Who bewitched Kogi? by Lanre Adewole
I have traversed enough of Kogi political space to know the electorate always vote their stomach since the return of civil rule two decades back. So, the wonderment headline isn’t a question per se. It is more of a rhetorical musing. The state has never had a balanced political leadership because the people vote everything but their tomorrow and that of future generations. Despite its historic relevance to political development in the country, particularly the place of Lokoja, its ever-rusty, dusty, dirty and dragging state capital, in the colonial era politics, it is easy to predict Kogi as one of the pretender-to-development states that would qualify in every sense and facet, for a return to original parent states, and in this case, Kwara and Benue states, if the imminent restructuring requires the collapse of the never-do-well, mismanaged and no-hopper like the Confluence State.
Which the unimaginable hasn’t the state witnessed in Lugard House? Was it a megalomaniac who constructed a physical and mental throne for himself in a supposed democracy, incongruously decorating the beastly in the beauty flora? I’m going to stop here, not to speak factual ill, of the dead.
Was it a betrothal of Madam malapropism? A colleague had taken me to see this fellow in Abuja in the build-up to the 2003 governorship election, he “won.” Well, I had no problem believing he owned the business “empire” where we met. In fact, his looks confirmed a businessman who scratched the rock with bare fingers to succeed, with his visage spilling a tell-all of a new moneybag just getting used to the comfort of plenty dough. I also had no doubt about his ability to preserve the wealth since “booking” only required getting fine faces at the front-door office to flash the usual cosmetic just-bring-your-money courtesies to prospective clients. And truth be told, the business empire wasn’t just revelers’ hideout or closet for straying wives and husbands. Getting a space there too, to hibernate in the bosom of nightly beaus, would also riddle any philanderer’s wallet big time. That was how big his business was. My amazement was, however, bigger than his business empire, learning I was sitting directly across the man “anointed” to take Kogi to the “next level.” Truly, his deep pocket took him beyond the limitations of his staccato communication ability and poor intellectual reflexes. And after eight years, the state was indeed on the “next level.” I will stop here for prejudicial sake.
Then came the “pilot.” As I stood across him the day he “won” at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, at the dilapidated structure standing in the name of the state as liaison office/State House in the Federal Capital Territory, it was obvious the state was in further trouble. He looked panicky and lacking every inch, in gubernatorial confidence. Everything pointed to a weakling coming to power. I heard he became a quisling to some of his powerful aides. The way certain aides were tossing him around, at the Abuja “celebration”, all in the name of preparing him well to meet the press, would corroborate the penkelemesi (peculiar mess) stories that trailed his abundantly colourless reign. He was a different kind of pilot. He obviously lost the wavelength plot. Thankfully, he was taken out of turbulence before a cataclysmic crash.
The mega-man was inches away from his “throne” again, before providence struck. Ethnic and religious shenanigans prised away what could have been a possible new beginning and a wiz-kid berthed on the scene. Since then, the state seemed to have dissolved into maggot kingdom and not even pretending a crawl-out. With the way the Season One is playing out, the tragic-comic political contention, which is about power-for-its-sake, could be ad-infinitum, except providence would strike the second time and this time, keeping the charlatanic characters away, permanently.
It is easy to scapegoat the electorate because they usually do the “dirty job” for “dirty money” on Election Day. The political class is a virus that can’t leave anything in even its shape, much more in a better state, once its members, especially the so-called leading-lights, are allowed in. This unedifying group is corruption-made. Asking the members to toe a different line, is a conversation with the deaf.
That leaves the supposed untainted elite with the rescue efforts. Unfortunately, we are in the era of emergency contractor and overnight millionaires, when classless traditional rulers with big titles, who should be like King Cobra whose sumptuous meal always submits to it wherever it is hibernating, now use the left hand to magnetise their agbada to their frame, freeing the right hand to properly clutch their contract files, while signing vouchers from table to table, at the local government, sign-post the rot everywhere.
That is how low nearly everyone has sucked into the pot of my-cut, our-turn. Talo fe ba ijoba ba? (nobody wants to be an enemy of power) is the refrain all over. When you see a loud voice today against power, he’s either seeking or being sought for the pecuniary. Those not in that category, are mortally afraid of what would become of their numerous investment, if power fought back. Do they think at all of cowards and their multiple deaths?
Kogi is a symptom of an epidemic already befalling our politics and us. Scavenging-governor, Yahaya Bello is just an emblem of a 22nd generation degeneracy; all money and no sense. Dino Melaye is the story of a people walking backward to the future. Sadly, politics everywhere in the country including the federal level, is wearing the Kogi colour. The state needs more than a Third Force. It needs a reconnaissance, revival and renewal. With its unbelievable human resources and enviable political history, it beggars belief, toddling men call the shots, shooting common-sense out of range. When saner Kogites are ready for the much-needed mission, they should start with history. Kogi appears to be “under” a trance, apology to the Kongi himself.