By Idris Omahi
Jim Rohn, an American author and motivational speaker once said, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
This seems to be the dilemma of the people of Kogi East Senatorial District of Kogi State. From one political dispensation to another, they have been forced to settle for an ordinary representation in the National Assembly – the kind that has added very little or nothing to their quality of living.
Another season of decision making is fast approaching; a season where making the wrong choice of who will represent them this time around will consign them to yet another four years of perpetual retrogression. So, as the buildup to the general elections gathers momentum, the people of Kogi East Senatorial District are praying; those who know how to fast are resorting to that. But the prayer point is that God should bring a messiah (or messiahs) who will speak for them confidently at the National Assembly and the district will bounce back to reckoning.
The name, Senator Attai Aidoko, is not new to those who have followed the politics of Kogi State for close to two decades. If not for anything else, he will always be remembered for representing Kogi East at the National Assembly for 16 years (House of Representatives – eight years and in the Senate for another eight years) with nothing to show.
He had earlier represented Ankpa/Omala/Olamaboro Federal Constituency from 2003 to 2011. And the people have said the only dividends of democracy accruing from his representation are seeing his fine face when another election season is approaching, and of course, listening to political sweet nothings when their votes are solicited the next time.
They have said between 2011 and 2018 (going to 2019), they have searched and searched, and continued to search, but the senator cannot be tagged with any meaningful development in any part of Kogi East Senatorial District, not even with his influence as chairman, Senate Committee on SEGS.
One of Aidoko’s townsmen summed up their frustration recently. He was quoted as saying, “The only stream sustaining our community and the neighborhood and is about four kilometers away. Aidoko is far from our challenges because he only comes here in the night and disappear before dawn since he became a senator. As you can see we have no potable water, no electricity and other basic infrastructures.”
Even the boys are not smiling at the moment. Igala youths recently spoke the minds of the entire youths of the district. According to them, the senator is a liability on the good people of Kogi East and he has no political relevance in both the region and at the national level. The youths are crying out, very loud at that, that as the longest-serving federal lawmaker from Kogi East, he has serially failed them “in terms of good legislation, provision of amenities through constituency projects and youth empowerment.”
They continued by saying, “We can’t continue to wallow in this politics of stagnation where some wicked few individuals will gather together to oppose everything that is good for our land.
“Our region has suffered so much neglect despite the fact that we have several opportunities to develop, but we have been suffering so much neglect because of the attitude of some of our leaders.”
The Kogi East people are going, albeit caps in hands to God, to the gods, and to whatever power they believe in, to yarn some miracle intervention of sorts, so that as the Peoples Democratic Party is choosing its candidates in Kogi East, they should settle with a quality candidate who will better their lots, who will be their voice when other brand-new senators take their hallowed seats in the hallowed chamber.
Anything less than a suitable candidate will attract rebellion from the voters, and the people, especially if the current occupant gets the ticket. You see, the people have been bitten more than twice. Who knows, they may be shy the next time they are bitten. Even as they do not trust the All Progressives Congress promise-and-fail kind of politics, chances are that they may rather feel comfortable with it by offering their protest votes to an APC candidate possibly coming from Dekina or the Idah axis of the zone. If for any reason the incumbent senator returns to contest on the platform of PDP, chances are Dekina/Basa will go for APC, Idah Federal Constituency will go for APC and Ankpa/Omala will go for APC. Though, this will bring a new chapter of failed promises, it could be the last resort just to teach the party delegates a lesson.
PDP in the Kogi East is in need of a new face who can energize their base. There is so much anxiety at the moment because the current occupant as a product is not strong enough to move market for the party in the face of the electorate. Just think of it, he has never won the primaries. He gets the ticket through the back door.
Another burning issue that may consume the PDP in Kogi East is the marginalization of the Idah axis of the zone. Kogi East Senatorial district has nine local government areas and three federal constituencies. They include the Idah axis: Idah, Ibaji, Igalamela/Odolu and Ofu; Dekina axis: Dekina, Bassa and the Ankpa axis which consists of the Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala.
The choices before the political class and the electorate are between progress and retrogression, unity and disunity, equity and inequity; and of course a wide prospect of prosperity for millions and not just the elite few.
Between 1999 and 2003, Dr. Alex Kadiri, a Dekina citizen was elected into the senate. Senator Nicholas Ugbane also from Dekina succeeded Dr Alex Kadiri and served in the senate for eight consecutive years. The zoning formula favoured Dekina yet again in the race for Lugard House which led to the emergence of Captain Idris Wada as governor of Kogi State.
Similarly, Ankpa Federal Constituency has also been largely favoured since the return to democratic rule. Alhaji Ibrahim Idris governed for nine years. Senator Attai Aidoko, another native of Ankpa Federal Constituency has been in the National Assembly since 2003.
Barr. Dangana Ocheja was elected in 2011. His representation was truncated by Attai Aidoko Ali through the judiciary after just six months. The implication is that since 1999, Idah Federal Constituency (comprising Idah/Ofu/Igalamela-Odolu/Ibaji ) despite its massive voter strength has not produced a senator. This clearly indicates that equity has been conspicuously overlooked in favour of marginalisation.
One may argue that several indigenes of Idah Federal Constituency were beneficiaries of high-profile political appointments. But we need to remember that an appointment is a prerogative of the chief executive and is not necessarily a true representation of the desire of the masses.
Back in 1999, President Obasanjo appointed Dr. Eyitayo Lambo and Bayo Ojo as Minister of Health and Attorney General and Minister of Justice respectively. Both were from Kabba town. The office of the deputy governor today is the outcome of a doctrine of necessity by the powers that be and not a product of consensual agreement by Igala political stakeholders. Deputy Governor Simon Achuba was forcefully shoved down the throats of the people and they were forced to swallow without complaints.
The clamour for a Kogi East senator of Idah extraction has never been this deafening. It is a major topic of discussion where two or more are gather. If the leaders of the PDP in Kogi State are serious about balancing this highly lopsided senatorial representation in 2019, and are also serious about retaining the massive votes of Idah, Igalamela-Odolu/Ofu/Ibaji citizens, then, they must act quickly and smartly to exterminate the political oppression, subjugation and marginalisation that has been handed down on these politically sensitive people for so long.
Idah Federal constituency has one of the largest voting population in Kogi State. Collection of PVC in the four local government areas has been impressive. If the leadership of the PDP is thinking about zoning the senate to another constituency besides Idah in 2019, they should have a rethink. Several able-bodied individuals with vast experience and impeccable records of hard work, honesty and credibility are very ready and willing to join the senatorial race in 2019.
The “systematic marginalisation” of Idah Federal Constituency must be brought to a halt. The recycling of “expired” familiar names with dismal performances in the senate must also stop. Fresh ideas, fresh approach and better results in 2019 are what the Kogi East people demand and Idah Federal Constituency has a large pool of intelligent, honest and hardworking persons that are ready, able and willing to do the job.
The people know this. The party knows this. Apparently, our distinguished senator himself is well aware. That explains the reason he has been going from pillar to post, seeking crude means to actualize his dream of going back to the senate to warm the seat on behalf of the Kogi East people. Perhaps that was the motive behind his alleged enlisting of more than a dozen propagandists to carry out a smear campaign so as to truncate the ambition of other leading aspirants in the race.
A whopping N20 million, according to reports was given to a party chieftain to facilitate this smear campaign. And part of their briefs was to make the party hierarchy see other leading aspirants as impostors and agents of the opposition and this involved writing several anonymous letters to some party stakeholders.
The leaders of the party are aware of Aidoko’s desperation, that is why they said no to an automatic ticket for our dear senator. They rather expect Senator Aidoko to test his popularity and make his achievements open doors for him if he has done well for his constituency. But the senator is not resting in his oars.
He is making every effort to return to the senate and elongate the suffering period of Kogi East people. This time, the people will resist him with their precious votes.
Omahi, a political analyst writes from Idah, Kogi State, Nigeria. 081222016330.