With the completion of primary elections in Kogi State, the die is cast. It is no longer news that the Kogi State gubernatorial election is fast racing in, it is going to be an intriguing, mind blowing and very interesting one. This is a result of what played out at party primaries and manners by which some candidates emerged. Dusts have been raised in some quarters, in some other quarters; wounds have been inflicted with very deep cuts. The primary elections have come and gone, who ever thinks that what played out at the primary elections of some parties would replicate its self in the general election is a joker and in for a bolt from the blue.
There is a clear difference between primary elections and the general elections. While a primary election is full of devious scheming and for the highest bidder, the general election is not a tea party and not an all comer affairs. It is a conglomerate of the people, not a selected few who are driven by greed or vendetta. It is an array of people, whose family members have either been layed off at one time or the other by past or present administration, which is a continuation of the past. It is also a collection of those whose family members are been bruised left right center by government lackadaisical attitudes and bad policies. It is a collection of those who can no longer put food on the tables of their family, three times daily. It is also a collection of those who curse each time their cars hit a pothole. It is a larger number of those who have graduated over many years and have not been enabled. Also, it is the collection of those who are agitating that power must shift by fire, by thunder. Finally, they comprises of those who believe in the present administrations effort at making the state work. These are the collective bunch that makes up the voting people. They are waiting patiently to exercises their right. It is indeed going to be, enthralling.
Need I say that at the moment, all aspirants are busy strategizing, making permutations and devising on how to win? However, just one man and his party will emerge, the question that has been on the lips of the people is, who will that man be? All major contestants are forces to be reckoned with, including the new entrants, who are political green horns, they are no work-overs; they all have the wherewithal, ability, capacity and capability to carry the day. Some have the finances; some have infectious charisma, some are banking on the power of incumbency. Nevertheless, all these will not count or guarantee victory at the pools, no love and thanks to Professor Jega’s inventions, which has nipped the rigging machinations of “politrickcians” in the bud, introducing the sophisticated card reading method of voting system, which disallows multiple entries.
Some of the aspirants at one time or the other have had pertinent questions asked and grave inquisitions raised about their eligibility, which has placed question marks on their candidacy and dented their credibility. Accusations of gross mismanagement, siphoning and pilfering of public fund. Others have been allegedly accused of non performance, no substantial and commensurable development. For some it has been is allegations of outright arrogance, condescension, contempt and snobbishness. Some have corruption allegation levied against them even when no legal action has ever been taken against them. Others have trivial issues, ranging from not having party structures on ground; inter party crisis and no love from home. Whatever it is that they are, somebody must become governor in the pack. Who will that be?
From the ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party is Captain Idris Wada, the incumbent governor. He has all apparatus of government at his disposals and well grounded party structure; these in some quarter are tantamount to absolute victory and nothing less. However, in the present political dispensation, political structures and incumbency are of no significance and does not culminate to outright winning of elections; neither do they have influence on election results, taking my assertion from the last presidential election, where Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, with all state recourses at his disposal, lost. Mr Wada will need the good will of the people, who are mostly his workers to carry the day and coast home to victory.
However, a major setback that may truncate Mr Wada’s quest for a second term is the people, a small section of who are his workforce. A research work carried out on different categories of people shows very revealing results. Out of ten (10) business persons interviewed, the whole ten (10) are very dissatisfied with the government attitude and policies that have crippled the economy of the state and in retrospect hindered the growth of their business, while many other have closed, so they are advocating for change. Another set of ten (10) persons interviewed are civil servants; Local government staff inclusive, the whole ten (10) are tired of the administration of Mr Wada, most especially for very poor workers welfare, while three (3) amongst the civil servants would want Mr. Wada back, for fear of the unknown and security of their jobs, these three are state workers, the remaining seven (7) want the government to go. If the total number of civil servants in Kogi State, which stands approximately at twenty three thousand (23,000) are to be divided on whom they want on a ratio of 40-70 and then the private sector make good their plan with their approximate number of one million (1,000.000), then we know what the result will be.
One other factor that may hinder Mr Wada is, the agitation for power to shift base from the eastern bloc of Kogi State to the western or central senatorial blocs. As justified as this factor may be, owing to the duration that the eastern extracts have held onto power, the western and the central seem not ready to take power at the moment, owing to the numerous internal wrangling plus disaffection within the central and the incoherence and inconsistency within the west, therefore a coalition between the central and the western is seemingly an hallucination and a mirage at its best and at the moment. The best coalition ever between the west and central was against the candidacy of Alhaji Jibrin Isah Echocho, a private sector man, who would have literally and practically turned Kogi into everybody’s dream land. And so I can confidently say, I see no threat from the west and the central to Mr Wada, who they (west and central) may just vote for so as to grab power come 2019, since Mr Wada has just one tenure to go, even in the face of unconfirmed speculations that, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and Alhaji Jibrin Isah Echocho have deflected to other parties. The major problem here is, the ones who decide who to vote for and who not to vote for only have clout on delegates and will have very little control on the generality of the people, whose mindset are made up
The greatest, strongest and most dangerous contender and rival of Captain Idris Wada, that may just pull a hattrick is, the flamboyant, boisterous and the ebullient Prince of the Niger, the character I refer to as “the man with beautifully designed parachutes (agbada)”. Prince Abubakar Audu. He is the father of modern Kogi State. His legacies speak and are still speaking, they stand tall and are celebrated today, and there has been no better representer of the Kogi people than Prince him. He has a knack for the best. A man with a ravenous appetite for taste. All these he brought to bear in his style of governance, endearing him to the heart of some and the hateful side of others. Ceteris paribus, he is loved by many, widely accepted. He is a grand player!
Having just tenure to spend seems advantageous, a bargaining chip to striking a deal with the agitators for power shift. However, there is a clog in the wheel of his aspiration which sterns from the choice of his running mate. The decision has been seen as controversial, it has divide the party and angered the people, the latter may have been a better spice in the soup but the former took away the sweet taste from the soup. The choice of his running mate may work against him. Some sections from the western senatorial are already complaining about the choice of Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, who is not know in kogi politics and who has no structure on ground. He is seen as an imposition on them by Bola Ahmed Tinubu ahead of his 2019 presidential ambition and also, the group, mainly of the Yagba extract of the western senatorial district, decried the dominance of the Ijumu people over the rest of the Yoruba speaking kogites. This may just poise a major problem for Prince Audu, who also has a particular problem to contend with, the civil servants.
During Prince Abubakar Audu’s first tenure, he displayed attributes of an autocratic and despotic leader, ruling with iron fist and treating civil servants with disdain, which finally led to sacking of a large number of civil servants in the state. He also eloped with three to four month (3-4) months’ of their salaries, which was paid by the administration that took over from him. The civil servants have not forgotten in a hurry, they have a very good memory when it comes to their welfare and woe betides who ever mess with their package, they will surely pay back. The only disadvantage here is, the percentage of civil servants in not much compared to other sector and so they may not be able to stop a Prince Abubakar Audu, especially as 70% of the civil servants are Local Government staff, who have had been on less than 40% of their take home pay for months now. For the civil servants and the choice of a running mate Abubakar Audu would have had a easy ride without bickering.
With all the above, somebody from somewhere, may just spring a surprise and become the next governor of Kogi State. I do not know how true the reports that Yahaya Bello has moved to another party, but if it is, He poses a very serious trouble to the duo of Captain Wada and Prince Abubakar Audu. Alhaji Yahaya Bello (fairplus) may just be the joker of the lot! If Yahaya Bello picks a popular and accepted running mate from the western senatorial district and focuses his cry on change and power shift, he may just pull a massive vote from the central and the western senatorial districts, as protest votes for actualization of power shift, that is if an Ohiare does not perform what he is known for, betrayal. Votes of the eastern senatorial bloc would have to be shared between Captain Wada, Prince Abubakar Audu and Akwu Goodman, but hey this is politics, expect unexpected religious, tribal and sectional coalition at the last moments, anything can happen.
Whatever the case maybe, it is going to be a keenly and closely contested election. Captain Idris Wada would be banking on the power of incumbency, which has been proven not to be a yardstick to winning an elections anymore in Nigeria,; Prince Abubakar Audu would be capitalizing on his past records and achievements, while his highhandedness on civil servants may jeopardize his ambition, except for the fact that their (civil servant) numbers is minimal to be able to cause an upset.
Alhaji Yahaya Bello and others would be capitalizing on the errors, faults, inaccuracies, omissions, blunders, miscalculations and fallout of Captain Wada and Prince Audu to cause a stir. Kogi State deserves the best; we earnestly yearn for the best because we have been stagnated as a state and as a people. The prayer of my late father always is, May the better man win.