Kogi Politics: No Permanent Friend or Enemy but Permanent Interest, even as the Coast becomes clearer for Gov. Bello ahead of Nov. 2019 Poll

By Solomon Akobe
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In politics, there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy but permanent interest. If there were to be permanent friendship in politics, then former Governor Ibrahim Idris and his in-law, former Governor Idris Ichala Wada, would still be like twin brothers having different mothers! Similarly, if there were to be permanent enmity in politics, then former Governor Idris Wada wouldn't have awarded 20 billion naira contract for the construction of Kogi House in Abuja to Late Prince Abubakar Audu, who fiercely contested with Wada in the 2011 Governorship election in Kogi State and also challenged the outcome of the election in Court having felt that the election was riiged against him by his arch political rival, former Governor Ibrahim Idris! Furthermore, if there is to be permanent enmity in politics, even myself writing this article wouldn't be doing that having criticized the incumbent Governor of Kogi State in previous articles over nonpayment of salaries/pensions before now. However, human beings are dymamic and so is criticism especially in politics. But one thing is static and never oscliates, and that is, permanent interest! Permanent interest is what matters in politics. My permanent interest in the politics of Kogi State is good governance and accountability to the people. Once this is the case, it doesn't matter to me as to the colour, age or tribe of the person who is in the seat of power.

Chenue Achebe in his "The Trouble with Nigeria" at page 5, identified tribalism as one of the banes militating developments in Nigeria as a country. In his words, "Nothing in Nigeria's poitical history captures her problem of national integration more graphically than the chequered fortune of the word tribe in her vicabulary. Tribe has been accepted at one time as a friend, rejected as an enemy at another, and finally smuggled in through the back-door as an accomplice." Experience has shown that benefactors and beneficiaries of tribal sentiments are always blind to whatever good or development that is brought about by any person other than the person on whom their tribal inclinations rest. Before the November, 2015 Governorship election in Kogi State, my wish was that a non-Igala person should win the election. I was not quite comfortable with the then likely return of late Prince Abubakar Audu and neither was I comfortable with the fight for a come back by Former Governor Wada for a second term as at that time. In all honesty, Wada failed the people and disappointed not just the Igala nation but also his political Benefactor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris as a result of his poor performance while in the office. Wada got it all wrong in his administration. Wada's poor outing as a Governor was not totally unexpected as he was called upon to take the position of Kogi State Governor on the altar of unpreparredness! When unprepared and clueless men and women are enthroned in power on a platter of gold through the efforts and supports of political godfathers, the damming end result of failure can be seen from the very beginning. If not cluelessness, how can we explain the misplaced priority of former Governor Wada embarking on the project of constructing Kogi House in Abuja which was to gulp over 20 billion naira with little or no impacts on the people of Kogi State when several roads in Kogi State including Umomi-Idah Road (which leads to the heart of Igala land) and Anyigba-Dekina road (which leads to Gov. Wada's country home), were under terrible conditions with urgent need for reconstructions? Under Wada's watch, KSU Tuition/School fees were increased at a time when Kogites were still recovering from the effects of the flood disaster that bedeviled Kogi State in 2012. Yours sincerely as the Chief Judge of the Students' Union Government, KSU at that time, was part of the Students' delegation along side with the VC then (Prof. Hassan Isah) and other dignitaries that met with former Governor Wada at the Government House to plead with him not to increase KSU tuition/school fees. Wada waited until our tenure was over and between the intergrum of the end of our administration and the inauguration of the new SUG government then, the said fees were increased in KSU by the former Governor! Today, indigenes and non-indigenes pay with their noses in KSU unlike what was obtainable in pre-Wada administration. Since Governor Bello assumed office, we have not heard anything like tuition/school fees increment in KSU or any other tertiary institution(s) in Kogi State. Assuming without conceding that tribal sentiment is anything to go by, how can we feign blindness to these factual realities which favour a non-Igala Governor in the scheme of things? That is not the desideratum of progressive democracy. Progressive democracy is not concerned about tribe, age, religion or race but good governance, competence, the welfare of the people, growth and development in the land. The opposite of this is retrogressive democracy which throws good governance into the wind and glorifies ethnic and tribal sentiments for the benefits of a selected few. We will not allow that anymore in our State!

In one of my previous articles entitled, "Against the Run of Play, Gov. Bello likely Winner of Nov. 16, Kogi Governorship Poll", published by Kogireports and other online channels, I strongly highlighted some of the shortcomings of the current administration under Governor Bello, of which issues of non-payment of salaries and pensions stood out as the pinnacle of it all. In the various interactions I have had with many people in Kogi State, one response has been steady: Minus salary/pension challenges, Governor Bello would have been the best Governor so far in the history of Kogi State! This rating is not political but based on facts. In terms of Civil Service Reform, Governor Bello can be fairly rated to have scored 95% even by the Governor's fiercest critics. Apart from sanitising the system and exposing ghost workers in the Kogi State Payroll including genuine workers receiving double pay under different ministries and parastatals, the Governor also did his best to ensure productive workforce in the civil service through the introduction of the Clock-in-Clock-out system. In all honesty, the rots in the Kogi State Civil Service as well as the attitudes of workers to work before Bello's administration, is one that leaves much to be desired. It was the reform carried out by the Governor in the State Civil Service that led to the advertisements for vacancies in various sectors of the State workforce. In the history of Kogi State, no Governor has ever employed Kogites mostly youths like the present Governor. I earlier highlighted these points in the article entitled, "How Gov. Bello Demystified the Strength and Pride of the Igala Nation" published by Kogireports and several other online publishers. But, for emphasis, the present Governor signed the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill into Law in 2017, and consequently employed about 150 lawyers into the Kogi State Ministry of Justice. In the tertiary institutions in Kogi State, vacancies were advertised and massive recruitments were done under the present administration. The story is the same in the Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue, Hospital Management, etc. It is a fact that since the creation of Kogi State, never has job vacancies been advertised publicly by the Government and neither has transparency and merit played out in the process of recruiting workers into the State workforce as done in this administration! Today, Kogi State records as one of the few States in Nigeria with low percentage of unemployment rate. This feat was achieved under this administration of Governor Yahaya Bello.

Just like I have earlier observed, Governor Bello's limitation was salary/pension challenges which has been taken care of based on the bail-out fund that was recently released to the State by the Federal Government. Today, State workers have been paid up to the Month of July, 2019. And this takes me back to the issue of permanent interest in politics. Our permanent interest in Kogi politics includes but not limited to good governance, regular payment of salaries/pensions, infrastructural developments, employment and youths empowerments etc. Having settled the issue of salaries/pensions, Governor Bello can now be fairly rated at 85% in all these signages of democratic dividends in Kogi State. With this, the coast is now clear for the Governor in his second term bid! What makes the coast clearer for the incumbent Governor is the fact that many Igalas are behind him. With the supports of powerful Igala personalities such as Chief Edward Onoja, Senator Jibril Isah Echocho, Halims (House of Resps), Mr. Okala (Kogi State Auditor General), Comrade Amade Idime, Dr. Usman Ogbo, etc, and the traditional rulers all rooting for the incumbent Governor, the Governor's chances of winning the election is pegged at 99% if former Governor Wada is fielded in by the PDP as the Governorship candidate of the Party. Apart from the fact that former Governor Ibrahim Idris is unlikely to support Wada's second term ambition, Wada himself lacks the political strength and structure to subdue the incumbent Governor. The issue of APC primaries like I have always said, is a concluded matter: Governor Yahaya Bello is the flagbearer of APC for the November, 2019 governorship election! Executive power is not a child's play. The only hitherto campaign weapon against Governor Bello not to be fielded by his Party was the issue of nonpayment of salaries/pensions. This has been knocked off with the release of the bail out fund to the Governor who went ahead to clear all the 2019 arrears of salaries/pensions. Thus, for an incumbent Governor like Governor Yahaya Bello who won the Presidential election for his Party in his State, and proceeded to win two (2) Senatorial Seats, seven (7) House of Representatives Seats, as well as the entire twenty-five (25) House of Assembly Seats in the State in favour of his Party (the APC), only a joker would still hold the view that his Party will deny him ticket in favour of other tainted aspirants in the Party!

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