Recently, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State conducted primaries for councillorship and chairmanship aspirants to nominate candidates for the party, ahead of the forthcoming local government election in May.
The process, however, turned out to have left the party more divided, except in few places, as the favoured candidates meandered their way to victory, despite assurances that a level playing ground would be provided for all the contestants.
Before the primaries was the ward congress where it was crisis all the way. Materials for the exercise in some local government areas were diverted, and this led to complaints all over. The national secretariat of the party had to set up an appeal committee to address the problems arising from that exercise. The dust over the matter was yet to settle before the party headed for the shadow election to nominate candidates for the council poll.
In fact, the development in Kogi State PDP only proved that the former governor, Ibrahim Idris, is still pulling the strings from behind. That is, he is fully in charge of affairs in the state. To begin with, he brought virtually all the liaison officers who headed the local councils before they resigned to contest the local government election coming up in May. Despite the assurances given by Governor Idris Wada that the primaries would be transparent, experience has proved the contrary. From Yagba/east and Yagba/west in the western axis of the state to Ajaokuta and Ogori/Magongo in the central axis of the state; to Bassa, Dekina and Omala in the eastern flank of the state, the story was all the same. It was diversion of electoral materials and complaints galore, which led to violence and crisis, leading to arrest of some party loyalists and chieftains.
Daily Independent gathered reliably that in some local governments the leaders of the party were asked to prevail on the contestants to step down for the ‘annointed candidates’. A stalwart of the party in Idah local government disclosed in an interview that the former liaison officer of the local government, Major Musa, was not their candidate, alleging that they were only directed to work with him. The same scenario took place in Dekina, the local government of the governor, where the candidate of the former governor, Mohammed Ali, had his way. But the people of the area who are angry with the governor, Idris Wada, for allowing the former governor, Ibrahim Idris to impose his candidate on them, have decided not to take the matter lightly. This stable gathered that the youths of the area and some elders have made up their minds to completely abandon the party as far as the coming May election is concerned. The aggrieved parties are said to have decided to vote massively for the Action Congress of Nigeria in the coming council poll. The axe the people of the area have to grind with Ali, Daily Independent gathered, is that some leaders in the area are insisting that the former liaison officer is from neighbouring Bassa local government, and as such, cannot allow a ‘complete stranger’ to come and pilot the affairs of their local government. But an ally of Mohammed Ali, John Isah, told Daily Independent that their candidate hails from Dekina, saying for the fact that he grew up with his mother does not mean that he is not one of them. He wondered why the matter was not raised when he was contesting for the House of Representatives election in the last general polls.
In Omala local government, the home of the former governor, Ibrahim Idris, the drama was more interesting. The youths and elders of the local government mobilized themselves to resist the imposition of the former liaison officer, Aminu Atabor, on them. They threatened to burn down the area if Atabor returned as council boss. The former governor had no other choice than to bow to them, since he knew from their utterances, during a meeting to resolve the matter, that they were prepared for the worst. A neutral candidate in the person of Labaran Yahaya thereafter emerged to douse the tension in the area.
In Lokoja and Ogori/Magongo local government areas, it was compalints all through, with the self-acclaimed leaders being dazzled by their opponents. Hon. Gabriel Daudu, a member of the state House of Assembly representing Ogori/Magongo constituency could not fathom how Major Akerejuola emerged even as his teeming supporters who insisted that materials were diverted, vowed to dump the ruling party for not being fair to them. Similarly, in Lokoja, the camp of Senator Tunde Ogbeha felt short changed in the exercise, saying Usman Baba couldn’t have emerged if the whole process was transparent.
In Ijumu, in the western axis of the state, it was a battle royale between the camp of Senator Smart Adeyemi and Hon. Abiodun Ojo, former commissioner for finance under the administration of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, with the former having an upper hand. The fight was so fierce that the state secretariat of the party became a battle ground, where sophisticated guns were used all in an efforts to outwit one another. Following the ugly development, armed mobile policemen have been stationed at the secretariat of the party to forestall a repeat of the incident.
The all important question now is, where will the present exercise leads to? A staunch supporter of the party in Lokoja told Daily Independent that they have been sidelined, saying they are studying the situation with a view to taking position soon. He wondered why the ruling party does not believe in internal democracy. The chieftain who doesn’t want his name in the print, opined that ‘this crude way of doing things’ will not help PDP in the long run. He added that it was unfortunate that their leaders would be saying one thing only to turn round and be doing another thing entirely.
However, Yusuf Onuche, another die-hard supporter of the party was of the opinion that those complaining bitterly were doing so because the outcome of the exercise didn’t favour them. He insisted that the primaries were transparent, free and fair, adding that as a leader of the party in the state, governor had done his best, to carry everybody along.
Obviously, events in the next few weeks will prove whether the bruises caused by the shadow election will ever heal, or will affect the fortunes of the party in subsequent elections. For now, those who had their way during the process are rejoicing for triumphing over their opponents, while those who lost out are licking their wounds.
Culled from Daily Independent