as him at the expense of his own political career. Nobody could’ve done that. Nobody will. Even you wouldn’t have done that. A careerist politician knows that his interest, and that of his party, comes first. And, yes, in politics, it’s no crime, for everyone is there to pursue their interest. I can say, and boldly so, that all the political fable that people spread now, and that Edward did this or that is nothing but: grandiloquent sophistry!
“Canvassing for votes, and appealing to, the local residents through the instrumentality of énémunémé for the success of his principal is not even destructive; not doing so would’ve been an act of self-immolating political treachery for Edward and his political career. A true leader is one who makes a seemingly unimaginable choice and strongly stands by it, and that’s what Edward did. In the entire political firmament of Nigeria, what sustains the relevance of any politician is not emotional defeatism or emotional attachment to tribes or tongues; only strict unconventionality does! Edward did that already. Many politicians do. Many will still do.
“And as you know already, democracy as a system of government has given us a wide array of rights and choices. In a democratic setting, surely, there exists a two-party or multi-party system, and that gives you the right to choose from many options in your electoral kit as a citizen. The same way the constitution gives politicians the right or the ‘electioneering free will’ to do and say things – within the purview of the law – to boost their chance of winning elections, such as the politically-wooing but ‘now-controversy-igniting’ concept of énémunémé’, so also the law gives you, the citizens, the inalienable democratic or electoral rights to vote for or against whoever you want. And what this means is that if Edward gets the APC gubernatorial ticket after the primary election, you are expressly and legally permitted to vote either against or for him!”
Above are the analysis of Sule Abubakar Lucky Mark.
Felix Omachoko Solomon, SSA Political to the Deputy Governor of Kogi State added that, ”Chief Edward Onoja remixed Alhaji Linco’s slogan of “Enemuneme” to “Bello- Me tumale”.
Let us not also forget that the slogan came to be when Governor Bello built the township road and remodeled and refurbished Ankpa Central Mosque after many years of abandonment.
We can also look at his inclusion of the Christian community and the body of Christ by building the first Government House Chapel for Christians after 28 years of Kogi existence. The second dedication anniversary was March 8th, 2023. His Deputy as a Christian also refurbished the Okpo Central Mosque. This concretizes a Siamese spirit and mindset.
“It was not a slogan cooked from a campaign strategy room. Alhaji Linco in his usual oratory, blurted that out in appreciation, not to scorn the Igalas.
“To extend this, let us look at what is on ground in Igala land today:
“The 55 KM Ayingba- Idah road that which connects the Igala land to her Traditional Headquarters comes out like a circle of smooth travel. The 36 KM Ibana-Okpo-Igah-Ogugu-Ete Road in Olamaboro LGA. The Ayingba-Ogane Aji erosion work and Road Network in Dekina which includes the old University gate road with full Asphalt overlay.
“The Intimidating ‘Igala Unity House’ (Unyi – Udama – Igala) and 11 fully furnished Guest lodge standing where was once a sorry site of refuse dump is a testimonial. The Adumu erosion work and adjoining roads in the long neglected and forgotten Ogugu District in Olamaboro LGA is another legacy testament with Culverts, and well-constructed drainages and water channels into the meandering ever flowing Aji- Ubele
“The Revolutionary Road and Drainage work in the ancient City of Ankpa is an undeniable stamp of impact by Bello led Administration. The Idah General Hospital now renovated and equipped as Zonal Hospital with attraction from the three Senatorial districts.
“Renaming of Kogi State University, KSU, to Prince Abubakar Audu University, PAUU, in honor and memory of the first democratically elected Governor, and pioneer leader of APC in Kogi State, Late Prince Abubakar Audu of blessed memory. The PAUU Teaching Hospital in Ayingba which was remodeled and equipped with State of the Art medical facilities with capacity to handle major and minor medical issues.
“Project Light Up Kogi East (PLUKE). The project installed high fibre cable under water- Itobe bridge running into millions of naira after so many years. The installation saw many communities in Kogi East like Dekina LGA; Abocho, Odu Ogodanya, Agala junction; Ofu: Ugwolawo, Itobe, Alohi; Igalamela: Akpatega, Idah Road, Ajaka, Okeyan; Olamaboro: Ebloko, Ogolale, Oforo Imane, Efofe; Omala: Ajenebi, Kaduna Ife, Efofe Ojodachai lighted for the very first time in their existence including Abejukolo in Omala LGA that once had a Governor for 9 years.
“A new Ejeh Ibaji Palace in Ibaji LGA built after many years. Over 200 rural borehole water scheme to communities that only once had long distance streams and collected dirty water as only source of drinking water. The reinvigoration of our security architecture to address uncontrolled insecurity in the region which exacerbated in 2015 until the Governor came in.
“Over 100 scholarships to 1st class students of Kogi East origin via the Igala Education Foundation (IEF) a brainchild of the late scholar, Professor F.S Idachaba. The undeniable recommendation of Professor Stephen Ikani Ocheni twice for ministerial position and recommendation for a Vice Chancellor position of a University in Kogi State. He also currently sits as the Chairman of Governing Board of Edo State University, Auchi recommended by Governor Yahaya Bello.
“Youth Inclusion in Governance and policy making as the New Direction Government parades the youngest cabinet in Nigeria. Look not far, yours truly became Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor at the age of 28. Women inclusion in Governance which beats the 35% constitutional requirement as the entire LGA Vice Chairmen of Kogi East are women. We have 9 Council Leaders as women and 27 Female Councilors across the 9 LGAs of Kogi East.
“Across Kogi East, primary and secondary schools in Igala land with the Blue and White structures are a signature of GYB to support UBEC. The Establishment of Federal Science and Technical College at Ogugu which joins FGCU Ugwolawo and FPI Idah.
“The restoration of the age long banned Italo and Ocho festival by the exploitative British Colonial Govt which was restored by Governor Bello after 63 years in 2018. This restoration was a proviso to the Ata to lift other banned Igala festivals in the land.
“The stimulation of Agro-businesses via the Appeals Project, IFAD project, FGs Anchor Borrower’s project, Kogi State Social Investment programs and other rural infrastructure drive. Upgrade of Traditional Stools from zero to third class, second class and First Class status without monetary bribes. Provision of jobs via the Teachers Recruitment exercise, FG jobs of Police, Civil Defense Corp, NDLEA, etc.
“Finally, in the entire state, Kogi East has the highest ranking national assembly members. The Kogi East Senators and two Reps members are returning legislators who have the chances of landing bigger portfolios to favour the land. It will also interest all to know that Kogi East alone has three returning State Assembly Members from Olamaboro, Ofu and Okura State constituencies who are ranking members in the next House and would naturally hold leadership commands. In the winding down Assembly, Ankpa 1 and 2 along with Dekina Biraidu district were returning legislators which shows stability in the region. The returning status of the legislators landed Ankpa I the Deputy Speakership now also held by the Ankpa II.
Check sincerely with your conscience, has Bello not done well with Chief Edward David Onoja by his side holding the flank of Kogi East as Chief of staff and as Number 2 citizen?
“One will like to add that the political slogan, ‘Énémunémé’ does not bother the Igala people than the selfish interest of Igala politicians that has taken over Igala collective interest. Political analysts are also of the opinion that the use of thugs by these selfish politicians to influence vote is of great concern in Igala land. The 2023 presidential and national assembly election in Kogi East witnessed the use of thugs to bar several people from voting especially in remote rural communities. A notable politician boasted that he caged all the security agents including the army in a hotel in Igala land on election day, giving them food and drinks, to enable his thugs unleash terror on voters. This phenomenon is not good for Igala political growth. Achema and Audu of blessed memory did not use thugs to influence votes; they allowed the people chose who they wanted – and this has given them good name in Igala political history. Any politician who indulge in using thugs to unleash terror on the Igala people today is creating a bad record for himself and history will not say good of such persons.