Governorship In Kogi The Clamour For Change In Kogi State | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Governorship In Kogi The Clamour For Change In Kogi State

Posted: Jul 15, 2015 at 3:24 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ayo Oyoze Baje
To begin with, anyone who reads this piece with the mindset that Mr. Baje is writing purely from the perspective of an Ebira man would be missing the point. While one cannot deny his heritage, I will feel greatly pained if we cannot face the truth and say it as it is. Or, jointly agree that some political wrongs have been committed that need redressing.
Call it an act of immanent Fate or Providence, I am one person who can boast of being a true-born Kogite. Forgive my being personal here but truth is, I was born in Ihima (Ebiraland), had my secondary school education at Ochaja Secondary School, Ochaja (Igalaland), my higher school education at Titcombe College, Egbe (Okunland) and spent part of my career, in the early ‘90s as an educationist at Lokoja, (the state capital). What more, some of my closest friends up till now, who have proved to be strong and dependable pillars in the storm are either Igalas or Okuns. Without doubt therefore, God has adequately prepared me for this rather touchy topic.
Back in 1991 I was plying my trade in Lokoja when Kogi state was created. An incident took place during that momentous occasion that one would not forget in a hurry. While we were celebrating, a friend who incidentally hails from outside our state asked a poignant and thought-provoking question. He wondered if we were confident that there would be equity, fairness and justice in running the affairs of the state. We said we were, dismissing his curious question with a wave of the hand. But subsequent political events were to prove us wrong.
Going through the recent advertorial in Daily Trust placed by the Kogi Central and West Forum for Equity and Justice, and signed by Dr. Tom Adaba, its Chairman, Media and Publicity Committee called for sober reflection. Part of it reads thus, “the current social, economic and political situation in the state since its creation 24 years ago” has revealed “that Kogi State has not lived up to the expectation of its founding fathers”.
To bolster this claim, the Forum hinging its position on available statistics reiterates that while Kogi Central and West Senatorial Districts account for 55 per cent of the population and are responsible for about 85 per cent of the internally generated revenue, political and public service appointments and recruitment, as well as allocation of resources have been monopolized by the Eastern Senatorial District. The situation has become so serious that only about 20 percent of the resources are left for the two Senatorial Districts.
It goes further to explain that there has been not much economic value to the people (in terms of infrastructural development, provision of social amenities, industrialization and job creation) for the trillions of naira that accrued to state over the years. Responsible for this is what it calls “ the gross and willful mismanagement of available resources by successive governments”. One can therefore, understand why the Forum feels that people from both the Central and Western axes of the state have been unduly shortchanged by an “unconscionable level of marginalization and oppression.”
This sad and shocking scenario throws up some fundamentally burning questions. Did the founding fathers of Kogi State envisage a situation whereby only one ethnic group would continue to produce the governor, ad infinitum and dominate the political space to the exclusion of other Senatorial Districts? Is it just, fair and equitable? Will this not naturally trigger bad blood, envy and angst if the master-servant relationship persists? But above all, is there no sustainable solution to this incongruous political arrangement that skews power in favour of a particular ethnic group?
Of course, there is. The yet -to- be -passed recommendation of the 2014 National Conference, is that there should be rotation of political power amongst the three Senatorial Districts of every state. We can adopt this in our beloved Kogi State without rancor. Historically, the Igalas, Ebiras and Okuns have coexisted peacefully in the defunct Kabba Province. Besides, the first two have closely-knit ancestral and cultural linkage which should not be violated. Let us not deliberately offend the sensibilities of those who fought, tooth and nail for the realization of Kogi State, while others preferred a different political restructuring.
While majority of voters win elections for their preferred candidates, one would wish to let the Forum note that it needs the cooperation of other ethnic groups, including the Igalas to swing the political pendulum in its favour. Also, it would be foolhardy to think that all the Ebiras and Okuns would massively vote for a candidate from their area. Bitter as this may sound, politicking is complex and some fair-weather politicians have a price tag.
All said, the world of successful politics and economy has since moved from that of competition and conflicts to that of collaboration and consensus. Let us learn from the historic emergence of former presidents Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan after preventable political agitations. Even the Northern political elite now understands this. Change is inevitable.
Anyone who therefore, feels that one part of a state would continue to call the shots forever must think again. The Confluence of the Niger and Benue at Lokoja symbolizes unity of purpose. That is what we currently need to move our state forward. God bless Kogi State. God bless Nigeria.