Why Yahaya Bello Will Win Kogi Gubernatorial Elections

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In a matter of days, the good people of Kogi state will exercise their constitutional right to vote in a Governor. Kogi state gubernatorial elections hitherto generated less fuss and attention as compared to the one scheduled for Saturday.

A lot of Nigerians are keen spectators of this much talked about election, everyone is adamant to know who will govern the Confluence state for another 4 years, effective from January 27th, 2022.

Perhaps, the probable reason why this election dominates the hearts and mouths of many, is the one of the contestant involved and who happens to be the current occupier of Lord Lugard House.

Yahaya Bello needs no further introduction. Since the advent of the 4th republic, undoubtedly, no governor has dominated the headlines like Yahaya Bello. From his unforeseen emergence as governor of Kogi state due to lacuna in our laws, though many argue he is a product of destiny, to  issues surrounding staff verification and screening, non payment of salaries, his adoption of President Buhari as his political god father and also certain controversial statements attributed to him, Yahaya Bello seems to interest a large section of Nigeria’s political landscape. The governor himself has severally boasted of the fact that he has accomplished a lot in his almost 4 years as the number one citizen of the state. His handlers and campaign team also are never shy to market their principal as a astute achiever who under his “New direction” government has been able to impact positively on the lives of Kogites and this will coast him to victory come Saturday, 16th November 2019.

It is an open secret that only the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are favourites to win this election. Other political parties exists though, but they lack the political clout and structures to stage a surprise come Saturday.

Though I am a lawyer, I am in not in anyway holding brief for Yahaya Bello nor am I a member of his GYB/CEDO campaign team, but I feel strongly that Yahaya Bello will emerge victorious come Saturday due to reasons I have to contend with.

One, is the issue of money which is a major factor in our politics. Yahaya Bello seems to have much of it and is ever willing to spend such money in order to secure his victory. News going round is that, the white lion as he is fondly called has spent a lot in his bid to return back to Lord Lugard House. Politicians, campaign groups and traditional rulers troop in to government house to have their own share of the funds, all promising the governor of their capacity to deliver their wards, chiefdoms or locality so as to guarantee his victory.

Two, is the issue of Federal might or the centre trying to return Yahaya Bello as governor. It is known to many that the Agassa born governor is a good friend of the powers that be in Abuja. That will obviously work in his favour as we approach election. The electoral umpire itself with security agents deployed to oversee the election, may try to undermine the will of the people whichever way it may swings and make attempts to return the sitting governor. In this part of the world, the will of the people may have limited say in elections, rather it is most times within the whims and caprices of the powers that be and with specificity, Abuja. This factor may well be in favour of the governor.

Though optimists argue that since the APC lost in Adamawa, Oyo and Bauchi states, it can also lose in Kogi state. On this I defer. Each of the aforementioned states has its own peculiarities different from what is obtainable in Kogi state. In Adamawa state, prior to the governorship election that saw Jibrilla Bindow losing out, there was intensed power play in the ruling party. With Abuja been pitched against the governor. This intra party wrangling favoured the PDP thus leading to APC’s loss. It was rumoured that the First Lady of Nigeria wanted her kith to replace Bindow.
Identity  politics is also playing out in Kogi state right now.

In Bauchi and Oyo states, the tussle was between the majority or same ethnic group in the state so it was easier for the people in those states to choose a preferred candidate from their own ethnic group.

In Kogi state, it us a bit complex because it is Igalas pitched against the Ebiras in the quest to take over the Lugard House. The igalas in their majority believes that Musa Wada is their “brother” and  should naturally get their bulk voters. Conversely, the Ebiras think same of Yahaya Bello. It would have taken another dimension if both major parties, fielded Ebira candidates. The Ebiras would have opted for a better candidate amongst the two. PDP didn’t make that option available to them hence a lot of them prefer the incumbent to a “stranger”.

Further more, the PDP fortunes in the Central senatorial zone has diminished over time when compared to the APC’s presence in the Eastern and Western axis of the state considering the fact that the ruling party has appointees in these zones who are duty bound to ensure the victory of their principal in the forthcoming election.

In conclusion, I admonish eligible voters to exercise their civic rights come Saturday to ensure a competent leader emerge not necessarily from their ethnic group. Ethnic cum religious identity doesn’t guarantee quality leadership, capacity and competence does.

– Obaje Ichaba wrote from Anyigba, Kogi state.

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