It is always difficult for me to comment specifically about the happenings in my home state of Kogi, because like other subnational entities in Nigeria, socio-political and economic issues do not follow a straight graphical reality. Like most states in Nigeria, Kogi is structural aberration that is carved up along a 21 local government structure, 25 state legislative constituencies, 9 federal representative constituencies and 3 senatorial districts with these federating units structured along ethno-geographic fault lines. And so many things usually don’t add up.


While, the 9 local government areas of the eastern senatorial district of Kogi state along with its three federal constituencies of Dekina/Bassa, Idah/Ofu, Igalamela/Ibaji and Ankpa/Omala/Olamaboro is mostly populated by Igala speaking people, the 5 local government area of central senatorial district together with its three federal constituencies of Ajaokuta, Okene/Ogori-Magongo and Adavi/Okehi are mostly inhabited by Ebira speaking people. The western senatorial district with 7 local governments divided into the federal constituencies of Lokoja/Kotonkarfi, Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu and Yagba East/Yagba West/Mopa Moro are mostly Yoruba [Okun] speaking people.

In addition to the three major ethnic groups in the state, there are more than a dozen other indigenous ethnic groups including, Nupe, Oworo, Kakanda, Bassa Nge, Bassa Kwomo, Egbura Koto, Hausa, Fulani and Igbo. And like most other ethnically plural states in Nigeria, identity politics of tribe and tongue is the primary driver of Kogi’s political process of democratic leadership recruitment. For many years deep divisions along ethnic fault lines have not only undermined democracy greatly in the state but has left it unable attain its full economic potentials despite its huge endowment in huge agricultural and solid mineral resources. This is because the focus was always the political domination of smaller ethnic groups by larger ones in order to monopolize state revenues accruing from federal allocation.

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The lowest point of this primitive kind of politics was seen in the 2023 gubernatorial election, which pitched the Igalas and Ebiras in a mortal electoral combat for the soul of Luggard House. Since the creation of Kogi state in 1991, the Igalas leveraged on the strength of their majority to dominate power for most part. It was the sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu after winning an inclusive election to shift power to the Ebira speaking central senatorial district, When Yahya Bello, the first runner up in the primaries of the APC inherited the party mandate and ran the race to a conclusive victory. And after eight years genuine attempts at uniting Kogi state through his excellent diversity management skills and all inclusive leadership that left no section of the state marginalized, Yahya Bello will face a daunting task in getting his preferred candidate, Ahmed Usman Ododo elected on the basis of their shared Ebira ethnicity.

But Yahya Bello, like Caesar, came, saw and conquered the political landscape of Kogi state, when he successfully rallied the support of other ethnic groups that were unwilling to go back to Igala hegemony with the hope of negotiation a round trip of power shift to get Ododo elected governor. Having achieved this feat, Yahya Bello has ascended his rightful position among the pantheon of former governors that have become political godfathers of their states. However, this achievement came at cost of highly polarized state in need of healing and reconciliation.

Upon assumption of office barely 30 days ago in January 2024, Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo has ushered in new dawn of Common Sense Approach to governance of the state. By truly hitting the ground running on his inauguration day, Ododo announced his cabinet along with key appointments that are essential to the functioning of the state. And in continuing with the excellent diversity management style of his predecessor, the new governor did not only retain some officials of the previous government for the purpose of continuity, Governor Ododo also re-enacted the inclusive leadership style of Yahya Bello as clearly seen in the spread of appointments across the three senatorial district of the state.

Despite the deeply divisive polity he inherited, Governor Ododo has passed the first step of leadership by rising above the pettiness of ethnicity to embark on extensive consultations, visitations and tours, where firm assurances have been given of a Kogi state that belongs to all under his leadership. This has gone a long to douse tension in the state in order to allow the much needed healing and reconciliation to take place among the people of the state. I am not surprised by this gesture, because I have known Ododo long enough to know that he is a detribalized, humane and wise gentleman with a high dose of human empathy. And I expect him to prove some of us right by leaving Kogi state better than he met it.

Unfortunately, Ododo is coming on board at a time of heightened economic problems in Nigeria following the removal subsidy and the floating of naira, which has resulted in an out of control cost of existence crisis that has created mass hunger in the land. In response to this economic challenge, the new administration in Kogi state has decided to start on a note of transparency on the state’s finances. So, while the people of other states are often left in the dark about their state’s finances, Kogi state ministry of finance published the total Federation Account Allocation Committee disbursement to the state as N7,400,840,311.44 for the state government and N 6,689,704,750.92 for the 21 local government areas.

If the news of massive distribution of food items to households, improvement on salary payments, clearing of backlog of pensions and gratuity as well as massive construction of roads around Lokoja the state capital is anything to go by then Kogi is about to witness a new dawn of Ododo Era of Common Sense Governance Approach that is high on integrity and human empathy.