Kogi and Concessionary Power Sharing
By: Abdull-Azeez Ahmed Kadir
Snatching victory from the jaw of failure. No, death snatching failure from the jaws of victory. Or alternatively, dogged preparedness meeting opportunity albeit divine intervention.
Abubakar Audu, Abiodun Falaki, Yahaya Belo; these actors fit into the three separate sentences above. These three are the poster ambassadors of the three most contending ethnic groups in Kogi State; Igala, Okun and Igbira, at least politically.
The political conundrum that took place in Kogi State was unprecedented. Since the return to civil rule in 1999, at no point has such occurred, not even something close to it. The event also brought to the fore the flaw among our “learned wig custodians”. Our highly rated Senior Advocates were singing discordant tunes albeit selfishly.
The opinion of Lawyers, senior ones at that were as diverse as the amount they would have charged to defend any client in the court of law, especially when the client is a self confessed guilty-as-charged one. It goes to show what our Lawyers in this clime specialise in; create conflict that results in legal tussle and wait to be engaged as defending/prosecuting Council.
Enough said about that, Faleke seems to have created the tragic flaw in the cunundrum. This is a man who, all his life has been a Lagosian with little or no thought for Kogi State. A man who even represents a portion of Eko in the lower Chamber of the National Assembly. But that may be a non issue, as from Oyo to Ekiti, Ondo to Ogun and Osun to Kwara his ilks abound.
And from the blues, picked to be the running mate of Abubakar Audu, after the former had chest the belt and sure of raising the trophy due to his popularity and track record, Faleke was your typical Nigerian politician who always love to reap bountifully where he sow little or nothing at all.
But as it happens, Faleke seems ready to bury Audu long before his real death. He could hardly wait for Audu’s body to get cold and be six feet below before he started advocating for Audu’s nudity and his paraphanalia of office be put on him (Faleke) even as Audu’s son foolhardily tow Falake’s ill advised political line of action.
That single act painted the duo as not only stealthily ambitious and waited with baited breath for Audu’s death, but portrayed them as inhuman. Because to many, that was a period that they should have maintained a solemn overtures, watch event from the sidelines as they on-fold and mourn the passing of Audu. Well, even that is now in the past. But at the long run, Muhammed Audu may never forgive Faleke for misleading him and he may have committed political hara-kiri.
All around the world, concessionary power sharing is the in-thing. From America, Europe, Asia, South America et al, the king makers are fast realising that for peace, stability, growth, development and to give everyone a sense of belonging, concessionary power sharing is the way out. The era of winner takes it all or the majority lording it over the minority or playing the lord of the manor is old fashioned.
All around the world and in many places, people that ordinarily would never perceive the aroma of power are groomed and allowed to have a stake. And this is where the Igalas of Kogi State come in. Since the dawn of civil rule in 1999, they have been at the helm of affairs and saw it as a birthright to always be.
Despite the fact that Igala speaking lands have little or nothing to show for their sons being the chief executives of the state beyond what late Abubakar Audu put in place during his short-lived tenure. And these infrastructures are not limited to Igala lands alone. Just as the failure of Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada are not also limited to their homes and ethnic group alone. But at every election, the Igalas queue behind their sons.
You can say the majority will always have their ways. Yes. But at what price. Agreed power is never given but taken, but good strategist would concede once in a while to the give the less endowed the euphoria of sense of belonging. And the reality is, even the so called majority can never have the highly priced trophy without support from the so called minority, even if it is mere cheering from the sidelines.
In Nigerian political scene, the so called minority is often given the second fiddle role to act. Or to properly place it or use the local political parlance, he is utilised as a spare tyre. From Borno to Lagos, Kwara to Abia, Ekiti to Katsina the story is no different, the so called majority always feel it is their birth right to always rule as against lead, and often rub it on the face of the rest. In some states, they even twist the knife in the wound and turn it to a sore.
Here again is where Kogi comes to the fore. With late Audu cum Wada, Yahaya Bello and Abiodun Faleke seen as the poster boys of their ethnic groups, it was a replay or reflection of Kogi politics. These tripatite ethnic groups are often used as representative samples of the heterogeneous state and here again is another folly.
Aside these troika, people forget that there are other ethnic groups that abound in the state. But it maybe because these vocal three with probably the exception of the Okuns, are limited to the Kogi alone. You have the Nupes, the Egbira Kotos, the Bassa Nges, the Bassa Komus the Aworos, the Kakandas (Dibos), the Agatus, the Akpotos among others. Though found in other states such as Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau and the FCT, put together, they are forces to be reckon with oppose to the vocal three always used as a reference point and who are limited to Kogi alone.
But if anyone refers to these numerous groups as minorities and subsume them into others, the last election that threw up Yahaya Bello and the reference to his ethnic group as a minority in Kogi State is also unprecedented. In the larger Nigerian political stage, even the Igalas are referred to as a minority in national diatribes. So, it is a case of if you are taller than me I am shorter than you.
But considering what the ‘waows’ have gone through even when Yahaya Bello was a toddler, would it be right to refer to them as minorities in the political scene of Kogi State of today? When they belonged to the old Kwara State where their population is far less compared to other groups then, they produced a Governor in the person of Alhaji Adamu Attah and they were not despised politically as minorities. Why now in the smaller Kogi where their numbers are larger?
The political conundrum in Kogi State shows what stuff our political actors are made off and to what level they can go to protect group interest. It has also shows how ill prepared our Lawyers area despite all noise and lies they make to raise the roof. Above all, it shows the lacuna in our laws.
But the greatest lesson is the fact that we are all minorities before our creator who gives power to who He wishes, when He wishes and also take it when and from who He wishes.
Though power is taken and not given, we have to learn to concessionarily share power to give our compatriots a sense of belonging and carry them along in the scheme of things. After all, we are all travelers along this shore, and like Audu, we shall only be remembered by the footprints we leave behind; on the ever moving sandy dunes or on the ever permanent stony boulders that can withstand many hash conditions or even worst political storm.
Yes, power is taken by our deft political dexterity or given by concession or by the Creator. But it will amount to nothing if not utilised to the advantage of the majority of the people who never cared about the tongue or faith of others but desire basic infrastructures and social amenities to better their lives.
At four decades old, Yahaya Bello has made history just as the creator has given him power, thereby fulfilling the prophesy of Audu that power can oly shift with his election. But Bello needs to know and have the choice to utilise the power to the advantage of the majority of Kogi people who desire better life and not the divisive antiques of the political class who forever deepens the fault lines and makes the colours of the confluence more apparent to show who belongs to what divides.
As the youngest Governor in this era of change and the era where and when the thumbs and voice of the youth makes the difference, the choice is his. If he choose to fail, and we hope not, it will not be the failure of the waow Igbiras but his failure, as Adamu Attah in Kwara was not a failure. Same as Ibro and Wada’s failures are not the failure of the agba Igalas because late Abubakar Audu in the same Kogi was not a failure.
Bello can ill afford to fail for several obvious reasons. The time to change the narratives in Kogi State is now and the youngest Governor of this era is given the unenviable opportunity to stem the tide.
Go help us to act right, as I am only thinking aloud.