He took the stage like a whirlwind. That was in 2002/03 when he vied for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship ticket in Kogi State. After that unsuccessful attempt at becoming Landlord of Lugard House, then youthful Momoh Yusuf Obaro simply withdrew to his cocoon and has since remained under cover.
Obaro’s aspiration held much hope on the different facets of power shift agitations in the state.
On one hand, he was the face of a paradigm shift from the old to the younger demography. On the other, his ethnic Ebira and Okun which constituted the Kwara block of Kogi had long coveted the number one office in the State.
That was not all. He is a Christian, whose target could have led to a religious balance of the equation. Obaro’s daring dream of governing the State, would have been a classical case of killing three birds with one good stone. But, it was not to be.
To be sure, Obaro was not the only minority Aspirant, nor was he the only Christian in that race. The better known effant terrible of Ebira politics, the late Senator Ahmed Tijani Ahmed was in the race. Similarly, Senator Alex Kadri and a military goon, Air Vice Marshal Isaac Alfa were better known Christian politicians in the contest. Fate however had a different plan for the Kogi people. Ibrahim Idris, an unassuming businessman and little known politician from Omala proved bookmakers wrong when he clinched the ticket and proceeded to give, Late Abubakar Audu, the then incumbent Governor and candidate of All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) a bloody nose in the general election.
Being the only Christian minority in the race for the PDP ticket, many people had expected Obaro would be nominated for Deputy Governorship slot. But, political calculations are mostly not based on simple logic. Ahmed, whose honour it was to make the nomination, thought otherwise. Since then, Obaro has more or less remained in political oblivion.
After the failed bid, Obaro, a Chattered Accountant, returned to his job at Wadata Plaza, the PDP Secretariat, where he was the party’s Director of Finance. Political exigency later forced him out of the party and along with other like minds, they founded ACD. The party eventually fused with Alliance for Democracy (AD) to become Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which coalesced with other groups to become the behemoth All Progressives Congress (APC).
Except for his membership of a dormant committee in the APC Presidential Campaign Council in 2019, it is worrisome that since joining the ruling party, Obaro has not being heard or seen. His De Villa Hotel in Okene, which used to be a beehive of political activities is no longer so. His style of politics, which was hugely consultative affected lives at the grassroots. For instance, he constructed boreholes, empowered several people and was paying WAEC/ NECO fees for students across the Central Senatorial District until the administration of former Governor Ibrahim Idris took over that task for all students in the State. Nor was his charitable acts domiciled only in his Senatorial district. Indeed, the software expert saw every part of his State as home and once said only an all inclusive, responsible and non-tribal politicking can unlock the vast potential of the Confluence State.
In his previous outing, Obaro impressed admirers by his humility and analytical skills. He had then suggested education, agriculture and industrialisation as the road map to the future. He should know. His is a story of resilience.
He was raised in poverty by his farmer-parents, and has remained a farmer. He is the brain behind Ova’aro farms Ltd. After a primary education disrupted by the civil war, he managed to obtain his school certificate mostly through private studies. Today, aside a first degree in Accountancy, he holds an MBA and MSC in Software Engineering.
It is a surprise that someone with such a background should just disappear from the nation’s political space. The question on many minds as the nation is on the March again is, where is Obaro?
– Aliyu Ojonugwa wrote from Idah, Kogi State.