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Kogi: The politics of power rotation

10112015C Wada and AuduSINCE the creation of Kogi State in 1991 by the Ibrahim Babangida military administration, the struggle for relevance has been a major characteristic of the politics of the state.

The marriage of inconvenience between the major ethnic groups that formed the state such as the Igala, Ebira, Okun, Bassa and Nupe has been the political stamp on the confluence state. While the Igalas in the present day Kogi East came from the old Benue State, the Ebira and Okun formed the bureaucratic locomotive of the old Kwara State.

The Power Perspectives: Unlike the Ebira and the Okun, who were relevant in the politics and bureaucracy of their former state, the Igala were crammed in between the battles of supremacy that featured between the Tiv and the Idoma of the old Benue State. Thus, the Igala came into Kogi fully armed with the knowledge of the practical meaning of marginalization.

Practical meaning

A juxtaposition of this position, along with the comfort enjoyed by the Okun and Ebira in the old Kwara, will reveal why the duo were ill-prepared for the battle of wits which soon set in among the three major ethnic groups in the state.

The Igala ensured they took advantage of the early delineation to claim more Local Government Areas than either of the two other major ethnic groups. While Kogi East, which is predominantly Igala has nine Local Government Areas, the Okun-dominated Kogi West has seven Local Government Areas while Ebira-dominated Kogi Central has five Local Government Areas.

The Igala struck hard from the beginning to break the gourd containing the political future and fortune of the state

History of Power Rotation

In 1999, Prince Audu was re-elected into office on the platform of the erstwhile All  Peoples Party, APP. His ambition to secure re-election in 2003 hit the rocks  as Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, the furniture merchant from Abejukolo emerged as governor and went ahead to rule till 2012 .  He handed over to Capt. Idris Wada. So, every elected governor that has ruled the state since inception has always been an Igalaman.

In 2003, a few elements from the Central and West began the agitation for power rotation. It became clear that the East had an agenda to retain the governorship of the state. Leaders such as Prince Olusola Akanmode and the late Sen. A.T. Ahmed started what they called the Power Shift Agenda. All their attempts were frustrated at the primary election level, with the structural superiority of Kogi East.

It became clear that the political parties were helpless as far as power rotation was concerned. The only time PDP lost the governorship of the state was the time the party gave its ticket to a non-Igala, late Arc. Stephen Olorunfemi who was the party’s candidate in the 1999 contest.

Never in the political history of Kogi has the issue of power rotation been so topical in a governorship campaign than now. The two major political parties have been made to give commitments on power rotation in 2019. While the PDP has set up machinery for the actualization of power shift to either Kogi West or Central in 2019, there is doubt on the possibility of the APC achieving power rotation.

Intra-Ethnic arrangment

Beyond  the agitation for rotation among the senatorial zones, pundits say the Igalas are already rotating the governorship among its triangular zones of Ankpa, Idah and Dekina. While  Audu, who had been sworn-in as governor twice hails from Ogonicha in Ankpa Zone, Idris, from Abejukolo in Idah Zone also governed the state for two terms. The incumbent  is from Odu in Dekina. Kogi East, analysts reckon, has been able to devise a means of retaining power, the potent of which is divide and rule. Political historians are of the opinion that the Okun Yoruba people have continued to be undone by the Nupe war strategy which shattered the Okun hegemony.

The thinking in Igalaland is that the Dekina Zone should be allowed to complete its two terms before power will return to the Ankpa Zone. But  Audu wouldn’t take any of that.

Kogi Since 1992

1992 to 1993 Prince Audu Igala
1999 to 2003 Prince Audu Igala
2003 to 2011 Alhaji Ibrahim Idris Igala
2011 to date Capt. Idris Wada Igala
2016 to ?????????????????

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