The race for the next political dispensation across the country has since begun. Politicians have returned to the trenches, aligning and re- aligning, perfecting strategies on how to breast the tapes ahead of opponents. Such deft moves have heightened, considering the fact that the expected time for the elections is fast approaching. As part of efforts by candidates to garner the support of the electorate, consultations are on-going with stakeholders, even as clandestine meetings aimed at realizing political dreams have reached the highest peak.
In the western axis of Kogi State, the battle for who represents the area in the upper chamber of the National Assembly has equally reached fever pitch, with candidates doing all within their powers to convince the electorate to stick to them, ahead of the February, 2023 general elections. There are five leading candidates seeking the mandate of the electorate to represent the constituency in the next dispensation.
The candidates are Hon. Sunday Karimi of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Barrister Abdulrahman NdakwoTanko of the Social Democratic Party, Hon. Tajudeen Ayo Yusuf of the Peoples Democratic Party, Barrister Dele Bello Williams of the African Democratic Congress and Hon. Mohammed Ibukun Abubakar of the New Nigeria Peoples Party.
Despite the concerted efforts by the various contestants to secure the mandate of the electorate, one nagging question that is begging for an answer is who among the contestants from the three federal constituencies in the senatorial district is expected to represent the area in the red chamber of the National Assembly, in the next political dispensation? This is considering the fact that the western axis of the state so much believe in zoning arrangement, that those who attempted to disrupt it never had a good story to tell at the end of the day, politically.
The struggles for 2024 Governorship contest have since begun with the various permutations and strategizing from the different axis’s of Kogi State. The ideas that an Okun person from the Kogi West Senatorial district should become Governor in 2024 should start now.
Therefore, to better its chances of winning the Governorship position in the State, it would be expedient to concede the senate seat to their brothers in Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency axis. This strategy may perfectly pay up at a later day.
For the sanctity of truth and to consolidate the unity, justice, equity, fairness and good neigbourliness, by conceding the senate seat to the Lokoja/Kogi political axis, if an Okun person would be contesting for the governorship position and we desire a block or massive support from the district.
The fact is that during the transition programme of the late General SaniAbacha, Ado Shaibu was unanimously endorsed by the stakeholders in the western axis of the state to represent the area in the national assembly. This is to make it easier for the Yoruba speaking area of the state to realize their dream of governing the state. But Alhaji Ado Shaibu never stepped his feet into the National Assembly, following the demise of General Abacha and abrupt termination of his political transition programme. General Abdulsalami Abubakar midwifed another transition programme that has presently brought stability to our democratic experience in the country. The stakeholders in the west, particularly Okun axis decided to stick to their earlier decision to cede the senatorial seat to Lokoja/ Kogi Federal Constituency. The reason behind the wisdom was that the people of the two local governments cannot be completely ignored, considering their voting population.
Furthermore, it was to convince all and sundry, that the people of Okunland are serious in vying for the governorship seat. That position made it possible for a one-star General, Tunde Ogbeha, to emerge as Senator representing the western axis of the state in 1999.
Following the emergence of Senator Ogbeha, stakeholders at various meetings unanimously agreed that the senate seat should be rotating among the three federal constituencies in the district. This development made Senator Ogbeha to leave the national assembly in 2007, upon the completion of a two-term tenure of eight years. So in 2007, based on the existing arrangement, Senator Smart Adeyemi was elected to represent the western axis of the state at the upper chamber of the National Assembly. Senator Adeyemi was there for eight years. But funny enough, when it became the turn of the people of Yagba Federal Constituency to represent the district at the red chamber of the national assembly in 2015, based on the gentleman agreement, Senators Adeyemi and Dino Melaye contested on the platforms of the two leading political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party. The latter of the duo was elected, thereby truncating the accord that the senate seat, after the turn of Kabba/ Bunu/ Ijumu Federal Constituency, it ought to have moved to Yagba Federal Constituency in 2015.
Surprisingly, both Senator Adeyemi and Melaye would have collectively spent 16 years at the upper chamber of National Assembly, by June, next year. The former cumulatively spending over 11 years, while the latter spent less than five years.
It is therefore rational that after 16 solid years, the people of Okunland, with two federal constituencies, and having had their turn, ought to allow the people of Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency to represent the western axis at the national assembly in the next dispensation.
It is not the fault of the people of Lokoja or Kogi Local Government Areas, that the sons of Ijumu “cornered” the slot meant for the people of Yagba Federal Constituency. It is therefore in the interest of justice, fairness and equity to allow the people of Kogi local government to represent the senatorial district at the red chamber of the national assembly in the next dispensation.
This is where the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Barrister Abdulrahman Ndakwo Tanko comes in. He has been tested and trusted, when he represented Kogi Constituency at the state House of Assembly. His stellar performance as minority leader is there for all to see. There is therefore no gainsaying that he will adequately represent the western axis of the state, if given the mandate.
Some will begin to wonder why Barrister Tanko, when Hon. Mohammed Abubakar of the NNPP is equally contesting from Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency. The answer is not far-fetched. The people of Lokoja had their turn at the commencement of this democratic experience in 1999, when Senator Ogbeha from Lokoja contested and overwhelmingly given the mandate. It is therefore only natural that the people of Kogi Local Government Area are allowed to represent the western axis in the coming dispensation. Subsequently, the senatorial seat can move onward to Yagba Federal Constituency, when next the position moves to Okunland, with two federal constituencies.
So following the emergence of Governor Yahaya Bello in 2016, and having successfully been sworn in for a second term in office, he is expected to complete his tenure, as stipulated by law, in 2024. As we prepare for another governorship election in the state, various meetings have been going on in the western axis of the state, on the need for the senatorial district to produce the next governor to succeed the incumbent.
Various groups have indeed sprung up, to see to the realization of this noble goal. However, can the people of Okunland, in all honesty, take the senatorial seat; and subsequently throw their hats into the ring to contest for the governorship seat at the same time? This is considering the fact the senatorial elections comes up in February, next year, and it is equally expected that the governorship primaries for the state may likely hold around that period or there about; following the signing into law, of the newly amended electoral act by Mr. President.
It is therefore our submission, that all well-meaning individuals in Kogi West Senatorial District will come together to see how we can collectively resolve this thorny issue, if we are desirous and serious in taking over the reins of governance from the incumbent, Governor Yahaya Bello in the next dispensation, after the completion of his tenure.
With all intents and purposes, it will make sense for the people of Okunland to allow the people of Lokoja/ Kogi Federal Constituency to represent the western axis of the state at the red chamber of the national assembly next year, having hold sway for 16 solid years. More so that we are all in total support of an ongoing agitation, that the next governor of the state should come from Okunland.
We strongly believe that this administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello that is firmly rooted on equity, justice and fairness, will equally support this noble idea. This is considering the fact that the people of Kogi East have had their turn, while the incumbent is from the central axis of the state. And for us to realize this dream of a governor of Okun extraction there is need for the people in the entire seven Local Government Areas in the Senatorial District to work collectively ahead of the next dispensation. The time to do that is now.
– Muhammad Imam is a political analyst based in Abuja.
First Published in the current edition of The Policy & Lawmakers Magazine of 24th October, 2024