KOGI 2019: making a case for kogi west and Tunde Irukera By Bala Haruna

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The race to the gubernatorial elections in Kogi State this year is intense and peculiar for several reasons.

Apart from the fact that the
incumbent has betrayed the trust of the people with non-performance
and financial recklessness that has made it impossible to pay workers’
salaries and execute projects, the issue of fair play and equity among the various zones have come to the front-burner. Of the three zones in the State, only the West – the second largest ethnic group, have never ruled the State. Therefore, it becomes pertinent to dissect the credentials of a prominent son of Kogi-west and what his candidacy portends for the State.

Babatunde Irukera, the present Director-General of the Consumer
Protection Council (CPC) comes across as the perfect alternative to
the faltering Gov. Yahaya Bello. A cosmopolitan, and a technocrat with
vast international exposure and connection will be the breath of fresh
air that Kogi desperately needs at this trying times. It will be
recalled that he contested the 2015 elections but as a faithful and
loyal party man, he stepped down at the last minute for Late Abubakar
Audu. What happened in that election is now history as Audu, the
presumed winner passed on before the official declaration of results
while his Kogi-west deputy, James Faleke was eventually prevented from
ascending the throne based on some alleged lacuna in the electoral
act. However, not a few people believed that Kogi-west was
deliberately schemed out of the Governorship by vested interests.
Compensating Kogi-west with the All Progressives Congress (APC)
gubernatorial ticket now becomes imperative in the interest of justice
and fair play.

Given the level of resentment the people of the confluence State have
for the incumbent and by extension the APC, the party needs to field
someone deemed a break from the norm with a record of performance in
both public and private sector, that is where Irukera comes in. Born
on the 4th of September 1968 in Kaduna state, Irukera hails from Egbe,
Yagba West. He studied law from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo
University, Ife and upon graduation in 1989, he proceeded to the
Nigeria Law School in Lagos in 1990. In 1995 he proceeded to the
United State of America, where he carved a niche for himself as a
successful Immigration expert in 1996 after passing the Washington
State Bar examination at first sitting, a year after arriving America.
In 1997, he started a partnership ( Thomas & Irukera) which ultimately
became Partners, Attorneys & Counsellors, both in Chicago.

As DG of CPC, he is responsible for the daily management of the
Council and leadership in fulfilling its mandate to protect consumers
and secure remedies when consumer rights are violated. His record of
advocacy and cases in favour of consumers is outstanding and provides
the clarity that both the Council and industry need in ensuring due
regard for customer service and protection of consumer rights.

Irukera has to his credit key sector related consumer protection
advancements including advising the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority
with respect to its role in sector consumer protection. He led the
initiative in developing current aviation consumer protection
regulations as well as the Passenger Bill of Rights. He also led the
team that revised existing aviation economic regulations and
superintended a comprehensive regulatory and parliamentary
investigation into anti-competitive behaviour by foreign airlines. He
has also provided capacity-building and advisory services to federal
agencies and other clients with respect to competition/antitrust
issues. He co-authors the Nigerian chapters in a range of
competition/antitrust related widely regarded international
publications.

Apart from his intimidating credentials, what stands him out is his
strong corporate network which he has garnered over the years as DG
CPC. This will come in handy to develop Kogi State as corporate
organisations will find Kogi State a viable destination to do business
with Irukera in the saddle.

The APC already bedevilled with a string of gubernatorial losses in
Adamawa, Bauchi, Imo, Oyo, Sokoto and just recently Zamfara – as
adjudicated by the Supreme Court, cannot afford to gamble with Kogi
State. The people of the State groaning under the imperial leadership
of Gov. Bello are yearning for a viable alternative to liberate the
State. The APC must not by its acts of omission or commission hand
over the State to the opposition. The party can reinvent itself by
fielding a man of integrity, competence and charisma like Babatunde
Irukera. Indeed, the party can kill the proverbial “two birds with a
stone” – placate Kogi west to entrench equity and give the State a
fresh start with Irukera. The way to redemption can’t be better
defined.

Bala Haruna, a political analyst and Kogi State Indigene wrote from Abuja.

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