Kogi: As the battle to succeed Gov Bello begins…

Ahead of the November 11 governorship election in Kogi state, political gladiators from the state have started the highly-rated politicking in their bid to succeed Governor Yahaya Bello. With the new development, governorship candidates from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have shown interest to contest for the number seat in the Confluence state.

At the time of filing in this report, aspirants from both the APC and PDP were the only visible contestants, while the information about aspirants from other political parties was not handy. But this reporter gathered that the Labour Party and other parties would feed candidates for the November 11 governorship election in the state.

APC, PDP aspirants

However, ahead of the poll, APC and PDP had screened no fewer than 30 aspirants seeking to take over from Governor Bello. This reporter gathered that PDP screened no fewer than 10 candidates, while APC screened no less than 18. The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party screened ten aspirants for the coming November governorship elections in Kogi state, and the screened aspirants are Yomi Awoniyi, Senator Dino Melaye, Barrister Muhammed Kabiru Usman, Idoko Kingsley Ilona, and Engr. Musa Wada, and Reuben Atabo, among others.

On its part, the ruling APC had screened the Kogi state deputy governor, David Edward Onoja; the senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi; and a House of Representatives member, James Abiodun Faleke, who had pulled out of the race.

Others were the Chief of Staff to the Kogi state governor, Jamiu AbdulKareem Asuku; a member of the National Working Committee, Murtala Yakubu Ajaka; a former Commissioner for Finance, Asiwaju Ashiru Idris; a former commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abdulsalami Deedat Ozigi, Ahmed Usman Ododo, and Yakubu Yusuf Okala.

Others were Murktar Bello, A Jimoh; former Executive Director, Rural Electrification Agency, Dr. Sanusi Ohiare; former Minister of State Labour, Professor Stephen Ocheni; Hajia Halima Kabiru Gaya; Muhammed Jibrin; Shuiabu Audu; and Friday Idachaba.

Aspirants from each zone

Kogi state like its counterparts has three senatorial districts, namely Kogi West, Central, and East. A cursory look at the PDP’s list of the screened governorship aspirants shows that only Mr. Yomi Awoniyi and Senator Dino Malaye are from the Kogi West, while others are from the two remaining districts.

Also, the APC’s list of screened aspirants revealed that Senator Smart Adeyemi, and a former Commissioner for Finance, Asiwaju Ashiru Idris are the only two aspirants from Kogi West, while others are from Central and East.

The incumbent governor hails from Kogi Central, while his deputy is from the eastern part of the state. This part can report that since 1999, three governors, the late Abubakar Audu, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, and Captain Idris Wada came from Kogi East, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, (Kogi Central) while Chief Clarence Olafemi (Kogi West) in acting capacity governed the state for 60 days.

A breakdown of the past governors’ tenures shows that Kogi

East has ruled the state for 16 years, from 1999-2016); while Kogi Central, where the incumbent governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, hails from has been in the saddle of the state’s affairs from 2016 till date.

Power shift

As Kogites elect their governor in November, the electioneering process has taken another dimension with a call for the power shift to Kogi West which has not produced a governor since 1999 aside from Hon. Olafemi, who acted for 60 days when the election of former Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris was annulled, and he later handed over to him.

Leading the agitation, the Coalition of Kogi Patriots, called on the All Progressives Congress (APC), to ensure the rotation of the governorship seat to the Kogi West Senatorial District for justice and fairness.

The Director-General of the coalition, Dr. Tom Ohikere, who spoke with Journalists in Abuja, said the quest for power rotation amongst the three senatorial districts in Kogi was as old as the formation of the state as a national sub-unit, stating that Kogi West has the caliber and personalities that have been tested and proven in both political and administrative competence.

”Kogi has a chance to be a shining example, especially rising from a general election that has witnessed the triumph of principles as the south negotiated and fought for powers after eight years in the north. The political direction of Nigerian politics in recent times has focused on the principle of power zoning and rotation. This is in a bid to balance development and inculcate greater feelings of inclusiveness and equity in the body politics which is quickly becoming the trend,” he said.

Ohikere said many states in the country have striven in that direction, adding that the peculiar ethnic composition in Kogi makes power rotation inevitable, saying: “And it now seems like the divine timing, particularly given the circumstances of the past eight years, whether at the national or state levels, and new realities are emerging Kogi cannot be different.

All our neighboring states have taken this path and are reaping the benefits including states like Kwara, Osun, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Kwara, Nassarawa, Ekiti, Niger, and Anambra, among others.”

Ohikere appealed to Governor Bello to approach the quest for power rotation to Kogi West in the forthcoming election from the new generation’s point of view of extraordinary possibilities of the Kogi spirit, hospitality, and brotherliness.

He said: “We wish to specify in the spirit of what is morally expedient to call on the President-elect Senator Bola Tinubu, the national chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the APC, governors, other God-fearing leaders and elders of APC to assist this quest. And also persuade the party to urge the very patriotic APC members from Kogi East and Central senatorial districts who had picked the Governorship nomination form to align with this quest. As Kogi is a stand-alone governorship election, it is in the eye of the world that wants to know if we are worthy of the perception and expectation as a great and friendly state of abundance and benevolence.”

Ohkere called on the APC to use the direct mode for the conduct of the APC primary elections in line with the popular demand in the state, arguing that it will enable transparency and inclusion of the members of the party.

He urged the Kogi West elders and other well-meaning stakeholders to ensure that the best aspirant was projected from the zone.

The director-general also emphasised the need for Kogi west to establish a holistic approach toward sensitization and orientation of the people to attract all the needed support for power rotation.

“In the days ahead, our coalition will be in contact with all the contestants and party leaders and will finally host an unveiling ceremony to publicly present the wish of the zone.”

Also, the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Smart Adeyemi, said the Kogi West be allowed to produce the APC governorship candidate, arguing that his Okun people should be given the ticket to inspire a sense of belonging in the state.

He said: “Democracy is all about the people. And I want to appeal to Governor Yahaya Bello, who tried to be a statesman in the way he has done his appointment. But what will define Yahaya Adoza Bello’s administration is the court to which he eventually decides whom he gives his support. He should not allow people to turn him into a tribal leader. Okun west in the last 30 years, we have not produced a governor. And we are not conquered, we are not slaves. So we are eminently qualified to govern our state.”

But the senator representing Kogi Central and chairman of the Senate Committee on Cybercrime and ICT, Yakubu Oseni, faulted the call for the zoning arrangements in the APC, saying rotation of the governorship does not exist in the state.

Oseni, who is also an APC governorship aspirant, noted that Kogi East ruled for 16 years until God brought in Governor Bello. He said people of the state should be allowed to choose their governor without forcing zoning on them.

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