Kogi Agenda: As Ethnic Politics collide with Partisanship, One Will Bow to the Other.
Petra Akinti Onyegbule
Ethnicity is a major factor in politics as people have made political choices solely on such strong sentiments such as ethnic affiliation and religious association however base we may term them.
However, politics of ethnicity in itself can never augur well in contests outside the immediate ethnic area as it is impossible for a single group to determine a political outcome for a wider and mote diverse group. Other factors come into play; smarter political actors create a harmony amongst all major contending factors to produce victory.
This piece is a result of my observation of weeks long campaign for “Igala Agenda”. The way my people from Kogi East are going about the forthcoming elections in the state amuses me to no end and bothers me some.
Before I proceed, between the Ebira and Igala, no one group has any moral credential to accuse the other of tribal bigot based on their preference for one of their own to succeed GYB. They are both two sides to one coin and I say this as someone from a minority tribe in Kogi Central. However, and at the very least, the Ebira are masking their campaign as one for all; with majority of them simply pointing out that if the Igala nation has ruled for 19 years, there’s no reason to not support Ebira holding power for 16 years in which case the Okuns can wait for their turn. Whatever anyone thinks of this argument, they at least are not thrusting “Ebira Agenda” in our faces nor assaulting our sensibilities crudely.
Conversely, whenever I turn to the Kogi eastern netisphere, it is one post after another on the imperative of “Igala Agenda”. And I wonder how its proponents intend to achieve that. Is there one ethnic stock that can single-handedly produce a governor without cooperation from other parts of the state? If the only reason being advanced for your agitation is tribal, why should someone from outside you stock support you?
So far, only Kogi Central has one candidate. Unless there’s another I am unaware of. Again, not like any one ethnic group can go the journey alone. Efforts must be made to carry others including the minorities along. In this regard, my party, the APC has not treated the people of my LGA well and they’re aggrieved. Building bridges, rehabilitating broken down bridges, maintaining existing bridges to prevent malfunction are all parts of the process. Proper engagement at constituencies give people a genuine sense of belonging to the point they are willing and happy to do all it takes to ensure victory at the polls. The fact that the candidate from Kogi Central also happens to have the benefit of support from incumbent powers at state and federal levels should make any contending force adopt a more inclusive and strategic approach.
Perhaps, political actors at whatever level must begin to take more seriously , the fundamental fact that in politics, ‘interest’ is the currency of trade and most times, ’trade’ takes place across ethnic and religious divide making party affiliation the most effective marketing platform. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why, for Kogi Gubernatorial Election in November 2023, the contest shall not be between Igala and Ebira but between the APC and the PDP with candidates from other parties playing the spoiler roles in favor of one over the other. I know how it will end.