Kogi Guber: Tom Ohikere as the indispensable playmaker

Unbroken and undeterred he retreated to national politics to make his own contributions to the fate of the new ruling party and got immersed in the job at hand, eventually emerging as a member of the reputable Buhari Support Organization (BSO)

By Adejo Shuaibu

As the 2023 off season Kogi gubernatorial election preparation gathers momentum, gladiators across the political spectrum are once again throwing their hats into the fray with the growing list of aspirants thronging the secretariats of political parties to purchase the nomination and expression of interest forms.

Kogi State governorship election, which does not take place on a general election day as most others has always been directly influenced by the preceding earlier in the year general elections, itself happening about nine months after.

As expected, the alignments and permutations have begin to crystallize as actors plot their graphs and clandestinely work out the strategies to deliver the next occupant of the much coveted Lugard house.

While many of the names touted are familiar faces, have relative antecedent and whose ambitions, activities and achievements have secured for them a factional bit of public sympathy, it does not always and necessarily translate into general majoritarian electoral approval.

But there seem to be one man who holds the ace and may be instrumental in breaking any frozen equilibrium of power balance. A man who has always lurked in the shadows and has the capacity and dexterity to be a game changer given the peculiar circumstances of the ensuing political atmosphere and he is the eminent Tom Ohikere also regarded as the oracle of Kogi politics.

Dr Ohikere is a former information commissioner and was an henchman of the late highly revered former Kogi governor, Prince Abubakar Audu, who unrivaled political achievements has continued to overshadow the run of play. Ohikere was a commissioner under the previous preceding PDP governments, before abandoning his former party to join cause with the man widely referred to as Adoja to float the APC in Kogi state. At the time of the demise of Prince of Aloma after their presumed victory in 2015, of which Honourable James Faleke was his running mate and by that very fact, the presumptive deputy governor – elect, Ohikere who had left the now diminished PDP, to the newly formed APC in the state, was the third most powerful individual in the nascent movement, and one of the most influential, particularly with his pedigree as an image maker and excellent rapprochement with the state’s dominant media players, and was largely tipped to be the chief of staff in the impending government.

When the house came crashing down with the abrupt death of Prince Audu, Ohikere, himself an Ebira man, a scion of a great political family whose tentacles penetrate deep across the three senatorial districts of the state, among others scrambled to see what could be salvaged and ensure justice in the formative Kogi APC being one of its founding fathers. However, with the intervention of the national leadership and the ensuing power play and high level horse trading that saw the emergence of Yahaya Bello as Governor, Ohikere found himself on the back foot, cornered and isolated.

Unbroken and undeterred he retreated to national politics to make his own contributions to the fate of the new ruling party and got immersed in the job at hand, eventually emerging as a member of the reputable Buhari Support Organization (BSO) and later as deputy head of all APC support groups for North. In that role, he was central to the party’s image building and brand management and expectedly rose in his political profile.

As an implication, after four years in the helm and seeking re-election for another four years as constitutional stipulated, governor Bello in 2019 had no choice but to close ranks after years of dissension as a result of the fall out within the Kogi state APC occasioned by the death of Abubakar Audu. The governor sheathed his sword and once again Ohikere was co-opted like in 2015 into the APC gubernatorial campaign team. The self same man whose rising national profile had become a thorn in the flesh of the Bello administration, decided loyalty to the party should take precedent and that cohesion within the state chapter of the party was necessary going into the election. He took up the role of Publicity secretary of the 2019 APC kogi state gubernatorial election and executed it with his usual extraordinary brilliance and uncanny sagacity that saw Governor Bello returned to government house.

It will be on record that he was at different times the spokesman for elections of the four civilian governors the state ever had, including GYB. He’s therefore an authority on the subject of the Kogi governorship at any time. Thus, he possesses an impeccable judgement of things.

Amid the growing criticism that marred and persisted against the administration, Ohikere once again turned his sight away from state activities, to focus on national politics, in what many considered as his aloofness and disenchantment with the ensuing grassroot politicking, for a character viewed as being larger than life, who prides himself as being incorruptible.

He later floated the APC NewsOnline and television, his flagship initiative conceived with other like minds at the APC national, with the aim of promoting and projecting the successes and achievements of the Buhari led federal government and those of state governments led by APC administrations. The platform later became an engine room for the APC’s 2023 general elections strategy and him becoming the executive director of the Good Governance campaign for Tinubu Shettima under the independent grassroots campaign council.

With Governor Yahaya Bello who like Ohikere is also from Kogi central is coming to the end of his constitutional term limit and being the first from that senatorial district to wield the exalted office, Ohikere has adopted the same tone he used in championing the re-election of governor Bello, that is justice and equity. That power should shift once again and rotate, so that the people of Kogi West should have their fair share in the spirit of brotherhood and unity.

Ohikere is of the view that Kogi must adopt the benchmark of two terms of 4+ 4 of 8 years for any zone and the Igalas have spent 16 years already, so the zone left out is the Kogi west and they must produce the next governor for equity and justice.

A man with affiliations across board and who understands the internal workings of both the PDP and APC in Kogi state, and has an enchanting hold on both the national and state media delivering the governorship to Kogi West, particularly for a man who was once his very close political associate, in the person of Hon. James Faleke, the Secretary of the APC 2023 presidential campaign council, who is alleged to have picked the party’s form to be governor of Kogi state, will see this political enigma bring his best to bear and orchestrate a new tsunami.

Ohikere was recently named as the director general of a group dedicated to the cause of power shift to Kogi west, known as Coalition of Kogi State Patriots.

Speaking recently, he said, “since the creation of Kogi State in 1991, and the eventual entrenchment of democratic administration, the struggle for power and control of the State has often pitched the various ethnic groups and Senatorial Districts one against the other. The scenario has left a certain level of mistrust and mutual suspicion amongst the three major ethnic groups in the state, saying it has in no small means undermined the unity and prosperity of the people.

“It is with hindsight of this historical burden, and with a deep sense of introspection that we seek to give voice and face to the clamour for a situation where we all feel a sense of belonging. Thus, the conception and birth of this organization; Coalition of Kogi State Patriots, that the next Governor of Kogi State be made to emerge from Kogi West.

“While the Eastern Senatorial District had its reign for a long period, the clamor for power shift and rotation by the other major contending Districts never stopped. In fact, it remained loudest in our history. After 16 long years of rule by our Eastern brothers at the helms of affairs of the State, the Central Senatorial District via divine providence has found itself in the saddle of the State leadership for about eight years.


– Adejo Shuaibu is a public affairs analyst and he writes from Lokoja, Kogi state.

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