By Phrank Shaibu
Five months have passed since the infamous and controversial inconclusive Kogi governorship election, yet the cracks that emerged on the Kogi political sphere are far from being mended. While the Election Tribunal is busy hearing the cases of dissatisfied contestants in the said election and judgement awaited, there have been many thought-provoking situations and commentaries that have created many obvious holes in Kogi politics.
First, is on what is perceived by many as dubious legality of misdeeds of the Independent National Electoral Commission which ironically thrust Kogi’s exceptional peaceful governorship election in this political era of Buhari’s administration into an issue of confusion and near disorder. Second, is that the political problems of Kogi state have widened with the sudden death of three of its major politicians, Prince Abubakar Audu, James Ocholi and Rotimi Obadofin in quick succession. Indeed, the death of these men in an era of Kogi’s inconclusive governorship election and its baggage of mysteries have left many Kogi voters deeply disillusioned, thus making the prospect of Kogi politics intensely worrisome as they await the decision of the Electoral tribunal. The third issue is that the Kogi people have not demonstrated genuine desire to fiercely and boldly confront the sad point of political impunity and sleaze which have hampered their political growth and overall development of their state.
Unfortunately, the issues raised herein were shaped by the combination of actions of the Kogi so-called political leaders and their misguided intentions including self aggrandizement, skewed identity and ethnic politics which have led to the crumbling of the real and great Kogi dream. With all sense of modesty but candor, these setbacks could have been checked or probably avoided with a better informed and less gullible electorate. Sadly, in a State like Kogi where many people are still in a struggle to keep up, the issue of a weak electorate is most often overlooked and neglected because most politicians find joy in using such platforms to confuse or dubiously attract voters. Indeed, this is why the Kogi people will need to rethink the status quo which advances ethnicity, greed and embezzlement above common good and opportunity for all even before a verdict is pronounced by the Electoral Tribunal on the fate of Kogi politics.
Specifically, any credible analysis of the situation on ground would suggest that such has given rise to Kogi’s most uncertain political era of our time. Indeed, this may not be out of order because right now, Kogi politics is like watching a football match in which you cannot even differentiate players by the colour of their jersey. Already, with members of the APC split into many camps and the PDP trying to rebuild, it will be difficult to predict voters’ choice in any new election in Kogi by the political affiliation as such has been lost to confusion.
Thus, to blithely assert that if a new election is conducted today in Kogi, the voters will vote along party lines is like claiming that divided loyalty brings more unity than political distortions. This is where the Kogi voters will be confronted with the tough choice of selecting a determined leader should the need for a fresh election arise.
Indeed, Kogi situation deserves a broad minded analysis and proper dialogue than criticisms based on political divides. For now, the Kogi people must go beyond inconsequential politics to developing ideas that will confront the biggest challenges facing them and the future of their children which has been the looting of the state treasury. Contrastingly, in the recent past, the administration of Idris Wada appears to be the only exception in the long history of the pillaging of the Kogi state treasury. Any objective observer of the Wada-led government would attest to the fact that Governor Idris Wada demonstrated that he was rather into working for the state than possessions. Unfortunately, Wada in the eyes of the press may not have had a remarkable record of desirable progress for the age long neglected state. However, the whole of Wada’s stay in office should not be tarred with the non-performance brush because he remains the only Governor Kogi State has produced that transparently demonstrated capacity for honesty and still stands firm as a selfless leader. In the end, Wada’s performance or lack thereof, should be measured by how many projects and programmes he engaged in with the little money available to the state and not necessarily assumptions that he ought to have corrected all the decay of decades by past administrators of the state.
Yes, at times, without regular salaries for workers, the situation may look very gloom but let us not forget that even beyond Wada’s administration, payment of salaries of an over-bloated State civil service work force has remained a very difficult task to surmount especially in the absence of bail out funds which was offered to many states that shared similar problems. Indeed, there is far more work to do than unjustly condemning the efforts a government based on delayed payment of salaries for few months with limited resources. In fact, mere demonizing a government for not meeting all expectations of the voters can only be termed justified where there exist evidence that money has been looted, mismanaged, misapplied or cornered to private use. But this is not the case in Kogi under Wada. First he inherited huge debts and accrued pension payments, so describing Wada as a non performer because he could not do more than the financial strength of the state is a wrong premise for arriving at any meaningful conclusion on the rating of his performance.
It will make enormous sense for any good analyst to assess Wada’s performance based on the nature of revenue received, perhaps this will provide some vindication for his administration especially given that of all past governors of Kogi state, he stands out as the most determined leader Kogi has produced. Indeed, what others before Wada thought was not possible was what he achieved in terms of greater teamwork and even spread of development across the state.
So, If we must salvage Kogi’s politics and development, Wada’s style of compassion, honesty, humility and offer of opportunity for all will not amount to asking too much from Kogi politicians. I am talking of the innocuous, easily forgotten initiatives and temperament of a man whose tenure made the state more united, peaceful and irrevocably hoisted on a path of identifiable progress and development.
In fact, Wada’s peace and freedom from the usual harassment of embezzlement and corruption which greets governors when their successor is from another party is a testament to the kind of administration he conducted while in office. Most likely, that could have been the reason why the Kogi election was never a do or die affair by the then incumbent Governor.
In any case, as Idris Wada awaits the verdict of the election tribunal while living in a house he built over fifteen years ago, may his self-denial, contentment and sacrifice find a valuable space in the documentation of Kogi’s unfolding history. Certainly, any society that means well should advise its leaders to draw lessons from Wada’s exemplary conduct of honesty and dignity in public office.
(Shaibu is the Chief Communications Manager to Idris Wada)