The coast is now clear and the battle line is drawn. The choice of who becomes the next Governor of Kogi State is already narrowed down to two persons going by the conclusion of the primaries conducted by the two dominant political parties in the state.
The Kogi gubernatorial tussle slated for November 16, 2019 is going to be a two-way horse race between a battle-tested political tactician and a tyro who is yet to grow his first set of political teeth.
Perhaps by the time the election has been done and dusted in November, other things being equal, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Engineer Musa Wada, who emerged through an inconclusive process(a peculiar pattern of his party), would have grown his first set of political teeth because by then he’d realize ‘Khaki no be leather’ as they say in our local parlance.
If the morning tells how the day will go, as it does most times, the way the two dominant political parties(APC and PDP) conducted their primaries must have given a glimpse of what’s to come in the main governorship election. And fortunately, the Kogi electorates know which of the parties they can entrust with their destiny: a chaotic and violent party; and an organized and peaceful one
While Governor Yahaya Bello emerged the candidate of his party via an entirely rancour-free process, Wada emerged in the dead of the night following a hail of bullets that made delegates and the PDP electoral committee headed by Governor Finitri of Adamawa State scamper for safety.
Just when one thought a rerun election would be conducted to conclude the inconclusive process, like a thief in the night, the name of Wada surfaced as the winner of the primary election. Since the announcement, Senator Dino Melaye and Abubakar Ibrahim, contestants in the disputed primary election, have been fuming and threatening to undo the party. How the party is able to reconcile the warring factions in its fold following the election will either make or break its chances in the November governorship election.
Again, like the tactician that he is, all those who vied for the ticket of the APC with Governor Bello have all pledged to work for the victory of the party in the forthcoming election which implies that the APC will be going into the main election as a united and one indivisible house across the length and breadth of the state. As they say, a house divided against itself will fall. The unity in the APC is a big plus for Bello who knows how to carry others along.
The party primaries aside, Governor Bello has got substantial positive campaign points to sell to the people of Kogi State as the election approaches. At the last count, he has paid the backlog of salaries he inherited from his predecessor, Captain Idris Wada, elder brother of the candidate of the PDP, Musa Wada, to the civil servants in the state. I am cocksure Kogites would not want to return to Egypt which the 13 years of PDP rule in the state typifies. The civil servants themselves have reaffirmed their confidence in Governor Bello.
It is a known fact that during the administrations of former Governors Ibrahim Idris and Captain Idris Wada, criminals and criminality had a field day in the state. Kogi was a hotbed of rogues and ragamuffins who called the shots. Citizens were at their mercy as they became the laws of the land. Today, the narrative has changed. All thanks to the determined and concerted efforts of the incumbent governor to rid Kogi of criminal elements and their political paymasters.
Kogi State is about the safest in the country according to sundry security reports. Without peace, there can never be development. The attendant peace in the state has now opened the door for small and medium enterprises to thrive. If gunshots heralded the fraudulent victory of the PDP candidate in the primary election, no one needs a soothsayer to know that he will govern with ballistic missiles with thugs ruling the roost if he mistakenly becomes the governor. God forbid! The choice of light and darkness is before the people of Kogi State to make.
Prior to the ascension of Governor Bello to power, the youth demography was where PDP leaders recruited political thugs and their hangers-on. For the past three years, the story has completely taken a 360 degree turn around as the youths, competent and capacious, now hold various appointments and elective offices in the state. In Kogi, courtesy of the philosophy of youth inclusiveness in governance of Governor Bello, the elusive tomorrow the evasive PDP used to promise them, is now firmly in the hands of the youth. It’s no longer a promise, it is now a reality.
It must be said again that the providential coming to power of Governor Bello has completely demystified the usual order of yore which lorded one ethnic group over the other. Much as he has opened up the space for the Igalas, he has equally not neglected the minorities. Through his instrumentality, a Kankanda(a minority tribe) woman is now the Minister of State for FCT representing Kogi State in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari.
One of the most influential men, Jibrin Isa Echocho, in Igala land is now the Senator representing Kogi East Senatorial District in the Senate. This was a man denied political tickets several times by his own kit and kin who felt he would dislodge them from government should he get political power. Governor Bello did not think twice before enabling him to win the APC ticket for Kogi East in the last general election.
Before now, women were practically an infinitesimal footnote in all preceding administrations in the state. Again, the story is no longer the same. The official scribe of the state, often described as the engine room of governance, that’s the Secretary to the State Government, is occupied by a woman for the first time in the annals of history of the state. She is Okun from Kogi West and her name is Dr(Mrs) Folashade Arike Ayoade, a highly cerebral and unassuming technocrat in power.
In hindsight now, Kogi State cannot afford a neophyte to be in charge of its destiny at this critical juncture. The state needs stability which the continuity of Governor Bello administration will bring. With stability comes sustainability, a necessity for inclusive growth and development. Without equivocation, Kogi does not need man whose elder brother and in-law contributed to the monumental misfortunes that were the lot of the state during the years of the locusts which the PDP exemplifies.
It’s time to have a man who has deepened ethno-religious tolerance in the state to continue as its helmsman. It is good to reward a man who has elevated youth inclusiveness in the governance of state with another term in office as one good turn deserves another. It does not get any better if a man who has emplaced gender balancing in his distribution of political appointments gets another term in office. That man is Governor Bello, an Ebira man, who believes in ethnic equality.
Abdullahi O. Haruna Haruspice writes from Garki Abuja, a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council in the 2019 elections.