It is no longer news that political gladiators in the Confluence State, as Kogi is fondly called because of its natural features, are back in the trenches, battling for who will replace Governor Yahaya Bello at the Lugard House, come January, 2024.
As expected, scheming, horse trading, permutations, deceit and outright standing of facts on their head is in full swing. Analysts and book makers are beginning to peddle names of likely favorite candidates.
However, one thing has remained elusive in the Kogi 2023 political discourse so far. The factor of 4Cs, which is (Competence, Capability, Charisma and Character), the fulcrum of political leadership is utterly ignored.
Where the foregoing is the case, politics becomes an end in itself, instead of a means to an end. The expectations of Kogites in 2024 and beyond, is far above the pedestal and narrow conception and interests that have been brandished so far.
Stakeholders are of the opinion that the leader Kogi needs at this time, is a thoroughbred technocrat cum politician, to drive sustainable development. A leader, who will leave politics at the level of fair debates. A bastion of democracy, who has a good understanding of the purpose of politics; which is a better life for the people. In my opinion, the names that have received some mention so far, falls short of the leadership demand of Kogi in 2024 and beyond.
At a time like this, Kogi does not only need a leader, but one that can successfully champion inclusivity, unity in our diversity, equality, and put well-being at the heart of government.
Of the names already flying around as likely front runners or favorites, none is equipped with the dynamism and leadership skills a State with delicate ethnic balance and development deficit such as Kogi requires.
In my opinion, given the manner with which the State Commissioner for Rural Development, Hon Daniel O’Neal Ejigbo has managed Rural Development in the last five years, he holds the aces of this time. In political leadership, emotional stability, proven character, track records of public service delivery are true barometers to measure capability. These are qualities Hon Daniel O’Neal Ejigbo epitomizes.He is never caught off guard. Nothing gets into his head. A goal getter, prudent, charismatic, dynamic, energetic and to cap it all, humane.
Suffice it to clarify that, except for Senator Smart Adeyemi and James Faleke, none of the known aspirants have expansive network, exposure and wealth of knowledge and experience like Hon Ejigbo. He’s connected across the board, made possible by his dynamic and trustworthy character.
In political leadership, trust is the coin of the realm. Those who have had the opportunity to work with him have glowing testimony about his philosophy that to effectively lead people, you need to know and understand them at the grassroot level.
In all his engagements in public service, Hon Ejigbo has shown shrewdness and good judgment, especially in matters that affect overall public interests. His ability to aptly and equitably drive the rural development initiatives of Governor Yahaya Bello’s government, since he was first appointed in 2018, and reappointed in 2019; bears an eloquent pointer to the change he’s capable of unleashing, once in the driver’s seat, as the executive governor of Kogi State.
Needless to remind Kogites that Hon Daniel O’Neal Ejigbo’s reappointment, after Bello’s reelection in 2019,is a seal on his competence, capability and character.
As the head of the World Bank powered project on Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Program (RAAMP 3) for Kogi State, since 2018, he has demonstrated what’s possible, where a round peg is put into a round hole.
Following the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19, which took the entire world by storm, and the frontal campaign, which saw to it’s containment, the World Bank designed a program Post-Covid Environmental and Economic Recovery Stimulus under KG-CARES
Kogi State. Once again, Hon Ejigbo was there to lead the efforts in Kogi State. One of his remarkable leadership qualities is the bottom to top and People First approach to implementation of government policies.
What can we say? What more do we want in Kogi, than someone who possesses the moral strength, resilience, and effective strategy to strike the balance, and to bring greater humanity, understanding and empathy into political leadership?
In his capacity as the Commissioner for Rural Development, it has afforded him the opportunity to fully grasp the developmental challenges facing our rural areas, where over 70 percent of our population lives. One of the leadership hiccups that our polity had to contend with is that so much time is spent on the learning process. In Hon Ejigbo’s case, with his first hand knowledge of issues at the rural areas, he no longer needs to learn or acquaint himself, rather, it would be to hit the ground running. In other words, if given the opportunity, he’s coming prepared.
Hon Daniel Ejigbo is a man of unparalleled generosity of spirit, imbued with grace and milk of human kindness. His style of philanthropy is different from the regular ‘game of show’ people do! Long before he was appointed Commissioner, in his personal capacity, he connected the entire Biraidu Community to the 33 KVA electric line. He single handedly brought a transformer for Abocho Community, years before he was appointed Commissioner.
He influenced and facilitated the building of a block of 3 class rooms and office accommodation for a school in Emewe, Braidu, Dekina local government of Kogi State. Bought JAMB forms, WAEC, NECO and other exams fees for an uncountable number of people. Supplied school books and textbooks for many wards to mention a few.
In retrospect, permit me to remind us that Hon Ejigbo, before venturing into politics, was an accomplished businessman and technocrat. From June 2011 – October 2014, he served as the Personal Assistant to Sen. Emmanuel I. Paulker Chairman Senate Committee on Upstream Petroleum. Established departmental responsibilities and coordinate functions among departments and sites.
From January 2005, House of Representatives Legislative Aid to Honourable Sani M. Sha’aban
(Sabon Gari Federal Constituency).
In 2006, when duty called in obedience to fatherland, Hon Ejigbo served his National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) at the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission
As a businessman, he is the visionary of Automorphosis Global Limited, which specializes in general maintenance and repair.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing, it is safe to say, Hon Daniel One Ejigbo is the lifeline for Kogi beyond 2024.
Olufemi Adefemi, A Public Affairs Analyst, Writes From Kogi.
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