Monday, 21 December 2015

Kogi and the Worst of Us

Kogi and the Worst of Us
Once again the worst of us could be on brazen display. Our collective sense of socio-ethnic – and perhaps even religious – charity, magnanimity and human solidarity is on trial.
The events of the last weekend in Kogi State are no longer news. Kogites cast their votes in a keenly contested election and while the results are being collated, the major challenger for the position of governor who is apparently coasting to victory, APC’s Prince Abubakar Audu, suddenly dies of heart attack. Many tongues have wagged with theories regarding the circumstances and real cause of the demise but that is immaterial as most of the theories are outside the province of material reason.
The interesting fallout of Prince Audu’s death, however, is how the election, which has been declared inconclusive and now with the man dead, will move on to its logical end – yes, logical end.
And, what is logical end in this scenario which is proving another tough test to our constitution and the relevant laws? The lawyers have been jaw-jawing on the technicalities and subtleties since the outbreak of the news up until now. Some have said that the thing to do is to get Audu’s running mate, Mr. Abiodun Faleke, to step up and finish contest and, if he wins, become governor. Some have argued to the contrary, like the Attorney General of the Federation who has submitted that the APC may bring in another candidate to finish up the contest, citing section 33 of the Electoral Act as amended. INEC, following the counsel of the chief law officer of the federation, has already requested the Kogi APC to act accordingly.
However, the real knot, if we must face the truth, in this debacle is the ethnic dimension that it has again thrown up. Some watchers have also suggested a religious dimension inclusive. We have seen it in similar shades in the past. When Umaru Musa Yar’adua died, we saw the tensions that arose, the throes of which this nation is still suffering one way or the other; and then the fallout of that demise in Kaduna state where the ascension of the then governor, Namadi Sambo, to the position of Vice President and the discomfort – or even bile – that the Late Yakowa’s having to assume governorship generated in some quarters. The unfortunate accident of Danbaba Suntai of Taraba is another case in point and it cannot be completely ruled out that that development is one of the factors still impacting on the present governorship election quagmire in that state. The microcosm of the Nigerian socio-ethnic reality has moved to Kogi State, only with a different variable, being the fate of a joint ticket right into voting in the event of the demise of the principal. How another conundrum may pop up in Benue State tomorrow, where the Tiv would not seem to countenance an Idoma governor, is what none can say, for none ever envisaged this scenario in the confluence state.
No doubt in Kogi State the Igalas have appeared to arrogate as birthright to themselves the position of governor and they do not make any pretense about that. If Faleke had been an Igala man, this situation would not have been much a problem; the decibel of the debate would not have been as high. But he is not. And, in Nigeria, wherever a particular ethnic group finds itself in the majority it doesn’t quite give a hoot about the other or others. It is a zero sum game.
But why is it that every ethnic group in Nigeria appears to be an oppressor unless it does not get the space? It may be attributed to an ingrained distrust brought about by successive misrule, injustice due to impunity and the disregard for due process and merit. Every tribe therefore assumes that “our man must be there”, further deepening the vicious cycle. But the fact remains that even though “their man” has been there, “their” lot has never been any better. How better than the rest of Nigerians is the Ijaw or the Hausa or the Yoruba man? How really better than the Idoma man is the Tiv man in Benue State? How better than the rest of the Kogites is the Igala man?
The buck now rests with the APC as a party to begin to stir this nation away from these turbulent waters, using Kogi as a metaphor. A major albatross on the PDP when it held sway was the perceived injustice meted by the party and the stench of impunity which rose to the high heavens. The APC upstage the PDP as ruling party on the mantra of change. It is going to be a choice between making Faleke to principally bear the ticket of the party for the rest of the election and bringing another Igala man in Audu’s place. The consensus seems to be that the APC will lose with Faleke; even the PDP believes it will win in such a situation which appears to be why Gov Wada is protesting INEC’s blanket decision that APC presents another candidate in Audu’s place. It will be tempting for the APC to bring an Igala candidate just because they would assuredly want to win the election, but they would miss the opportunity to put it on record that every Nigerian, regardless of ethnicity, is qualified to be voted if he or she meets the laid down requirements. This, in the long run, is the direction a party that wants to change Nigeria should go.
Alas, it’s not easy being a ruling party.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Thurs Nov. 26, 2015

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