Kogi 2023: Ododo’s APC Emergence,Tribal Politics And The Igala Bloated ‘Supremacy’
By Ozumi Abdul
Before now, I thought tribal politics in Kogi state has died a natural death with the coming on board of Governor Yahaya Bello as The Confluence State’s Chief Executive in 2016.
This is discernible from his penchants to emotionally caress and appeal to the ethnic, tribal, cultural, social and religious diversities of the people of the state.
I had honestly heaved a heavy sigh of relief that tribal politics that gripped Kogi is now entombed and interred to rest eternally in the graveyard of history, and never to reincarnate again like an abiku child whose spirit keeps lurking around the threshold, and coming back to the same fatigued and weary mother for rebirths.
Just as situations were during the cruel, primitive and uncivilized medieval era in the history of mankind, I was upbeat that we had actually circumnavigated that sad episodic era in the history of our dear state; that era that halt its developments, as well as hurting and haunting our socioeconomic coexistence as people.
My confidence is borne out of the fact that Governor Bello has been very deliberate in addressing the ugly menace of tribal politics in the state.
He does this by breaking down the walls and bricks of ethnicity that hitherto divided the state and its people, while also institutionalising equity and equality, with the birth of EBIGO, (Ebira,Igala, Okun Agenda).
Regrettably however, here we are again as a state and people. Here we are on the skids of acerbic tribal politics again, with its comminatory and disconsolate kite being first flown by one Phrank Shaibu, the Special Assistant on Public Communications to the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar last week, with his piece published by Daily Trust, titled, “Kogi 2023: Why Yahaya Bello will bellow in agony”.
In what appeared to have noisome interposition in Kogi’s affairs, he questioned the governor’s endorsement of Mr Usman Ahmed Ododo, the Kogi state Accountant General as his anointed candidate for the state’s All Progressive Congress (APC)’s 2023 governorship primary election.
Since then, the ember of divisive ethnic and tribal politics stoked by Phrank Shaibu, by the virtue of that his article has today metamorphosed into a wild, wide and barbarous fire threatening to consume the euphoric and intermittent cordial harmony enjoyed so far by the major ethnic extractions of the state since this New Direction administration of Governor Bello assumed the Luggard House.
Sadly enough, our ants of different species that hitherto co-inhabited harmoniously and peacefully in an enclosed jar have now been pitched against one another by Phrank Shaibu who shook the jar and allowed us to riotously sting one another with tribal venoms and vituperations.
Igalas are now on top of their voices, contesting what they call ” tribal bias” because of the governor’s adoption of Alhaji Usman Ahmed Ododo as his anointed candidate for the APC’s governorship.
In all sincerity and in all ramifications, what wrong(s) has the governor done for anointing Ododo, since the later emerged via a level-playing field of primary election, conducted and keenly supervised by representatives of the party, as the result of the election was declared by Patrick Obahiagha, the Secretary of the Kogi APC Primary Election Committee?
In the eyes of the law, the governor has perfectly done nothing wrong here, since he didn’t foist his preferred or anointed candidate on other candidates, because it’s an established fact that the APC in the state held its governorship primary election, that produced Alhaji Usman Ahmed Ododo as its winner, who coincided to be the governor’s anointed candidate.
So what actually are the cruxes and grouses of the Igalas? Or are they suspecting or alleging that the governor prevailed on other aspirants of Ebira speaking extraction, particularly his Chief of Staff, Pharm Abdulkareem Asuku to step down for Ododo which aided his easy victory?
In any case the governor did so, do the Igalas quickly needed to be reminded of the political melodrama of April 19,2003, that was exactly 20 years ago; when the late AT Ahmed was the leading aspirant of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the former Kogi state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (Ibro) was closely second behind him, then all of sudden, Dr Alex Kadir in the third position stepped down for Ibro, and instructed his supporters to follow suit?
Did heaven fall, or did Ebiras contested that when they missed out of the PDP’s primary contest?
What case are the Igalas even making? That the governor should have favoured his deputy, Chief Edward Onoja, an Igala man, in preference of his Ebira kinsman after the Igala’s grip of power for over two decades?
Then if this is their argument, are they on equal vein trying to feign ignorance to the controversy that shadowed the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), in the December 3, gubernatorial election of the state, following the replacement of Alhaji Jibrin Isah Echocho, the winner of the first primary election of the party, conducted on January 9, 2011,where the former and then incumbent governor, Alhaji Idris Ibrahim (Ibro), who is an Igala, ruthlessly replaced him(Echocho) with the former governor of the state, Captain Idris Wada who is also an Igala son?
Recall that this was after Ibro had been the governor of the state for nine years on the PDP’s joint ticket with Dr Philip Salawu, an Ebira man.
For the spirit of fairness, equity and equality, why was Dr Philip not handed the party’s ticket then on the silver platter to run for governorship so that power can shift to the Central, since PDP was the strongest party then?
Or is it that what was best for the geese then has suddenly become worse for the ganda?
Why is it that manslayers, people who root people’s neck to the ground and slit their tongues don’t always want the shadowy movement of knife close to their necks?
I doubt if the Igalas would squally want to feign nescience to the cries and hues of how Igala had marginalised the people of other parts of the state for over 20 years in the areas of political appointments, elective offices and infrastructural development.
During Igalas reign, the civil service was bastardised such that the Igala had more percentage of workers than Ebira and Okun put together in the service then.
For the Igalas over 20 years in power, there was no single infrastructural project in Kogi central; anybody can confirm this and then challenge me thereafter,
Or Alas, they think we are amnesia-plagued to have forgotten so quickly their atrocities towards other tribes in the state they disdainfully demeaned frequently as ‘minority’ even though I can confidently assert that Igala has no numerical population advantage over the Ebiras?
Everyone should henceforth know that what the Igalas can realistically boast of is agrarian settlements, littered with huts, as against Ebiras who compactly live in clusters, but with hilly landscape.
Majority of Igalas people who resident in the state mostly live in Lokoja, the state capital, and not their ancestral deserted lands.
In fact, the forthcoming National Population Census (NPC) will undoubtedly open up the several clandestine secrets of the Igalas’ intumescent,bloated and so much glorified population. Thank God they are not in power, so trees and huts won’t be counted in representation of humans this time around.
Again, how can we quickly forget that 30 years ago, on January 2, 1993, Late Governor Abubakar Audu, an Igala man ordered the reduction, reversal and down-sizing of Specialist Hospital in Obangede to ordinary General Hospitals?
The wonderful world-class Specialist Hospital, that was built with the assistance of the Danish Government was reverted in 1993 to ordinary hospital.
He did not match at break at that, as he equally ordered that all the sophisticated equipments in the field of health, dentistry, psychiatric and theatre be dismantled and transferred to Ogbonicha Specialist Hospital in his home town.
So do the Igalas thought we have forgotten when so quickly even though it over three decades now?
In an apt contrast and comparison to the over two decades of Igalas administration in Kogi state without a single infrastructural upgrade or project in Kogi Central, below are few of the administrative olive branch Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration had extended to the Kogi East, predominantly dominated by the Igalas so far:
Yahaya Bello’s administration provided succour to the people of Kogi East, via the ‘light-up Kogi East Project’. The programme, which was flagged off in June 2020, was able to upgrade critical electricity distribution infrastructure, enables and enhances power evacuation from Itobe substation in Ajaokuta to most parts of Kogi East.
This has increased in no small measure the load capacity of evacuated power from 14.5 MW to circa 45 MW, thereby providing sustainable electricity to 24 communities spread across nine Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Kogi East.
Bello’s administration constructed Umomi — Akpagidigbo — Ugwolawo — Ajaka — Idah road which links 3 Local Government Areas viz: Ofu, Igalaland/Odolu and Idah LGAs; and the Ibana — Okpo — Ogugu — Ette road in Olamaboro Local Government Area, as well as Ankpa — Ejegbo — Ejema — Odagba — Enabo — Ofugo — Inye — Abejukolo road which links Ankpa and Omala Local Government Areas respectively.
His administration built the township road, remodeled it, and refurbished Ankpa Central Mosque after many years of abandonment.
The 55 KM Ayingba- Idah road that connects the Igala land to her Traditional Headquarters comes out like a circle of smooth travel. The 36 KM Ibana-Okpo-Igah-Ogugu-Ete Road in Olamaboro LGA. The Ayingba-Ogane Aji erosion work and Road Network in Dekina which includes the old University gate road with full Asphalt overlay was constructed by Bello’s administration.
The construction of the Intimidating ‘Igala Unity House’ (Unyi – Udama – Igala) and 11 fully furnished Guest lodge standing there was once a sorry site of refuse dump.
The Adumu erosion work and adjoining roads in the long neglected and forgotten Ogugu District in Olamaboro LGA is another legacy testament with Culverts, and well-constructed drainages and water channels into the meandering ever flowing Aji- Ubele
The Revolutionary Road and Drainage work in the ancient City of Ankpa is an undeniable stamp of impact by Bello led Administration. The Idah General Hospital now renovated and equipped as Zonal Hospital with attraction from the three Senatorial districts.
Renaming of Kogi State University, KSU, to Prince Abubakar Audu University, PAUU, in honor and memory of the first democratically elected Governor, and pioneer leader of APC in Kogi State, Late Prince Abubakar Audu of blessed memory.
The PAUU Teaching Hospital in Ayingba which was remodeled and equipped with State of the Art medical facilities with capacity to handle major and minor medical issues.
The late Attah Igala, Dr Michael Ameh Oboni was so impressed by the Governor Bello’s administration contribution to the Igala land before his demise that he lauded the governor, by describing him as “a man of his words”
Excerpts of his exact word’s: “You were here sometime ago and you promised you were going to build some roads in Igala land that have remained unsolvable for three generations.You are a practical man and we are grateful for that.”
Why are the Igalas now splitting hairs, alleging betrayals and threatening fire and brimstones?
Has the Enemuneme rallying slogan for the Governor Yahaya Bello’s 2019 reelection bid which interpreted to mean in Igala language that “different tribe from your tribe is better to rule”, the wooing slogan that was invented by one Alhaji Linco Ocheje from Ankpa,and popularized by the Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja haven’t paid off for the Igalas?
Why are the Igalas taken their ‘superiority” complex mentality to a comic, laughable, derisory, ridiculous and ludicrous heights?
Are the Igalas unaware of the fact that pride humbly goes before fall?
Why all these their cavalier, haughty, supercilious and assertive ‘I must rule mentality?’
Igalas should understand that never did a certain hawk which finds solace in severally tormenting a mother-hen by preying on its young chicks one day thinks it can be caught by a metal trap with the aid of bait; leaving its remains shamefully in the sun to the ridiculous public glare, and thus devoured by maggots; much smaller than the chicks it frequently preyed on.
It is incumbent upon the Igalas to know that God can uplift the weak and punish the strong in any form, for the strong’s mischief and devilry towards the weak.
God has ways of fighting for the humiliated and the cheated.
Who could ever imagined that former president President Goodluck Jonathan, from the lilliputian Otuoke of Ijaw ethnic extraction can preside over the black most populous country like Nigeria, at the expense of more domineering ethnic extractions like Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba?
God gives power to whoever he wants, however he wants and whenever he wants.
Igalas should know this and know peace.
*Ozumi Abdul is a journalist and columnist at Arewa Trust Newspaper. He can be reached via Abdulozumi83@gmail.com*