Evolving Dynamics of Kogi Politics
The atmosphere is calm with lots of underground scheming and nocturnal meetings at odd hours. The dateline is drawing closer and closer that a visitor can smell palpable tension in the air. Power shift is a very sensitive issue in Kogi state. Its origin can be traced back to when meaningful development eluded us. When those saddled with leadership positions milked our coffers dry, and when ethnic abhorrence was institutionalised by political big wigs to achieve selfish motives. Power shift to me is an expression of present realities in a triangular format that places the Igalas at the top (the haves) and the Okuns at the bottom( the have-nots), but hear Karl Marx '' The History of all hitherto existing society is the history of class and power struggles''.
This piece was conceived after an encounter with the 1995 Draft Constitution. I was amazed as to the content and how it would have saved us many troubles in Kogi State and Nigeria at large. Section 229 (2) of the 1995 draft constitution states that, " The Office of Governor, Deputy Governor and Speaker of the House of Assembly shall rotate among the three Senatorial districts in the state.
This is explicit and common sense. The Draft recognised the salient complexity of the Nigerian nation. It envisaged that somewhere along the line 'majority' and 'minority' will flex muscles in the issue of governance and subsequently it made provision by advocating power rotation amongst the three senatorial districts in Kogi State . ( Nigeria )
It was calculated to foster a stable polity within which all ''kogities'' could truly feel a sense of belonging and which would elicit the collaborative efforts of kogities to move the state forward.
The referral to Kogi State centres on our ambivalent brand of politics and its relevance in the contemporary Nigerian society. The Eastern flank (Igala) plays politics by number . The Central (Ebira) play politics by proxy and the West (Okun) plays politics by tide . Number, Proxy and Tide are intertwined as far as politicking is concerned in the state.
They all need each other. i.e., an Igala candidate needs the support and vote of his closest ally the Okuns, going by political history. The Okun man prefers to cast his vote for an Igala man on the strength of their ' numbers '. Either way the Okuns are sure of victory. This is tide.
The Ebira man hides under the shadow of the Igalas to remain relevant (Deputy). It is a fact that during elections, Ebiras do not vote for Igalas. They rather cast their votes for a shadowy candidate of their extraction, regardless of the fact that the Igala candidate always has an Ebira as his deputy. This is proxy.
The Igala man (east) does play the number game perfectly. He reveres the votes from the west (Okun) and he has judiciously used it to his benefit. The Okuns have been a part of their political success and it is naturally expected that the Igalas should reciprocate by supporting their quest this time around. The Igala candidate will always pick an Ebira deputy to cut a share from their cake and indirectly pacify them due to their restive nature.
Opinion polls suggest that there will be a slight change in the political structure baring all unforeseen circumstances. Politics will always remain politics. They suggested two possible scenarios: An Okun Governor and Igala Deputy or an Okun Governor and Ebira Deputy.
This is contentious and relative to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) arrangement. Either way it will be dicey for the Igala's. The Igala's will lose the votes of the Okuns if they are denied the ticket of the PDP. If the Okuns clinch the PDP ticket, there is a tendency for the Igalas to shift base to another Party and expect to win. This is also contentious.
Ebiras will not give 100% votes to the Igalas from antecedents, they are the spoilers, and the Igalas need 100% votes in the event of the Okun's clinching the PDP ticket.
In the event of the Okuns losing the PDP ticket, the Action Congress (AC) is a ready home for them. The AC has a strong hold in the central and to some extent in the west. This is where the Igalas have to tread carefully and the Okuns have to act smart. Either way I know there will be a change.
A solution is reverting to section 229 (2) of the 1995 draft constitution, another solution is coming to a consensus. I foresee an interesting scenario. By Joshua Ocheja ( mailto: )