By Oloruntoba Oluwaseyi Olufunwa
The former executive governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, popularly known as Ibro is touted to have said to his regular by-standers that having been regularly betrayed by politicians, he is unwilling to support anyone anymore unless such person is his “blood”. And that began the “Abu Ibro is the best aspirant” campaign fueled by ‘professional politicians and hugely supported by Ibro’s wife who has promised her forbears that an Igbira will also be the First Lady after Governor Bello’s eviction from Lugard house in November.
Enter Captain Idris Wada, Ibro’s estranged friend of over forty years. His decision to “complete his second term” seem to have been enacted by Ibro brazen audacity to field his son not minding that the odds are stacked against such an unpopular decision. From his body language, Wada has challenged Ibro to an open debate to discuss the roles both of them played during Wada’s ill-fated administration of the State. Ibro has responded with a grave silence reminiscent of his legendary deception and ‘we shall see’ disposition.
And then, the Senator (Dr.) Amadu Ali’s committee which collected about Six Million Naira from about forty aspirants only to screen-out about seventy per cent of them without providing the yardstick with which the decision was arrived at. Upon receiving the report, Amadu Ali typical of him played god again by tweaking it to submit the names of just two aspirants, one each from the two leading political parties further compounding an already troubled exercise.
Governor Yahaya Bello is literarily clutching a straw to survive. He is leveraging everyone and anyone to ensure he gets his Party’s nomination for the November 16th governorship election but the signs are ominous and one cannot say for sure how the drama would end.
Note that in all of these, the disillusionment of the people and the new prefix of ‘poverty-stricken people of Kogi State’ is not an issue of interest to these actors largely because they are well aware that the people don’t know their rights and can be easily swayed by virtually anything that is thrown at them.
Back to Ibro. A lot of people will tell Ibro to save them the false story of his justification for not supporting anyone. Ibro is celebrated as the master of deceit and his antics are almost legendary when you recall that this is the same Ibro that promised over twenty people that they would succeed him upon completion of his term in office. At a point, he even housed one of his successors in the P-lodge (reserved for VVIPs) encouraging to believe he is next in line: He failed him. At another point, he dramatically asked someone else to seat in his official chair and sarcastically referred to him as “Your Excellency”: He never sat on that chair again. The case of Okutepa whom Ibro encouraged to spend billions only to turn around and worked against him is common place. The most classical instance of Ibro’s mythical deceit is the ravenous and dreadful manner in which he treated Alhaji Jibrin Isah (Echocho) who after winning a Primary election was supplanted in favour of a friend and an in-law.
Alhaji Ibrahim Idris’s thesis for foisting his son on the PDP is premised on his thinking that that would mitigate the kind of treatment he had meted out to a number of people. This defiles logic in the face of all we have been hearing from one of his “blood”, Alhaji Suleiman, who stopped short of saying those who trust or regards his father have themselves to blame. While, it is a waste of time to dabble into what is an indication of lack of family cohesion and disunity, it is instructive to recall that those who cannot manage a little will be wasteful with a lot.
In the end, outside statutory appointments, Ibro cannot lay claims to any verifiable evidence of assistance to anyone without direct or indirect recourse to him. When next he talks about empowering people, he should take a que from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, do a peer-check and tell himself some honest truths.
A few people would say “Wada is a gentleman”, “Wada has integrity”, “Wada is an honest man”. Whilst they are entitled to their opinions, the role Wada played during the Governorship conundrum of Alhaji Jibrin Isah leaves a huge stain of his gentlemanliness, integrity and honesty. Originally, he was meant to prevail on Ibro (his friend and in-law) to rescind his decision not to support Echocho any longer for the governorship but he ended up acquiescing to Ibro’s suggestion of having him replace Echocho. “Mr. Integrity” presided over the mutilation of the Party register to accommodate him since he was not even a Party member at the time of the decision.
Wada performed woefully while in office largely as a result of distraction from Ibro and members of his family that Wada kept servicing at the expense of the State. He literarily killed the PDP in the State and it was only a matter of time before he was swept out of office. One thing most people did not know is that Ibro supported Audu in the 2015 governorship election after he discovered Wada was trying hard to exorcise himself from Ibro’s stranglehold. Save for the intervention of Wada’s governor-colleagues, Ibro was determined to make sure Wada did not fly the Party’s flag and failing, he resorted to other means which to a minimal extent led to the APC victory of 2015.
Governor Yahaya Bello is owing between six, twelve, twenty-four to thirty-six months salaries depending on who you ask but one thing you cannot take away from he and his chief of staff, Edward Onoja, is the efficacy of their Stalinist and Machiavellian strategies. Starting from appointing youths who would have at best been escorts to the government house to depriving the populace of everything and giving back an insignificant little for huge appreciation in return, they have been able to create a sense of empowerment in a number of people even if there is nothing to show form it. Truth is Audu, Ibro and Wada empowered and enriched majorly members of their families either financially or influentially but Bello has seemingly empowered a lot not related to him in anyway. Some of these ‘boys’ are just happy to be called “Honorable” or “carried along” just to show they belong.
Ironically, virtually all of the Bello/Edward boys are hungry and again it’s a well put-together tactic to ensure they kept coming back as empowering them financially will give them a degree of independence to make them reason properly and may be jump ship. As a result, to survive, they must stick around the table and ensure the observe excellent table manners. The recent revelations from three former actors in the GYB-led government namely Petra Akinti, Joel Minister Odaudu and Alhaji Rajab are clear confirmation of the deliberate but irresponsible approach of Edward acting on behalf of Bello. Considering that Alhaji Rajab is the celebrated barometer of Alhaji Jibrin Isah, it may be correct to add that Rajab’s scathing remarks on the Bello administration’s malfeasance is in actually fact Echocho’s thinking despite his choreographed open declaration of support for GYB.
Virtually all Parties to the forthcoming election have boasted that it is going to be about who has the deeper pocket and who controls the most thugs but everyone seem to have forgotten the role of the people and providence in the affairs of men. Ibro was the least amongst the PDP candidates when he won nomination and was broke, after the collapse of his hotel in Abuja, and had to rely on other people to pull-through the campaign. Wada was sponsored one hundred per cent with State funds. Yahaya Bello was utterly broke after he lost the primary election to Audu and was hiding from his creditors in Peniel apartment Abuja before providence called him to reckoning.
To complete the circuit of former top-men’s children vying for the highest office in Kogi State, Senator (Dr.) Amadu Ali in direct response to what he refers to as “Ibro’s insult” on our collective sensibilities has prodded his son, Mohammed Nasirudeen, to join the gubernatorial race in Kogi state along Abubakar Idris, Mohammed Audu, Mustapha Audu that all sons of former governors of Kog state. While Ibro has conceded the position of Abu’s running mate to the son of Clarence Olafemi (himself a former acting governor) who is also the Director General of Abu’s campaign body, the others are yet to reveal theirs perhaps because there is paucity of the children of former acting governors.
Ibro wants a third term, Wada wants a second term, Bello wants a second term, the Audus’ want a “deserved compensation”, Amadu Ali wants to be rewarded for giving us Kogi State but none of these greedy, self-seeking and self-serving persons care to know or even want to know what the citizens want. They forget that whilst they may have their say, the true owners of Kogi state will ultimately have their way either by reason of the impending implosion or outright providential order.
According to a number of Kogi citizens including stakeholders, where we these so-called leaders when Bello pauperized the citizenry. Of course, all of them were either in their fortresses in Abuja, Lagos, London, USA or elsewhere enjoying our common patrimony with the families and mistresses only to turn to the people’s advocates when elections beckon. Ibro is said to have donated ten trucks of rice to our Muslim brothers/sisters during the recently concluded Salah on behalf of his heir-apparent but he forgot that there had been several festivities before his desperation to bequeath the office of Governor to Abu. Unfortunately, our people are so gullible that they fall easily to such baits.
The truth is, except for Edward’s character-delinquency, oral diarrhea, arrogance-of-ignorance, infantile-exuberance, Bello would have been the best candidate amongst those that have so far declared interest to run. The main issue with Bello is that he lacks confidence, competence and good judgment and relies totally on Edward Onoja on decisions about and around his family and even mistresses to keep. In other words, the Igalas are actually the ones in power while the Igbiras and Okuns keep hoping to govern the state someday. Edward’s dream to take-over from Bello beyond 2023 has built an emperor and desperate rolling-stone out of a former decrepit, unknown, debt-ridden and timid personality. To his quarter-baked hangers-on, he’s a strategist, he’s Maradona, he’s lightening, he’s thunder and in fact, he’s a deity. There is no one Edward has not insulted or abused, from all the elders and leaders in Kogi state, to the National Working Committee of his party to the common man in the street. He would usually say, power and money are sweet and nobody will ever let go if in his shoes; that is understandable considering he was running away from a N5000 debt he owed his mechanic, and a failed barbing business, just a few months before the keys to the treasury of Kogi State were handed down to him.
Governor Bello brandishes the results of the February 23rd and March 9th elections as his greatest political achievement. 25/25, 2/3 and 7/9 results in the house of assembly, senatorial and house of representatives’ elections respectively is a huge electoral milestone in the history of Kogi State and in fact, in Nigeria’s democratic history. But, do these results reflect acceptability or popularity or both or none? I won’t attempt an analysis since the cases therefrom are still sub judice but your guesses are as good as mine.
Let’s look closely at the results of the presidential elections of 2015 and 2019. In 2015, as an opposition party, APC won the presidential election in Kogi state with 264,851 against PDP’s figure of 149,987 (a differential of 114,864). In 2019, as the party in power, the APC won the presidential election in Kogi state with 285,894 against PDP’s figure of 218,207 (a differential of 67,687). In all the figures represent a huge improvement of 58 percent on the part of the PDP inferring a decline of 58% on the part of the APC across the state.
While I shall resist the temptation to further analyze the figures, it would be appropriate to advice that we discount for thuggery, compromise, apathy and vote-buying and the figures move southwards. However, because all these are now the new-normal, then it may be correct to simulate a situation where the actors decide to do what has tremendously benefitted others in the past. Under such a situation, it becomes tenable that issues that are taken for granted become major deciders. Also, we must not ignore the fact that all the other elections have been in large part homogenous (Igala competing against Igala; Ibira-competing against Ibira; Okun-competing against Okun) in nature but the governorship election is heterogeneously-inclined and therein lies the killer-punch but there are provisos.
The PDP thinks anyone that flies its flag can beat Bello. Bello thinks ones he clinches the APC ticket his second term is done and dusted. Both are lies of gigantic proportions. It is impossible for Abu leveraging the PDP to beat Bello because those sitting on the fence, and there are many of them, will decamp pronto to the APC. Mohammed Audu cannot beat Bello at the primaries so that is a futile adventure. Admiral Jibrin Usman needs to shake-off the praise-singers around him and come to terms with the truth because politics goes beyond stale beer parlour talks. Professor Ogah and Emmanuel Omaebiji of the APC and PDP respectively appear in pole position only fueled by the greed of the key-players notably Ibro, Wada, Amadu Ali and Yahaya Bello.
But, Bello is smart. He is rumored to have done two critical and strategic things. One is to secure a virtual ticket in the Accord Party after his surreptitious arrangement with Hon. Adakeke and the other is to sponsor multiple candidate from the Eastern flank. This is the script he played during the 2015 primaries with late Audu which saw him come second. However, the potency of this strategy may have been watered down with the departure of Dr. Yakubu Ugwolawo who was the actual master-strategist before he was disgraced and chased-out by Edward Onoja after Bello became governor.
In the final analysis, the Kogi Central votes may come in block, the Kogi East votes may be frittered and the Kogi West votes may find expression in either the East or the Central depending on who emerges as the candidates of the two leading Parties (APC and PDP). Those who brag are definitely the ones who don’t know politics and certainly the place of providence in the affairs of men. That said, the last time I checked, god can never be God as we await the ultimate verdict.