Bordered by the North, West and East protectorates, Kogi is a state with a dichotomous view of the Nigerian people and culture. The state consists of a wooded savanna region bisected by the southward-flowing Niger River and the Benue River with a major tributary of the Niger forming part of the state's northeastern border. Endowed with a rich cultural diversity, Kogi boasts of three major ethnic group; the Igala peoples are the main ethnic group (east of the Niger), while the Ebira and Okun live in the west of the river respectively.
The people solely depend on Agriculture as the mainstay of the economy of the state. Major crops include: yams, cassava, beans, rice, maize, and cotton. Riverine fishing is also important. Coal is mined for national distribution from the Okaba fields in the northern Udi-Nsukka Plateau, east of the Niger River. Nigeria’s largest known deposit of iron ore is found on the Agbaja Plateau north of the state capital, Lokoja. Marble is quarried at Jakura, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Lokoja, and the town has a lime-processing plant as well. While Ejiba housed one of the largest rice mill in West Africa. Ajaokuta is the site of a major iron and steel plant. Lokoja, on the west bank of the Niger River, is connected by road northward to Abuja and southwestward to Benin City. Idah, on the east bank of the Niger, is a major trading and ferrying port.
The state was created in 1991 from parts of Kwara and Benue. The state as presently constituted, comprises the people of the Kabba Province of Northern Nigeria. One of the first Qadi in the Kogi State was Faruk Imam. Surprisingly, the name Nigeria, was coined in Lokoja, Kogi capital city by Lady Flora Shaw, the future wife of Baron Lugard, a British colonial administrator, while gazing out at the river Niger.
According to report, Abubakar Audu was the first democratically elected governor of the state. He came into office in January 1992. After completing his first tenure in November 1993, he was reelected as governor on 29 May 1999 through the political platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) formerly known as All People's Party (APP). Ibrahim Idris of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) took over from Abubakar Audu on 29 May 2003 as the second democratically elected governor of the state. The former also served two terms in office before handing over to Idris Wada (PDP) on 29 March 2008. While Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello in a dramatic election held on 21 November 2015 that saw the death of Abubakar Audu, became the fourth executive governor of the state. Kogi state consists of twenty-one 921) Local Government Areas, which inlcude: Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina (the largest LGA in the state), Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela-Odolu, Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, Koton Karfe, Lokoja, Mopa-Muro, Ofu, Ogori/Magongo, Okehi, Okene, Olamaboro, Omala, Yagba East, and Yagba West. It is interesting to note that the history of Kogi can be best liken to a seasonal movie that comes in parts and forms with a lot of lessons to learn in the long run. Indeed, the state has risen from the file and rank to be reckoned with as one of the most dramatic states in the history of the Nigerian nation.
Education and people
Kogi is home to intellectuals with the state hosting the Federal University (Lokoja), Kogi State University Anyigba, Federal Polytechnic Idah, Kogi State Polytechnic (Okone), College of Education Ankpa), College of Agriculture Kabba, Kogi State College of Education, Technical (Kabba) among others. The state has produced some of the pronounced intellectuals Nigeria ever had. They include but not limited to the following: Late Francis Idachaba (one of the Nigeria’s most eminent men of letters), Dino Melaye (an outspoken senator representing Kogi west), Ado Ibrahim (a Nigerian paramount monarch who is the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland), Yayaha Bello (the embattled governor of Kogi), Michael Idakwo Ameh (a Nigerian paramount monarch who is the Attah of Igala), Smart Adeyemi (a former National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists from 1999 to 2006) etc.
Kogi State has produced sprinters such as Sunday Bada and other sportsmen, who have contributed to the growth of sports worldwide. Kogi United and Babanawa F.C. are football teams based in the state. Other sports, such as swimming, handball, and table tennis are actively promoted in the state. The Kogi state Sports Council had a track record of Directors and great personnel team Who at one time or the other had worked with the vision of putting the State fully on the world map. Among them are personalities like Mr. Francis Umoru, Mr. Mohammed Emeje, Mr. Benjamin O. Ameje, Mr. A. Ogido, Mr. Joel J. Abu and others. Among other sportsmen produce by the state is Shola Ameobi, an Ayetoro Gbede born Ijumu, English footballer, currently playing for Bolton Wanderers as a striker, late Sunday Bada 400 Metres Olympic Champion from Ogidi in Ijumu Local Govt. of the state.
Tourist attractions in Kogi State include the colonial relics (such as Lord Lugard House), the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue, Ogidi (An African town with formations of Igneous Rock mountains and a traditional art & craft industry) and natural land features hills and terrains that serve as hiking trails.
Now that the state is 28, there is a huge expectation on the part of the people to see a better Kogi come 16 November when they would be deciding the destiny of the state. It is believed that the journey so far is only a tip of the iceberg; as many things are yet to be unfolded. There is great expectation that the next phase of the state will mark the beginning of turning point to the development of Nigeria at large. Long live Kogi!
Arogbonlo Israel, writes from Lagos