Your Excellency Sir, ideally, this ought to be a conversation with you as critical stakeholders in the Kogi State Project. As there is hardly any ideal situation in life, people make use of whatever is available. Hence the use of this medium.
The history of the creation and governance of our dear state is very well known that we need not recount the details here. Similarly, the composition of the various nationalities that constitute the East, Central and West Senatorial Districts that make up the State are well known.
Since the commencement of democratic governance in Nigeria, the East Senatorial District of Kogi State has produced the Governor of the state at various elections and cumulatively governed the state for 19 years to the exclusion of the other two senatorial districts. This trend would have extended to 23 years, but for providence. May the soul of our former Governor, Prince Abubakar Audu, continue to rest in His bosom.
We will all recall that this lopsided trend in governance naturally made the Central and West Senatorial Districts uncomfortable and frustrated. Notwithstanding, we lived peacefully together in the state. The two districts handled the situation with a lot of maturity for the sake of the state’s progress and development.
Following Providential intervention in 2015, Kogi Central Senatorial District took up the baton. By the end of the second term in January 2024, Kogi Central, represented by His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello, would have completed eight years in office.
Your Excellency, you will recall that the issue of Power Rotation among the three Senatorial districts in the state was more or less the only issue for discussion among the people of Kogi Central and Kogi West before the general election of 2015. One would be right to submit that your coming to office through that election brought relief of varying degrees to all parts of the state. You will also recall, Your Excellency, that the campaign leading to the 2019 election, which was for your second term in office, was particularly challenging. ODA took up the challenge decisively, God gave us victory, and you were returned for a second term.
It is instructive to remind ourselves that the main complaint of the people of Kogi Central and Kogi West Senatorial districts was that it was against fairness, equity and natural justice for one of three senatorial districts to hold on to power for 16 years back-to-back while the other two senatorial districts stand-by as onlookers.
Now that the second term of Kogi Central is coming to an end, the fairest, most equitable and most just thing to do in order to continue to promote peaceful coexistence and sense of belonging of all is to concede to Kogi West Senatorial District the opportunity to produce the Governor of the state for the next dispensation. This is not as a matter of entitlement. It is more to meet the minimum standard of fairness, equity and justice, in addition to promoting peaceful and brotherly coexistence. It is the only right thing to do in the circumstance.
Anything different from this will mean one of two possibilities. First, Governorship is retained in Kogi Central Senatorial District. If this is allowed to happen, the Kogi Central will then be on track to hold power for 16 years back-to- back. There will then be the moral question of justifying the pre-2015 position of the Central Senatorial District against the East when the complaint was that the East retained power for 16 years back-to-back. In addition, the people of Kogi West will feel betrayed, in view of their hard work that contributed to producing the second term election result of 2019. More worrisome is the possibility of the East seeing such a step as a clear signal that whenever power rotates to them again, they are at liberty to hold it till kingdom come. That will be fatal to the generally promoted principle of power rotation that is key to our peaceful neighborliness. There could be other implications that one may not be able to imagine now. Your Excellency, knowing you for who are and deep love for the state, you will surely not knowingly or unknowingly work towards any such end.
The second possibility is for the Governorship to return to the East Senatorial District. The implication of this will be that the East that had already enjoyed that privilege for 19 years will be on track to add another eight years, thus cumulatively running the state for 27 years, while Kogi West remains in the doldrum. Who knows, 27 years may even become 35 or 43 years. Anybody with the fear of God at heart should not even think about such a possibility.
The only way to avoid the consequences of the two possibilities described above is the reason the ODA is making this strong appeal.
The Okun Development Association (ODA), the umbrella body for the people of Okun nation, makes this appeal, first, to His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello, the leader of the ruling party and the principal actor to implement a legitimate succession plan for the state, to wholeheartedly support power shift to Kogi West Senatorial district as a continued demonstration of his principled stand on matters of fairness, equity, justice and peace, which have remained the main change drivers of his administration. One of his legacies in this area remains his commendable efforts in addressing the lopsided nature of power equation in the state by introducing the EBIRA- IGALA- OKUN (EBIGO) as a correctional mantra that brought about justice and fair play in political appointments and other matters in the three Senatorial districts. Supporting power shift to Kogi West Senatorial District will not only reinforce the Governor’s status as a gifted Statesman, it will also consolidate his stature as a trustworthy, reliable, and visionary political leader whose influence transcends the state.
Your Excellency Sir, in five, ten, fifteen, twenty years’ time, most people from the state (and outside the state) will not remember who your commissioner for any portfolio was. Neither will many people remember who your Chief of Staff was. Nor any of your Special Assistants/Advisers. On the other hand, nobody will think for a moment to remember who the Governor of Kogi state was in the years in which you held sway. God will guide Your Excellency to the right decision on this and other state matters.
We are aware that it takes a whole process to produce a governorship candidate out of the many aspirants in each of the political parties. We therefore do not underestimate the critical role that the party delegates have to play in this regard. We appeal to all delegates from across the three senatorial districts to allow the guiding principles of fairness, equity, justice, peaceful neighborliness, and the love of Kogi state, to direct their conscience as they cast their votes on the day of the primary elections.
The ODA would like to emphasize that our appeal for power shift to Kogi West Senatorial District is not borne out of any entitlement mentality and it is without prejudice to the need to zero in on a competent, experienced, trusted, selfless, detrabilized, result-oriented and effective aspirant/candidate. We assure all that Kogi West Senatorial District has in good measure aspirants in the various parties with abundance of these qualities.
In conclusion, the Okun Development Association wishes to appeal to our brothers and sisters in the senatorial districts that have enjoyed the privilege of producing the Governor at different times, to put the overall interest of the state over and above individual aspirations and think of the long-term benefits of fairness, equity, justice, peaceful coexistence, sense of belonging and unity to the progress and development of our dear state.
Times like this call for selflessness and far-sighted visionary thinking.
God bless Kogi State.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thank you all.
Okun Development Association