Kogi’s political transcendantalism
Fifteen years ago, I wrote my last features article on the impeachment plot against President Olusegun Obasanjo. Since then, I had taken a bow from writing until the November 21 gubernatorial election in Kogi State forced me out of retirement.
I have read intensely most of the thought-provoking articles, especially the intriguing but incorrect analysis of Idowu Akinlotan “Palladium” in the Nation newspaper. I now wish to correct the equivocation and innuendoes in most of these articles as a major actor and player in the politics of Kwara and Kogi State, and even Nigeria during my spell as a Hon member Kwara State House of Assembly; UPN Senator in the second Republic and Executive Chairman, Sports Council in both Kwara and Kogi State. Interestingly, Senator Ahmadu Ali, Commissioner Alice Folayan, Alhaji Kokori Abdul, Chief P.W B. Bako, Chief Julius Elupko and my humble self authored the only official request for the creation of Kogi State in 1982.
The forth-coming November 21 election in Kogi State between Igala sons and brothers, Capt Idris Ichalla Wada, the incumbent Governor and his boisterous challenger, former two-term Governor and political emperor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu, calls for careful scrutiny and painstaking analysis in order to ascertain the sincerity and suitability of the two contenders Political transcendantalism? Yes, Kogi State is facing political tsunami, re-alignment and transcendentalism right now. It is crystal clear that Idowu Akinlotan’s “Palladium” has been given the herculean task of informing and even indoctrinating undiscerning Nigerians about the forth-coming election in Kogi State. I am not oblivious of the wonderful and valiant efforts of Nigeria’s most cerebral and loyal Deputy Governor, Ach Yomi Awoniyi as well as his versatile Press Secretary, Michael Abu in setting the records straight almost on daily basis. Nonetheless, there are acres of wilderness to be discussed.
Twenty two years ago, on January 2, 1993, Governor Abubakar Audu, ordered the reduction, reversal and down-sizing of two Specialist Hospitals in Kabba and
Obangede to ordinary General Hospitals. The two wonderful worldclass Specialist Hospitals, built with the assistance of the Danish Government were reverted in 1993 to ordinary hospitals because they were considered too “sophisticated” for the newly created one year old Kogi State.
Governor Audu did not stop at that. He ordered that all the sophisticated equipments in the field of health, dentistry, psychiatric and theatre be dismantled and transferred to Ogbonicha Specialist Hospital. Just six weeks ago, the incumbent Governor of Kogi State, Capt Wada, ordered the restoration of the Specialist status of the two hospitals in Kabba and Obangede. Not only this, he directed that all necessary consultants, doctors and health personnel and other paraphernalia that will make the two hospitals function optimally be immediately restored.
This political master stroke and redressing of deep political wound the West and Central Senatorial Districts is political transcendentalism. By the time Governor Wada’s directive are carried out to the letter, the November election must have been won convincingly in Kogi West and Central by the PDP Wada/Awoniyi ticket. Power rotation Both main contenders promised power rotation to Kogi West and Central Senatorial District in 2019. There is, however, a great difference between the two promises.
Governor Wada’s promise is credible, while Prince Audu’s promise is highly incredible. The fact to be considered is that Kogi East Senatorial District comprising Idah, Ankpa and Dekina Divisions have produced two-time Governors in Prince Abubakar Audu (Idah) and Ibrahim Idris (Ankpa). The incumbent Governor, Capt Wada, is doing the first term for Dekina, and is running for the second term to complete two-term Governorship for the three divisions in Igala land. Power can then rotate to Kogi Central or Kogi West in 2019. Abubakar Audu knows full well that his victory in the Governorship will give Idah division, 3 terms as against 2 terms for Ankpa and one for Dekina, causing an inequilibrum in the power rotation formula, as Ankpa would need one more term and Dekina two more terms.
This explains why there is a gale of defections in Kogi East by politicians who do not believe that power should rotate to either West or Central. The defection of Hon.Isa Echocho, Senator Dangana Ocheja, Hon Mohammed Idris, Hon Simon Achuba, Hon. David Apeh, etc can be encapsulated in the desire of the defectors to continue hanging on to power for Kogi East after 2019.
It is pertinent to gloss over the gale of retrenchments by the Abubakar Audu regime in 1992-1993. Four thousand, nine hundred and ten civil servants from Kogi West and Kogi Central were retrenched in order to “down size” the work force.
After pleas, persuasions and prostrations from Obas, chiefs, political leaders and associates, 1800 of the retrenched staff were recalled, leaving a balance of 3110 to wallow and die in penury poverty and wanton servitude. In some cases, an entire family of father, mother and their children were brutally retrenched. It is debatable if the civil servants in both Kogi West and Centre can ever recover from the dehumanising retrenchment.
The other great and unpardonable sins of Audu involve saying things he does not mean to the electorates. Thus he promised Kogi West the State University, ab initio, only to site the same university in Anyigba. After this, he fervently promised that the medical faculty and Health Sciences will be sited in Kogi West, while Engineering and Architecture will be sited in Kogi Central “because the University is funded by the three senatorial Districts and the 21 Local Governments.” These promises have proved to be cruel jokes as the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences as well as the Teaching Hospital have been irrevocably entrenched in Anyigba. Interestingly, no Vice Chancellor of Kogi West or Central extraction has been appointed since the 16 years existence of the institution.
Senator Joe Funso Obasaju, a senator of the Second Republic, wrote from Kabba, Kogi State
As a Kogite, I know the state is at the moment in a very critical stage and unless the citizens evolve a credible index for leadership assessment they risk the chance of choosing the right candidate. The major issue confronting the state today is development. And if the truth be told, the governments of the Peoples Democratic Party, under the present governor, Capt Idris Wada has rendered the roads in Lokoja to be a big shame and a profound embarrassment to our collective sensibilities. That government does not exemplify, personify or symbolize excellence and good governance and voting such government back to power will amount to endorsing mediocrity. I have asked myself whether his non-perfomance was a function of unwillingmess or inability?
In fairness to Wada, I think those who are close to him are not fair to him by concealing the truth from him. He seems to have been profoundly overwhelmed by the same problems he was elected to solve.
When I saw the list of the governorship candidates for the forthcoming election, I was quick to conclude that something was terribly wrong with our leadership recruitment process. But if we are to