By Mohammed Bougei Attah
As the gubernatorial elections for Kogi state draws nearer, it is not anything new that several political issues are thrown up amidst the manifest of claims and counter-claims by interested parties to this much awaited November 16 d-day. The incumbent governor, Alh. Yahaya Adoza Bello is under appraisal of his past years in office been a contender for that exalted seat and having steered the seat of leadership in the last four years. As we engage this issue, one thing is very certain, and that is that this day shall come to pass and the world will move ahead irrespective of the outcome of that election.
As stakeholders in this phenomenon, it is therefore reasonable and more rewarding to be guided by three basic elements that would and should shape our choices towards that day. And I move that every reasonable Anebira should argue in this direction if indeed our main interest is the welfare of our people and the growth of our communities. First is the concern as an Ebira person, second as community leaders, and the third been a Nigerian.
As an Ebira person, it is important to review the trend of political developments from January 2016 to date, and make references or comparison with past administration from 1999 to 2016. The questions that should come to mind among others are whether in these years under references, Anebira has gained anything new politically or has experienced some changes that affects their socio economic development? In a natural sequence and to say the obvious, changes has indeed occurred and that alone has affected our lives politically, socially and economically. What may be of further concern or question is how well has these changes impacted in our lives.
The point that is hard to wish aside is whatever are the misgivings of the incumbent, will it be right to reason that there is a fundamental need for an Ebira to occupy that position for a reasonable time in fulfilling the gaps of insufficiencies over the years?
As community leaders and civil society agitators, the primary concern of a leader is the welfare and development of the people and their communities. Thus good governance for many of us is measured by the increase in human capacity development and social amenities such as education, infrastructural (road, water, power etc) and environmental indices, such as peaceful co-existence, security of lives and properties, trade and foreign direct investments. Ironically most of these relevant indices are often overlooked but they are instrumental to the future of any community and the people. This is one area that the comity of Anebiras need to evaluate in providing the required answers to our quest for change – either in favour or against. Let me however provide a lead by asking if these areas have had any positive impact in the last four years? Is there any change from the last 20 years compared to the last four years for Ebira and Ebiras? Could these changes have occurred with non-Ebira occupying this position? What have been the cries and prayers of Anebiras in our long past?
The third and final guide is as Nigerians. This is however an extension to the implication of being Ebira person. Just as the image of Nigeria is measured abroad through the evaluation of successive government, it is equally vital that locally, we should attempt to know the place and position of Ebira in the present dispensation compared to the past. Is Kogi state more glaring now among the states of Nigeria and impactful more than before? Does Kogi state, and by extension Ebira count in the discourse about Nigeria states today or not? What is the future of an average Anebira in the next 20 years ahead, and the possibility of a recovery? Will there be the political power and will to campaign for the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Company, the dredging of River Niger, location of Federal University and military base in Kogi Central if we do not have a political voice through representation? I attempted to provide answers to the above through a research and all that I got was the consistent wailing of Ebira people for the Federal Government intervention on the repairs and maintenance of Okene-Lokoja road that was a death trap at some years back. At that time in history, nothing and nothing else matter to us than the safety of lives along that route. Did we notice any development on that perimeter today? Has the Ebira image changed in the eyes of commuters plying that route and who are hitherto antagonistic to us and our culture?
As we attempt to provide answers to the above questions, taking the above indicators into consideration and face the realities of today, it is quite easy to realize the need for us to remove sentiments – political, clannish, religious and others – and see Governor Yahaya Bello in the above perspectives, perhaps we will be able to make a better informed opinion about his choice for another term in office. In others words, it will be unwise to jettison our much sought opportunity for selfish interest, except where it is expressly implied and guaranteed that Anebira will be the next governor of Kogi state if not Yahaya Bello.
Mohammed B. Attah is a social worker, procurement professional and anti-corruption activist.