How Prof Ocheni Upturned PDP Dominance in Igalamela-Odolu

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Few days to the last Presidential and National Assembly election, Kogi East Elders Council (KEEC) warned voters in the eastern senatorial district not to vote for candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

In their statement, they argued that a vote for APC is a vote for the potential re-election of Governor Yahaya Bello.

The instructions of the elders was fiercely challenged by members of the ruling party from Kogi East. Most remarkably was the audacious response from the Emerging Leaders Forum, Kogi East ably led by Dr. Usman Ogbo. The Emerging Leaders Forum minced no words in their response to the self styled Kogi East Elders Council. They told them pointedly that Governor Bello and President Muhammadu Buhari were not the cause of problems associated with Kogi East. Rather, they blamed past leaders of the zone for the problems in Kogi East.

However, there were fears that some local government areas in Kogi East might poise a challenge to the clamour for the area to join the mainstream political party and government. Igalamela-Odolu was one of these local governments.

Igalamela-Odolu has been under the strong grip of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999 and it has been impenetrable for other parties. But last Saturday, the tide changed! APC won the presidential, senatorial and House of Representatives elections in Igalamela-Odolu.

The Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Prof. Stephen Ocheni did the unthinkable in Igalamela-Odolu. He galvanized support for APC and worked assiduously for the victory.

Prof. Ocheni is well loved persona across Igala land. He is a mentor to many in the academia. His benevolent activities is second to none in the area. It has not been easy for past leaders to break PDP’s grip on Igalamela-Odolu but Prof. Ocheni changed the order of voting pattern in Igalamela-Odolu effortlessly.

When he was appointed Minister by President Buhari, a lot of PDP chieftains readily abandoned their party to join Ocheni in APC. Former Igalamela-Odolu council boss, Alhaji Ali Atabor, a former senior special assistant to former Governor of the state, Hon. Yunusa Aikoye Sani and a host of others abandoned their former party to join Ocheni in APC. A trusted leader and uncommon passion for humanity, Ocheni became the rallying point for all men of goodwill in Igalamela-Odolu.

Results from his Iyegwu polling unit to Oforachi 1 Ward showed a sharp departure from the usual voting pattern in Igalamela-Odolu on Saturday. In his Oforachi 1 ward, APC polled 1,146 votes ahead of PDP’s 1,011 votes in the presidential election. In the senatorial election, APC polled 1,090 votes to topple PDP’s 822 votes. For the House of Representatives, APC garnered 1,159 votes, leaving PDP with 894 votes.

When the Igalamela-Odou final results were announced, the changed was fully affirmed. APC polled 7,650 votes while PDP managed to poll 6,082 votes in the presidential election.

The history-making outcome of last Saturday election confirmed the fact that Prof. Ocheni is well loved by the people of Igalamela-Odolu.

The elated Prof. Ocheni, in his remarks after the announcement, commended the director general, presidential campaign council in Kogi state, Chief Edward Onoja for his support and tireless efforts to ensure victory for APC in Kogi East and other parts of the state.

He commended Governor Yahaya Bello for his sterling leadership that attracted the electorate to support the ‘Next Level’ movement. He reaffirmed his commitment to the New Direction Government and urged all and sundry to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Yahaya Bello in Kogi State for continuous benefits and dividends of democracy.

– John Sani wrote from Ajaka.

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