Kogi Election: How political Strategy defeated primordial agenda

Gov Yahaya Bello and Engr Musa Wada

By Shehu Audu

Monday, the electoral body declared governor Yahaya Bello of the APC winner of weekend polls. Bello received 406,222 votes to defeat his main challenger Engr. Musa Wada of opposition PDP, manage to ‘gather’ only 189,704 votes to come a distant second.

It was the highest votes in the state since the return to democracy in 1999. Bello, by this votes, has secured a second term in office till January 2024.

The election which was marred with violence was rejected by opposition candidate, Engr. Musa Wada who described it as a ‘coup’ against the people of the state, and threatened to seek redress at the election petition tribunal.

Though the campaigns leading to the election were fraught with ethnic emotions more than religious innuendos, spearheaded by opposition party. The party ran a tasteless campaign of propaganda and calumny, and showed that it lacked a clear-cut approach to take power from the incumbent apart from the trite slogans of: “Bello Must Go” and “Igala Agenda” that rented the air by its poorly constituted infamous media of ‘noise-makers’.

Just like in Bayelsa state, the PDP in Kogi state went into the election with amidst crisis.

The APC on the other hand, realised that, yes as a party manned by humans, there were mistakes made in the past and apologised; and equally recognised that progress was also made hence sought the peoples mandate so they could do more.

The Game-Changer: Hon (Chief) Edward David Onoja (CIK)

While the ethnic songs were rife and the drumbeats louder, the state Deputy Governor, Hon (Chief) Edward David Onoja maintained that Kogi State belongs to all; it belongs to everyone irrespective of ethnic background, political conviction and religious profession.

A stance he maintained and gave unalloyed support to his Principal and boss, His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, hails from a different political zone. He galvanised support from his Igala ethnic stock for Gov. Bello’s reelection. He said, if it requires just one Igala man to stand behind an Ebira Governor when others are openly interested in his downfall, he will be that one.

Second term: the tasks before Governor Yahaya Bello

Kneeling before a mammoth crowd during APC grand rally which took place at the Lokoja township stadium, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, alongside the wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, and other top national leaders of the party, begged the people of the state on behalf of the state Governor over some hard reforms he implemented, especially in the state civil service, to forgive him.

With his reelection, the people have forgiven the governor, and so he must immediately proceed to set governance agenda for the next four years by reviewing the ‘New Direction’ blueprint to increase more youth involvement in governance, adoption and full implementation of the federal government introduced Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Systems (IPPIS); to further consolidate efforts made to sanitise the state civil service, and lay to rest the nagging issues of irregular payment of salaries to workers.

In addition, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), should be designed for the state in view of dwindling financial inflow and poor revenue generation in the state. This will enhance financial probity and increase revenue net of the state.

Cultural tourism and entertainment holds huge potential in the state but largely untapped. If these potentials are harnessed, it will aid govemnment in creating jobs. It will take the burden of unemployment off government, so it can concentrates on making policies and collaborating with the legislature to make laws that benefit citizens.

Security, Education and healthcare

While agricultural revolution gaining more grounds, the state government will need to do more, at least as promised during the campaign, in the areas of security, basic education and all levels of healthcare: Primary, secondary and tertiary health system. This is in addition to the provision of infrastructure.

As already contained in the ‘New Direction’ blueprint, these sectors should be reviewed to address new challenges and accommodate new developments.

With the violence experienced in some parts of the state during (all) elections, the new government should urgently consider some sorts of amnesty for youth to deposses them of arms and weapons. This is germane in other to forestall post-election crisis and crimes.

Education remains a top priority for any government if human development must be achieved. Due to paucity of fund, priority areas the improvement of basic primary education by encouraging adequate enrolment through free programmes. Once the foundation is right, other bearings will find its balance.

The school feeding programme by the federal government should be complemented with provision of free teaching materials.

The health status of any populace rests largely on the health care programmes available to both the young and the aged. Most importantly the primary and tertiary health system.

The health status of any populace rests largely on the health care programmes available to both the young and the aged. Most importantly, the primary and tertiary health system should receive more attention this time. This system cater to the health needs of our infants and old, and by extension women. The new government should incubate and implement a free healthcare programme through Public Private Partnership (PPP).

This will ease the burden of funding and the challenge of public health management. It will make medical treatment accessible, and affordable too.

The sanctity of peace and unity

At least since 1999, I have keenly followed political developments in the state, but I have never experienced a season with heightened ethnic tension like the one during the last campaign.

Let’s not pretend, the campaigns have left in its wake division and hatred leading to deep-seated animosities amongst all the ethnic groups in the state. This is omnious and should be checked.

The tough part of winning (election), and in the spirit of sportsmanship, is extending hands of fellowship to those who opposed you in a contest. Once you have been declared winner, partisan politics gives way to general and inclusive governance.

The new government must move fast through all means, especially in deploying the power of media to heal everyone of the damage of hate that we witnessed during campaigns. This should be in consultation with a private media and supervised by the state government. The ‘EBIGO’ concept is still good but poorly disseminated.

Progressive Opposition

Let opposition parties that contested in this election not go to sleep. This is the time to move the state forward. This is a new beginning for the state. This is when the ideas for good governance should be put forward. This is no time for antagonistic opposition. Such did not help anyone in the past anyway. Rather it left damaging impression on the system.

Just like President Muhammadu Buhari said in his goodwill message to the state before the election, “in every contesEdt there are winners and losers” but governance must not abandoned simply because your party did not win. Support the growth of the state and continue to hold elected public officials to account.

The President has since congratulated the two governors-elect in Bayelsa and Kogi States who won under his party.

Shehu Audu
Media Writer on Governance and Development.

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