Kogi 2015: Politics Of Power Shift | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Kogi 2015: Politics Of Power Shift

Posted: Jul 19, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Adah Lagos

As the November 21 governorship elections in Kogi State draws nearer, one of the questions on the lips of many political observers is whether power would this time shift to the Central or West Senatorial zone. Since the creation of Kogi State in 1991, only one senatorial zone (the East) has monopolised the governorship position.  That was why some elites from the two zones under the aegis of Kogi Equity Initiative met recently in Abuja to review the situation and agreed that it is their turn to produce the next governor of the 24 year old state. They   threatened to disown any aspirant who accepts to become running mate to any governorship candidate from Kogi East Senatorial Zone.

Prince Abubakar Audu

Prince Abubakar Audu

The group lay the blame of Kogi’s under-development on the Igala who have been ruling the state for over 18 out 24 years of its existence. Among the political gladiators present at the meeting co-chaired by former Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, were Professor Yusuf Aliyu and Alhaji Idris Tawari, Senators Dino Melaye, Salihu Ohize, Rep. Kabir Ajanah, Dr. Tom Adaba, retired DIG of Police, among others.

The last time the people of Kogi West Senatorial Zone came close to producing the governor of the state was in 1999. At that time, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) produced Arch. Stephen Olorunfemi as governorship candidate from the West Senatorial District, but lost the governorship election to Prince Abubakar Audu of the All Peoples Party (APP) which later became All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).  Agitators of power shift believe that with the introduction of card reader and Permanent Voter Card (PVC) it would be difficult for politicians from the eastern flank of the state to manipulate the election result as they have been doing in the past.

Many indigenes of the two senatorial districts believe that the Igala who have been dominating the political scene in the state, does so because they were able to manipulate election results to their own advantage. According to the 1996 population census figure, the Igala in the east constitute about 45 percent of the total population of the state, while the west and central made up 55 percent.  But in the last governorship election on December 3, 2011, the Igala got about 52 percent of the total votes cast. Some also believe that by the time report of the last Constitutional Conference is approved and become operational, the dominance of one ethnic group against others would come to an end.  The confab recommended that power should rotate among the three senatorial zones in the state. But the assurance that the present administration would implement the report of the conference before the governorship election in Kogi which is about four months away is yet to be seen.

Though there is a general belief in the state even among the Igala that the governorship position should not be the exclusive right of a particular tribe in a multi-ethnic state like Kogi, however, analysts are of the view that the manner in which some people are going about the issue may generate a lot of tension and crisis in the state.



According to a public commentator, an indigene of Ajaokuta Local Government Area of the state, Mallam Hassan Yusuf, the best way to bring about power shift in the state is for the stakeholders to come to a compromise. He stated that while power shift to other zones that have not got the opportunity to produce the governor of the state is important, power shift should also be reflected in other positions like the Senate, House of Representatives, among others. He wondered why the Senator representing Kogi central has only been coming from Okene or Adavi local government areas while they are about five local governments that make up Kogi Central Senatorial Zone.

According to Yusuf, what Kogi needs at the moment is somebody that can harness the enormous abundant resources that would lead to the transformation of the state.  He regretted that the state has not been fortunate in the past 24 years because the governors who have been coming to rule the state have no vision of development.  For nine years Kogi under Ibrahim was at a standstill despite all the promises he made to turn the state around, especially during his second term.  “Kogi has all it takes to be the Kenya of Nigeria, we have solid mineral deposit which can transform the economy of the state without necessarily depending on monthly allocation from the federation account,” he said.

Yusuf’s view was also corroborated by one Hussain Obaro who believes that negotiation and not power shift mantra is the only to end the dominant position of the Igala in Kogi East. Writing in one of the on line medium, Kogi Reports, Obaro advised both leaders from the two zones to bury their pride and begin a process of negotiation. “The selfishness, arrogance and lack of political maturity of Okun and Ebira politicians have made it difficult for them to see reasons to opt for the option of peaceful and brotherly dialogue instead of a combative struggle,” he said.

The former governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu, during the last governorship elections in the state, promised to support power shift to both the central and west zones if elected to serve only a term in office. Similarly, Ibrahim Idris who succeeded Audu also promised to support the emergence of governor from any of the two zones that are yet to produce governor in the ‘Confluence  state’ though he reneged on that promise when the opportunity offered itself in 2011.  That is why the suggestion for dialogue and further consultation on the matter is needed.

Speaking during the governorship campaign in 2010, an Ebira leader told a political gathering in Okene that it would be naive for any Ebira man to think of becoming a governor at that time judging by the clan war that has been going on among the people for some years.  Instead he advised those with governorship ambition to bury that and with understanding support the aspiration of Yakubu Mohammed who though hails from the eastern part of the state has a lot of friends from the other zones of the state.

It is now generally believed that there is every possibility that an Okun man or Ebira man would one day be governor of the state because the era of a section or tribe dominating the affairs of the state or country is giving way for equity and fairness to thrive, but stakeholders believe that dialogue and not threat or war would bring the dream to pass faster.