An Open Letter to The President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, By Kogi West Professors on the Undemocratic Conduct of APC Governorship Primary on 1th of April 2023; The Urgent Need to Conduct Fresh Primary, and the Necessity for Power Shift to Kogi West Senatorial District.
We the professors of the Kogi West and its intellectual allies wish to congratulate Your Excellency, the President-elect, for the success of the recent presidential election exercises that successfully brings you Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on board to champion the course of our dear nation Nigeria for the next four years. May God Almighty grant you the understanding, wisdom and strength to govern and harness the versed wealth and human resources of this nation for the advancement of the growth and development of this nation and its peoples. Amen.
We write this open letter because we cannot stay and watch to see our State disintegrate. It is also for the love of this nation and for the progress of the All Progressive Congress (APC), a party which His Excellency and other progressives formed, nurtured and fought hard to build in order to entrench and inject the progressive political ideologies to the body politics of our great country; also, for which Kogi State had play tremendous role to sustain and had kept the flag flying until now.
Secondly, our open letter is premised on the present political impasses in the State; whereby the Executive Governor of the State, Yaya Bello is using all the State apparatuses to project what appears to be his own third term agenda through the anointing of Ododo his cousin from his Constituency, Kogi Central, who is presently one of the members of his Cabinet as the Auditor General for the Local Government Areas of the State; to be the Flag Bearer for the APC party, to the exclusion of the two other zones.
Kogi West Professors are especially concerned about the West Senatorial District that had been waiting patiently to take her turn at the expiration the Governors eight (8) years tenure in November 2023. This is borne out of the fact that the Zone had been neglected for such a long time and had never had the opportunity of holding the executive post since the creation of the State in 1991.
This is in spite of our population which, contrary to the general belief that Kogi West are fewer in population, we are even higher than that of Kogi Central – Kogi East 952,369; Kogi West 505,73; and Kogi Central 474,554 (See the summary of the registered voters as recently presented by the INEC 2023). This is in addition to the vast human and mineral/natural resources in the zone.
It is in no doubt that the people of Kogi West are endowed with abundant human and mineral/natural resources; to say the least, Kogi West has enormous of number of intellectuals with capacities. Okun speaking people alone has an array of over one thousand (1000) men and women professors (excluding the associate professors and other professionals such as legal and medical practitioners, engineers, professional teachers and so on), in diverse fields of endeavours, working nationwide and across the globe.
However, it is sad to note that the Zone has been perpetually neglected, marginalized, oppressed, suppressed, and sidelined; thus, rendering the zone pauperized with little or no infrastructure. The zone has been deprived of befitting educational institutions to complement our intellectual capacities and the availability of natural resources in abundance to develop the zone and Kogi State as a whole. The recent example of the University of Technology located in Kogi Central is a case in point. The University was single-handedly established by Governor Yaya Bello in Kogi Central just when the Appeal to the Federal Government to convert the School of Agriculture in Kabba in Kogi West was at its peak. The College is one of the four Colleges created in the then Northern Region during the Colonial era. All the Colleges except the one in Kabba have long been upgraded to Universities. Examples are BUK and ABU. Instead of the Executive Governor to lend hands to actualize our dream for the University despised Kogi West and opted out for College of Engineering and located it in the Central that already had at least three other higher institutions such as the College of Education, Okene; Nursing School Obangede and Remedial School at Osara all in Kogi Central. Similarly, the Kogi State University Anyigba has been long established in the East to take care of their zone.
Ironically, the age long practices by both Kogi East and Central now create wide margins to be desired by the West. Hence, the people of Kogi West are left at the mercy of the other two zones to pick the crumbs that fall from the tables in terms of choice courses and with limited job opportunities for Kogi West.
Thus, the socio-economic down-tone and political happenings in the State especially, within the All Progressive Congress indeed, is giving the citizens of the State a lot of concern as it is anything but shameful and despicable; and even more shameful when it is crystal clear that the problem is being fuelled by the party leadership and some that stakeholders that appear to be running the State at the pleasure of Governor Yaya Bello.
It is in this light that we the Kogi West professors wish to lend our voices for prompt actions to redress the political inordinate by GYB, that seek to put the Kogi West perpetually at disadvantages. Especially with the APC the ruling party in the State; whereby, no primary election was held and yet there emerge the flag bearer in the person of Ododo the Cousin of the Seating Governor to continue to elongate ruling from the Central of the State. Therefore, the objective of this open letter is to categorically restate our mandate that it is the turn of Kogi West (AWALOKAN) to be elected into the governorship position of the State come 2023.
The State Creation and the State of Affairs since 1991
Kogi State was created in 1991 from the combination of the Igalas and some other minority people groups from Benue and the present Kogi West and Central from Kwara State. The state was divided into three major senatorial districts largely according to their socio-ethnic and geographical affinities, as follows:
Kogi East Senatorial District, comprising the Igalas as the major ethnic group and the Bassas and the Ibajis in the minority.
Kogi Central Senatorial District comprising mainly the Ebiras, with the Ogori/Magongo and the Ajaokuta as the minority groups.
Kogi West Senatorial District, made up of 12 Districts with Okun speaking people (being the largest of the groups) comprising the Bunus, Ijumus, the Kabba/Owes, the Yagbas and the Oworo people. These groups are commonly referred to as the Yoruba speaking people of Kogi State. We also have the Kotos, the Tawaris-Bassa, and the Bassas/Nupes as minority groups inclusive in the West.
The Kogi State Governorship and the Deliberate Attempt to Scuttle, Oppress and Suppress the Mandate of Kogi West by Governor Bello
Prior to the primary election of the 14th of April of 2023, scores of aspirants came out in numbers from the three Senatorial Districts.
Interestingly, about seven prominent people from within Governor Bello’s Cabinet including his Deputy Governor Edward Onoja (GYBs popular Siamese Twins brother in his 1st Tenure) from Kogi East, seven commissioners and the Auditor General of Local Government Areas of the State were among the aspirants.
At least four of the aspirants were all from Yaya Bellos Constituency, Kogi Central.
Ironically, all the above who were in the workforce of the state and actively in service were permitted to purchase electoral forms and probably to take part in the primaries without formally resigning from work. This is contrary to the rules of procedure governing election of any one in service desiring or aspiring to political appointment.
The next step of the drama was the use of force to make all the aspirants in his cabinet to step down, including Senator Smart Adeyemi one of the most qualified aspirants in APC representing Kogi West who although, refused to step aside for the Governor’s Cousin, Ododo, who is now the acclaimed APC Candidate.
The 14th of April 2023, was the peak of the dramas as the electorates were denied the rights to vote for their respective preferred candidates. The result was Ododo being paraded around the corridors of the president-elect and the outgoing President as the candidate elected. The entire people of Kogi State are generally not happy about the ill informed process and the end result that produced Ododo; especially, Kogi West. It is obvious, there is a deliberate attempt by the Governor to continue to scuttle, oppress and suppress our mandate to produce the governor in 2024. Hence, the entire Kogi people, including his own kinsmen from Ebira land and his political weights in Kogi East, vehemently reject the candidacy of Ododo and are finding ways for alternatives.
Your Excellency sir, it may interest you to note that Kogi West has been marginalised on issue of Governorship rotation for the past 32yrs, especially, since the State was created in 1991. The Eastern Senatorial Districts produced 3Governors that held Governorship positions for 18years consecutively and the Central Senatorial District for 12years (The 4years of late Gov. Adamu Atta inclusive), as follows;
Late Gov Abubakar Audu National Republican Party 1992-1993 (East)
Gov Idris Ibrahim Peoples Democratic Party 2003-2012 (East)
Gov Idris Wada Peoples Democratic Party 2012-2016 (East)
Gov Yaya Bello All Progressives Congress 2016-2024 Central)
Late Gov Adamu Atta NPN (Central/Old-Kwara)
Your Excellency sir, it is pertinent for us to also refer to the 2015 episode that brought Governor Bello to the limelight as the Governor of Kogi State. When Prince Abubakar Audu died on the night after election was over and all votes casted were collated and the result ready to be announced, it is on record that Prince Audu and Chief Faleke won the Election and were just waiting for the announcement in their favour when death struck. By the Constitutional provision the normal and natural thing would have been for the power to automatically shift to the Deputy Chief Faleke.
On the contrary, the whole issues were manipulated and subsequently the APC disregard the rule of law which is premised on the principle of equity just and fairness and good conscience. Hence, the Deputy Governor, Chief Faleke from Kogi West was schemed out, in spite of the protracted litigation. It was the same power legitimately meant for Kogi West (which Late Prince Audu and Faleke labored for meritoriously) that was served on platter of gold and presented to Yaya Bello as the governor which he had enjoyed for about 8 years uninterrupted.
Your Excellency sir, there is need to prevail on Gov. Bello and APC the ruling Party in Nigeria and Kogi State to give democracy a chance this time around. Chapter II and S73 of the Constitution should be the watch words and the fear of GOD which is the beginning of wisdom.
Your Excellency Sir, considering the divine nature of the power shift from Kogi East that brought about Governor Bello from the Central in 2015, after 18 years, and the Governor, having enjoyed the co-operation and the support of the people of Kogi West for the past 8 years, and now that his Tenure is expiring in November 2023 the noble thing to do is to allow democracy to take its course by allowing power to shift to Chief Faleke or any preferred candidate by the Western Senatorial District, in the interest of fairness and equity.
Our simple and logical analysis suggests that one of the main factors that could be responsible for our predicaments and backwardness in the zone is embedded in the perpetual denial of Kogi West the opportunity of holding the executive power to rule the State. Therefore the body of Professors of Kogi West hereby join voices of reasons across the State to condemn Governor Yahaya Bellos actions which are not only psychologically injurious to the people of the entire Kogi State; especially, Kogi West as an entity that had equal rights to development and grow like the other two zones of the State, as constitutionally guaranteed by the law of the land. GYBs failure to support power shift to Kogi West at this point in time also has grave implications for their peaceful co-existence with Kogi East and the Central in the nearest future. Hence, the body of professors in Kogi West joins the entire state to condemn the nature and conduct of the APC primary of 14th April 2023 and to reject the choice of a candidate outside Kogi West, which runs contrary to the principle of fairness, equity and justice.
We, the Kogi West Professors, hereby make the following prayers:
That Governor Yaya Bello should drop the idea of imposing his kinsman, Ahmed Usman Ododo who is also presently part of the workforce in Governor Bello’s Cabinet. This is not only morally wrong it is illegal.
That the APC in collaboration with INEC should cancel and order the re-conduct of the shambolic APC primary of 14 April 2023.
For the political stability and sustainability of the APC or any other party in Kogi State, there is need for the APC at national level to prevail on GYB to do the needful to respect the provisions of the law as enshrined in chapter II of the Constitution, captioned, the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy Some of the cardinal principles are as follows; That:
The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice;
Sovereignty belongs to the people from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; and not according to the whim and caprices of the Executive governor of any of the state in Nigeria
The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution..
The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people. (Chapter II 1999 Constitution as amended)
Based on the above principles, there is need for the reorientation of the party leadership in the State to embrace legislation or a concrete arrangement to be agreed upon by the numerous parties and the State Assembly to encourage power rotation among the three senatorial Districts. This is to ensure equity fairness and justice; given the heterogeneous nature of the State. For example, in section 73 of the Constitution of Nigeria which although, does not make express provisions for power rotation, provides for the creation of senatorial divisions as the need arise. In our layman understanding, where law is not explicit, it can be implied. To us all the professors from the West the Chapter II &S73 appear to complement each other, therefore, they can serve as the basis to create our own charter of equity to back up power rotation in Kogi State as obtained in other state like us facing similar situation
Today by convention, even the two major parties (APC and PDP) in Nigeria are in support of power rotation; the same principle that was upheld that brings about the President-elect into power as of today. We also have ample examples of States such as Plateau State, Rivers with Charter of Equity and others that had imbibed the culture of power rotation in their respective states apparatuses. GYB should be well guided to be called upon to go and put his house in order by trying to turn his gentleman agreement into Charter of Equity as a parting gift to the State instead leaving part of the State into mourning mood by leaving Ododo in the political scene of our State with such a feeble hands that might not have ability and capacity to cope. Else, posterity would not forgive Governor Yaya Bello.
The President-elect as the father and the overall political Head of this nation, should call GYB to order to allow due process of law to take precedence in the primaries, and ensure that power shift is documented and be allowed to begin with the Kogi West Senatorial District to emerge as the Governor, come January 2024; since they have never had a taste of governorship since the creation of the State in 1991.
Finally, we the intellectuals from the Kogi West make a passionate appeal that in order for APC to continue to enjoy the patriotic patronage of Kogi State which it has continued to enjoy from the inception; the President-elect is enjoined to use his legitimate powers and good office to prevail on Governor Yaya Bello to allow the gentleman agreement by Kogi West and Central at the inception of his tenure and as promised by his people of Kogi Central, to be honoured. Governor Yahaya Bello should be prevailed upon to allow the system to run its course, and the WILLS of Kogi people prevail. Governor Yahaya Bwllo is also a product of a divine intervention and the joint efforts of the West and Central Senatorial Districts that forced power out of Kogi East. He should not be seen to repeat the same wrongs that Kogi East has been accused of. Same gentleman agreement can be turned into a legal instrument through the State House of Assembly with the cooperation of Governor Yahaba Bello.
Mike Ikupolati; Professor of Leadership and Corporate Governance, Member, Kogi West Elders Forum (KWEF) and Secretary, KWEF Mobilization Committee.
Emily Alemika; First Female Professor of Law from Kogi State and Member, Mobilization Committee of KWEF.
Olorunfemi A. Eseyin; Professor of Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and Member, Okun Professors Forum
Shuaibu Ibrahim; Professor of Political Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi and Representative of Koton Karfe Area.
Professor Goke Ajiboye; Federal University of Technology, Akure, Representative of Lokoja.
Col. Francis Olaniran (rtd); BoT Member and Initiator/Founder of Okun Professors Forum.
Hon. Justina Abanida (Mrs.); Former Attorney General and Secretary to Kogi State Government. Member, Mobilization Committee of KWEF.
Comrade Musa Bakare; Member, Mobilization Committee of KWEF (Media).