The November 11 2023 governorship elections in Kogi state promises to be direct confrontation between the three major ethnic nationalities in the state. This is novel, though not total new to Kogi politics. Since the creation of Kogi state in 1991, there has always been ethnic contests between two major tribes while the third tribe and minorities become beautiful brides.
In 1999, Kogi governorship contest was a royal rumble between PDP’s Steven Olorunfemi from Okun and ANPP’s Abubakar Audu from Igala. Ebiras were the beautiful brides. In 2007, it was a face-off between ACN’s Salami Ohiare of Ebira and PDP’s Ibrahim Idris of Igala land. Okuns were the beautiful brides. 2019 governorship contest was between APC’s Yahaya Bello, an Ebira and PDP’s Musa Wada. The election results always showed ethnic inclinations. In 2019, Musa Wada won overall votes from Igala land while Yahaya Bello cleaned up Ebira votes in unimagineable landslide.
Primaries held this year as successfully altered the usual pattern of two major tribes facing each other and using the third tribe as bargaining chip. PDP produced Dino Melaye from Okun tribe, APC produced Usman Ododo from Ebira tribe while Igalas have unanimously endorsed Murtala Ajaka as their candidate for the governorship contest. Though the political party is kept secret. This is the first time since state creation that the three major tribes will engage in battle for supremacy.
Based on voting strengths, none of these three tribes can single handedly make one of their own governor, so, the ethnic minorities like Bassa Nge, Bassa Kwomu, Nupe, Ogori-Magongo and non-indigenes may likely decide who wins November 2023 governorship election.
The three tribal titans will have to work hard and negotiate with the minorities to get the desired edge at the polls. Also, they must poach important stakeholders in their opponents’ stronghold.
Months ahead promises to be exciting.
– Olalekan Abidemi writes from Lokoja.