By Dr Tom Ohikere
As the election draws nearer, and as we contemplate the kind of Kogi we want to live in and create.
Two options lie before us, which is the incumbent Governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello, the first Ebiraman to ever wield the highest office in the state and Musa Wada the scion of a prominent Igala clan, whose father in-law is former Governor of the state, Ibrahim Idris and elder brother, Idris Wada also a former Governor.
The Ebiras of Kogi Central Senatorial district like the Okuns of Kogi West senatorial district, the two minority tribes in the state, have never exercised the executive office of the state since its creation in 1991 until the 2015 tragedy that befell the nascent and triumphant APC and the emergence of Governor Bello, while the Igalas who constitute the largest tribe, what has been roughly estimated to range between 41 to 49 percent of the total population, have held it like a traditional right without second thought.
In those years of politicking, the 17 years in which the Igala juggernauts wielded the helm, beginning with Prince Abubakar Audu, Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada, that is in the third and fourth republic, the Ebiras have always played strong and strategic roles to the emergence of these personalities. And that is because the Ebira’s had always had strong political consciousness, and made spectacular contributions to the emergence of Kogi state in 1991. An Ebiraman was even once the Governor of Kwara state when part of present-day Kogi state was in the former, that is Alh Adamu Atta. We know the likes of A.T Ahmed, and others who facilitated the Igala governorships then.
As the moment of decision dawns, we must realize that Kogi state is at crossroad, it is presented with two possible scenarios, the kind of government it rejected in 2015 led by Idris Wada and strenuously defended by Musa Wada, and a government that is youthful, revolutionary, tested and commendable with their new direction agenda.
Kogi state since its founding has witness modest achievements under different administrations but it is still not where it was envisioned to be by its founding fathers and experts informed of the potentials it bears. And this can be attributed to a multiplicity of factors, chief among them is corruption, nepotism and ignorance.
The ruling faction that hitherto held sway until the fortuitous ascendancy of Governor Bello did so by exploiting popular sentiments which has breed the factors listed above and in addition lack of accountability, lopsided appointments and distribution of projects as well as an over bloated, moribund civil service and tagging the state as a civil service state, that is a state that exist to cater for only the payment of public workers’ wages. In all these time, the ruling Igala elites where faithfully supported by the Ebiras and were rewarded with the deputy governorship, in the persons of Patrick Adaba and Philip Salawu.
This is the first time an Ebiraman will be listed on the ballot as the candidate of one of the two dominant parties in the 28 years’ history of the state, due to the unexpected demise of Adoja, the staunch support of Chief Edward Onoja, the former chief of staff and current deputy to the incumbent and the unprecedented decision of my party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) to oversee power shift in the spirit of progressivism and inclusiveness.
Governor Yahaya Bello has been receiving the growing support of right thinking people and stakeholders in the state who believe that the Eastern flank haven exercised power for about sixteen years since the return of democracy in 1999, should allow an individual from another ethnic group to govern at least for a two term period to bring a different initiative and idiosyncrasy to governance.
And the incumbent has had a relatively excellent mark on a comparative scorecard. It is in this context that we have been witnessing the torrent of endorsements that have been greeting the governor’s re-election bid.
Many of whom believe that as brothers in the Kogi Project we must work to preclude the sentiments and divisionalism that have been used and have worked in the past to perpetuate retrogression in the land. That one good turn deserves another and there is no other time but now to test this idealism and bond of fraternity.
Governor Bello and his able deputy governor have been working assiduously and delivering unprecedentedly in the quest to change the Kogi narrative. There model of governance is one that fosters equity and inclusivity, which is discernible from the patterns of appointments and distribution of developmental projects.
To the ethnic irredentist and chauvinist in the PDP, in their primitive conception of democracy see it as a taboo that a scion of a minority ethnic group should be fortunate enough to ascend to that high office, hence their fury and fierce struggle to return to power and re-impose the old regime.
But their uproar seem to be unfounded because despite the fact that Governor Yahaya Bello is from another tribe, under him Kogi East which boasted of traditionally producing the governors in the state has also witnessed a fair share of commendable achievements that have eluded the district under the so-called sons of the soil.
We can see the construction of the elaborate central mosque in Ankpa, the major roads projects, the hospital rehabilitations, primary school projects including the rebuilding of Igala Unity house, a landmark project intended to be a symbol of Igala power and unity but was abandoned by successive administrations.
So Governor Yahaya Bello has done remarkably well for the people of Kogi East, more than those they consider their own, that is why one good turn deserves another, and that I think is what the Attah of Igala land and other esteemed and noble personalities from Kogi East have seen and are seeing.
That the old ways have not favoured them and that they could have a better deal under a government support by their trusted son, Chief Edward Onoja, someone who is free from the albatross of belonging to the traditional political establishment in the eastern senatorial district.
My position and support for the election of governor Yahaya Bello is because I believe that given his comparative achievements despite the political, administrative and financial antecedent in the state, that is the long period of inefficiency and decay in the state’s civil service and the burden inherited from the mis-governance of the PDP and the Idris Wada administration as well as the imperative of the need of a government that fosters equity and inclusiveness, lack of which engendered by migration from the PDP to the ACN and eventually to the APC.
I am not just supporting Governor Bello’s re-election bid because he is an Ebiraman but because of his works and the caliber of men that will co-ordinate the government alongside him. As I have said before in one of my articles I wrote in 2016 titled, Ebira Agenda:
The Fact, The Myth And The Clarion Call For A More United Kogi State, I said that if societal situations are normal, individual security guaranteed, our roads motorable, our economy buoyant and our people can put food on their table nobody will care about who is in or out of power or ensure that only the adjudge best or competent wield power regardless of his tribe.
Ebira agenda to me is to ensure the availability of infrastructural facilities as against the prevailing infrastructural deficit. That is to say that the Ebira and Kogi State agenda are the one and the same.
Dr Tom Ohikere is the Secretary of the Media/Publicity Committee of the Kogi State APC 2019 Governorship Campaign Council.