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Kogi gov race: Who succeeds Yahaya Bello?

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Ahead of the November 11, 2023 Kogi governorship election, candidates for different political parties have emerged. The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has elected the former Local Governmet auditor general, Alhaji Ahmed Usman-Ododo as the flag bearer of the party while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has elected the former Senator representing Kogi west senatorial district, Senator Dino Melaye as its candidate.

Candidates of other political parties have also emerged. Member representing Yagba federal constituency, Honourable Leke Abejide emerged candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) while Real Estate Developer, Mr. Olayinka Braimoh emerged the flag bearer of the Action Alliance (AA), the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) elected Alhaji Musa Mubarak, Barrister Adejo Okeme won the ticket of the Labour party and Barrister Julius Elukpo emerged Action Democratic Party (ADP) candidate.

The outcome of the PDP governorship primary led to crisis, with a former deputy governor of the state, Yomi Awoniyi rejecting the exercise. The aspirant claimed that the primary lacked due process, credibility and the delegates list was tainted. . “This victory portends great danger to the unity of our party and the prospect of winning the November 11 governorship poll. The primary that threw up senator Melaye was flawed,” he said. Another aspirant, Honourable Bolufemi Rotimi was also miffed by the manner the primary was conducted, just as some party stalwarts decried an alleged plot to impose Melaye on Kogi PDP for the governorship election in November.

After the primaries of the APC, some aggrieved members called for the cancelation of the primary. Senator Smart Adeyemi, Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu campaign organization rejected the result of primary election describing it as a highly compromised and fraudulent process characterized by unprecedented irregularities. The group have taken the case to court calling for the cancellation of the primary. According to them, primary election did not hold and as such the result will not be accepted.

While Kogi central is presenting one candidate, Kogi west is presenting three candidates while Kogi East is presenting about five candidates. Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo of APC is from Kogi Central, Senator Dino Melaye of PDP is from Kogi West. The candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Alhaji Murtala Yakubu Ajaka is from Kogi East.

Since the creation of the state, Kogi East has produced governor in the last 16 years, but for the emergence of governor Yahaya Bello representing Kogi central. While Yahaya Bello picked Ododo from the same Kogi Central as his, some political stakeholders are of the belief that the incumbent governor should have picked somebody from his cabinet from Kogi west as his successor. Those with that argument are of the opinion that Kogi West will do all it can to have power and defeat Kogi Central and its candidate.

A socio-cultural group, Ojuju Agbadufu Igala in Kogi East senatorial district said the district will not accept deputy governorship slot from any political party. Speaking in a interview, the President-in-Council, Mr Ukwenya Christopher, said this year’s governorship election is a war the Eastern senatorial district must win. He said, “The governorship election is a battle Kogi East must win and the zone will not play the second fiddle this time. All political parties should take notice and work towards emergence of their candidates from Igala land, and let it be very clear that we have agenda and the agenda is the emergence of a governorship candidate from Kogi East. There was cause to be disturbed in past seven years, but as law abiding citizens, the Eastern senatorial district allowed ‘pebbles’ to be forced down their throats.”

Ukwenya, who spoke against the backdrop of some political parties insisting on retaining governorship in the Central senatorial district, said it was closely watching those contesting governorship, especially those against the agitation of the East to produce governor. Another group, Igala Frontier based in Lagos claimed that the eight years of Bello as Governor of Kogi state was monumental disaster for the state and its people. In a press statement issued by the group and jointly signed by the president Alex Adejoh and Yakubu Ojonugwa, the group alleged that Bello engaged in acts of impunity. The group called on Igalas to resist Bello’s imposed candidate.

On his part, former lawmaker representing Igalamela Odolu State Constituency, Elder Friday Sani Makama berated the political actors in Kogi Eastern Senatorial District, for their inability to unite prior to the governorship primaries that produced various party candidates. While describing the April 14th All Progressive Congress, (APC) primaries as peaceful and transparent, the former lawmaker said Yahaya Bello is not the problem of the Igala people in Kogi East but rather they are the architect of their own problem.

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Makama averred that the APC primary that produced Usman Ododo as the party’s flag bearer in the governorship election is a welcome development adding that, the party will win overwhelmingly at the polls.

“It is the fact that, with the population and the number of majority we control in Kogi State, it is definitely an advantage democratically for Igala extraction to reclaim power. But you know it is a democratic process. A democratic process does not just end at having majority. The democratic process has factors that make or mar it. Until the protocol that make or mar are put together properly, with good strategy, that is when majority can win election.

“But, in a situation where majority is yet to put their arsenals together, you will not expect the majority to reclaim power. Just like you see in the last primaries of both the All Progressive Congress, (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), and other political parties, of course, it is clear to anyone who is reasonable that Kogi East Senatorial Districts that controls the majority in Kogi State was not ready, to reclaim power.

“From the primaries, you can see the numbers of Igala extractions from Kogi East that contested the primary election. Same thing happened in the PDP and other smaller political parties. So it is evident, that the majority has not been able to annex its potentials to be able to reclaim power.

“It is not strange in democratic governance. In Nigeria, we are divided into geopolitical zones. If you go to the Northern part of Nigeria, it is dominated and controlled by majority who are Hausas. Of course you will discover that, the Fulanis, a minority in the Northern Nigeria. But today, the minority is ruling Nigeria.

“This is exactly evidence of the inability of majority to put its potentials together to be able to reclaim power. That is exactly what happened to the people of Kogi East Senatorial districts. For me, I don’t think the governor has done anything wrong to consider where he can have comfort of having a candidate that will reduce am acrimony for him.

“You will not also forget that even before the primaries, the governor had warned key stakeholders in Kogi East to unite themselves and be able to reclaim power, but, they were unable to do it. We begin to trace the problem of Igala People to Alhaji Yahaya Bello. If Alhaji Yahaya Bello was the problem of the Igala people in APC, is Alhaji Yahaya Bello still the problem of the Igala people in PDP and other political parties in the State? You will discover that the problem of Igala people in Kogi East is not Governor Yahaya Bello but within the Igalas.”

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Makama, who has been a major critic of governor Bello administration charged the people of Kogi East and West to look beyond ethnic lines and vote for the APC, stressing that, its candidate has what it takes to build on the legacies of the present administration.

The two-time Kogi House of Assembly member claimed that what the Igalas failed to do for their people when they were in government, the present administration led by Governor Yahaya Bello has done for Kogi East.

“At what point did Yahaya Bello becaome a devil that we should not relate with him! He championed the appointment of many Igalas into key political offices in Kogi State and Nigeria in general. Is it because the pendulum has changed from them? It is now about to favor me and favor those who believe in him that the man has now become Satan and should be described as a deadly disease as Ebola.

“We have gone past this sentiment. This sentiment cannot take us anywhere. It is no longer that time to think of an Igala agenda that represents self, family or promote one particular ego. We have gone past that. The election in Kogi East will be a straight win for APC just like it is recorded in the past,” he added.

According to Kabiru Usman, lecturer with the Department of Political Science, Federal College of Education, Okene, Kogi State, the emergence of Ododo is a round peg being fixed in the right hole. “I’m more interested in somebody pointing at one current serving or former governor in Nigeria who doesn’t show interest in who succeeds him. While some people may argue that such a tailored choice is being fashioned out to cover the perceived misdoings of a particular government, other school of thoughts may also be right if they argue that it is being done to sustain the economic blueprint and developmental strides of the outgoing government,” he said.



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