In Kogi state, as the race to Lugard House draws nearer, OYIBO SALIHU in this report gives an update on the chances of gladiators who will be jostling to occupy the number one position.
Political activities appear to have been rested after the just concluded presidential/NASS election which was followed by the state assembly election in Kogi state.
As result of this development, contenders for the governorship seat are yet to throw their hat into the ring as to who will occupy Lugard House.
Investigation by Blueprint reveals that one factor that may play out is god-fatherism to determine who wins the coveted seat.
Although the state did not participate in the last gubernatorial elections in March but certainly not left out of the political activities across the country as the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) won two out of the three senatorial seats; six of the nine House of Representative seats and all the 25 seats of the state House of Assembly.
This outing seems to have boosted the morale of party supporters into claiming that the governorship election will be an easy ride for the incumbent, Yayaha Bello.
Past glory not yardstick for guber poll – Analysts
However, pundits are of the opinion that the party’s triumph should not be seen as mirror image of the governorship election coming up later in the year.
Political analysts also observed that the forthcoming election will ultimately test the popularity and the general acceptance of the governor in a free and fair contest before Kogi people.
Muhammed Anda Abdullahi, a political analyst in the state postulated that the non-payment of salaries to civil servants both at the state and the local government areas may pose huge threat to the success of the governor at the poll.
Abdullahi, who made the observation while speaking with Blueprint said the governor, in the last three years, could not utilise his position to weave APC members together through genuine reconciliation.
“Where is late Prince Abubakar Audu’s political group today in Kogi state? Many have left the party to seek solace in other parties and these are people that won the governorship election for APC in 2015.”
The governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, during a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Government House recently warned political appointees who may want to engage in anti-party activities in the forthcoming governorship elections to desist.
He said the administration would not hesitate to boot out any appointee who works against the victory of the party, saying that any aggrieved member of the party should use the internal crisis resolution mechanism instead of working against its interest.
Protests rock Bello’s ambition
Interestingly, protesters, under the aegis of Network of Kogi Youth Group on Wednesday stormed the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, asking it to reject the governor as its flag bearer ahead of the election.
The group, in a protest speech submitted to the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole said, “It is a risk to allow Governor Bello to fly the party’s ticket considering his perceived numerous wrongs since his assumption of office.”
It itemised non-payment of salary and lack of developmental projects as reasons the governor should be stopped. It went further to remind the party about its stand and that of President Muhammadu Buhari that any governor that fails to perform risks a second chance.
Responding, the director general Media and Publicity to the state governor, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, described the protesters as a band of jesters, saying many of them are not members of APC in the state.
According to him, “It should be on record that Comrade Enemali and his boys from Mabushi on this failed activity are the same failed politicians who spent the last three and a half years trying to persuade the past and present national leadership of our party that the APC will never win a single seat under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello, but the recent performances of the governor for APC in and out of Kogi state has since silenced all his traducers.
“I would have ended this piece right here but when you have a good striker, you brag on him but most importantly, you start him in every crucial match. Yahaya Bello has performed in governance and he has performed in politics. Comrade Enemali and his paymasters may be selling duds in Abuja, but when they return to Kogi state, the facts confront them and put fear into their hearts.”
“The presidency and our party leadership gave us 30 hours to organise a presidential rally. The enemies within said Bello cannot do it. It turned out to be the mother of all rallies as thousands of our party members across the 21 local government areas descended on the 25,000 capacity Confluence Stadium to assure Mr President that under Governor Bello, Kogi is APC and APC is Kogi.”
So far, it is only Prince Mustapha Muna Audu, the son of late Abubakar Audu and Tims Nda Diche who have made their intentions known that they will vie for the number one position in the state.
Political observers, however, see Prince Mona who declared on the platform of Young Progressive Party (YPP), as a mere pretender who does not have the popularity to contest the gubernatorial election in the state.
Speaking on behalf of the late Audu’s family, Alhaji Usman Audu stated that the family had earlier warned Prince Mona not to contest any political office outside the All Progressive Congress (APC),
He noted that his brother, the late Abubakar was a founder and promoter of APC in the state and had worked assiduously to make it a leading party hence his warning for the family not to ditch the party at his absence.
He added that the family has issued a disclaimer on Mona for jettisoning the political will of their late brother to announce his guber ambition on another party.
According to him, “My brother, late Prince Abubakar Audu, suffered for 16 years to nurture APC to where it is today in the state. He had told us to remain in the party before he died. Hence the family is solidly behind the government and the party in the state.
“The chief of staff to the governor Edward Onoja is one of the political legacies of my brother. Onoja has been standing for the family since the demise of my brother. He is working in tandem with the philosophy of Prince Audu for the party and I see no reasons why Mona should abandon the legacy of his father for another party just because he want to be governor at all cost.
“HRH the Orego Attah, Alhaji Tijani Audu, who is now the head of Audu family is not happy with the ambition of Mona. He has talked to him many times not to go against the political philosophy of his father.
“The family does not and will not support him in another party except in APC. We have warned him and now that he thinks he can do it alone, so be it. He should count the family out of his ambition as we have nothing to do with him in YPP.”
The state chapters of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) and Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) described the claim by Prince Mona to have been adopted by 17 political parties as untrue, fraudulent, criminal and deceitful.
In a statement signed by the leadership of IPAC and CNPP in the state, Hon Badanga Ilias and Chief B N Okpanachi, they noted that none of the party chairmen have prior knowledge of the action of Prince Mona whom they say is in connivance with the state chairman of YPP, Mr Chinga Emmanuel.
The statement added that it also resolved to suspend Mr Emmanuel Chinga indefinitely from all activities/meetings having to do with the state chapter of IPAC and CNPP.
On the other hand, Diche is a political juggernaut and a household name in the state who participated as an aspirant in the 2015 primaries of the party even though he lost.
His recent declaration to contest may mean to, once again, test his popularity and political structure ahead of primaries and general election coming up in November, 2019.
INEC is, however, yet to release the time table for the election in the state