By Alex Adeiza
Growing up in any of the communities that make up Ebiraland sure has its perks, but perkier to this special upbringing is, being either directly or indirectly involved in the politics of the land. If you grew up in the city, you need one or two extra classes from the people of the town to know the kind of politics you want to delve into, and how it is played. The good thing is, lecturers of these special courses abound; just remember to give them a tip, and you will be on a long historical ride to how politics were played from the days of Late Senator Pius L. Jimoh, Late A.T. Ahmed through to the incumbent Senator, Yakubu Oseni. It’s a whole pre-millennial to Gen Z political trajectory.
I intentionally blotted out other political positions because, before destiny walked Yahaya Bello on the path of emerging the first person from the central to ever govern Kogi state, Ebira people had clenched to the senatorial position as the highest feat they had to fight for. Those days of old, it seemed as if the gubernatorial seat was a mountain that could not be moved, to that, lives had to be lost to get an occupant of this highly revered seat – Senate. There were exceptions though; Late Senators Pius and Ahmed had clean records of no political upheavals to get their seats. In fact, according to oral history, Pius neither dreamt nor had political plans; but was casually nominated by friends and acquaintances, and that was it in the 2nd republic.
Moving on from there, the politics of the district evolved over the years, so much into what should ordinarily be categorized into the good and bad sides. For me, every district in Nigeria has had these sides to their political activities, but ours are quite different to a large extent, hence the reason I called them the tragicomedy sides – a marriage of tragedy and comedy. With recent examples and recourse to the battle of who takes the senatorial seat come February 2023, I will break down these sides beginning from the comedy.
COMEDY – Owurene et Okangu
The Ebira people are naturally gifted musicians after Mozart. In every home, there is that person who can compose poetic songs within split seconds, and another who would tell the meaning of the songs. Then, the professionals are those renowned for their outings during any of the festivals. These professionals deserve a place in the World Guinness Book of Records, arguably because, they neither write nor record their songs; all straight from their head to the heads of their backup singers, and that’s how they finish five or more cassettes in one outing. I would argue we are the most gifted and brainy people with such talents. Myself, I sang my whole growing up in Church and campus fellowship before the hustle of the street took over.
In essence, this talent is usually at the fore of political campaigns on the streets, ward meetings and rallies. You are going to hear songs that would not only amuse you, but also sweep you off your feet, especially when you grasp the true direction and meaning of the song. When the Bullet Theory of Communication was discussed in one of my classes, these scenarios came to my mind first – Funny to the senders until it hits the target audience and compels them to take action. In all honesty, as a good student of literature, I love to hear songs like these. Forgive me, they do have repercussions, but regardless, the rhythm, patterns, and progressions are my Achilles’ heels.
Governor Yahaya Bello coming to power changed the dynamics of the politics of the district. He has a grasp of power and an understanding of the usage to his interests, so he has most definitely stepped on toes while fixing those he deems fit in positions of interests. Like the Late Sen.Pius, the incumbent Senator, Yakubu Oseni is a typical example of people who did not dream of becoming Senators. The only difference is that Pius was not imposed on the people. Oseni enjoyed the favour of God, and the grace of Bello to get that seat. The simple logic is, when you are against the candidate anointed by the Governor, you are indirectly against the Governor. It is not about Yahaya Bello alone. If you were a governor pitching a candidate against the other, you would most likely move heaven and earth to get your candidate the seat.
Therefore, like the viral TATATA song of 2019, here comes OWURENE and OKANGU 2023. Literature students, get in here. These are the titles of two songs making the waves in the battle for the senatorial seat between the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Abubakar Sadiqu Ohere, and that of the People’s Democratic Party, Natasha Akpoti–Uduaghan.
Following a heavily critiqued statement by Governor Yahaya Bello in Akpoti’s local government, her supporters would later make allusion in song during one of the PDP street rallies, wherein the Governor was called IRESU KANGU – summarily described in the song as carrying a big head and will not win against Natasha.
In equal magnanimity, the APC supporters have taken turns to reply in songs too. One which stands out is OWURENE – a feminine character being advised in the song to go to her husband’s home, Delta State, to contest for political positions.
In the grand scheme of things, these songs could be funny to bystanders and onlookers, but they surely have ripple effects when they hit the targeted audience. Over three months left before the elections, and the impacts of these songs may soon be raising ugly heads. Factually, it becomes a battle of the fittest which would not end well. This is why it is a tragicomedy – starts on an amusing note, but cry will enter. When will the cry enter?
TRAGEDY – Political Violence
For the award of a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication, I undertook a research study that speaks to the media and electoral violence. The scope of my study was limited to Kogi Central because of this very nature of our politics. So, I was quite inspired to do a thorough study and not lazy about it. I found out that electoral violence is an umbrella word that covers more, ranging from intimidation, coercion, ballot snatching, thuggery, blackmailing, abduction, disenfranchisement, violence, and in full blown degeneration, violent crises.
Every sane person would wish that campaigns go as smoothly as possible, and people get to exercise their civic rights on the Election Day. But over the years, the anomaly became the order of the day. Not to create fear, or dissuade the minds of the people, but one could easily go ahead to predict this election to be an interesting and tough ride. Should you disagree with me based on your judgment, and then take it as my premonition, how it will end is just another matter of time. This goes further to say that in the political history of Ebiraland, neither PDP nor APC could be absolved of electoral violence – political power only shifted hands. Interestingly, for Owurene and Okangu, this is not their first fight, but this MAY possibly be the final between the two, especially as the latter’s second term in office is winding down. From the experience in their first two rounds in February 2019 and November 2019 respectively, it suffices to say that both would go the length of their hands and the weight of their fists in this ring to muscle each other this time. The signs are there, and when conveyed in an Ebira cliché, the blind does not need information about a gathering cloud.
Therefore, there will be a victor, and of course, a vanquished. The victor could easily be identified as the winner of the election, but the vanquished is also not entirely the one who lost the election. The vanquished are the overzealous supporters whose lives were sacrificed in the heat of the struggle, as well as their bereaved families. God knows them even before the D-Day. So, who am I to advise people whose minds are already made up for martyrdom, and love their candidate more than their immediate family that would be left in the misery of bereavement?
But for innocent lives, who know not the way of stray bullets, MAY THE BEST WIN. ELECTION NO BE WAR!!!
Credit: Ebira Reporters.