By Boluwaji Obahopo, Lokoja.
As the date for the National Assemblies election in the country draws closer, the different political parties particularly the two major political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have intensified their campaigns to the nooks and crannies of Kogi State to woo the electorate. For the Senate, the PDP in Kogi West has wrapped up their campaign though without her candidate, Dino Melaye.
Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had few months ago announced more than 20 recognised and dully registered political parties in the state, only five of the parties are currently fielding Senate candidates in the district.
Apart from popular candidates Dino Melaye of the PDP and Smart Adeyemi of the APC, only one other candidate, Bode Adeyemi of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), seems to be on the field of campaign. The rest just made up the number on the INEC lists.
However as the parties scramble for the votes, certain factors have shown that if the election is conducted free, and credible, Senator Smart Adeyemi still stands better chance of winning the poll.
Even observers of political happenings in the state ahead of the general elections have reasoned that among all the candidates vying for the senate seat, Senator Adeyemi remains the candidate to beat following his track record so far. The antecedents and unprecedented performance in time past coupled with the peaceful disposition of Senator Adeyemi are factors that appear to stand him out and would speak for him at the poll come February 16, 2019.
Majority of Kogi West people still remember with nostalgic Adeyemi’s achievements in human and infrastructural development, and welfare of the people evidenced in the construction and rehabilitation of health facilities, and human development while he hold sway as senator. It is on record that Adeyemi expended more than N150 million to procure ambulances equipped with modern days tech that can save lives even before reaching the hospitals shared freely to hospitals in his district. Adeyemi fought rigorously to attract a Federal university into the state. And when the state executive arms decided to play ethnic politics in the positioning of the university, Adeyemi stood his ground and “earned” more enemies. But undeterred, he fought hard and ensure that the university was sighted in his senatorial district; and that is one of the things that would speak for him at the poll.
Since the inception of the current democratic regime in 1999, the people had wished and clamoured for a governor that would establish industries but it never came. Adeyemi had promised to fill in the gap. Had he make it in 2015, he would have fulfilled the promise by now. But if he receive a massive support from people of Lokoja/Kogi federal constituency in this election, they will be a great beneficiary of such cottage industry, as Adeyemi during his flag off campaign in Koto, headquarter of Kogi LGA promised to turn around the fishing occupation of the people into a massive cottage industry.
So far, Adeyemi’s term at the Senate empowered so many youths…the ATM like card with thousand of naira presented to many students, the 120 taxi vehicle distributed freely to drivers, the payment of bursary awards, sponsoring thousands of both Christians and Muslims for pilgrimage readily came to mind. Even across divides, Adeyemi’s has more political structures than any other persons.
Senator Adeyemi is also enjoying very massive support from the womenfolk and youth groups in the state including market women which according to political analysts constitute the voting population. The large support of womenfolk for Senator Adeyemi is coming largely from market women, (traders) across the 7 local government areas following previous empowerment for them especially the interest free loan facility and free vocational trainings which he started right after his first term.
The ability of Senator Adeyemi to touch so many communities that were neglected during previous administrations such as Kiri district, Oworo district amongst others would no doubt speak for him and indeed the APC at the poll as people of those areas have assured him of their massive support.
The highest of his endorsement comes from various traditional institutions in the state and prominent groups who have openly expressed their support for his election so that the peaceful atmosphere in the district would continue. Some of his aides and associates have attributed the peaceful campaigns to his peaceful conduct and disposition.
Kabba community plays a prominent role in the socio-political landscape of Okun people. Their decisions has a spiral effects on other communities. Therefore, it was a great boost of endorsement for Adeyemi when the Obaro of Kabba who doubles as the Chairman, Okun Traditional Council along with the traditional institution unanimously endorsed Senator Adeyemi for Senate.
The Obaro of Kabbaland who doubles as the Chairman, Okun traditional council, HRM Oba Solomon Dele Owoniyi made this known on Sunday evening at his palace when he received the former Kogi West Senator and his entourage who were at his palace to felicitate with him over his ascension to the throne.
Oba Owoniyi said the entire Okemeta unanimously took the decision to back Adeyemi’s ambition because of his antecedent and unprecedented contributions to the communities. Owoniyi also said Adeyemi’s goodwill has robbed positively on other APC Candidates.
Hear Obaro: “I didn’t take the decision alone. The entire Okemeta unanimously endorsed Smart Adeyemi because we see him as our son. We’ve also decided to aligned with the party at the central. We have previewed candidates from the major parties and have decided to back APC candidates because APC picked the best candidates for various positions.
“Senator Smart Adeyemi and other candidates of the APC are people of honour to the community and we are proud of them. We have no apology for our decision. We are reasonable and educated people and we must make the best choice for our communities.”
Oba Owoniyi also said the traditional institutions in Okunland has made a choice for the various position, and in a couple of days will made known their preferred candidates but said he won’t let it out yet despite been the chairman of the traditional council.
Senator Adeyemi had earlier promised to work with the traditional institutions in Kogi West to attract dividend of democracy to their domain when elected, “Whatever is due Kabbaland will be done. I will do whatever it takes to get whatever is due for Kabba, Okunland and Kogi West in general. I know the game of lobbying, I’m a master at it and I will do everything possible to bring the best to our land.”
Before the Obaro statement, the Obadofin of Owe Kingdom gave insight into why and how the community early Sunday morning settled for Adeyemi as their candidate for the National Assembly, “Kabba has decided. So go and tell the governor we have decided and endorsed you and other APC candidate. When it comes to Kabba/Bunu you can go and sleep.
“We make our decision this morning. The Obaro said you are his son and we cannot leave the Obaro’s son for another. Any other person can come and spend their money here, but it will not change the decision of the community. Yourself, and the Speaker did a great deal for the community, and Kabba has a rewarding system: a good deal deserve another.
“We shall reciprocate your gesture at the poll. Just go about your campaign in an orderly manner. See those you are supposed to see. But for us in Kabba, it is a done deal.”
The state commissioner for Finance and Economic affairs, Asiwaju Idris who was part of the senator’s entourage revealed that the state Government has approved N2b for the reconstruction of Kabba township roads. Idris said the projects has already been contracted to Julius berger who had finished with the feasibility study; stressed that work we commence soonest.
The traditional institution took time to pray for the senator and laid a strong warning against anybody in the community who will sabotage their plan; said working against their endorsement is working against the interest of the community. Prominent members of the oppositions led by former council chairman, Funsho Otu said they aligned with the decision of the community and are ready to openly switch camp to the All Progressive Congress.
The Sunday endorsement by the Kabba traditional institution cannot be taking with a pinch of salt. The traditional institution in that area operate like the “Electoral college” whose decision gives an edge to whom ever they support. In time past, such decisions were taking and related in secrecy, only this time around, it was made publicly open. Doubting their possible outcome may be suicidal.
Adeyemi appears to be the only candidate who enjoyed such massive supports across board. In fact, the Sunday development prompted some political analysts to conclude that Senator Adeyemi has a better chance of winning the election because of the voting strength of the Federal constituency, coupled with the fact that majority of the people of Lokoja/Kogi Federal constituencies are still disposed to APC; along with the senator’s massive political structure in Yagba federal constituency especially in Yagba West.
It is for this and other reasons that Senator Smart Adeyemi is seen to have the momentum among his competitors going into the election.