KOGI POLITICS: WHY OKUNS MUST GO TO THE ANTS


 

By Pastor Stanley Ajileye

 

Solomon, the wisest man ever, in his wisdom, recommends an ant, one of the tiniest creature, as a positive example.
That message of Holy scripture, in the sixth verse of sixth chapter in the Book of Proverbs was a charge against slackness. The ants are hard working, forthsighted and orderly, pulling strength together to boast of unimaginable feat, even in the apparent absence of a leader.
Solomon’s message is also a charge on the necessity for humanity to unscrew its pads of ego, humble itself to learn from a lesser creature, how to get right, what it has gotten wrong for ages. The ants teach of the strength in collectivity and consolidation of interests.

I don’t know how derogatory it will sound, to tell the big political artist of Okunland, to undertake a study of students’ politics.

My humble discovery is that, so many things that we see in our national polity are clear reflections of some of our experiences in students’ politics.

I hope I will not get my readers bored with some essential background details.

In 1988, the year I got admission into Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, (Biggest University in Africa, South of Sahara) as a Direct Entry student of Political Science, a ban was placed on students’ unionism. The ban was not lifted untill 1990 when I was already in final year. Final year students are not permitted to contest in any of the students’ elections.

However, I was privileged to be one of the seven students of Ahmadu Bello University then, that received official letter of invitation from the office of the Vice Chancellor, to rub mind with the authorities on the modalities for the reactivation of student union of the University.

Yes. their ban for almost three years never worked. Some of us still led students in protest against obnoxious policies of the Professor Nayaya led administration.

Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) is a miniature Nigeria, in terms of its inherent politics. Someone once described the University as ” a popular news magazine in the mid 80s described ABU as *”a hot bed of controversy”*

The politics of ABU, is always a challenge between North and South and/or Muslim vs Christian.

The issue that led to the ban of Students’ Union in the first place, was a riot that erupted after election, which saw Stephen Awobi a Christian from Benue State, defeat Lukman a northern Muslim to win the presidency of the student’ union in 1988.

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The authorities would not allow any of such aberrations, The norm must not be broken, a southern christian must not lead the student union of a “northern university” …Pum… crisis erupted, leading to the ban of Students’ Union.

The task of reactivation of the union, became more ethno-religious sensitive.

We called a congress, to elect a Care-taker government. I emerged Secretary, with my Albino friend and course mate, Emmanuel Iwegbu as Chairman.

We presented the Committee to the authorities, but they objected to the composition. Their reason? They claimed the Care-taker government was dominated by Faculty of Arts and Social Science students.

But we all knew the truth. The objection was actually because, the chairman , an Igbo Christian, myself as Secretary, a Yoruba Christian. All the members of the Committees were equally considered as hard-liners who were behind the various students’ protests we had since unionism was outlawed. Our committee was dissolved.

Deans of various faculties were mandated to donate one student each from their respective faculty, into the committee.
However, our group (the progressives) still succeeded in getting one of us, *Anana Donald* to head the Committee. He did a great job.

The Care-Taker Committee, made up of a representatives from each faculty was inaugurated and the real politics started.

Leadership of Christian Fellowship will visit my room for talks on the necessity of a Christian as our union’s president. Many of them who never knew I was a final year student, wanted me , but our constitution did not allow that.

When the heat came up, we in the progressive, drawn from Kwara, Niger. Benue and Plateau formed *The Middle-belt Forum* with Strong mandate to sponsored *Steven Aluko* a.k.a. *Maradona* from Ogori, Kwara State. (It was before the creation of Kogi State). In our camp were people like: Ahmed Yusuf (Popularly called parrot, a postgraduate student of history from Kaduna State, the likes of my late friend Ibiyemi Michael (J.J. Rawlings, a student of English from Kabba), Emmanuel Iwegbu (Yellow man), Late Madam Hasssana Garba (Iron Lady from Niger State) Pastor Abayomi Fatimehin from Yagba, Joseph Mamman from Kaduna, One Jeff from Plateau, Steve Aloko (Maradona from Ogori) and of course, I must not forget my very good friend, Alex Iyekolo, an Education Student from Yagba, in this our present Kogi State. Alex is central to the tale here, so, we need to asterisk his name in our mind.

We agreed on Maradona (Steven Aluko) as Presidential candidate and Joseph Mamman, a blue blood radical as Secretary. Both of them, with few other candidates for other key offices were Christians. It was like a serious inter-religious war.

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The interesting part of the political warfare was the vested interest of the University authorities.

They came up with two presidential candidates, one of them, was one *Dasuki,* ( son of the former Emir of Sokoto). The second was *Nura Giwa* from Kaduna State. All were sponsored by the school authority, in collaboration with a northern socio-religious / political group, *the Gamji*

We were happy that we had only on candidate, who was solid and radical. Our own Maradona from *Ogori Magongo*

Then the authorities came up with a divide and rule game to break the progressive.

They came up with the idea of sponsoring some people from amongst us.

My brother and friend, Alex Iyekolo was one of those they spoke with, through some of his friends in his faculty. They needed him to contest and break the rank of the Kwara boys.
They also went ahead to raise another person from Benue, Prince Aduku, son of a top military officer then. Prince Aduku, I learnt is also late.

We knew Aduku will not fly amongst the progressives. But the Alex Iyekolo factor will be highly damaging for us.
Alex came to my room to have a talk with me and my late friend. Ibiyemi Michael, that, some northerners who loved him for his cool-headedness, wanted him as President. That they will prefer him to even a northern Muslim candidate, if he can get the support of people like us.

I knew the implication of saying no to the offer. I sent him back to them, that, if they are serious, we can call it a deal.

I held a confidential meeting with some progressive to call their attention to the danger that was looming. We agreed on what to do. We played along.

Alex brought his form, I signed it for him, as sponsor and attested to his great character. Truly, Alex was a wonderful personality
.
Even Alex was innocent. He never knew about the involvement of the school authority, we didn’t tell him either.

The authorities produced expensive posters and other campaign materials for him, he brought samples to my room and I congratulated him.

On the closing date for form submission, when campaign was to kick-start, Mike Ibiyemi and I invited Alex to my room to break the news. *”You can not contest, Go and tell your sponsors, you are no longer interested”*

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Alex was devastated, wanting to know why,? And the reason why we did allow them spend fortune before making such declaration?

If we rejected the offer early, they will shop for another person, whom we may not have control over.

We knew it was dangerous for Alex, face these me. He already feared that he may be killed when he makes such declaration.

We told him not to worry, gave him a letter purportedly written by his father from the village, to give to his sponsors as reason. ( *….. Omo mi owon, Mo gbo pe Oselu lo nse ni ile-iwe, Ti iwo ko ba jawo ninu oselu, emi yoo ko e lomo*) That was how we removed their noose from his neck.

In the other camp, Dasuki stepped down for Nura Giwa eventually. The battle was now between Aluko and Giwa. Aluko won overwhelmingly with the supports of southern students and the Fellowship of Christian Students.

I left Alex and others in ABU when I graduated.
I have not seen him ever since. I hope he will forgive me today, if I tell him, that our action was borne out of necessity to be on top of our game.

Back to Okun political actor. We are tyros in politics, if we are not on top of our game.

The reason okun had always come out of election disappointed, is because. our enemies appear smarter than us.

Between 2011 and 2012, divisive game came handy for the then Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency, Ibrahim Idris, who raised the hope of about five aspirants of Okun promising each of them in confidence, to hand over to them. He then harmonized the Igalas to cling the party ticket.

Today, I see the game is playing out again. Three sons of Okun, (all of them eminently qualified), are slugging it out. Ebiras are up with only the *Flower Boy* of Governor Yahaya Bello.
I am pretty sure Igala which has about four candidates now, will soon consolidate into one.

I smell failure, if okun goes into the November election with three candidates, again one candidate from Central and one from East.
We must learn how to frustrate the divisive game of our foes. We must be on top of our own game.
*Let Okun go to the ants*

*Stanley Ajileye is a Media/Political Consultant based in Lokoja, Kogi State.*


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