Kogi Guber: PDP Dribbles, Keeps Wada Guessing
BY shifting the primary election earlier scheduled for September 10, 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) has succeeded in raising the ante for the selection of the party’s candidate for the November 21 Guber polls in Kogi State. This is just as some people claim there are attempts to replace the incumbent Governor Idris Wada with another candidate. PDP may be doing itself a final damage should the present intrigues deny Governor Wada the ticket.
The implication of that unlikely event is that the aggrieved governor could be tempted to join forces with the opposition to cut his own pound of flesh. This may explain why delegates remained behind at the Confluence Stadium despite knowing that the primary election has been shifted to September 14. Controversy had trailed the primary based on alleged clandestine moves by PDP leadership to field a preferred candidate in place of the incumbent. The State leadership said they were ready for the primary on September 10, but the PDP National Working Committee, (NWC) revised the timetable and announced September 14, as the new date.
In a statement, the party’s spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, said the postponement was due to some logistic issues pertaining to the exercise. Nonetheless, PDP assured members, especially the governorship aspirants, of a transparent, credible, free and fair primary election. “The NWC had approved a new date of Monday, September 14, 2015 for the primary election and directs all members to be guided by this,” the statement said. But contrary to the NWC position, Kogi State chapter of the party disclosed that it was not aware of any postponement, insisting that the September 10 date still stands.
The PDP state Chairman Engr. Sam Uhuotu, who spoke at the party’s secretariat in Lokoja Wednesday, said a level playing ground was being created for the three contestants for the party’s governorship primary slated for Thursday 10, 2015. Uhuotu said the party was fully prepared for the exercise, stressing that the exercise would be transparent, free and fair. “The 926 delegates,” he added, “were ready for the primaries; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had been duly informed of the arrangement.” Uhuotu said: “We have three aspirants seeking to fly the party’s flag. Three candidates have been cleared by the screening committee set up by the National Secretariat and the electoral committee is ready to conduct the primary. We are not resting on our oars to ensure that the wishes and aspiration of the delegates are respected, we will not compromise on standards.”
The PDP Chairman urged all the aspirants to keep their supporters in check, warning that no act of indiscipline would be condoned. The delegates had trooped to the stadium with hope that the State chairman’s position would hold, but were disappointed. One of the delegates confided in The Guardian how they stayed back in the stadium to foreclose any attempt by those who allegedly want to unseat the Governor, to snatch victory in a clandestine primary. He noted that the illegality about to be played out in Kogi might cost PDP the State. However, Sadiq Ainoko, Commissioner for Local Government, said the state chapter decided to obey because the party was supreme.
The road to PDP governorship primary started on a bumpy note right from the ward and state congresses in the State. During the last general election, the Presidential and National Assembly election did not favour the governor as he lost to the opposition in his ward and Local Government levels. But although the party staged a comeback during State Assembly election, PDP developed cold feet towards his ambition to remain in Lugard House. Wada’s opponents within PDP began the plots to replace him with Jibrin Isah ‘Echocho’, sources said. The cancellation of the ward congress, which they thought would dim the Governor’s chances, was seen as part of the intrigues.
PDP NWC, believed to be acting on a petition from Wada’s opponents, had announced that “after a careful review of the reports of the Congress Committee and Appeal Committee, which held in respect of the three-man Ad-hoc Delegates Ward Congresses in the state on June 27, 2015 decided to cancel the exercise.” The National Publicity Secretary, Metuh, had while announcing the cancellation said: “The participation of a ‘Local Organizing Committee’, which is unknown to the Constitution of the party and the guidelines, marred the congresses. Consequently, a new 3-Man Ad-hoc Delegates Ward Congresses was scheduled for the 14th of July 2015.” The cancellation drew the ire of youth, who mobilized for a showdown at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja. But Governor Wada scuttled their trip half way to Abuja.
The Governor said protest was not the best option, stressing that due process was being followed to ensure a peaceful, free and fair congress. The state chapter felt that a sinister agenda was afoot, as the election was adjudged very free and fair. Speaking at an emergency meeting after the youth returned, youth leaders said their mission was to occupy Wadata House until the decision was reversed. Senior Special Assistant to the Governor for Okene Local Government, Alhaji Abubakar Yahaya Karaku, asked the Governor to bare some of his fangs as governor pointing out that his docile attitude was not helping the situation. “Your Excellency you need to strike, even pastors strike with Holy Ghost fire,” he declared.
While warning the NWC to leave Kogi alone as the only surviving PDP State, Karaku recalled that Governor Wada came into office with numerous cases dragging him from the lower court through the Supreme Court. “The National Working Committee should allow election to flow, unless they want us to loose Kogi State,” he reiterated adding that all elders from Kogi East to Kogi West have endorsed the governor based on his achievements.
Other youth leaders spoke in similar vein including Maxmilián Tashilani, (Kogi East); Abdullahi Madami, (Kogi West); Yakubu Adamson, (Kogi Central). The PDP Women leader pointed out that every other Governor has done two terms as such Wada’s should not be different.
Responding, Wada expressed praised the youth for heeding his call not to go to Abuja for the protest, saying: “Why I told you not to go was because when we heard the news I decided to quickly go to Abuja to confirm the news of the cancellation of the congress and find out what led to that decision by the NWC.
“I was well received by the acting chairman and members of the NWC and they confirmed that they had a decision to cancel the congress.”
The Governor said he made “a truthful and straightforward presentation as to the steps we took before that congress took place and the arrangements we made” noting that that level of consultation produced a peaceful, credible congress. He said the team sent from Abuja was very credible, comprising national deputy chairmen from the six geopolitical zones. His words: “We had a local organizing committee; congress committee on ground to assist them because we didn’t have a subsisting executive of the party. The tenure of our executive expired in December, no caretaker committee was appointed by the NWC to run the affairs of our party. I was left alone to run the affairs of our party, the elections and also to keep the party alive.”
He said after explaining all the processes, he believed the NWC would see reason adding that NWC also sent an appeal committee from Abuja that stayed in Lokoja for three days without any petition neither was there a single complaint against the ward congress. “On that basis I asked the NWC to reconsider their decision, examine the past and the presentations which I had made to allow the congress to stand so that it does not demoralize our people who have dedicated their time to prosecute a credible congress.” The Governor said it would have been said that he was the one sponsoring and encouraging youths to go and cause confusion, which is not his way.
But despite all that, the NWC prevailed and a repeat ward congress took place and Governor Wada again carried the day. Two days later, at the State Congress, Metuh escaped lynching by the delegates over what they termed his partisan approach. The delegates were angry with Metuh, when he threatened to cancel the delegates’ election if there was no orderliness. They started shouting at him recalling how Kogi is the only PDP State remaining in the North central, insisting that while they are building Metu was killing the party. The situation became so tense and commotion filled the place. It took the intervention of Governor Idris Wada to douse flared tempers before the process was allowed to continue.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and strategy, Mr. Jacob Edi, expressed satisfaction with the congress saying, “it is instructive to note that the Governor, Government and people of Kogi State have again subjected themselves to the dictates of the national secretariat.” “So we look forward to the next stage,” Edi added stressing that Wada has survived many challenges especially his victories in about 15 litigations. The Governor had once said he has outlived the wish of his detractors who predicted his Government would not last for 12 months.
It was alleged that former Governor Ibrahim Idris, who had earlier led Kogi Elders’ Forum to endorse the Governor, was at the centre of the intrigues to deny Wada a second term ticket. It would be foolhardy, therefore if PDP should adopt his double standard.