AHEAD KOGI GOVERNORSHIP: Sectional Politics Take Center Stage

Ibrahim Idris, Governor of Kogi State

Ibrahim Idris, Governor of Kogi State

AS preparation for the November 21, 2015 governorship election heightens in Kogi State, issues that will drive the polls are beginning to emerge in the form of geopolitical considerations, followed by party strength and personalities.

These are, however, in addition to internal wrangling within the two leading political parties in the state. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is believed to be making moves to replace the incumbent governor, Alhaji Idris Wada, with another candidate.

While the All ProgressiveS Congress (APC) is seriously enmeshed in squabbles over who takes what among the array of over 30 governorship aspirants jostling for the party’s ticket.

Demand for power shift from the Eastern Senatorial District, which has been producing governors since the creation of the state, to the West or Central Senatorial Districts, has been a reoccurring decimal each election year.

This time around, the call has reached higher pitch. The Kogi State PDP publicity secretary, Chief Bode Ogunmola, during a television chat last week said, “I am from the Central Senatorial district, it is my wish that one day I should be the governor of Kogi State; no doubt about that, but we are saying that we should sit around the table and talk about it. Must we kill ourselves because of power shift.

The Eastern flank has nine Local Government Areas, Central has five and the West has seven. Let us sit down and talk.  “We don’t need a haphazard arrangement only when election is around the corner.

We want power shift, but when election is over you go back to sleep and you forget about it. Let us sit down as reasonable human beings and agree that when this district finishes, the seat goes to Central or West.  “Let us have a template, let us constitutionalise this; we cannot fight over this. God that brought us together did not bring us together to come and kill ourselves because of power.”

But for former Commissioner of Information in the state, Dr. Tom Ohikere, it is better to dismiss the calls for power shift, as he described the calls as reactionary, diversionary, divisive and tantamount to breeding militancy.

Ohikere, who is the director of Communications of the ‘Yahaya Bello for Governor campaign organisation,’ noted that such calls could culminate into ethnic, sectional and other social crisis in the state.

He stressed that political power shift cannot be achieved through threats, intimidation and blackmails, but  sensible and positive negotiation. Ohikere said that, though associations are allowed in the Constitution, the coalition of the West and Central senatorial districts are not only non-committal, but illegal, baseless with no political foundation.

He alleged that some individuals, who are planning for the future elections, are behind such gatherings. Whether the power shift can be achieved this time around is yet to be seen as the East continues to make recourse to the fact that politics remain a game of number.

The easiest way to dislodge the Igalas of Kogi East from power is for the Kogi Central and West to come together under one voice to vote one candidate.

However, this has continued to be a pipe dream as the two districts have continued to be hostile to each other because of mistrust. The fall of the PDP at the National level has become the greatest undoing of the party as accusation and counter accusation has continued to trail its activities.

That the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State suffered a setback in the hands of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 28 presidential and national assembly elections is no longer news, but what is presently at stake between the two leading parties is the gubernatorial election.

The biggest problem in the PDP circle is the attempt to replace Governor Wada with another candidate, Jibrin Isah Echocho. Hence, the cancellation of the ward congress, which pundits believe will nail the Governor’s chances.

The cancellation had drawn the ire of opposing group which mobilised for a showdown at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja. But the governor prevented what would have otherwise resulted in a chaotic situation at the PDP Headquarters in Abuja.

Despite all, the position of the National Working Committee of the party prevailed and the repeat ward congress took place peacefully. Political pundits in the state said the PDP might be shooting itself in the foot to dislodge Wada as it may work against it at the polls, especially as Kogi is the only PDP state in the North central.

The fear is that all APC governors in the zone would deploy their resources to ensure victory for their party, but PDP may not have equal financial muscle to contend with it. The APC in Kogi has been confident that the trend in their victory at the Presidential and National Assembly election will continue.

However, its victory is turning to an albatross of sort with over two dozens of aspirants who have thrown their hats in the ring to contest the primary election come August 29th, 2015.

Depending on how the national headquarters of APC handles the primary election, crises of confidence may set in after.  Many APC supporters, relying on the results of the Presidential and National Assembly polls have already concluded that the governorship election will go the same way, but some political analysts are predicting that subsequent elections will not go the same way for APC.

To them, the pattern the March 28 polls followed may not continue as the APC will have to contend with PDP’s strength at the grassroots. Their only fear is how and who will fly the flag of PDP in the governorship election.

The two parties have a 50-50 chance of dominating the politics of the state as of now. The APC now has the national strength, but the PDP still controls the state till 2016 and controls the local governments.

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