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KOGI STATE: A CONFLUENCE OF RETROGRESSION

Photo by Research Gate

When Mungo Park claimed to have 'discovered' Rivers Niger and Benue in the 19th Century, he probably forgot to also lay claim to the discovery of The Confluence. That, could be a deliberate attempt to unlearn part of his remarkable adventure, for reasons, best known to him as at that time. Alas, today, the reason is no longer tied to the rights of the dead only, but to the living inhabitants of The Confluence who, over the years, have learnt, and relearn the dehumanizing agonies which have befallen the People of the cursed land called Kogi State.


Like Nigeria, the term 'Kogi' cannot be found in the lexicons of any of the numerous tribes and ethnic groups across the State. Instead, history, undocumented though, has it that the name 'Kogi' may have had its root from the Dutchess of Netherlands who was on voyage across the riverine parts of the States sometimes in 1859. According to native storytellers, her uncouth experiences during the adventure led her to refer to the vast territory as 'Koji', meaning 'Backwardness'.  If this premise is to be taken seriously, then the events across the territory from the 20th century up until this moment would serve as attestation to her, may I say, Prophesy!

The cursed land of Kogi was the first Administrative Headquarters of the British Colonial Government in Nigeria. Little wonder, there may have been a transfer of fate upon subsequent 'Capitals', including the present day Abuja, a city which celebrates inequality. Now, let's attempt to avoid innuendos. Kogi State was officially created on August 27th 1991 by the Military Government of General Ibrahim Babangida. Blessed with a teeming population of over six million people, the State is also boastful of mineral resources such as Coal, Petroleum, and most importantly, Iron and Steel. With her large swathes of water, which is host to the meeting point between rivers Niger and Benue, the State ought have been a host to one of the busiest Port Cities in Nigeria and West Africa. But, all these, are buried in the Sands of retrogressions, thanks to her Leaders!

Ever since her creation, the people of Kogi State are yet to witness Leadership in an impactful way. Knowing for sure that the Military Administrators which took charge of the State at her infancy were not only exploiters in glorified badges of dishonour, but also myopic and Visionless Rulers, the so-called democratically elected Governors of the State since 1999 have not been any better!
So, the people of Kogi State have continued to kowtow the thin line of historical curse, trudging in solitude within the improvished land—Stagnation.

Following the failed administrations of Governors Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada, the coming of the incumbent administration of Governor Yahaya Bello was greeted with warmth. The circumstances surrounding the emergence of GYB can be attributed to being a product of Divine Grace, if such does exists in Politics. Hence, with a population who believe so much in religious interpretations to occurrences( no matter the religion), this 'tetragenerian' was seen as a ray of hope to the downtrodden Kogites.

Nay, the quartets of Time, Destiny, and ultimate spirit of Deja Vu have collectively proven the people of Kogi State wrong once again. The people of the State have unwillingly surrendered to Poverty, Insecurity, Malicious Politics, Corruption, Hunger, Kidnappings, Bad Roads, Religious Extremism, Touting, crowned by Underdevelopment, all thanks to the apocalyptic Leadership style of Nigeria's youngest Governor!

Instructively, Kogi State is supposed to enjoy certain level of preferential treatments and recognitions from the Federal Government, being the first Host Community to the Nation's Headquarters (Lugard's House), and owning to her proximity with Abuja. Alas, instead of canvassing for such privileges on behalf of his people, my Governor, the man who presides over the affairs of one of the poorest States in one of the poorest countries of the World, would rather prefer to 'jump into fire' so as to prove his unalloyed loyalty to Mr President. What a shame! I beg to ask, where have Kogites gotten it wrong? When last, as Nigerians and Observers, have we heard good news from Kogi? When?

Further more, going by the popular adage 'you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs'; for good things to happen in Kogi State, there are certain unlikely but decisive actions that could fast track such tall dreams. It was Williams Shakespeare who opined 'what's in a name?' in his famous Romeo and Juliet. There's a lot in a name! Kogi State needs to break herself from the shackles of the foretold curse. The next Governor of the State should change her name to Confluence State. That, would be a stepping stone to her rediscovery—a break away from status quo. Then, the need to explore her Natural resources is exigent. Ajaokuta Steel Company, redundant for nearly forty years should be taken over by the State Government, since successive administrations at the Federal Government have shown total disregard and regretful lack of Political Will in making the Project a reality. Doing so, and completing the Ajaokuta Project, will ensure the Direct employment of over Thirty Thousand Kogites and more than Fifty Thousand Nigerians indirectly. In addition, aside having Lugard House as the only major tourist destination in the State, the Plains and Islands surrounding Rivers Niger and Benue in Lokoja can be transformed into a First Class Port City, borrowing ideas from the Abu Dhabi dream of the United Arab Emirates. It is possible! All these, implemented in tranquility, would reshape the destiny of the Confluence State!

To crown it all, it is sad to observe that among the big-wigs gearing up to lock horns with the incumbent Governor come November 2nd Gubernatorial elections, none is yet to show clearly defined agenda in tackling the challenges of the State. Truth be told, the names so far are from the blues, without any history of positive contributions to the people of the State. This, I foresee, is more threatening than having GYB return as the Governor of Kogi State after November 2nd election. Therefore, the people of Kogi State; Politicians and Electorates alike, need to think and act differently this time round. Kogites must not only hope to see GYB out of the office, but also be certain that we do not repeat the mistakes made in the past. Kogi State need men and women who are not only rich in ideas, but also have the history and records of Humanitarian Services to the people. That is the way forward! May the sun rise tomorrow...



Comrade Muhammed Adoke
is a Media Assistant at Northern Nigeria Initiative For Peace, Unity and Development (Northernnipudev).

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