Whither the past leaders in Kogi? By Abdullahi Haruna
NEWS DIGEST – For those who are conversant with Nigerian political currents and undercurrents, it is crystal clear that the more a state has a leader who has a national clout, the better for the state in terms of recognition and other extra allied benefits that may flow the way of such states.
It’s what it is in Nigeria until a more equitable system is emplaced that will guarantee that no state of the Federation is left out in the distribution system, national leader or no leader.
As a Kogite, I am more concerned and disturbed that in the last 20 years or more that the country returned to civil rule, Kogi State has not produced a leader with a national spread and clout.
At the risk of being immodest, I will say that a handful of them who started well ended up becoming lost and marooned in their tribal cocoons. They could not spread further and this has quite denied the state the prominence and esteem it deserves among the community of states in the country.
As it is today, no past Kogi leader is any way in national reckoning, like they came they have fizzled out unnoticed. But those of us with keen minds won’t let that slip away. For whatever reasons I don’t know but those who have ruled Kogi have one common creed: they exit the stage once they are out of steam.
The reasons for the above are not far fetched; provincial ideology, conservative mentality, non-daring adventure account for this reality, inability to network far and wide, among others.
If not, how can a man who was governor for 9 years in less than 15 years ago and one can hardly recall his name again I’m 2020 with no trace of relevance and reckoning in national discourse? He is so badly out of the radar that even at home, it is difficult to recall his name and impact without a help.
In 1999, the late Prince Abubakar Audu returned as democratically elected governor of the confluence state where he shone so brilliantly, dwarfing the likes of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos.
While Audu ended his sojourn in 2003, Tinubu progressed ahead to complete his terms and thus became a playmaker, godfather strategic partaker in national power-sharing formula. He didn’t limit his influence to Lagos but went afar as annexing the South West as his political territory.
Tinubu became so powerful in Nigeria that sitting presidents could negotiate power with him. 21 years after, Asiwaju Tinubu is still a force to reckon with and even contemplating vying for the top seat in Nigeria come 2023!
Until death cut short Prince Abubakar Audu, he remained perpetually a Kogi influence with no ambition to meander into national politics in spite of having the mental capacity and the means to do so. A decision that has cost the Igalas a huge vacuum at national politics.
While Tinubu invested in people and mentored them to power, which he is still doing today, Prince Audu failed to recreate himself in others and thus failed to produce a tangible successor to inherit his political dynasty in Kogi State. Truth is, one of the biggest political strengths of Tinubu today is the number and quality of the proteges he has. He is deliberate about them, he looks out for them and also ensures that they get empowered.
Then entered the luckiest of them all, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris who reigned at a time everything was rosy, oil price was high and money flowed freely. Consumed perhaps by the exuberance of power, he forgot to prepare himself for national status; he was contented with the confluence influence and the result, of course, is his political disappearance from the scene. Timidity combined with provinciality added with nepotism fetched him the obscurity he is today.
With all due respect, Captain Wada Idris happened to reign in an unlucky time; he was weighed down by the baggage of his predecessor that he could barely breathe freedom. So consumed was he with court cases that he spent more times in the court than he did providing governance.
Tragically, the court cases came from his own party men! Like others before him, he dotted the wall of the Lugard House uneventfully and has fizzled out into political Siberia. Unlike Tinubu and like Audu and Idris, they didn’t recreate themselves in others, theirs was self first before others!
Well, there is a new kid on the bloc. His name is Yahaya Bello, currently the landlord of the Lugard House. From my preliminary interpretation of his efforts, it does not seem to me that he is towing that obscurity lane like his predecessors in office. Perhaps the Governor has taken time to study where his predecessors got it wrong and he’s now trying not to repeat their mistakes in his own time
Today, Governor Bello has disconnected totally from the template of those before him. He has bulldozed his way into national reckoning using intellect, sheer power, and wit.
When he speaks, he speaks as a free-born and not ‘A Kogi oh’ kind of person – apologies to Dr Chris Ngige. So ingrained is Yahaya Bello that decisions in his party are not made without his input; so strategic is he that amongst his governor colleagues, he is a plausible force to reckon with, the presidency is more like a second home.
He has redefined the map of Kogi State; no more a state referred to as local entity as a state with national space. No day passes without Kogi being in the news- a feat hitherto alien to the state. You may want to underrate Yahaya Bello, but it’s going to be at your own peril. He has transmogrified from a confluence influence to a national reference.
The Governor was in the news recently when he stormed Ondo State to marshal and canvass the people of the state on the need to reelect his colleague -Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He energized the campaigns and electrified the crowd of party supporters who were excited to see him.
Never again will Kogi produce leaders that end in Lokoja, the state capital.