Our attention has been drawn to pockets of obviously poorly orchestrated campaigns of calumny against the person of Kingsley Idoko Ilona, the first runner up in last month’s Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Governorship Primaries. These campaigns are twin pronged ; with the first attempting to depict Mr Ilona as exploiting the religious divide in Kogi State for political advantage while the other tries to potray him as a politically stranded individual attempting to poach tickets from political parties.
Of course we conceded that mudslinging is a natural recourse by rivals in politics particularly by those who lack substance. Thus we understand why it is attractive to smear this young gentleman with no stain whatsoever in his trajectory, first as a superlatively successful businessman and of late as leading political player in Kogi State after only a few months of participation.
In the said few months, to be specific four months, Mr Ilona emerged a dominant aspirant in the PDP despite the interference and manipulation of the nomination process by the party’s hierarchy. Ilona as the youngest aspirant and with just less than three months in the governorship race beat eight other contestants with impressive political pedgree spanning several decades to come second.
Mr Ilona’s outing in the PDP was an upset never before recorded in the politics of Kogi State. This has jolted and rankled several entrenched interest in the politics of the state who are convinced that unless he is immediately reined in, their own careers as politicians will be doomed.
It is against this background that the sudden flurry of falsehoods depicting Mr Ilona as a religiously divisive man and desperate for a party ticket must be deconstructed.
To start with Kogi State particularly Kogi East Senatorial District enjoys a religious harmony that is difficult to find in most other places in Nigeria. The politics of the area has always been devoid of religious dichotomy with people getting elected or appointed to political offices on their merits and perhaps other consideration that does not include religion. Thus these mischievous people feel that if they are able to invent this falsehood and hang it on Mr Ilona, his surging popularity will quickly dim.
But it’s a futile effort. Mr Ilona to intent and purpose is a silent philanthropist who even now will not be drawn into bragging about his kind and meaningful intervention in the lives of several people.
But suffice it is to state that Muslims in Kogi State generally and particularly Kogi East and Idah his home town can attest to his religious neutrality with a roll call of several persons who were able to perform the Holy Pilgrimage based on his support. This same gentleman is known to distribute rams and bags of rice during Islamic festivals. Thus it is absurd and infact outrageous to paint him as a a religious bigot.
Mr Ilona’s entry into politics is purely out of the selfless desire to liberate the masses of the people and indeed Kogi State from entrenched institutional poverty. The people indeed realise he’s a man of conviction with a mission. And even after the ill-fated PDP Primaries he has been under pressure from several quarters to pick a ticket but he has been circumspect, refusing to just dive into fray but rather he’s been engaged in wide consultation. But his silence despite the pressure rather than assuage the fear of desperate persons has instead aggravated their resolve to denigrate him.
But Kingsley Idoko Ilona will be the last person to embrace the desperate divisive tactics of politicians who can only thrive in an atmosphere of acrimony. They can orchestrate their smear campaign as much as possible, but at the end of the day power comes only from God Almighty.
Kingsley Idoko Ilona Campaign.