Kogi: The new ‘Mecca’ for ‘Obtainers’

Olatunji Dare

Olatunji Dare

Kogi, the Confluence State, is beckoning earnestly, and not just to those seeking to breathe its invigorating Covid-free air, or would-be tourists who have fallen on hard times and cannot afford to vacation in Europe.

It is today’s mecca for obtainers.  Sambo Dasuki’s Office of the National Security Adviser is dead; long live the Office of the Executive Governor of Kogi State, perceived as the Interim National Office of Obtainment.

Those well-versed in the practice have been all over the place doing what they do best, that is, obtaining.  Lately, they have stepped up the tempo, following broad hints from local and foreign intelligence sources of a severe slump in the official resource allocation.

It is not that they fear a run on the system, much less expect the bottom to fall off anytime soon. The system is nothing if not resilient, as those who have been predicting its collapse must have learned to their chagrin.  Those who have moved to ramp up the tempo, I am told, are simply being proactive.  They have learned to strike before anxiety turns to panic.

Still, I will not be surprised if they – the accomplished obtainers, that is — ratcheted up the tempo still in the coming weeks and months.  Time, it is hardly necessary to stress, is of the  essence.

So, let me stop dancing around the issue and come right out with it.  But before then a preface to the column, in which I will try to define the operative term and furnish the context in which it arose and is now being employed, assuming the allusion to Dasuki’s ONSA has not done that.

The term, if not the practice, goes back, to military president Ibrahim Babangida’s political transition programme, for which he conjured up two “mass, grassroots” political parties, one  a little to the Left and the other a little to the Right, and in which money would play no part whatsoever.

With politics de-monetised, every participant will have the same weight in the political calculus, and each will have an equal chance of attaining whatever office he or she chooses to vie for, from President of the Federal Republic, to local councilor.

That, at any rate, was the theory.

In practice, the whole thing turned out to be an excellent example of how a beautiful theory  was murdered by a gang of brutal facts.  Never had money – or “tremendous negative use of money” played such a central role in a political campaign, as a distraught Babangida would lament when the experiment blew up in his face.

In Warri, Delta State, the so-called primary contest between the two leading contestants for the gubernatorial candidate of the party that was a little to the Right was essentially a matter of cash and the contest was reduced to a bazaar.

Per Akpo Esajere, political editor for The Guardian, electors laden with cash they had obtained from one camp sashayed to the other camp to obtain even more cash, solemnly and solicitously  accosting everyone they encountered en route: “Ol’ boy, you never obtain?”

To return to Kogi:  Yahaya Bello, Kogi’s accidental governor, set the wheels of obtainment spinning from the moment he divined that his next career destination would be Aso Rock, as president, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

Nigeria’s next president, he had intuited, would have to emerge as they say, from the ranks of state governors.  He is far and away the youngest of them all.  Not the wisest, he would be the  first to admit.  Not the most accomplished.  Nor yet the most brilliant.

But whatever he may lack in those departments is more than made up by Bello’s youthfulness and the daring and the sense of adventure that come with it.  Besides, although he has not projected himself as such, he is seen as President Muhammadu Buhari’s favourite governor and governor of governors.  By one account I have not verified, he has been received in audience at Rock more frequently than any other state governor, if not more often than all the other 35 combined.

For obvious reasons. Buhari cannot be indifferent as to who will succeed him. That being the  case, who fits the bill better than Bello?  Moreover, come 2023, the presidency has been assigned to the North Central zone.  Seriously:  Which of the six states in the zone is best     suited to host the post -Buhari presidency?

If Bello had been too modest to parlay these in-built advantages into a winning formula for the 2023 presidential race, the new crop of obtainers have been far less restrained.   They have been trooping to Lokoja, the Kogi capital, to assure Bello that he is not merely the favoured candidate, he is the anointed one, to whom every other aspirant must yield or be swept away.

This is the only conclusion to which an objective, unsentimental and dispassionate examination of the matter leads, they have assured him.  It is not conjecture; it is backed by hard data, having been confirmed in a string of computer simulations.  It is the verdict of realpolitik.

What is even more remarkable, they have fanned all over the country sensitising the public to Bello’s epochal achievements — the modern highways and waterways and transportation network and latest-generation computer network and round-the-clock security that have been – magnet for foreign investors, and the technologies of the future.

I understand that they have even set up bureaus of the Nigerian Youths United for a Yahaya Bello Presidency in key Western and Commonwealth  capitals, and of course in Addis Abbaba, the headquarters of the African Union.

From the creeks of the Atlantic coast to the forests of Zamfara and Jigawa and Sambisa and the desiccated Sahel, Nigerians on waking up each day find themselves literally swamped by Yahaya Bello’s campaign posters.  His protagonists are leaving nothing to chance.

Have you wondered why Yahaya Bello has made a habit of decking himself out every passing day in the wardrobe of each of Nigeria’s ethnic groups for media advertorials?  I can now reveal that it is to drive home his acceptability nationwide, as counselled by the Youths United for Bello, aforementioned.

Probably the latest and most consequential addition to the group is Olujonwo Obasanjo, who assured Bello in Lokoja the other day that he would mobilise 30 million Nigerians across the country to deliver the Presidency to him in 2023.  He not only has a name behind the claim, he has the experience, too.

When the Youths United point out that Yahaya Bello single-handedly conquered the dreaded corona virus disease and rendered Kogi a no-go- area for the plague; when they add that he also in like manner pulled the country back from the brink of civil war by ending the food blockade of the Southwest by some northern merchants, they will have established his credentials and his qualifications even beyond the most unreasonable doubt.

Youths United activists who have made the pilgrimage to Lokoja returned to base amply reimbursed for the costs they have incurred. They have demanded nothing over and above that. That is not obtainment.  They are in it not for what they can get, but because they believe in Yahaya Bello and are persuaded, based on his unparalleled achievements and promise, that he is the man for 2023.

It is of course possible, likely even, that in the fullness of time, and after he would have clinched the Presidency, Yahaya Bello would compensate them with lucrative oil and gas and construction deals, not forgetting juicy appointments.

Even if he doesn’t, the stalwart assured me, Youths United will take it in its patriotic stride.  For their only concern is that Nigeria should finally get it right.

Those planning to head to Kogi on a mission of obtainment are courting disappointment.

Credits: The Nation