Now that the 2019 general elections is drawing to a close, attention of political gladiators and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will shift to the ‘Confluence State,’ as Kogi State is fondly called; that is expected to hold governorship in the last quarter of this year.
This year’s race for who occupies the ‘Lugar House,’ as Kogi Government House is fondly called because of historical antecedent, is unique in many respects. For one, this election is going to be a walkover or a mere constitutional formality, because, there is no vacancy in Lugard House.
This optimism is premised on the performances of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the just concluded Presidential, National and State Assembly elections in the state, where the governor, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello successfully led an indomitable campaign team that conquered two senatorial seats, the twenty five (25) seats in the State Assembly and delivered the state to President Muhammadu Bahuri.
The APC’s performances in the last election, according to analysts, is a referendum on how well the governor Bello has piloted the affairs of the Kogi State in the three (3) years.
These victory run is to say the least, nail the ‘political coffin’ of Political detractors who believe that, Kogi State should be their private estate. These greedy elements must be ignored in support of the continuity of the current government that has so far proven that, irrespective of your ethnic and religion, your interest is guaranteed.
The generational transfer of power must sustained by returning Gov Bello in the 2019 governorship election. Before this time, what was in vogue in Kogi State was gerontocracy, where government is dominated by the aged and the youths whose future are at stake, were relegated to the back seat.
Today, the situation is different. The innovations that are being brought to bear in governance in Kogi bear eloquent testimony of a jet-age-team at the helm of affairs in the state.
To begin with, the state has not enjoyed political harmony, since it was created on August 27, 1991, like in the last three years. The political and social rivalry between the major ethnic groups that make up the state, which has hitherto, retarded economic and social progress has been demystified under this administration.
The political and social animosity between the Igalas to the East, Igbirras in Central and the Okun to the West has given way to new bridge of understanding under Gov Bello’s leadership. He has successfully risen to the generational task of breaking the former bridges of political and social friction between ethnic groups in the state. He has chosen to burn the bridges of political and social hatred of the past; opting to build new bridges of political unity across the three divides.
By these actions, analysts have described Gov Bello as a Pathfinder, a Visionary leader and the emerging Political Bridge across the confluence. Therefore, we must resist those who are bent on redirecting our path to the past.
Before the emergence of Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello as the executive governor of Kogi State, the governance process in the state was like the Monroe’s Doctrine of Europe for the Europeans and America for the Americans. That means: winner takes it all, but the equation has changed significantly. The popular opinion today is that, the New Direction government in Kogi is ‘All for Kogi and Kogi for All!’
Gov Bello must be re-elected for another term because he possesses the required resume to guide Kogi State in a new direction and out of its current doldrums. As a testimony, today, even a blind man can feel the impact of his magic wand, in the riverine state.
Increasingly, and like never before, the Igalas, Igbirras and Okuns are finding themselves in roundtable political discussions. They are now camping around the same purpose and vision. They are beginning to defy the odds divide and rule politicians placed before them and seeing themselves as sharing the same historical bloodline. The hateful, bitter and resenting language is giving way to dialogues and common grounds.
Never before, in the history of democratic governance in the 28-year-old state, has any government run a populist government like the New Direction. It has always been the game of the elites, by the elites and for the elites. But the new sheriffs at the helm of affairs at the Lugard House have better ideas.
In the first instance, the multi-ethnic configuration of Kogi State is by historical antecedents and by every stretch of imagination, a Divine Mandate. Ethnic diversity is one of the most potent forces for social change and progress. That was why the exact geography of today’s Kogi State was carved out as Kabba Province, under Northern Nigerian regional government, when the nation attained self-rule in 1960.
Political thinkers have opined that, divinely, the ethnics around the point of convergence of the two major rivers in Nigeria: Niger and Benue, was to serve as springboard for ethnic harmony and tolerance in Nigeria. That is the task Gov Bello has committed himself to achieve. Irrespective of the machination of mischief makers, he will surely achieve it. But we must remind ourselves that, fours is not enough time to totally redress what has been planted over decades. That is why Bello must be re-elected to complete this onerous task.
– Amb. Ogah is the coordinator, ‘Operation No Vacancy in Lugard House.’