Beyond PDP Endorsements in Idah Federal Constituency

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The alleged endorsement of Secretary of the Kogi State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Emmanuel Makoji Egwu, by the state Chairman of the party,

Alhaji Hassan Salawu, has sparked off controversy between two of the main contenders.

  Dr. Egwu is eying the House of Representatives seat for the Idah/Ibaji/Ofu/Igalamela-Odolu federal constituency.

  The purported backing took place at a gathering to receive the state governor, Captain Idris Wada (Rtd), who visited the local government to thank the people for their support in his election.

  But the atmosphere was immediately charged and turned into a serious campaign ground where all the aspirants for the seat struggled to outdo each other in terms of who holds the ace.

  At the last count, about 10 aspirants had thrown their hats in the ring for the race, with the supporters of Egwu and the incumbent lawmaker, Mr. Ismaila Ina Husseini, the most visible, as they displayed their posters and chanted slogans that promoted the aspirants.

  Egwu used his position as the party secretary to make the difference by mobilising greater number of supporters at the event that held despite of a downpour at the Idah Handball Stadium.

  He ensured that close to 90 per cent of the supporters at the event wore branded T-shirts that had his picture and name embossed.

  Mr. Husseini also came with his supporters, who defiled the rain but were unable to match those of the PDP secretary in terms of numerical strength.

  The speech of the party chairman, Alhaji Salawu, in which he expressed his desire to endorse his secretary, as a colleague, for the constituency if he had his way, sparked off the real campaign.

  The comments drew the ire of Mr. Husseini, who misconstrued the chairman’s expression to mean outright endorsement of his opponent.

  Saying that he had heard it for the first time that somebody had been endorsed, Husseini stressed that with the way and manner the PDP conducts its activities, “nobody endorses aspirants.”

  “What is always done is that all aspirants slug it out at the primaries; so, I don’t believe and I can never be convinced that somebody has been endorsed,” he said.

  “Endorsed on what criteria; was he (Egwu) there before? He has never served there; he has never been a legislator.

  “It is only when somebody has been able to perform satisfactorily that he can be endorsed to continue. You don’t endorse an outsider, who does not understand ethics and privileges of legislation.”

  On his chances, Husseini said having delivered on his mandate, the people of his federal constituency were beckoning on him to take another shot at the seat.

  “I never personally indicated interest to go back for a second term; it is the electorate of my constituency that are asking me to go for the second term because of what I have been able to do for them,” he said.

  He enumerated his achievements to include the seven motorised boreholes in Idah town, four boreholes each in Ibaji and Igalamela/Adolu, and three boreholes in Ofu.

  He said he had renovated many primary schools, and empowered women and youths.

  “I have moved not less than 10 motions,” he said, adding, “the one that concerns you and me is that of the oil well in Ibaji we have been talking about.”

  “I have a paper on what is to be done about the oil, to give Ibaji its due,” he sad.

  He also listed a sponsored bill on thuggery and kidnapping, which has gone for second reading, believing that the people would vote him again to see to the successful passage of the bill.

  However, weighing in, the member, representing Igalamela/Odolu state constituency in the Kogi House of Assembly, Dr. Danjuma Sani, said it’s unfortunate that Honourable Smaila could be described as a major contender.

  He said the incumbent House of Representatives member, Hon. Husseini, representing Idah/Ibaji/Ofu/Igalamela-Adolu is a product of endorsement of the party in the local government, Igalamela, which he represents in the State House of Assembly.

  “I was the principal signatory and organiser of that endorsement,” he said. “What look like Husseini being a big contender today couldn’t have been without the endorsement, which he enjoyed from Igalamela/Adolu party structure.”

  However, Dr. Sani said the major contender to the Reps seat was the incumbent state secretary of the PDP, Dr. Egwu, “because he has been endorsed by the entire PDP structure in Idah federal constituency, Igalamela/Adolu PDP inclusive.”

  He indicated that the most important motion the incumbent lawmaker had moved was that for the collapsed garages in Nigeria “simply because the supporters of the PDP, who have business at the garage in Ajaka, no longer support him.”

  “I think that is the most vibrant motion he ever moved so that there should be no beer parlours in garages in Nigeria simply because Ajaka garage was not in support of his second-term bid,” he said.

  On the chances of the two aspirants, Sani said it’s not something to discuss because the PDP had endorsed the state secretary of the party.

  “So, from political calculations, it is very obvious that the mandate has been given to the state secretary of the party,” he said.

  “I am the leader of the party in Igalamela/Adolu local government; you are not hearing from spectators but from a reliable source that the man, who has the favour of the party is Dr. Emmanuel Makoji Egwu.”

  Dr. Sani noted that without the secretary, all the elected officers, including Husseini, would not have succeeded in getting the mandate for the House of Representatives.

  He said that it took the dexterity of the secretary to manage discussions, for him to throw his weight behind the incumbent lawmaker and give him the party structure.

 “Apart from making me, he (Egwu) also made him (Husseini); so the issue of who is bigger in the contest is not a subject of discussion because we would not be able to sort it out on the pages of the national dailies,” he said.

  “But by the time we go into the primaries, it would be clearer and you will see that what I am telling you today is prophetic.”

FOR Dr. Egwu, he has been the engine driving the party with his intellectual capacity.

  He said as the state secretary, he had not let down the party, having contributed intellectually to the successes it had recorded.

  “You know success cannot come from the surface; it comes from planning,” he said. “You know that the secretary is the engine room of the party.

  “That I have done for many years now. I did it to install the National and State House of Assembly members, the local government chairmen and even the governor and all elected officers.

  “I deserve some kudos for that contribution. If I have contributed intellectually to install all these personalities in the state and today Kogi is synonymous with PDP, then to seek the ticket for the Idah Federal Constituency would not be asking for too much.”

  Egwu said in his time, the party had been re-engineered to the extent that no other party in Kogi could defeat the PDP.

  If you don’t have a secretary that knows his onions, you cannot record that achievement,” he said. “So, what it means is that I deserve to be rewarded.

  “Executives of the party are not on remuneration; they survive on goodwill. This little goodwill is also channeled to a foundation that contributes to the education of the people.

  “I have a foundation that promotes education by giving out scholarships to children of the less-privileged from primary through secondary to university.”

  Insisting that said he had tried to avoid unnecessary propaganda on his contribution, Egwu explained that he had been paying school fees for hundreds of persons at the primary, secondary and at tertiary levels.

  These he attributed to the reason why 90 per cent of party supporters, that welcome Governor Wada to Idah recently, came for his sake.

  “So, naturally, there is no family in the federal constituency that would not want to give me support,” he said, adding, “not only in Idah, but also across the entire Igalaland and particularly my constituency comprising of Idah, Ofu, Igalamela/Adolu and Ibaji.

  “That was the secret of the mammoth support that day.”

  Egwu said widows are not left out of his empowerment programme, adding that he has also stimulated employment for many graduates at the national level.

  He indicated that because Kogi is a secular state, he contributes his quota, without discrimination, when there is a Christian or Islamic programme.

  On the impressive development the state has witnessed under Governor Wada, he said it’s partly due to the pieces of advice he and other executives of the party had offered to the government that is receptive to advice.

  He said if the government does not have good advisers, there would be failure.

  “It shows the Secretary, who is the engine, is pivotal to most of the advice and that he is doing his job,” he said.

  “The National Assembly needs vibrant representation and I see myself as somebody that will make a lot of inputs in terms of bills and motions in the National Assembly.”

  He said overtime, the district had gotten representations without serious inputs that speak for the constituents.

  “Most of our representatives have always gone there for their personal interests; they don’t return to seek our opinion or input,” he said.

  “And even the readily available facts on what we need in terms of our problems, they don’t know how to present them; so, it has become very expedient for me to go.”

  Egwu disclosed that the party, from the ward down to the statutory delegates made an overwhelming endorsement around October/November last year for him to contest because of the trust the party hierarchy has in him.

  He said there are many problems that need to be tabled at the National assembly.

  “In my constituency, for instance, we have been in need of a bridge across the Niger, which will bring a lot of development to our people,” he said.

  “Even the ferry needs rehabilitation, which can be done by a National Assembly member. None of our representatives has done that.

  “I promise if the Federal Government is reluctant to construct the bridge, I will ensure the ferries are in functional shape for crossing the river.”

  He attributed the delay in awarding the contract for the bridge to the fact that the President had not been properly briefed.

  “As a National Assembly member, lobbying is an art outside the motions,” he said. “You have to go the extra mile to use your connections to make your motions have real effect.

  “To lobby even the President, it will boost agriculture because the area is an agricultural base for Kogi State.”

  He indicated that Ibaji has fertile land for rice production, sugar cane and yam but that because of lack of transport and storage facilities, most of the harvests are wasted or the farmers are discouraged.

  “We need to boost our transport from Ibaji to Anambra and Idah to Agenebode (Edo State),” he said. “This will boost agriculture and the economy and the GDP of the area.”

  On the oil well in Ibaji, which has become a subject of crisis, Egwu said every Kogi indigene knows that the oil well is for the good people of Kogi State.

  “We will do all things possible within the ambit of the law to protect what rightly belongs to us,” he said.

  “We will liaise with all relevant agencies and have it settled amicably in favour of the state.”

  He said the issue is a cardinal one that any representative of Idah must champion, adding that all needed strategies would be explored for the reality to be upheld.

  He said the bane of the people is lack vibrant representation at the National Assembly for the constituency, stressing that representation has gone beyond mere armchair to the level of reasonable lobbying and logical presentations.

  At this level of intellectual inputs and prowess, Dr. Egwu sees himself having a comparative advantage over other contenders.


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