Kogi Elections: My Fifteen Sentiments by Ikechukwu Obi

Ikechukwu Obi

Congratulations to Yahaya Bello and Edward Onoja on their re-election as Gov/Dep. Gov. While I acknowledge the controversial circumstances of the elections, I want to express certain sentiments straight away. All protocols observed.

  1. Yahaya Bello and I were born in the same year and he is from Okene. These two factors immediately predispose me to sentiments because we could very easily have played together as little children on Ozuwaya Str. in the very early ‘80s, or maybe encountered him elsewhere in the town as teenagers. I don’t know him from anywhere but I can identify with him on more than one level. This here is purely my own sentiments.

  2. Ebira people are very politically conscious, passionate and a tad fiery-tempered. The dynamics of the creation of Kogi state put them in second place minority and they have never produced a Governor of Kogi state.

  3. The last time an Ebiraman was Governor was in 1983. Adamu Attah was NPN Governor of old Kwara state and in his time, established Obangede Specialist Hospital, College of Nursing etc. in Okene.

  4. Kogi state created in 1991 has always been governed by the majority Igalas in the Kogi East Zone, using either the Ebira or the Okun in Kogi West as deputies.

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  1. Yahaya Bello got the Governorship on a platter of gold. After four years, believe me, it is natural that Ebira people will try very hard to keep him there for another four years especially when the very basis of his opponents’ campaign is their own ‘majority’. They would turn out in 100% numbers and ‘more’ to return their son there but knowing they couldn’t do that alone, they made deep futuristic alliances with the Igalas. In a game of numbers, the strategy was clear from the onset.

  2. The first four years have been very stormy. Clearly unprepared for leadership at that level, Yahaya Bello failed to exercise strong leadership oversight of the well-intentioned staff audit which spiralled out of control. By the time he woke up from the daze of politicking which followed that screening, he was owing to a huge backlog of salaries.

  3. He started making an effort to clear the salaries around the second or third quarter of his third year (thereabouts) after he had cleaned up the state’s personnel issues and used Remita to lock down payrolls. Then this year, he received two tranches of a special N50bn bailout for Kogi state-approved by former President Jonathan but which could not be accessed by former Gov Idris Wada before he left the office. With those tranches, he cleared substantially all the backlog though in percentages, as I understand. I stand corrected but by Aug/Sept, no state worker was owed, though I cannot immediately ascertain if LG workers were owed by the time of the elections.

  4. There’s nothing like 39months salary backlog. That’s nonsense media hogwash. Absolutely. If Yahaya Bello is owing 39months because he paid those 39 months in percentages, then Aregbesola who was also paying percentage is owing 48months. Yes na, Rochas too will be owing about 36months etc.

  5. There is also a demographic power shift in Kogi. Yahaya Bello is 44yrs, Edward Onoja is 41. Power has clearly shifted to our generation. But what will they make of it? Furthermore, unlike most of the other power brokers in the state, Yahaya Bello does not come from an elitist family. His PDP opponent is the younger brother to the former Governor Idris Wada. Even Adamu Attah I mentioned earlier was the son of the famous AbdulAzeez Attah, colonial administrator and Nnamdi Azikiwe’s former Private Secretary. Other power brokers like late Prince Abubakar Audu and Ibro all had or created hegemonic power bases for themselves. On the contrary, Yahaya Bello is real commonfolk…let a new leadership base be developed in that state. Let the power bases spread, perhaps the net will bring in the exceptional Moses who will make Kogi truly exceptional. Power should not be anybody’s exclusive preserve. In a dysfunctional political system like Nigeria’s, the more power spreads, the better for the society. This is simple political pragmatism.

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  1. Clearly, Yahaya Bello has succeeded in burying tribalism in a state balanced on an ethnic tripod. His tag team and friendship with Deputy Edward Onoja and the influence the latter wields is clear evidence that they have trumped that fault line. For instance, while the PDP campaigned on grounds of ‘majority’, these two hinged their re-election hopes on unifying the state. Do you say they rigged? Oh well, if they did, they were united in doing so.

  2. If for diverse reasons much was not achieved in the first term, the second term should afford Yahaya Bello the opportunity to put his name on several legacy projects. Every man my age craves immortality of sorts, I want to believe. Someone should help me tell him that if he spends N3bn on projects in each Senatorial Zone out of that N10bn his godfather recently handed him via the NASS, he would have started laying some name for himself. It may also ameliorate anger over events during the elections. Someone should help me tell Yahaya Bello that wealth is sweet but wealth AND legacy is ultimate immortality. Audu Abubakar ‘stole’ so-and-so (according to EFCC) but can anyone ever deny the existence of Kogi State University or its products? That’s legacy.

  3. There’s a need for unity in Kogi state right now. To move his state forward, Yahaya Bello should reach out appropriately and start healing wounds. The truth is that the Kogi East Zone is also fully part of the administration through Dep. Gov. Edward Onoja whom (if they perform favourably) would rotate the Governorship back to the majority ethnic group in 2023. Edward Onoja would likely play a huge role in this unifying effort. The state govt must hold out an olive branch, show real compassion and try to salve wounds. After the disagreements, Kogi state must be their focus. It is up to them to make their names great or to have it hurled as an imprecation down the ages. The choice is theirs now.

  4. Elections in Kogi have often been violent but the brazenness of this one beggar’s belief. However, considering the unfortunate reign of impunity in Nigeria today, it is doubtful if there will be any serious enquiry and that is why I will simply put my thoughts this way: blood has been shed and believe me, it must be requited one way or the other. Somebody must pay here or in the hereafter. Everyone involved in those killings should pray that the day does not come when they will ask God for forgiveness and fail to find it. That would the real damnation indeed, that would be when they realize that the whole world is not worth anyone’s blood.

  5. I pray Sen. Dino Melaye returns to the Senate in the reruns. Any Nigerian who can read the political atmosphere will tell you that Nigeria will need Dino Melaye’s type in that Senate as we roll towards 2023. Nuff said.

  6. Kogi needs peace. Elections are over. That state sits astride real wealth which needs visionary leadership to exploit. If these two young people do not deliver very visibly by 2023 now that they have full power, let us pack it up and call it a day on Nigeria, no need for long talk again.