Kogi APC Primaries: Guber Race Hots Up as Ethnic Interests and Party Loyalty Clash

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The upcoming Kogi governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is shaping up to be an interesting one.

Since the APC took over power from the PDP-led administration in 2015, the party has remained in power without any serious threats from opposition parties.

However, with close to 25 aspirants declaring their intention to contest the governorship election under the APC, things may not be as smooth-sailing this time around.

One of the main issues in the upcoming primaries is whether it will be party or personality that will carry the day.

There are allegations that 10 of the aspirants who are currently serving under the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello were instructed by him to buy the nomination forms. This has led to speculation about who the Governor’s candidate will be, and whether personality will play a bigger role in the coming election.

Among the aspirants are Smart Adeyemi, Stephen Ocheni, James Faleke, Idris Asiru, Jibrin Momoh, Jamiu Abdulkarim Asuku, Yakubu Yusuf Okala, Edward Onoja, Friday Idachaba, Murtala Yakubu Ajaka, Ahmed Usman Ododo, Salami Mahmud Deedat Ozigi, and others. However, observers have noted that the governor has put together the delegates, giving him full control to a great extent. This has led to speculation that he will use this advantage to pick his preferred candidate.

Furthermore, there are speculations that the governor may use a strategy whereby nine of the alleged stooges will step down on the day of the primary, which could be a psychological tactic to intimidate other aspirants.

Another factor to consider is the national influence that can dictate the primaries, which are consensus, direct, and indirect.

If the governor doesn’t agree with the National Working Committee, the only option is for the NWC to insist on direct primaries instead of using the ward delegates.

The governor owns the state structure, which gives him a significant advantage in the upcoming primaries.

The options available for the aspirants are to either try to poach delegates using inducements and money, or to meet the delegates and try to convince them to vote for them. If the governor picks someone, that person is likely to be the clear winner, but if he leaves everyone to the field, then they will all have to meet the delegates and try to poach them.

On the other hand, for the PDP, it is believed that no Okun man will get the ticket and it will likely move to the Igala side. However, if the APC picks a candidate from the west, the PDP may be defeated roundly.

In conclusion, the upcoming Kogi APC Governorship Primaries will be closely watched by political observers and stakeholders alike. Whether it will be party or personality that will carry the day remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the battle for the governorship seat will be fierce, and only the candidate with the most convincing argument and strategic moves is likely to emerge victorious.

Below are some of the popular aspirants;

Abdulkarim Jamiu Mohammed is a former pharmacist turned politician from Kogi State, Nigeria. He attended LGEA Primary School in Obangede and Abdulaziz Memorial College for his secondary education. He later obtained a degree in Pharmaceutical Science from Ahmadu Bello University in 2008. He worked with H-Medix Pharmaceuticals before joining the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, where he served as the Head of Pharmacy Unit.

In 2016, Jamiu was appointed as the Director General of Protocol to the Governor of Kogi State, and later served as the Chief of Staff to the Governor. He has declared his intention to run for a political office under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections. However, political observers predict that he may not have the support of the western and eastern senatorial districts, which are likely to vote for power shift. Nonetheless, some believe that Jamiu has an edge due to his relationship with the incumbent governor, who may choose him as his successor.

Onoja Edward currently holds the position of deputy Governor of Kogi State and is considered a potential successor to the current Governor. He is known for his significant role in the Governor’s emergence and is often referred to as the Governor’s close ally. However, there are rumors that he is not widely accepted, especially among members of his own ethnic group, due to his alleged involvement in creating the “Enemoneme” slogan.

Originally from Emonyoku-Ogugu in Olamaboro Local Government Area, Onoja Edward has been a resident of Kogi State for over 12 years. He has a background in the financial sector and previously worked for five years, rising to the position of Assistant Regional Manager in Abuja. He also worked in banks within Kogi State and later transitioned to the oil and gas industry before entering politics. Onoja Edward ran for election in 2011 but was unsuccessful. He later served as the Chief of Staff to the Governor.

Professor Stephen Ikani Ocheni is a formidable contender in the upcoming election. He has been a loyal member of the All Progressive Congress since the time of the CPC and has served as a public servant in various capacities, including as a Permanent Secretary in the Government House Administration under late Gov. Prince Abubakar Audu. As a former Minister of State, Labour and Employment under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Prof. Ocheni’s impact was felt across the country. He donated transformers to light up his senatorial districts, offered scholarships, and influenced job opportunities for numerous youths in both formal and informal sectors.

Prof. Ocheni also boasts an impressive educational background, with a certificate in “Strategies for Home Ownership” from Harvard University in Washington DC, United States of America, a Master’s Degree in Finance from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Finance Management from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He has served as a Professor of Accounting at Kogi State University, Anyigba, and Visiting Professor to other Universities including Nile University, Abuja, and the University of Calabar.

With his wealth of knowledge, dedication to serving the people, and impressive track record, Prof Stephen Ikani Ocheni is an excellent choice for the upcoming election.

Hon. Murtala Yakubu Ajaka, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) is being touted as a competent and qualified successor to Governor Yahaya Bello in 2024. Ajaka’s supporters believe that he would win the primary election if the governor provides a level playing field and the APC delegates listen to the voice of the people, citing his philanthropic and youth empowerment programs that cover the entire state.

Ajaka, a founding member of the APC, worked as the Chief Security Officer of the party’s National Secretariat during the days of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He was appointed by Hon. Mai Mala Buni, the Yobe state governor, as his aide from the party’s Secretariat to Yobe State government house after the CPC merged with other political parties in 2013 to form the APC. Ajaka is widely regarded as “the eye of Buni” at the party’s National Secretariat during Buni’s tenure as an interim National Chairman of the APC, and his influence is seen as an opportunity for the people of Kogi East to have selfless leadership.

Hon. James Faleke was the deputy governorship candidate to Abubakar Audu in Kogi State’s 2015 election, which was won by their party, the All Progressives Congress.

However, Audu passed away before the official declaration of the results, and the party transferred the votes to Yahaya Bello, the first runner-up in the party’s primary election. Faleke challenged the decision but was unsuccessful.

He hails from the Okun speaking tribe in Kogi State and is rumored to be the preferred candidate of Nigeria’s President-elect.

Although he has not officially announced his candidacy for governorship in Kogi State, there are rumors that he may be considering it as well as a possible appointment as Chief of Staff to Nigeria’s President-elect, AsiwajuTinubu.

Prior to entering politics, Faleke worked as a business management and logistics consultant for several high-profile companies. Began his political journey in 2003 as the first Executive Secretary of the newly created Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Lagos State. He then won a vote in 2011 to represent Ikeja Federal Constituency of Lagos State in Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives till date.

Smart Adeyemi is a politician from the Okun extraction part of Kogi State in Nigeria who also wants to be Governor. Although he is not believed to have the support of influential individuals in his community, The APC or even in the Governor’s good books. He was elected as a senator for Kogi West in 2007 and has been re-elected twice. He is a member of the APC political party. However, he was not selected as his party’s senatorial candidate during the primaries in 2022.

Smart Adeyemi was born on 18 August 1960. He earned a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations, diploma in Law, advanced diploma in Mass Communication, and master’s in Public Administration from the Federal University of Technology Owerri, and became a journalist.

He was National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists from 1999 to 2006.

Mukandam Asiwaju Idris, hails from Kogi West, has served as the Commissioner of Finance for a total of eight years, with a previous stint as Special Adviser on Finance Economy, Commerce and Investment to Governor Yahaya Bello from January 2016 to November 2019. He was reappointed as Commissioner of Finance, Budget, and Economic Planning in January 2020 and has held the position up to the present. Considered a formidable contender for a cabinet position, there are rumors that the Governor has asked him to purchase a form, and that his potential nomination may be linked to an alleged agreement between Faleke and Bello, whereby the latter would choose his successor only from Kogi West.

Hon. Senator Yakubu Oseni represents Kogi Central Senatorial District in Kogi State, Nigeria. He was elected in the February 2019 Nigerian general elections under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Senator Oseni, who hails from the same Senatorial district as the Governor, has been a prominent figure in Kogi Politics, and believes that he has made valuable contributions during his time in the Senate.

He is determined to continue working towards the betterment of Kogi State and its people.

Lastly, political analysts have noted that power shift, which has been a dominant theme in Nigerian politics, may play a significant role in the election, as various stakeholders seek to balance the distribution of political power in the state. Additionally, the performance of the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello, will also be a major factor, as voters assess his administration’s achievements and failures. Overall, the 2023 election in Kogi State is expected to be a closely watched contest, with far-reaching implications for the future of the state and Nigerian politics as a whole.

– Mary Amodu Omakoji, a journalist, writes from Abuja.

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