Kogi 2024: It’s morally justifiable to rotate power to west – Ohikere

Dr Tom Ohikere is the former information commissioner in Kogi state. In this interview with OYIBO SALIHU, he  speaks on the need to ensure fairness in power rotation among the three senatorial districts in the state and why Kogi-west needs to be given a shot at Lugard House. 

For the purpose of this interview can you introduce yourself?

I am Dr Tom Ohikere and currently the managing director of APC NewsOnline. I was  twice commissioner for information and four times governorship campaign spokesperson from Abubakar Audu to Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada to incumbent Yahaya Bello.

What is APC NewsOnline all about?

The APC NewsOnline is an online media and television platform that disseminates news and media contents as well as creating strategies, models and templates of developments in Nigeria that can be fused into the grassroot aspiration of our people. It also brings to the frontline the genuine needs of the people at the grassroots. Our platform is going be astute about it when there is a need to balance and when we don’t, because sometimes seeking balance gets in the way of telling the truth. The APC NewsOnline has been unwavering in its defence and propagation of the vision, ideas and achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC acting as a bridge between the government and citizens while providing information that serves as an impetus to social, economic and political growth and development of the  society.

How would you rate the 2023 general elections?

The 2023 general election has come and gone and all praises belong to God as we have proved the nay sayers wrong because our country is still standing and stable. You know around every general election cycle in this country, there are those who are fond of peddling doubts, skepticism and hysteria, especially from foreign powers and on the other hand by partisans as a weapon to goad the electorate into aligning with their preferred candidates or choices. Being a veteran of Nigerian politics, I expect the election to be successful particularly with the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to leave a legacy of credible elections which precipitated the signing of the 2022 electoral act and the subsequent deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). From the actual outcomes on the ground, the commitment of INEC and the security agencies and other stakeholders, I can say without a second thought that the 2023 general election is generally free, fair and satisfactory. While no election is absolutely perfect whether here or abroad but our elections are witnessing progressive improvements. 

How would you assess the past eight years of APC rule?

It has not been easy for the APC for Nigerians but our country seems on the right path. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has done so much especially in terms of human development, natural resources exploitation, and infrastructure development. 

How would you assess the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello and APC in the state?

Governor Yahaya Bello has done his best; his modest achievements are there for all to see especially  infrastructure but one thing that has incredibly affected his government is his poor public engagement. He uses unpopular personalities; not recruiting the most intelligent elements or popular personalities with the right political clout and grassroot tentacles to run his cabinet, instead he uses people that do not reach the grassroot.  They don’t know the problems of the people. They don’t know how and when to engage the people, so  its affecting their electoral value. Governor Yahaya Bello himself is a good man, a renowned philanthropist and good administrator, but this particular drawback has occasioned the resurgence of the PDP and even the ADC. 

The PDP in Kogi-central especially seems to be waxing stronger. There are many stakeholders who have been sidelined in the Kogi APC by the incumbent administration. He has failed to carry those who have the popularity along and they are all members of the APC, some of them are even founders of the party. While no doubt Governor  Yahaya Bello played a good role in the electoral showing of Bola Ahmed Tinubu  in Kogi state presidential vote, he cannot be said to be the lone man who delivered for the APC in Kogi state; many of the people sidelined by his government still continue to enjoy good relationship with the Presidency and the leadership of the party. You cannot be issuing suspensions and acrimony at a time the party is going to an election. In politics while everyone is pursuing their  interest there is bound to be a conflict of interest, whether  here or on a global level but it is the duty of a capable leader to identify and reconcile these interests leading to realignment and a new progressive equilibrium in the fold. For eight years, Governor Bello had the chance to do so but he didn’t. So his relationship with stakeholders and the people is quite poor. 

How would you assess the political developments in Kogi state, where you are a critical stakeholder in the light of the agitations for power rotation?

Kogi state is at a crossroad as the 2023 stand-alone governorship election looms on the horizon. Just almost eight years since Governor Yahaya Bello fortuitously succeeded former governor Idris Wada, after the demise of the candidate of the APC for the 2015 who won the election. It was the first time the governorship against all odds went to Kogi-central, one of the other three senatorial districts making up the state. While the Igala in East Senatorial District have always held sway, the other two had always groaned and even conspired. That is why i say, we are at a crossroad because the potential factors that had always given Kogi-east electoral preponderance still exist. That is why Coalition of Kogi  Patriots is demanding power rotation in our political history. 

The political direction of Nigerian politics in recent times has focused on the principle of power shift and rotation in a bid to balance development and inculcate greater feelings of inclusiveness and equity in the body politics which is quickly becoming the trend. Kogi state has a chance to be a shining example.  especially rising from a general election that has witnessed the triumph of principle as the south negotiated and fought for powers after eight years in the north. Kogi-west has the personalities that have been tested and proven in both political dexterity and administrative competences. It would be selfish stupidity to forget the excellent roles that the people and representatives of this district have played in important national and even state assignments, with their passion and brilliance. 

This is why the Coalition of Kogi state Patriots are on the move again. Because critical issues needed for the stability and political survival of the state needed to be addressed as we approach the 2023 governorship election. The quest for power rotation amongst the three senatorial districts is as old as the formation of the state. The relative mutual respect, socio-economic equilibrium and socio-cultural stability the power shift injected into our idiosyncrasies within the last seven years made it crystal clear to every deep discerning Kogi citizens that complete and continuous rotation of political power at every level in the governance of the state is possible and necessary. 

The world today is governed by the principle of fairness which is the bedrock of rule of law to enhance peace, stability and economic development.