By Prof. Abdelghaffar Amoka
Kogi state still remains one of the worst-governed states in Nigeria since its creation in 1991. We are 14 days away from electing the man who will run that state for another four years, and every camp is doing its bit to enhance its victory at the poll. The zones of the candidates of the major political parties are all hopeful. Kogi West is hoping for a miracle to happen as the 139,485 votes from the senatorial election can’t win the election, supposing Dino Melaye can mop up all those votes from Kogi West. Unfortunately, Dino’s presence at the East and Central seems weak.
Kogi East is leveraging on its strong voter strength to reclaim Luggard House after eight years break. The truth is that the zone has the largest votes, and there are 217,460 votes from the Senatorial election to hold onto, supposing Muri Ajaka can mop up every one of those votes from Kogi East. The zone actually doesn’t believe that any other zone deserves to occupy the Luggard House. You can’t blame them. An election is said to be a game of numbers. Those with the number can even make an idiot to lead the wise.
Kogi Central, no doubt, has the least voter strength. They have a total of 106,303 votes from the Senatorial election, which cannot win the governorship election. But just like everyone else, the governor is working hard to make his preferred candidate succeed him. He has picked Usman Ododo, a potential successor, from his Local Government. His candidate has now been adopted as the KC Agenda. He is using the incumbency factor to get support from the East and West for his boy.
There was the emergency establishment of the third state university in the West, and the ministerial slot went to Kogi East. That is a nice political calculation, but is that enough to swing votes from these zones? Commentators are wondering what will a state that can’t pay LG and primary school teachers do with the burden of another state university.
There was a recent report that the state government has appointed over 200 SAs. 215 Special Assistants in an election period and a few months to the end of the government does not make sense to an ordinary person, but it makes a lot of sense to politicians. They are likely special assistants on election matters. Nearly all the traditional rulers, including that of my clan, are now first-class chiefs. Will my clan and the other clans across the state work for the victory of the governor’s candidate just because our traditional rulers are now upgraded to first class?
There is also an ongoing reconciliation within the Kogi Central. There are ongoing radio programs telling the people that they know they have wronged people and appealing to them to forgive and forget. It’s like the governor realises that it’s not everything that can be achieved with force and no more sending glowing fire to perceived enemies. He is trying to deploy a peaceful approach. We have not heard much of threats in recent times. That’s not a bad idea.
I read the names of some professors and other respected elites on a reconciliation tour. My question was this: where were these people when they were busy excavating and digging trenches on the roads of the opposition zone that they refused to fix? Where were they when criticism was considered as “haram” and critics were hunted? Where were when our public schools were left without teachers for the past seven years?
I wish these respected individuals had played an advisory role to right these wrongs before now. I hope the LG and primary school teachers and their families will find it easy to forgive and forget our ethnic and Kogi agendas
Is the reconciliation move late? It may be, and it may not be. Human beings, especially Nigerians, are known to have very short memory. We live by the moment. We are quick to forget yesterday if today is favourable. If I were the Governor, I would have started the reconciliation in January 2023 in preparation for the election and my agenda.
One of the basic problems is salary payment. No matter his achievements in other areas, the salary issue has shrouded them. If I were him, I would have blocked the loopholes and mopped up the available cash to improve the percentage of the salary paid to LG workers and primary school workers. Promise the workers that the next government will improve on it. Make them see reasons why they need to support me to actually the Ododo Agenda for “renewed hope”, especially on salary payment. The people need a glimpse of the promised hope before they can key into your project. That would have resuscitated his battered image and attracted support from unexpected places. He could have found it easy to sell the candidature of Ododo across the state without much stress.
Nobody is even discussing the future of Kogi state and the well-being of the people of the state. It’s all about selfish agendas. However, it’s about two weeks to the election, and I am still struggling with the choice of who to support. So, who should I support? Ododo for KC, my zone, to retain power for another 4 to 8 years? Muri for KE to reclaim their birthright? Or Dino for KW to also have a taste of Luggard House? It doesn’t matter if the candidate is said to be a clown.
The people of the state have gone through a lot over the last seven years. It was tough and tougher now economically.
My appeal is for the election gladiators to ensure that we have a violent, free election. Please, let’s have a peaceful election.
Abdelghaffar Amoka PhD, wrote from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He can be reached via email@example.com.