DAY KOGI GUBER ASPIRANTS WERE DRAGGED TO THE PUBLIC
The recent Press parley for governorship aspirants by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kogi State council, helped to expose some hidden leadership qualities embedded in some of the aspirants and their electoral worth before the general public.
Out of the over 32 governorship aspirants jostling to occupy the Lugard House, Lokoja, only 12 were actually presented at the parley. Observers said that unlike the 2003 governorship race, most of the aspirants are highly educated with sound mind and enviable public service records
Political maturity, scholastic credibility, forthrightness and love for selfless service were some of the traits considered. Not many of the aspirants were in short supply of these qualities. Only aspirants from two political parties featured in the parley. The PDP produced 11, with six coming from the Western Senatorial District and five from the Eastern axis. Only one aspirant from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) showed up.
Those present were Senator Nicholas Ugbane, Simeon Maha Okai, Prince Olusola Akanmode, Clarence Olafemi, who is the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Bayo Ojo, former Attorney- General and Minister of Justice of the Federation and Mr. Ocholi. Others were Wing Comdr Attai Awodi (rtd), ShuaibuTeidi, Chief Deinde Abolarin and Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isa Kutepa.
The aspirants agreed that Kogi as an agrarian state needs to concentrate more on agriculture to reduce the poverty level of the state and create employment opportunities. The three-week event was an exciting moment to inquire into the past records of the aspirants. They were allotted one hour each to present their manisfestoes. While some resorted to name calling and dwelled on trivial things, others unearthed the myriads of problems confronting the state, diagnonising them and offered solutions.
For example, after his presentation, Ugbane allowed rage and sentiments to take the larger part of him. He flared up when asked to comment on the moral rights he has to contest for the governorship seat having been charged to court along with others by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) over some rural electrification projects. His countenance changed, and he charged back at the journalists. He claimed he was a victim of high level conspiracy using the media to dent his image.
He insisted that the over 100-count charge against him and his colleagues over the allegations were mere flukes. Again, when he was asked to clarify himself on questions that bordered on his perceived role of championing tribal politics in the state, he flared up again and almost employed uncouth language before he was cautioned by the panelists
That notwithstanding, Ugbane was able to present his programme for the state with a flawless oratory prowess to the admiration of his supporters
Akanmode, former deputy Chief of Staff at the Presidency and Ojo stood out. They won the accolades of the audience, who intermittently cheered them during their presentations
Akanmode came into the hall with a prepared blueprint document of how he intends to govern the state. He spoke meticuously proving himself as a tested bureaucrat who became a permanent secretary at the state civil service at the age of 37.
He spoke extensively on how he plans to transform the state, using the model of the now famed Asian Tigers, referring to countries like South Korea, Malaysia and others to make the state one of the best in the federation. He said the state has no business to be referred to as poor having identified 33 minerals deposits in the state and its huge human capital base. He argued that all the state needed was a truly sincere and dedicated leader who will harness all these resources for the good of all.
Ojo received the loudest ovation as he presented his programme touching areas that are sensitive to the masses. He identified distrust and mutual suspicion which have polarized the major ethnic groups. He promised that his first assignment if elected governor, is to unite all the major ethnic components by carrying along major stakeholders in the three senatorial districts to run an open door administration.
He also identified poverty and mass unemployment as serious malaise that needed to be tackled and unfolded various programmes which he intends to embark upon to reduce poverty in the state. He said there will be the establishment of integrated farms in all the 21 local government areas. The farms will concentrate on live stocks, fish, snail, grassgutter and diary products, pledging to bring back the old agricultural extension services to help transform the farmers.
He also pledged to engage on aggressive rural development with all the rural roads been opened to bring out agricultural produce from the hinterland to the urban araeas. Ojo identified lack of continuity as the major bane of development, promising to build on the development structures which Governor Ibrahim Idris started:
'I stand here today to enter into a social contract and a pact between me and the people of the state. God is my witness this day, that if I am elected I will give my ulthmost best to direct and redefine the collective destiny of our people, for the collective good of all irrespective of the tribes, religions or social background
'Mine is not politics of do-or-die, if the good people of the state in their hallowed judgment through their votes find a better candidate who they consider as more charismatic and propelling, I Chief Bayo Ojo is ready to give him my total support to make such candidate succeed,' he said.