2023 Kogi Gov’ship: Edward Onoja Igala Brightest Chance of Returning to Lugard House

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Kogi politics is not so complex, ‘Abuja’ controls who becomes Governor of the confluence state. Since 1992 til 2019, governorship elections in Kogi state have been tele-guided from Abuja.

Put simply, the party controlling the Federal Government determine, to a large extent, who becomes the Governor of Kogi state. Yes, we are that week. In fact, ‘Abuja’ has extended its control of the confluence state to who wins and loses National Assembly elections in the state.

Since the creation of Kogi state in 1991, victorious Governors have been men from Igala part (Kogi East senatorial district) of the state until the unfortunate incidence that ridiculed the confluence state in 2015 when the then candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Abubakar Audu died after winning the elections. Yes, he won the elections fair and square. Non declaration of his victory with a conjured inconclusive scenario was a grave injustice to the Prince of Niger.

Current occupier of Lugard House, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, was foisted on the state by ‘Abuja Forces’. His glaringly rigged victory in 2019 was facilitated by same ‘Abuja Forces’. Mathematically, there was no way Bello would have won that election but with deployment of unprecedented forces of oppression ever witnessed in Nigeria, electorate were left in the lurch.

The agitations for which zone will succeed Bello in 2024 have started already and Kogi West are all out to claim the Luard House. They have every right to aspire, but as the ‘Big Brother’ in the state with undeniable 50% population, common logic suggests rotation should be between Igalas and the Old Kwara axis. When Ebira leaves the seat, an Igala should take over and then rotate the seat to Kogi West from where it will return to the East. This is the most logical way to rotate and balance power. That should be the spirit of EBIGO.

Now, looking at the permutations ahead of 2023 general elections, all indices points to the fact that APC in pole position to retain power at the federal level. The major opposition political power that Igalas relies heavily on, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is obviously in disarray. APC has successfully decimated PDP. Key Governors of PDP have been ‘captured’ by the ruling party.

Back in Kogi state, PDP is clearly rudderless. No signs of leadership in all senatorial district.

Also, the old disease that has been part of PDP in Kogi state has not healed. The ailment was covered by the national leadership of the party when PDP reigned in Abuja. Now in opposition, there seems to be no hiding place for the local chapter of the party in the state.

In March 2015, the party lost control of federal government and became exposed to calamities that have long been foretold. When it was time for Kogi governorship election in November 2015, many key leaders began to lobby their way to the new ruling party in Abuja.

Fast forward to 2019, governorship primaries divided the party and there was no ‘Abuja Force’ to super-glue them together for the polls. The party lost abysmally.

Same scenario will repeat it self in 2023. Former Governor Ibrahim Idris will definitely re-present his son, Abubakar, for the party’s governorship ticket. The Wadas will also fight for it. Other interests will also emerge and all eventual losers will run to APC thereafter. The only way this can be forestalled is if PDP miraculously win 2023 presidential election. In all honesty, this is a tall order.

Now that we are faced with the high possibility of APC retaining power in Abuja, we must wake up to the reality that Kogi governorship, coming up eight months after 2023 presidential elections, will likely be won by APC.

What is Igala’s stake in APC as we speak? Our two major sons within the top hierarchy of APC are Senator Jibrin Isa Echocho and Deputy Governor Edward Onoja.

Looking at the duo of Onoja and Echocho, the closest to Bello is his Deputy, Onoja. He is our best chance in APC, as of today.

Many have ill feelings towards Onoja, but truth be told, in him we have our best shot at the Governorship seat in Lugard House.

We must find a way to reconcile Onoja with mainstream leaders of Igala extraction. This is a must, if we truly desire the governorship seat in 2024.

Onoja may have stepped on toes, offend elders and irritated youths in Igala land, but he is still our son. With experiences garnered so far as Chief of Staff to the Governor and currently as Deputy Governor, he can not get worse, but better. The experience is valuable and cannot be wished away.

We must prevail on our leaders and traditional leaders to begin moves to reconcile Onoja and estranged political gladiators. We must learn to forgive so we can regain lost ground and regain our lost glory.

We currently have 75% chance of losing out again in 2023 and that means playing second fiddle (if not third) for another eight years after Bello’s tenure. This will not augur well for our land.

As tough and annoying as this may sound, Edward David Onoja is our best chance in 2024.

– Adamu Ojonugwa writes from Lokoja.

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