Sheidu Danjuma Asaka, Ph.D
Kogi State by all standards is a microcosm of Nigeria. It is a state dominated by three major ethnic groups namely: the Igalas of the East, the Okuns of the West and the Ebiras of the Central. Within these major groups are a number of ethnic minorities. For example, the Bassa Nges, the Bassa Kwomus and Igbirra Mozum in the East, the Nupes, Bassa Nges, Oworos, Kankadas, Igbirra Koto among others in West and the Ogoris, Bassa Nges in the Central.
The creation of Kogi State in 1991 from both Benue and Kwara States was greeted with jubilation as an opportunity to bring government and governance nearer to the people was expected. Whether governance has been brought to the people after three decades of her creation is another issue entirely. However, the question for governance inclusion and justice has always been raised especially in this fourth republic.
In a democratic setting, politics and governance are both sides of a coin. One side is expected to consolidate the other side and vice versa. To this end, people congregate their aspirations to form and belong to a political party. Every political party accommodates people regardless of their ethno-religious affiliation. Thus, there is no such thing as homogeneity of ethno or religious political party. In other words, in a political party, different people are found. What binds these people together is their interest and the method of actualising them.
The reality and thinking of a non-member of a political party is totally different from a member. This is the reality of a partisan politics. Some people are so fixated to the extent that their membership of a political party becomes a religious worship.
While non- members of political parties are often interested in the common good of the majority of the people, some members of political parties are interested in the political hegemony of their party. To this end, those who have access to power want to keep it even at the detriment of other interests.
The question of justice in governance of Kogi State is also a national question. The greatest injustice in Nigeria is reducing the country to three ethnic groups of Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and the Igbo. The above is also replicated in Kogi State where the state is defined and dictated by the three major ethnic groups. Even within the major ethnic groups, there is feeling of injustice and marginalisation.
As the 2023 gubernatorial election draws nearer, the spirit of ethnic consciousness has taken over the state. The question of whose turn?
The challenge of Kogi State isn’t really about geographic or demographic rotation of the seat of the governor, it is about seeing and feeling of governance irrespective of who’s the governor.
To become a governor of Kogi State, partnership and alliances across ethnic and religious groups are imperative. No ethnic group can singlehandedly secure the seat of the governor without partnership especially when reference is made to the constitutional requirements for a winner to emerge.
The Kogi State of everyone’s dream is when leadership isn’t defined by ethnic or religious affiliation but on the basis of competence, capacity and character.
The beauty of heterogeneous society lies on the openness of opportunities and actualization of people’s potential without linkage to their ethno-religious background. For example, a time when a Bassa Nge or Oworo or Bassa Kwomu or Igbirra Koto man or woman will be elected as governor of the state.
As we prepare for another gubernatorial election, ethnic agenda (if any) should be promoted with peaceful disposition. Kogi State is bigger than any ethnic group. Our destiny as a state is tied under one leadership at a defined time.
We want to see a Kogi State where West Lokoja and East Lokoja, just like West London and East London, is possible. Having a bridge from Ganaja in Ajaokuta LGA to Shintaku in Bassa LGA can achieve the above. This is Kogi State of endless opportunities and possibilities.
We are stronger together. Let love leads.