By Atabor Julius.
Kogi state governorship election is scheduled to hold on November 16, 2019 and this is not a news to the people of the state. What is news is which party will have the capacity to wrestle power from the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration that has allegedly been synonymous with hardship and wickedness to the people.
However, the curiosity of the people to romance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to liberate and emancipate them is gradually becoming blurred by every passing day.
It is a fact from the outcome of the National and State Assembly elections that was recently conducted that although, we have multitude of parties, the state is actually a two party state – the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which have been alternating powers in the state.
However, the drama unfolding in the PDP in Kogi state, where the ship has lost its rudder has become a source of concern to the people. The sheep have lost their shepherds and they are set to scatter.
The PDP in her wisdom had zoned its governorship ticket to Kogi East, the Zone believed to have the highest numbers of registered voters. The party had nilly willy thought that with the ticket in the zone, their voting strength will help them cruise to victory not minding the power of incumbency.
The party, through experience, discovered that the zone in the past used their population to gain electoral advantage against the other zones at the time the zone had leaders who never abandoned the sheep. With the well publicised zoning of the party ticket to Kogi East, the rat race had begun in earnest. The center could no longer hold and potential electoral catastrophe looms over the zone. It is not only the politicians that have lost their bearings, the traditional rulers, the students, professional bodies and in fact everyone and everything has gone awry.
Those who are supposed to be the leaders had become the aspirants. Those who can barely afford three square meals have signified interest to vie for the coveted seat even as nine of them have become the guest of Wadata House and the Automatic Teller Machines (ATM ) to some smart people of the other zones who now serves them as Director General of Campaign Councils at a cut throat fees.
In the last count, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, hitherto regarded as the ‘Baba Kogi Politics’, has entered the race through his son, Abubakar, while his estranged godson, the immediate past governor of the state, Captain Idris Wada also joined the ‘ship of no return’.
Having lost needed direction from their leaders, every Tom, Dick and Harry assumed it is the turn of their families to produce the next governor. And on the dot of closing date for the sale of forms, the Wadata House had nine aspirants from the Eastern zone netting a whooping sum of two hundred and sixteen million naira (N216m) at twenty four million naira each from a zone considered as the headquarters of the poor people in the state, regardless of holding power in the state for close to twenty years.
Although the battle is to be fiercely fought by Ibrahim Idris through his son, Abubakar against Captain Idris Wada who is hoping to use the window to correct his previous mistakes, while a neophyte in the chess game of state politics, Aminu Abubakar Suleiman has commenced in earnest his first ‘meet the delegates’ journey.
It is believed from the rough estimate of what these three aspirants had doled out when they interacted with the delegates and stakeholders per Local Government, should cumulatively be in the neighborhood of three hundred million naira (N300m) which is considered as burning ashes that was poured into the confluence rivers of Niger and Benue; the money that could have provided over 300 workable boreholes across the nine local governments that have no access to pipe borne water, not withstanding the deplorable roads and other social economic activities that are not available for the people which have created huge army of youths with questionable livelihoods.
However, the two other zones, the Central and West have kept a sealed ambition as one a piece picked the PDP nomination forms to watch from the sidelines.
In the year 2015, in APC the then opposition party in the state, out of the 28 aspirants that vied for the primary election, those from the East were about sixteen, while the Central contributed only three while nine from west completed the circle.
Paradoxically, it was the political dexterity of late Prince Abubakar Audu who was regarded as the founder and the promoter of the party in the state that saved the zone from the heat of defeat topping the race while the three Central aspirants followed each other maintained second, third and fourth leaving the pack of Igala aspirants licking their wounds.
Ironically, four years down the line, none of the fifteen who contested in that infamous election showed up again as new entrants have shoved them aside.
As it customary for the zone, nine out of over 22 who initially signified interest in the party for the coveted office have bought their forms, even as the frontline ones have propped their campaign from a mere wish to meeting the party Excos and would be delegates at their door steps.
In these chequered battles for Lugard House by the zone who have just been evicted from the Lugard House, less than four years has to hold their fingers in their mouths in delusion that they can wrestle back the power with ease.
They are unaware of the tempestuous delegates election in which the Zone does not command a comfortable advantage like they have in the general election.
And when the primary election will come on the September 3rd 2019, pitiable though, the Kogi East will have, if all things being equal, nine out of the 11 aspirants that picked their forms as at closing of sales who include the immediate past governor Captain Idris Wada, his younger brother Engineer Musa Wada, AVM Atawodi Salihu, a serial contestant; Alhaji Abubakar Idris, son of Wada’s estranged godfather Ibrahim Idris. Others includes, Suleiman Abubakar a new pupil in the state politics; Joseph Ameh Erico, Victor Adoji, a banker who has just lost his bid to represent the zone in the Senate; while Muhammed Tetes, Kabiru Sarha and the only woman in the ship, Mrs Mary Adoji may play a spoiler roles.
Unfortunately, they will have to share the total delegates votes of 985 from the nine local government areas in the Eastern zone among themselves as against Dino Melaye from Kogi West with a comfortable and sophisticated 849 delegates who will vote with their brains while a relatively known Bayo Averehi, although from the central zone with the incumbent APC governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello could spring a surprise with 470 delegates in his kitty.
Commenting on the burning issue, Akoji Okpanachi, a commentator on Igala politics of the state, regretted the dearth of natural leaders of the zone, whom he said had contributed to the mad rush to contest governorship elections at every dispensation.
He lamented at the collapse of a novel idea by some leaders from the zone led by the former national Chairman of PDP, Senator Ahmodu Alih and Alhaji Sule Iyaji former Deputy Governor of Benue state, to streamline the plethora of aspirants, but was truncated by primordial sentiments.
He warned that unless the aspirants bury their ego and unite for the sake of the political survival of the zone to project one aspirant who possess the highest acceptability credentials from among themselves, the zone may be heading toward a catastrophic defeat.
He particularly advised the former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris whose son is in the race, to urgently meet with notable opinion leaders and leaders of thought from the zone to advise him on how to redeem the battered image of the zone in the forthcoming governorship election even as Dino Melaye is waiting in the wings to latch unto the conundrum of the aspirants from the East.