Kogi State is a clear sign that Nigeria needs to restructure before it self-destructs. Ethnic rivalry is bad for growth and development.
Unfortunately, that is what Nigeria is about and Kogi State, more than any other state in Nigeria, clearly represents that archaic structural reality that is backed by a weak ethnic tripod.
Just like Nigeria, Kogi has three major ethnic groups that controls the politics of the state ahead of many other ethnic groups. The Igalas are like the Hausa-Fulani, while the Ebiras are pretty much what the Yorubas are to Nigeria. The Okuns are quite like the Igbo people of Nigeria on the Kogi State political map. The Igalas, Ebiras and Okuns are in a bitter graveyard feud. It is a conspicuously silent war.
Where an Igala is governor, an Ebira is most naturally positioned to be deputy. Where an Ebira is lucky to be governor, an Igala is most naturally the deputy. The Ebiras know that it might take another 20 years or forever to smell that office again after Yahaya Bello, therefore returning him became a must achieve agenda. The election was more like a war.
Now, the Igalas will wait patiently for the next election and the man that will be best positioned for that job will be Edward Onoja, the present Deputy Governor of the state.
Based on Nigerian politics, if he has enough bread and gets the party ticket, his people will support him no matter what. That is how ethnic politics works.
Yahaya will still want to have a say in 2023, just like any governor and will want to give his friend and deputy, the support. To be impartial is definitely inhuman, therefore he will hand over the All Progressives Congress structure in the state to Onoja to assure him of victory.
Yahaya Bello will sponsor Edward, all things being equal, to take over from him. This is an open secret that is largely based on their long-term friendship and the character that fate has put before them.
Edward will return to his people in search of victory and he will, through his alternative channels, advise Yahaya to take a back seat from a strategy standpoint.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is where Yahaya Bello and Edward Onoja’s relationship will end.
If Edward doesn’t kill Bello, Bello will kill Edward. Oh, it is possible figuratively and literally.
The idea of a Yahaya Bello being the face of an Edward Onoja governorship will be totally repulsive to the Igala people. It is what happens naturally in an ethnicised politics and the Igalas definitely won’t be seeing Yahaya as a friend, but at best a tool.
In all these permutations and strategy-talk, there is a big question hanging on the average Okun man’s head just as it is on the average Igbo man’s head.
Just as the Igbo people are asking to know when their own will be President of Nigeria, the Okun man is also asking to know when one of their own will become governor of Kogi State.
My own question remains: How can Nigeria or Kogi ever make real progress under this kind of arrangement? Why not regionalise and give every ethnic group in any state a Mayor?
This life is too short to be repeating a time-tested approach that guarantees nothing but failure.