Kogi guber polls: Residents wish this ‘cup’ passed over
FOUR days to the governorship election in Kogi State, residents of Lokoja, the state capital and other urban centres are already praying that this “cup” should pass over them as the political field has become so charged raising fears of the breakdown of law and order.
Apart from the fear of insecurity, the social fabric of the state is being negatively affected with the “heat” of the contest between candidates of participating political parties melting down some socio-economic activities in forms of noise pollution and traffic hold-ups.
Traffic situations in the urban centres have become nightmares with campaign convoys causing gridlock that usually last longer than necessary.
The situation is more compounded by construction works on the dual carriage road that passes through the heart of Lokoja especially at the Ganaja where the gridlock has continued to elicit reaction especially when campaign convoys worsen the situation.
A resident who lives around Ganaja Village, Alfa Samson said his major worry has been taking his children to school every morning as they always come late because of the hold up that has come to stay as long as election campaign lasts.
He is praying for peaceful election so that at least citizens would be saved the trouble of traffic challenge.
Another issue of concern is that of the campaign vans of both the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two major political parties, that are decked with state-of-the-art musical equipment that keep blaring music promoting their candidates on the streets. It has become a source of noise pollution.
The noise is a serious concern as it practically prevents other people from enjoying a peaceful environment especially in the evenings when residents need to rest after the day’s work.
There is also serious security concerns over the war of posters and billboards especially in Lokoja where the battle over spaces for posters continues to rage.
In fact it has been a battle of wits among supporters and poster vendors of the PDP and the APC whose candidates are the major gladiators in the contest as they struggle to outdo each other thereby defacing major roads in the capital city.
At the NTA round about adjacent the poster war is fiercest. As early as 6 am every day the posters of the candidate of PDP would deface the road but before a twinkle of an eye those belonging to the candidate of the APC would be pasted over their rivals and the next day it would happen in reverse order.
Other political parties are not left out of this poster war and many times; billboards that are dismantled by perceived opponents are replaced the next moment.
The imposing billboard of Governor Idris Wada at the NTA roundabout compete a equally colourful one bearing the picture of Prince Abubakar Audu to dominate the skyline.
The roundabout at the Obasanjo square is another scene of poster war and the beneficiaries of this competition are the printers who produced thousands of copies of each of the candidates posters that the foot soldiers are always bringing to replace defaced ones.
Nearly every surface has been defaced with posters at every part of the city and public and private infrastructures are not spared. Recently the poster competition led to bloody clashes between supporters of the two major political camps in Ankpa, Idah and Ajaka.
The state Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Ojukwu at a pre-election awareness workshop on dispute resolution towards the polls condemned the development adding that one of the victims of the clashes was still on life support in Abuja.
A major topic of discussion at every gathering is about the rivalry between the APC and the PDP and a recent argument at a popular newsstand led to a free-for-all before the situation was brought under control by security forces.
There have also been several instances of such arguments ending in fisticuffs at drinking joints leading to apprehension among the residents.
There have also been fears over security reports that allegedly hinted of a possible terror attack on the state. Inside security sources had revealed that insurgents are targeting the state even as they (security agencies) said the matter is under control.
Places of worship, markets, educational institutions and Government establishments and other crowded places are said to be likely targets.
Another source of security concern is the campaign of calumny and hate speeches that have dominated most of the rallies particularly between the APC and PDP. Not fewer than 23 supporters of the APC were allegedly attacked last week Monday by suspected PDP thugs at Igalamela in Odolu local council.
Chairman of APC Campaign Council, Humphrey Abah said the supporters were returning from a rally at Ajaka in a convoy of over six buses at about 6 pm when they were waylaid at Akpanya Odolu intersection by thugs who used axes and cutlasses to inflict injuries on them.
In a swift reaction, the PDP in the local council distanced itself from the attack. Its Chairman, Isah Adejoh said the allegations were false and unfounded adding that the party has been preaching against violence since the commencement of electioneering campaign.
He commended security agencies for providing peace and security for the people stressing that his party will continue to appeal to youths to allow peace to prevail before, during and after the election.
The gladiators have also taken to the social media to plead their cases before the electorate and there are so many platforms on which different postings are being made.
While some residents are expecting that the APC candidate should win and repeat the developmental acumen he exhibited during earlier tenures, others wished that the incumbent should continue based on his acclaimed giant strides.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has however released the names of 22 candidates contesting the election.
The list include Isah Yakubu Kamaldeen (AA), Dickson F. Fred (Accord), Ukwenya Musa (ACD), Michael Abdullahi (AD), Usman Zainab (ADC), Odufu Cosmos Friday (APA), Prince Abubakar Audu (APC), Akwu Umar Goodman (APGA), Yinka Cherry Oloruntoba (CPP), Philips Ezekiel Koleola (DPC), Abubakar Ibrahim (DPP) and Ibraham Adejoh (ID).
Others are Raji Ogorima (KOWA), Philips Omeiza Salawu (LP), Mohammed Ibrahim Dangana (NCP), Mallam Abdul Hussein (NNPP), Emmanuel Daikwo (PDC), Capt. Idris Ichalla Wada (PDP), Emmanuel Enesi Ozigi (PPA), Dr Ojuh Godwin Hussein (PPN), Enema Paul (SDP) and Sa’ad Mukailu Yaro (UDP).
The State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC),Halilu Pai, said the INEC has commenced preparations to ensure conduct of free, fair and credible elections, adding that training has already commenced for the 13,545 ad-hoc staff that will be conducting the election.
He said some of the non-sensitive materials have started arriving the state while the rest are being awaited, adding that the commission has enough Smart Card Readers to be deployed for the exercise.
The REC urged the electorate and contestants to conduct themselves peacefully before, during and after the election, assuring that the commission, as an unbiased umpire will ensure that the votes count.
As the D-day draws closer, the electorate hold the ace to decide where the pendulum swings but every contender is optimistic he will carry the day even as apprehensive residents continue to wish that this exercise is done with quickly for the state to come back to its peaceful state.