Kogi state election must have come and gone but it is necessary to know what really transpired in the state before and during the election.
Just like any other state in Nigeria, Kogi State is made up of three senatorial districts- the East, the West and the Central senatorial districts. While the East was carved from the old Benue State, the West and the Central were carved from the old Kwara State during the state creation on August 27, 1991.
The East Senatorial District: This comprises majorly, the Igala people and the most populous tribe in the state. Bassa people are also found in this zone. There are nine LGAs in the zone. They are Ankpa, Dekina, Idah, Omala, Ofu, Igalamela/Odolu, Olamaboro, Ibaji and Bassa LGAs.
The West Senatorial District: This comprises, majorly the Okun people. The Oworo, Igbirra Koto, Kakanda people are also found in this region. There are seven LGAs in the zone. They are Kabba Bunu, Ijumu, Yagba East, Yagba West, Mopa-muro, Lokoja and Koton Karfe LGAs.
The Central Senatorial District: This comprises majorly, the Ebira Tao people. The Ogori people are also found in this region. There are five LGAs in the zone. They are Adavi, Ajaokuta, Okehi, Okene and Ogori/Magongo LGAs.
Pre-election activities: There were rigorous campaigns by political parties before the election most especially the two major parties- the People Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) also did her best during the campaigns. They all canvassed for votes from the electorates in all the nooks and crannies of the state save one district which was not touched by a political party. I will be handling this very soon.
WADA IS NOT A POLITICIAN: Engr. Musa Wada was the candidate of the PDP in the election. With all due respect to him, the gentle man was brought to politics with little or no knowledge of Kogi politics. He was made to believe that the votes from his own senatorial district alone are enough for him to win the governorship election. This is an assumption that is many miles away from the truth. He therefore didn’t allow his campaign train to hit the central senatorial district, where the incumbent governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, hails from. The reason given was that there was a planned attack if they step the zone. This is another imagination of those who did not want Wada to succeed.
Late Prince Abubakar Audu and Alhaji Ibrahim Idris almost made Okene their home when the duos were vying for this highest position in the state. It was a practice that made them succeed overwhelmingly during their reigns as political gladiators in Kogi state.
I believe that the APC campaign team followed the footsteps of Audu and Ibrahim in canvassing for support even in the faces of intimidation and harassment in some parts of the state and they gave every senatorial district the sense of belonging.
THE VOTING PATTERN: There is this accusation that Bello is owing thirty months’ salary, he’s owing pensioners, he’s has not executed any project in the state and so he should be rejected. While this was the open campaign against Bello and his All Progressives Congress, there is a latent campaign of tribalism. This campaign sold very well in the eastern and most populous part of the state, the zone where Engr. Musa Wada hails from. However, Bello supporters in this zone did not betray him. They knew that without reasonable votes from that zone, it would be hard for him to win the election. Something they didn’t want to happen, for whom much is given, much is expected. Out of the nine LGAs in the zone, the PDP won seven while the APC won two. The two LGAs won by the APC were the Ibaji and Olamaboro LGAs, the LGAs of the former and present Deputy Governors to Alhaji Yahaya Bello respectively. In the areas where the PDP won, the margin were not too convincing except in Ankpa and Idah LGAs.
If we must call a spade its name, even if Bello had paid a year salaries in advance, if had constructed and rehabilitated all the roads in the state, if had allowed and employed more ghost workers, there are still people in this zone that believe and call Bello an accidental governor and as such does not deserve a second term.
In the Central Senatorial District, the voting pattern took another dimension, the APC won all the five LGAs and the PDP couldn’t get even 5% of the total vote cast except Ajaokuta LGA where they had about 23% and Ogori Magongo where they had 36% but the total votes in Ogori Magongo is less than 6,000. It could be recalled that the Central Senatorial district is where the incumbent governor and candidate of the APC hails from.
While I do not encourage this one way voting in this zone if we truly want a united Kogi State , the PDP compounded their problem here by neglecting the zone during their campaign. No one wants to be underrated but the central must learn to be more accommodating.
Even if Yahaya Bello owed all the civil servants in the state, even if he had not executed any project at all in the state (even bakery), even if he had not taken anyone as his commissioner or Special Adviser from the zone, even if he had denied the zone the dividends of democracy, there are so many people that would have still voted for him just because he’s an Ebira man. This is because they believe they had not gotten the opportunity to rule Kogi state since her creation in 1991 until the arrival of Bello in 2016.
In the Western Senatorial district, the APC won five out of the seven LGAs while the PDP won the remaining two. Elections were held for both their senatorial seat and the governorship on same day, something that had much effect on the outcome of votes from that zone. Although, their senatorial election was declared inconclusive by the INEC, Senator Smart Adeyemi of the APC was leading Senator Dino Melaye of the PDP by over 20,000 votes.
With due respect to other zones, this zone (KW) is arguably the most civilized in the state. They know when to say “yes’’ or “no”.
RECONCILIATION AND LAST MINUTE DEFECTION: The move by the APC to reconcile all the different factions of the party also aided their victory. Hon Falake, Hadi and Prince Audu political groups are few among those that were reconciled with the governor.
The defection of some PDP chieftains to the APC is another factor that favoured the latter. Prominent among them was former speaker of KSHA and one time acting governor of the State Rt Hon. Clarence Olafemi.
NATASHA MADE A GOOD OUTING: the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Barr. Natasha Akpoti, the only female candidate in the election made a very good outing. She was able to garner votes, no matter how small it was, from all the 21 LGAs.
She is a courageous, talented and focused woman but truth be told, Kogi State is not ready now for a female governor. She will be very useful to any serous government in the nearest future. I advise her to keep moving but should try as much as possible to excuse propaganda.
VOTE BUYING: It is no longer news that vote buying has come to stay in Nigeria politics and Kogi is not taking an exception. However, only the politicians should not be accused of this as the electorates cannot be exonerated. Nobody can buy what you are not ready to sell. The electorates put their votes for sale and the able politicians gladly take the advantage. In some cases, the law of diminishing marginal utility may set in. The worth of each voter may also differ depending on the acceptance of the political parties in the zone.
To stop vote buying, we must stop vote selling first. We have no moral right to question how someone uses what he/she has already bought from us. Let's hold our leaders accountable.
GOVERNOR BELLO’S APPOINTEES: Bello’s appointees in the last four years have performed below expectation especially the media team. There were so many things that the public would have loved to know but it took them so much time before they could enlighten the public.
However, other political appointees from the other zones (East and West) were able to get back to their people at the grassroots. Most of those from the central were waiting for the campaign period to share fez and T-shirts with GYB/CEDO crested just to show their sycophancies. They know quite right that tribalism will set in and they will use it to justify their presence at the grassroots whereas they are also ghost appointees. God is watching you people.
ELECTORAL VIOLENCE: If the electorates had known that the difference between the politicians is infinitesimal, no one, I mean no one would kill his fellow brothers because of politics. Sadly, pockets of violence were recorded in November 16 governorship election and Kogi West Senatorial re-run in Kogi State. Tomorrow, Bello and Wada may support the same political party, Dino and Smart Adeyemi may be campaigning for the same candidate, but those who have lost their lives to this ugly and ungodly situation will never come back to life. What a pity. Let those who have ears hear that if there is anything/anybody worth dying for, definitely not politicians.
THE WAY FORWARD: While I congratulate the 4th executive governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello and his Deputy, Chief Edward David Onoja, on their re-election, they must be magnanimous in victory and carry everyone along irrespective of political party, religion or tribe.
Bello should appoint people of traceable good records as advisers, people who will tell him what he needs to know and not what he wants to hear. He should avoid sycophants as much as possible and do away with most of these present self centered appointees.
Governor Bello must right all the wrongs in his first tenure.
We must avoid sentiments and vote for performance and credibility, this reminds me, no major political party in the state had ever produced a christian candidate for the governoship position still because of religious sentiment. This situation, I would like the key political players to arrest too in the next dispensation.
And finally, if possible, because of the complex nature of the state, a gentleman agreement should be reached on power rotation among the three senatorial districts.
Long live Kogi State!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Comrade Owuri Abubakar Onoruoyiza S. (MNMGS) writes from Anyioke in Adavi LGA of Kogi State.OMOKOSHABAN