By Rowland ’Shuwa
In less than 24 hours from now Kogi state will be going to the polls to choose who pilots the affairs of the state for the next four years.
There is no denying the fact that the battle is between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with parties like the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and others baying at the sidelines and causing some niggling misfortune to either sides, especially in the central.
However, tomorrow’s election could, largely, be determined by who has the greater volume of violence and intimidation.
With the many reports of violence and intimidation going on in Kogi state, the popular belief that democracy is a game of number where the majority have their way while the minority have their say might not be feasible.
The beauty of democracy is when the voice of the people is heard loud and clear demanding for good leadership, accountability and transparency.
This was what happened in Kwara state where majority of the people in unison screamed Otoo’ge, (enough is enough). This resulted in the tsunami which later swept away the strong man of Kwara politics and Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the last general elections.
Although, the same inciting tsunami seems to be brewing in Kogi State but it might not see the light of the day tomorrow, as the major players seem more focused on flexing muscles rather than listening to the people.
Unfortunately, the federal government has, in the build up to this election, shown that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander.
At the twilight of the immediate past administration in Kwara state -especially some weeks before and after the election- the EFCC ensured probity in the government and this saved the people millions of naira which could have gone down the drain in trying to buy votes and subverting the will of the people.
On the other hand, the federal government is now at the forefront of the campaign to disburse money to Kogi state with few days to the election.
Given the albatross of unpaid salaries and lack of any meaningful projects in the three senatorial districts hanging on the neck of the Kogi state governor one would expect the federal government, with its anti-corruption mantra, be interested in the geniue cry of the people.
But it seems the federal government is more committed to holding unto the states in its kitty rather than the welfare of the people.
The genuflecting of Mallam ElRufai of Kaduna state who also doubles as the chairman of APC campaign council at the grand finale of the APC rally in Lokoja is a pointer to the fact that even the party knows the truth about the situation in Kogi state.
Yet, over the last few months the federal government has, directly or indirectly, enriched the financial war chest of Governor Yahaya Bello with billions of naira.
However, despite the whitewashing of the situation in Kogi by hired media executive the truth of non-payment of salaries and lack of people oriented projects in the state has continued to stick out like a sore thumb.
Like the erstwhile strongman of Kwara politics, Bukola Saraki, who rode on his father’s sweat to become the political leader of the state, Yahaya Bello could rightly be referred to as the luckiest governor in Africa, for he became governor of Kogi state on a platter of gold.
Infact, it is said in some quarters that at the time he was sworn-in as the executive governor of Kogi state, his voter’s card was registered in Abuja which means he did not vote for his party in the election that produced him as governor!
But rather than make judicious use of this rare golden opportunity offered him by divine providence and probably Abuja power brokers in APC, Yahaya Bello seem to have succeeded not only in squandering the people’s goodwill but has turned himself into another ‘constituted authority’ in Kogi state.
It might be right to say that the governor believes that Abuja power brokers, more than Divine Providence, cleared the route he took to Lugard House. The shenanigans that trailed the APC primary and other die-hard activists of the people like Abiodun Faleke coming back to eat their vomit is a testament to the governor’s nimble political moves.
And so, as Kogites go to the polls tomorrow, the Kwara Otoge tsunami might not work, not because the people are not fed up but because the incumbent understands the game of power.
Politics, like the law, is usually not based on what is right but interest and as long as Gov Bello continues to oil the interest of those that matter he will continue to hold onto power.
Another reason is the opposition. The just concluded campaign does not seem to portray Musa Wada as having the much needed strong grassroots connection. If someone like Natasha is flying the flag of the PDP, the certainity of Bello not returning to Lugard House would have risen higher.
But the PDP seem to be more focused on matching the APC with violence, vote buying and ethnic bigotry which would not fly with many diatribalised Kogites.
The plead therefore is for Kogites to go to the polls tomorrow and vote as their conscience dictates. No one’s ambition is worth your blood.