Battle of titans: Wada, Audu to slug it out in guber poll
WITH the emergence of Governor Idris Wada, as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the scheduled November 21 governorship election in Kogi State, the stage is now set for him and one of his predecessors in office, Prince Abubakar Audu, who is now flying the ticket of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), in the race.
As a matter of fact, the election is going to be the first major challenge between both parties since the APC defeated the former ruling PDP, in the 2015 presidential election and also displaced the party in many hitherto states it was controlling.
While the rival APC may be banking on its victory in the March 28 presidential election, in which its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari defeated the incumbent and former president, Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, in Kogi, Wada also has to his advantage the power of incumbency most likely which could go a long way to swinging victory to his side.
On Monday, Governor Wada, in the PDP primary defeated all his challengers, particularly Alhaji Isah Jibril Echocho, to emerge his party’s flag bearer.
His victory has however dismissed the initial fear expressed before the primary that Echocho would put up a strong fight.
The returning officer, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, declared Wada the winner of the primaries.
Wada scored 709 votes while Echocho recorded 139 votes. The third contestant, Mr. Moses Amoto Banjo recorded no vote. 10 invalid votes were recorded.
Ugenayi said the primary was free, fair and credible, as he urged all the contestants to work together in the interest of the party. He reminded the PDP members in Kogi that in unity they could achieve anything including retaining control of the state on November 21.
Wada won in 20 out of the 21 local government Areas, losing only in Yagba West, which is the stronghold of Echocho’s.
The unexpected however happened midway into the counting of the votes when jubilation reportedly erupted in the VIP stand, as Echocho, demonstrated a good sportsmanship spirit by congratulating Wada and his extended hand of fellowship to him.
Rumour however has it that Echocho, who is allegedly un-comfortable with the way the primary was conducted, particularly the adopted delegates list for the exercise, is most likely to work against the interest of the PDP in Kogi and pursued his ambition using another platform.
Echocho has however promised to remain in the PDP and work for its interest to retain power.
Wada absolves PDP of blame in travails
Meanwhile Governor Wada has absolved the PDP of any blame in the bumpy road to his victory.
The governor said there was no attempt on the part of the PDP leadership in Abuja, as speculated before the Monday primary to replace him with another candidate.
According to the governor’s Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Jacob Edi, who spoke against the backdrop of the purported attempt to replace Wada at all cost, “It is not true that the PDP wanted to do away with the governor, the entire thing was geared towards attaining a primary election that would be credible and be seen to be credible. Everything the party did before the Monday exercise was to ensure that the process was flawless so that nobody can pick holes in the arrangement. The PDP was only trying to ensure there was a credible primary.”
Edi averred that Wada’s triumph in the primary was an authoritative statement about his popularity, acceptability and the fact that he is working “otherwise he would not have recorded the number of votes he had in the primary.”
He said it was on record that the votes were not induced, but it was the genuine will of the people.
“When people were talking of automatic ticket, we insisted it was better we went into a keenly contested primary to prove that the governor did not secure the ticket on a platter of gold.”
The overwhelming backing the former governor is also going to receive from leaders of the APC in Kogi East is also an advantage couple with the fact that the APC is in control of the central government, in Abuja. For now, it is certain that all the APC members, including those who contested against Audu in the primary has indicated interest to work as a team to ensure that PDP is pushed out of power in Kogi. Audu on the other is also going to benefit a lot from the influence and popularity of President Muhammadu Buhari, who of course will lead the APC camping team in Kogi in due time.
He said the people had a choice, stressing that they have made their choice.
“We were ready to participate in the primary by the dictates of the party.”
According to Edi, “The ward congresses were conducted earlier and the party was ready for another and when it was time for the primary the governor was ready for it and he kept telling everybody that the contestants should go to the field and now the people have spoken.”
Audu, a candidate to beat
AUDU, who emerged the APC’s candidate, is going to be a strong hurdle for Wada based on his popularity and his achievements while he was in power.
The former governor had repeatedly said that his coming into the governorship race this time around was basically to rescue the state from its present state of backwardness.
Unlike the initial uncertainties that trailed the PDP’s primary, Audu described the APC’s primary as a transparent exercise.
He expressed hope of getting support of the other contestants in the primary, saying: “I have consulted with other contestants and they told me they are quite okay with the manner the contest was conducted. As far as we are concerned in this contest, there is no victor, no vanquished.”
Speaking on behalf of other contestants, Alhaji Yaya Bello expressed their readiness to work with the APC flag bearer whom he described as their leader in the party.
He said: “We are determined to work in harmony. We shall work together to ensure victory is ours come November 21 this year. It is our desire that our leader will carry all of us along and together we shall have a resounding victory and send the PDP-led government out of Kogi.”
APGA vows to take Kogi
WHILE political analysts believe that the contest is going to be a tough one between Wada and Audu, the National Chairman, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Victor Ike Oye said the party would spring a surprise by defeating both the APC and the PDP in the November 21 race.
Oye expressed confidence in the party’s flag bearer, Dr. Umar Akwu Goodman, whom he described as the most credible material for the governorship position.
Oye said that APGA did a meticulous search from among the many aspirants that indicated their interest to fly the party’s flag and found that Goodman met all the necessary requirements.
He described Goodman as an astute politician, a grassroots person, an activist and champion of the course of the downtrodden.
According to him, “APGA is a political party with clean bill of health and is the only viable option that is committed to transforming the political landscape of the state by ensuring that politics is played with love, respect, dignity and constitutionality.
“Our activities in the last couple of months have shown that we are going to win the election. We are ready to take Kogi by storm.”
Between Audu and Wada
CERTAIN factors are believed to have contributed to the emergence of Audu as the flag bearer of the APC, which will also work to his advantage against the incumbent.
Audu’s strong political influence, particularly within the APC structure over the years is believed to be one of the factors that worked for him as he is also believed to enjoy the goodwill of the people of Kogi.
In the same vein, Audu’s financial muscles and the sympathy he enjoys from people of the state would equally pay off for him.
One other unique feature of the governor, which places him far and above others, is his policy that the interest of the state must be placed above other interest. This particularly shows in the way he has been at loggerhead with some powerful individuals when continuously insists that payment of salaries of workers in the state is and must be a priority. Wada’s administration is also credited for his commitment to the completion of inherited projects, specifically the Greater Lokoja Water Project, the Confluence Stadium, phase two of the State Secretariat, Confluence Beach Hotels and several road projects inherited from the former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.
The overwhelming backing the former governor is also going to receive from leaders of the APC in Kogi East is also an advantage couple with the fact that the APC is in control of the central government, in Abuja.
For now, it is certain that all the APC members, including those who contested against Audu in the primary have indicated interest to work as a team to ensure that PDP is pushed out of power in Kogi.
Audu is also going to benefit a lot from the influence and popularity of President Buhari, who of course will lead the APC camping team to Kogi in due time.
But despite all the above and palpable threat APC and Audu pose to the Wada-led government and his re-election bid, the conclusion in the governor’s camp is that the massive structure of the PDP and the achievements of the administration are enough to make the incumbent win the polls.
One of the media aides of the governor, Ralph Agbana said the victory recorded by the APC during the 2015 presidential election is neither a standard to determine the governor’s chances of winning the forthcoming election nor threat.
Wada’s administration is also considered as people-oriented and more credible than the APC. The PDP is said to parade grass root politicians that could secure that important strata of the state for the governor.
Wada’s government has no doubt made the difference in governance and that as governor, he is believed to have introduced a scientific approach for unlocking the natural and human potentials of the state.
Another factor that will work for the incumbent is Agbana said, “is his finesse and prudent use of resources which is a clear departure from the norm where money is shared to thugs, rather, the governor invests in positive youth development and this is one of the reasons behind the campaign to run him down and bring about a government that would dispense state funds into unproductive venture.”
On the arguments that Wada is a non-performer, the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Mr. Mike Abu noted that even with the numerous challenges the governor met on assumption of office, there are records of good performance attributable to his government.
He said the governor’s desire for quality in the execution of projects led to the putting in place of a vigorous procurement process that have prevented contract award to unqualified contractors and political stooges.
One other unique feature of the governor, which places him far and above others, is his policy that the interest of the state must be placed above other interest.
This particularly shows in the way he has been at loggerhead with some powerful individuals when continuously insists that payment of salaries of workers in the state is and must be a priority.
Wada’s administration is also credited for his commitment to the completion of inherited projects, specifically the Greater Lokoja Water Project, the Confluence Stadium, phase two of the State Secretariat, Confluence Beach Hotels and several road projects inherited from the former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.
For record, the Wada administration has so far completed 58 road projects across the state and others are still on going.