There is no doubt that the fast approaching governorship election in Kogi State is creating ripples among the indigenes of the state.
The drivers of the state’s politics are in high spirits, frantically strategising to ensure that they are not outwitted by their rivals.
For those in power, different permutations are being tested to retain the status quo while the opposition seriously believes that ‘power must change hands’ in the election slated for November 21, 2015.
Investigations revealed that the race had created a sharp division among the ethnic groups in the state with two “groups” as front- runners in the political divide.
The Kogi East Senatorial District, dominated by the Igala speaking ethnic stock, which has been ruling the state since its creation in 1991, has resolved to stick to its usual convention of “seat of power”, while the Okun-dominated Kogi West Senatorial District has finally woken up from its slumber and seen the need to go with the Ebira- dominated Kogi Central Senatorial District in order to taste the power for the first time.
With the outcome of the APC’s primary elections, in favour of Prince Abubakar Audu, they seem to have decided to support Abubakar, having been pacified with juicy slots should Audu emerge Governor.
This might have informed Ba- batunde Irukera’s decision to step down for him at the 11th hour.
However, findings also reveal that the Igala have the numerical advantage; having accounted for about 50 per cent of the entire population of the state and this may once again win for them the governorship seat.
Apart from the ethnicity factor, which is part of what determines the state’s governorship election, observers are of the opinion that the ongoing political drama in the leading political parties in the state is another thing to watch out for as the race draws close.
Somehow, it is believed that certain feuds in both the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress may either make or mar their chances in the race to Lugard House.
On the part of the state’s ruling party, PDP, though its supporters and other bigwigs in the party rely solely on the power of in- cumbency to have their way once again, if the political barometer in the state is well gauged, extra ef- forts may be required to achieve this feat.
According to The Point’s findings, there is an assumption that the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Kogi State will be laced with surprises.
There is also the notion that the state governor has been politically weakened on many fronts.
For some indigenes, Governor Wada does not have any say on who becomes the next occupant of Lugard House, considering the recent facts and figures in the last 2015 Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
In the presidential and National Assembly polls, for instance, the APC won overwhelmingly.
It is also on the record that the governor lost all available seats in his local government area.
With this and other factors, the ruling PDP seems to be in a dilemma, espe- cially considering the fact that Kogi people believe so much that they have been betrayed by the state’s ruling party for 16 years.
PDP and Echocho’s Return
Among the factors, which will also go a long way to determine a PDP success in the election is possible and dangerous fight-back by some of its bigwigs that were betrayed in the 2011 governorship election. One of them is Alhaji Jibrin Isa Echocho, who was, at the last minute, dropped for Governor Idris Wada in the 2011 governorship race.
The development, it was learnt, did not go down well with Echocho, making his disciples see the coming election as a payback time. They are therefore re-strate- gising for a spoiler for Wada within the PDP.
Nevertheless, the consequences of dropping Echocho in the 2011 elections are weighing heavily on the party now, as the state’s PDP has been particularly hit by a gale of defections.
On the part of APC, victory seems to be certain, having capitalised on their victory in the last general elections, and considering the series of problems rocking the PDP in the state.
Speaking on the chances of the party, an APC stalwart, Alhaji Ibrahim Ocheje, predicted a resounding victory. Ocheje hinged this prediction on the result of the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state, which the APC won as well as the recent state House of Assembly election in which the party secured 11 out of the 25 seats.
“The APC has come to stay but the PDP leaders said their party would bounce back. I wonder where that will happen,” he said.
“APC won Ankpa 1 and 2, Dekina 1 and 2, Okene, Lokoja/Koto, Olamaboro, Ofu and Ajaokuta. Can we compare the voters in Ofu with Yagba West and East put together? In Mopamoro, how many votes are there? And Ogori/Magongo has a local government with one House of Assembly member but Wada’s election recorded 3,000 voters in the entire local government,” he added.
While claiming that Wada, did not fully understand the political terrain of the state, Ocheja said, “The result shows that those he is working with are not in touch with the needs of the people.”
Furthermore, the coast seems clear for APC considering the party’s primary election that was conducted at the weekend.
In the election, Audu won the party’s governorship in a keenly contested primary election. He floored 27 other contestants jostling to grab the ticket.
Observers, however forsee a tough contest for Governor Wada with the emergence of Audu, a one- term former governor of the confluence state.
Speaking on the chances of the strongest opposition party in the state, a former Commissioner of health in Kogi State, Alhaji Suleiman Baba Ali, explained that though the APC had issues to deal with before the election, the issues and challenges were not insurmountable.
No fewer than 34 aspirants have indicated interest in the Lugard House race. Among these aspirants are Abubakar, Senator Smart Adeyemi, Nicholas Ugbane, a two-term Senator; Suleiman Baba Ali, nephew to former Governor Abubakar Audu; Yahaya Bello Fairplus, a retired civil servant; and Usman Jibrin, a former Chief of Naval Staff and Proprietor of Fairplus Transport.
Others are Col Ahmed Usman (rtd), a former Mili- tary Administrator of Oyo and Ondo States; Air Vice Marshal Salihu Atawodi (rtd), Positive Ihiabe, a for- mer House of Representa- tives member; Senator Alex Kadiri, Mohammed Ali, Alhaji Isa Kutepa, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi Usman, and Abdul Adama, who is a former Special Adviser to Wada on Public Private Partnership.