BY, ROT. ACHOR EMMANUEL.
When I take a cursory perusal look at the activities, actions and inactions of some of our front lines politicians in Kogi State as it pertains the general interest of the three senatorial districts which make up the state, I am not only confused at their activities but wonder if we can ever be sincere to ourselves as a state and as a people.
Over the years arguments have been put forward as to when and how politics of power rotations can be fully achieved in Kogi State, this is with some persons giving supportive and counter opinions to it possibilities. In an attempt to answer these questions, most responses are geared towards the inabilities of those who have gotten the opportunities at one point or the other to make this drive a reality.
As a child with proper home training, my sincere apology to those who this piece might not go down well with. I considered this apology necessary because of the likely comments and reactions that this piece will be followed with when finally released for public consumption. However, A SPADE is a SPADE.
For the purpose of history and its lovers, I seek your kind permission to start with a brief history of POLITICS OF POWER SHIFT/ROTATION in our dear state Kogi.
You will agree with me that one of the very difficult but easy Controversy in the daily activities of Kogi state politics is the issue of power shift as well as power rotation which has been of a more concern to the state populace over the years. Since the beginning of civilian rule in the state, it has become almost of a repeated song of every four years, hence becoming an inevitable ritual in the state.
Soon after, the amalgamation of the confluence state from Kwara and Benue State in August 1st 1991, by the then military administration of General Ibrahim Badmasi Babangida, the struggle for political relevance between the major ethnic groups in the State has until date a key player in the politics of Kogi state. The union between the three major ethnic groups that formed the confluence state across the three senatorial districts, such as the Igalas from Kogi East. The Ebiras from central and the Okuns from west, Bassa, Nupe etc, has been no doubt a political and social identity of the confluence state. You will agree with me that the political structure of Kogi state is built on three different tripod stands of the three major ethnic groups that formed the state. Igalas, Ebiras, Okuns and other minority ethnic groups in the state. Recall that the Igalas who according to facts are the 9th most populated ethnic group in Nigeria came from Benue State, While the Ebiras and the Okuns came from Kwara with different political structures and believes to kick start the political and democratic journey of Kogi state.
Since the amalgamation of Benue and Kwara called Kogi State, in 1991 and the eventual civilian rule, the Igalas been the most populated in the state has been at the helms of leadership in the state, this is aside the military administrators, who were non-indigenes but were appointed at one time or the other according to military government. History also has it that one of the three military administrators that governs the state before the coming of civilian rule was an Igala man. Kwaranews.com reviews that the position of leadership was voluntarily entrusted to the Igalas as a symbol of love and unity that existed between the Igalas and the old Compatriots from the old Kabba Province haven established a workable relationship before the advent of Kogi State which eventually landed them to both Kwara and Benue at different occasions.
According to Kingsley Fanwo Kogi state born politician as published by vanguard in what he tagged, The Power Perspectives: It reads “Unlike the Ebira and the Okun, who were relevant in the politics and bureaucracy of their former state, the Igalas were crammed in between the battles of supremacy that featured between the Tiv and the Idoma of the old Benue State. Thus, the Igalas came into Kogi fully armed with the knowledge of the practical meaning of marginalization. He went further to explained the meaning of PRATCAL MIRGINALISATION which he says that “A juxtaposition of this position, along with the comfort enjoyed by the Okun and Ebira in the old Kwara, will reveal why the duo were ill-prepared for the battle of wits which soon set in among the three major ethnic groups in the state”.
He pointed out that the Igala ensured they took advantage of the early delineation to claim more Local Government Areas than either of the two other major ethnic groups. While Kogi East, which is predominantly Igalas has nine Local Government Areas, the Okun-dominated Kogi West has seven Local Government Areas while Ebira-dominated Kogi Central has five Local Government Areas.
The agitation for power shift/rotation in Kogi State majorly began in 2003, after what can be described as non compliance to the purported gentle men agreement reached by political gladiators of the three senatorial districts of the State and what can be described as a betrayer of trust by the companions of the old Kabba province who where the architect behind the relinquishment of power to the Igalas at the beginning.
The call for power shift/rotation was further heightened when it become a crystal clear that the east has an agenda of retaining power as long as they could despite their political and religious differences. An agenda which motive did not gone down well with the Ebiras and the Okuns, Yoruba speaking tribe of the State. Politicians from the two senatorial districts began the agitation of power shift/rotation that has become a four years ritual in the state. Prominent politicians such as, Senator A.T Ahmed, Prince Olusola Akanmode, Amb, Usman Bello, Dr John Lawal, Arch, Steven Olorunfemi, Sen. Tunde Ogbeha and a host of others championed the agitation of power rotation into futility.
All attempts by Political leaders from west and central to break the political structure of Kogi east were frustrated in the 2007 primary election with the structural superiority and political machineries of Kogi east populace as they could not get the needed supports from the Okun, the Yoruba speaking area of the State.
At some points, it became clear that the political parties were helpless in their drive for the actualization of power shift/rotation agenda. Whereas the two major political parties, People Democratic party (PDP) and the All progressive congress (APC) were made to give commitments on power shift agenda prior to the 2015 general election respectively.
This I will justify as I proceed.
However, the readiness of the Okun people for power shift/rotation was further proven by voting massively for their son Sen. Mohammed Salami Ohiare, who was the flag bearer of the erstwhile Action congress (AC) in the 2007 general election. But disappointedly, the outcome and conducts of some of the players during the election set some political gladiators in the central into disagreement leading to internal crisis within them. During the crisis, many lives were lost, properties worth billions of naira where destroyed while some where forcefully sent on exile between 2007 and 2009.
In 2010 another failed attempt was made by the Ebiras from the central flank of the state. This time the west where ready to join hands with the central as against their earlier position haven seen the need to work together since their earlier move could not yield positive results as confirmed by both districts that a single three cannot make a forest.
This move was championed by Professor Albert Anjorin and assisted by Dr. David Atteh, a onetime commissioner for education in the old Kwara state. I wish to opine that this move did not work because the struggle of who first occupied Lugard house becomes another key issue of interest that cannot be swept under carpet. Once beaten twice shy, as what appears to be history repeating itself.
The coalitions of Kogi west and central committee was formed with the sole aim of picking a single candidate for the gubernatorial election on the platform of All Progressive congress (APC). But unacceptably, the outcome of the committee ended in futility. At this juncture, I considered it necessary to say that it become almost a project of impossibility between the agitators since all attempts to rescue power from the Igalas machineries could not held water. This is even as the struggle for who first occupied Lugard house was an internal crisis difficult to resolved Amidst the constant disunity among the West and Central, the Igalas ensured they utilized every available opportunities to press on in their defense to retain power among them as long as they could.
CONTRIBUTIONS OF POLITICAL PARTIES. Find details of this in my book soon to be published.
Like I have said before, at some points, the political parties became helpless, but understandable because of the peculiarities of the circumstances surrounding the political party system in Nigeria. As the struggle continues, the senator representing the good people of Kogi west in the National assembly, Sen Dino Melaye. In the spirit of sportsmanship, Melaye lead other stakeholders to the State leader of the APC in the State, now late Prince Abubaker Audu of blessed memories at his FCT residence to deliberate and mapped out a road map, but the meeting was said to have ended up in futility. As a strong believer of power shift, Melaye did not only stopped there. He was reported to have taken the matter to other APC gladiators outside the state to see reasons with them why power shift agenda must be achieved in the spirit of non marginalization, it was also reported that some groups of elders also took the matter to President Muhammadu Buhari for his personal interventions but because of the sensitive nature of the agitation neither the President nor the APC as the ruling party could proffers any workable solution, this is until a divine intervention landed on the central.
At this point, it is necessary to opine that the political sentiments and personal interests of our political gladiators of the state since 1992 has brought us to where we are on the power shift agenda, but they is little to comment, since the results are out for all to see. This view of mine had already been vindicated by history, including the circumstance that led to the emergency of Alh.Yahaya Adoza Bello GYB to Lugard house. Amidst the struggles & political calculations and after a failed prolonged struggle by the central and west district to rescue power from the superiority of Kogi east political gladiators. The holy books reviewed, “Power belongs to God and he gives to whoever he chooses”. This session of the holy books can never be forgotten in the general political history of Kogi State because of it cosmopolitan nature.
In what seems to be victory at last to the agitators. From the holy books, a divine intervention came first on the way of the central senatorial district of the state in the November, 2015 gubernatorial elections in Kogi state.
I will be remiss if I did not for the sake of history & posterity mentioned that Prince Abubakar Audu, our great leader and the first civilian governor of Kogi State as well as the leading candidate in the Nov 2015 governorship election, paid the cosmopolitan and Supreme but painful price to his father’s state, Kogi State, in fulfillment of power shift agenda in the state. The supreme price of Prince Abubukar Audu with his life was a colossal lost that will take the people of Kogi state as well as Nigeria decades to recover from.
It is no doubt that power has been shifted from the Igalas to the Central (Ebiras). It is educative to know that, the supreme price of Prince Abubakar Audu did not mark the end of a complete power shift agitation in Kogi state.
Power shift agenda can be HOLISTIC achieved in Kogi state if the central who where the first benefactors of the agitation under the leadership of HIS EXCELLENCY Alhaji. Yahaya Adoza Bello GYB might have completed his eight years of two tenures as allowed by the electoral act in agreement with the West and the Eastern part in the spirit of fairness to hand over power to the western senatorial district in a free, fair and credible election, this is even as the point that politics is a game of number cannot be do away with. Many political analysts and personnel observation have come with the conclusion that power shift agenda in Kogi state can fully be achieved by divine interventions, but as humans if we can ever be sincere to our selves, IT IS VERY POSSIBLE and the time is now but if you disagree with me. Then when?
This view is further vindicated with the fact that the eastern flank, who had been at the helms of affairs of leadership since 1992 are seriously putting all the available machineries together to rescue power from the incumbent government of the state (An Ebira man) accusing him of poor leadership style and most especially in the area of constant intimidation & practical marginalization of the Igalas & west especially in the caption of Ghost workers syndrome.Some even went further to give reasons why power shift agenda cannot be achieved with the incumbent governor.
Fellow democrats, Truth be told, to those who were/are strong believers of power shift agenda in Kogi State, it is really time to support the re-election bid of Governor Yahaya Bello if we must achieve a complete power shift agenda in Kogi State.