PDP/APC’s Balance Of Profit And Liabilities In Kogi 2015
KOGI State Governorship election on November 19 would be the first test of strength between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its rival All Progressives Congress (APC), after the March 28, 2015 presidential election. No matter how the forthcoming election is x-rayed, the possibility of surprises and regrets is evenly divided between the two frontline parties.
Consequently, the silent question in the state is on which political party could serve as the third leg in the election that promises to present much intrigues and fireworks. As things stand in Kogi presently, both the incumbent and the former governor that has just grabbed the ticket of APC, Abubakar Audu, have some baggage. For instance, despite allegations of misappropriating of N11 billion, Prince Abubakar Audu won the APC governorship primary, while Wada has been engaged in a kind of hide and seek game with some stakeholders in the state and PDP National Working Committee, (NWC).
The PDP NWC has postponed the governorship primary from September 10 to 14, 2015. The party, had through a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, declared that; “the NWC has approved a new date of Monday, September 14, 2015, for the primary election and directs all members to be guided by this.”
Perhaps on account of the shifty position of the NWC over Capt. Idris Wada’s second term ambition, a youth group within the PDP warned the party of the consequences of the postponement. In a statement signed by the national Coordinator, Mr. Austin Usman Okai, the PDP Youth Frontier noted that since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed September 15 as the last date for the conclusion of primary elections, “postponing the Kogi State gubernatorial primaries has legal implications” that may adversely and probably deny PDP of a candidate in the gubernatorial election. The Youth Frontier contended that unless the NWC rescinded the decision to put forward the primary, it would mean that the untidy arrangement was set up to favour “some unscrupulous elements that have infiltrated the PDP in an attempt to scuttle the chances of the PDP in the forthcoming election.”
It is based on the apprehension raised by the youth group that some political jobbers in the state started scouting for another political platform to ventilate their ambition to produce the next governor, assuming Wada loses out.
Then within the fold of APC, the emergence of Prince Audu has not settled amicably on some of those interested in the governorship ticket. Despite the conflicting claims about where the runner-up in the APC governorship primary, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, stands, many other stalwarts are spoiling for war against the party’s candidate, threatening to work against his election. The way Bello denounced a statement suggesting that he has sided with Prince Audu gave the impression that either he was waiting for the stakes to be higher before aligning with the ‘Sarkin Power’ as Audu is called by his fans.
While assuring that he would sustain his loyal support to President Buhari and the leadership of APC at the national and state levels, Alhaji Bello declared: “I have not mandated anyone to negotiate with any political group on behalf of New Direction, nor asked anyone to collapse our structure into any other. One thing is clear: I will keep giving all my support to the president of our nation who is my mentor.”
In a voice that tended to suggest that he may seek to actualize his ambition on another platform, Bello said he still yearns for a Kogi State where the capital city is not only renewed but youth and women are empowered adding that “I won’t allow this dream to be slaughtered by those who are weaker than our collective will.”
Bello lost to Prince Audu by 703 to 1,109 votes in the primary that spilled over to the next day. Senator Nurudeen Abatemi, who came third, polled 400 votes. Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el Rufa’I, who chaired the Primary Election Committee, enjoined Prince Audu to close ranks with the losers so as to win the governorship election. Though Audu recognised that APC has a herculean task of unseating an incumbent, it is not clear as yet how far his fence mending moves have started yielding results.
But within the PDP, immediate past Governor of the State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (Ibro), decided to intervene in the battle of wits between Capt. Wada and Comm. Mohammed Alih, believed to be enjoying the former governor’s confidence in his aspiration to displace Wada as governor. Sources disclosed that the former Governor was instrumental to the withdrawal of Alih from further efforts to contest for the PDP ticket against Wada. It is however alleged that despite clearing Alih out of the way for Wada, former Governor Idris could not stop two othe aspirants –the veteran governorship aspirant, Jibrin Isa Echocho and Moses Banjo Amoto. Hence if the PDP primary election holds next Monday as planned, Governor Wada would have to square it out with the two candidates that have already been cleared for the exercise. It was gathered however that attempts at resolving the cross ambitions without a divisive primary election is ongoing, which sources say must have necessitated the postponement. Those who are in the know confided in The Guardian that Capt. Wada has gone into political alignment with an unnamed aspirant, ostensibly to provide a fall back platform in case PDP machinery moves against him or divide the base of APC should he clinch the PDP ticket.
DPC Or APGA?
COME September 15, 2015, when INEC window for the completion of party primary election for the Kogi governorship closes, it would be seen which of the two other political parties, Democratic Peoples Congress (DPC) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) would provide the third potent force in the November election. In an interaction with The Guardian over the phone, national Chairman of DPC, Reverend Olusegun Peters, denied that his party was being used as an alternative platform to serve the interest of the major contenders, stressing that DPC is participating in the Kogi governorship to win. He disclosed that whoever wins the party’s ticket would go the whole hug in the election “without stepping down or stepping aside.”
While refusing the suggestion of a preferred candidate, Peters said; “aspirants have from today (Thursday) to Monday when the primary election would hold to perfect their participation in DPC processes”; adding that one aspirant has scheduled his public declaration for Saturday, yesterday. He maintained that DPC has no short or long term plan to fuse into or merge with either PDP or APC, pointing out that after one hundred days in office of President Buhari and APC, Nigerians are yet to feel the much touted change he promised during the Presidential campaign. “Buhari’s government’s leadership fatigue and policy paralysis are cause of concern to right thinking Nigerians who expect dividends of Democracy not rhetoric,” he stated.
The DPC Chairman pointed out that; “the poor performance of the APC-led federal government in the past 100 days is an eloquent testimony that the change mantra is not working”; adding that his party was “set to provide the real change Nigerians can believe in.” He maintained that DPC was prepared to offer the third leg in the nation’s political tripod saying that; “DPC’s strength and acceptance will be tested in the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa gubernatorial elections. They are a must win for the party generally seen as the new bride of Nigerian Politics.”
But as the DPC national Chairman was dissociating himself from any special arrangement with any of the two front running parties, APGA seems to have settled for the former chaplain of Aso Rock, Professor Yusuf Obaje. Obaje’s posters dominate every available space at the party national headquarters in Abuja. Attempts to reach any of his aides did not bear fruit as at the time of filing this report, but sources within the party said the former chaplain who started campaigning long ago “might be waiting for signal from somewhere.”
Whatever signals Prof. Obaje could be waiting for, the political space in Kogi seem to be charged as both PDP and APC want to put their all in the fight. The decision of DPC to insist on a candidate from Kogi West may be a strategic move to mop up votes from elements that do not favour the return of either Wada or Audu. The fact that Senators Smart Adeyemi and Dino Melaye are still roiling for the senate ticket shows that the voters from that area are divided between PDP and APC. But in the governorship, it is going to be a different kettle of fish.