THE PECULIARITIES OF YAGBA-WEST POLITICS IN KOGI STATE
The outcome of the recently conducted 2023 elections in Yagba-West Local Government Area of Kogi State, is generating reactions from various quarters. One critical aspect of this is that stories are now flying around about witch-hunting of political appointees for failure to deliver their units or wards for their parties, particularly the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It is very unfortunate that the leadership of the APC in the state has failed to understand the peculiar nature of the politics of the local government area till now.
Except someone wants to destroy the whole communities in Yagba-West, there is no abracadabra or magic that any local government Chairman or political appointee can do, once the people decide that this is where they are going. When anything contrary to their position is done, the resultant effect can be catastrophic, spiritually and politically.
This can be traced back to history.
In the Second Republic between 1979 and 1983, the people of Yagba-West refused to support the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), but decided to vote for the candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).
They voted against the candidate of the NPN, popularly known as AFRO, who was their own son and backed that of the UPN, Senator Obasaju from Kabba.
In 1999, the people of Yagba-West voted for the candidates of the then All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) against those of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This support for the ANPP was able to land the local government area the office of the Speaker in the Kogi State House of Assembly, in person of Right Honourable Segun Simoyan.
Another principal issue is that the people of Yagba-West cherish the rotational system for political offices in the state and failure to obey it by party leaders, who methodologically put that aside and impose a candidate on the people, can prompt them to radically vote in protest against the rotational system to produce a good candidate and come back later to the drawing board.
The people of the local government area abhor imposition during party primary elections and can do everything to resist such moves, especially when the imposition is from the Lugard House. That is what the people hate.
They will protect their votes and that was what they did in the 2011 State Assembly election in the state. The people of Yagba-West voted for the candidate of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), in person of Honourable Bidemi Adeyemi against the then Chairman of the council area, the late Ropo Asala of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He lost in all the wards, including his own in Egbe. Even during local government election that is always skewed towards the state government’s candidates, they still voted for who they wanted. That year, Yagba-West produced 6 opposition councillors on the platform of the then Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the ACN, in protest against wrong choice of candidates by the then Governor Idris Wada administration.
The current House of Assembly member representing Yagba-West, Honourable Aderonke Aro got elected in the primary and general elections in 2019, through the wishes of the people, despite undercurrent imposition by some government appointees.
Yagba-West is a PECULIAR local government area and the earlier the government of the day lives by this reality, the better. The only solution is the conduct of credible primary elections and adherence to the rotation system in the area without cutting corners, non-pronouncement of government preferred candidate and respect for the wishes of the electorate. The greatest of all is that the people are not dogmatic about followership, as they change as occasion demands.
This should not be taken for granted. They may be supporting the African Democratic Congress (ADC) today in national elections and be backing the PDP tomorrow in state governorship election. This can be seen in the ‘Emilokan’ or ‘Awalokan’ mantra, displayed during the National Assembly election on the 25th of February.
For the Senate, the people voted for the candidate of the APC, Sunday Karimi and that of ADC, Leke Abejide for the House of Representatives. It was a protest vote against imposition at the same time, on the same date for the last national assembly election in the state.
It’s evil to expect something different, if the above is not adhered to. Doing anything contrary will amount to forcing the party members to promote candidates from another party to humiliate those from their own. It has happened before and it worked negatively for the party in power, as most of the members would work for opposition candidates to make some statement.
This may play out in the next governorship election if any form of imposition is allowed in the APC. A word is enough for a wise man.