It is no longer news that Kogi Governatorial election is fast approaching. The political bill boards and posters associated with various parties and their agendum, publicities flooding Kogi polity creates a deep sense of alertness for election and awareness to both electorate, electoral body, election monitoring bodies, court of law as well as the press. The wave of their tussles have become more stronger by the day, however, ethnocentrism filled these sailing ships. This is quite unfortunate for a state at the heart of our nation.
Kogi state which was crafted out of the old Benue and Kwara states, naturally endowed with both human and natural resources, and has maintain a long time peaceful coexistence from precolonial to colonial and independence with one another without dispute, clash, or war. The people in the various regions of the state made up of different class, culture and ideology are overtime known to be vibrant, intelligent, humane and peace loving people.
We have the Igalas in the Eastern part of the state, Ebiras at the central region and the Okuns at the Western part of the state. Though in our diversities, Kogi has experienced tremendous development since it creation in 1991. As a component part the sovereign state, Nigeria, the state has been strong and proven herself a formidable force for development with the cooperation of compatriot Kogites and her leaders.
It is quite unfortunate that a state which has been characterized by intelligence and peacefulness has turned away from the landmark and footprint, laid by those before, the very force behind the progress and development the state has enjoyed. Adopting propaganda in propagating the doctrine of ethno-politics as determinant for the next occupancy of her apex position (Governor).
The changes and development the state has experienced are accustomed to the fact that, emerging leaders where scrutinized based on individual capacity, political party and general acceptability of the Masses. Why then do we choose to turn dea ear to what has brought us to this very moment and adopt Ethnic Agenda as the major determinant of electing our Governor?
The propagated Ethnic Agenda has resulted into giving the various tribe a sense of entitlement on who should become the next governor. The Ebiras claims sonship of the incumbent governor and thus should retain power, because Igalas had ruled for sixteen straight years. The Igalas see themselves as the majority with 8 of the 9 local governments (LG) in the East, the highest of the 21 LGs in the state. Thus, the need to produce next governor. Okun people on the other hand are seriously craving as they bewail and cry ‘marginalization’. Since they haven’t ruled before, they felt it is fair, just and expedient they produce the next governor for consolidation sake and social justice.
Considering the aforementioned reasons, I see this new style of politics as a big threat to our democracy and a time bomb waiting to explode. The strength of the state is in the unity of our diversity and that has been the horse kogi state rode since 1991 till date. Positions are contested for and among political parties which comprises of members from the 3 regions of the state not between ethnic groups like we have today. From the East; Muritala Ajaka, Central; Ahmed Ododo Usman, and the West; Sen. Dino Melaye, it’s obviously a game of throne.
If this Ethnic Agenda is not stopped its consequences might become so unbearable till it will diminsh the state and cost lost of lives and properties. In short time to full campaigning, parts of the state is already feeling the heat. What will become our hope if ethnic politics persist and end up the basis of electing next governor? Of course, it will lead to unequal distribution of government dividends which is a threat to our democracy.
Political gladiators and strong forces among the various region of the state should call their people to order and prevent this time bomb from exploding because its effect would cost the whole state the unthinkable. Credibility and competency should be the major consideration in electing our leaders, not ethnicity or regional inclination. Say no to ethnocentrism.
Jacob Robert ugbede
A Student of Mass Communication, Prince Abubakar Audu University