For the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, there is certainly no better way to announce a come back in Kogi State than it did with the presidential campaign rally.
Monday, the seventh day of January, 2019, the ancient city of Lokoja played host to an unusual crowd. The crowd was not only mammoth, but, by every standard of assessment, unprecedented. The Confluence Stadium, which was built by the Alhaji Ibrahim Idris’ PDP government, obviously was over-fed with crowd. All roads adjoining the mega-size stadium were adorned with men and women, young and old, from across the the state of the confluence, who came in their thousands to register their unflinching supports for the great move at “getting Nigeria working again”.
As early as 8.00 hour, Lokoja was already wearing the look of Medina. Major roads were no more motorable. Law enforcement agencies were already sweating profusely as a result of the burden of crowd and traffic control. It was about three hours to the set time and there was palpable signals that the ruling APC government was becoming restless and jittery.
The first sign of jitters was the delayed approval for the use of the stadium. The rally was initially scheduled for the morning of Saturday, January 5, the state government did not give approval until towards the close of Friday, thereby frustrating all logistic arrangements. The organising committee realised the gimmick of the ruling party, APC, and quickly reschedule for Monday to be able to perfect all logistics. Monday morning, as early as 10.00 hour, long before the rally started, the social media was awashed with unfounded report that the PDP presidential candidate, His Excellency, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku has come and gone in disappointment. The report said the people of Kogi refused to come out, adding that Alhaji Atiku met only under aged people who were paid to attend the rally. It was a fabrication of some jittery individuals who were already swept off balance, by the swelling popularity of the major opposition, the PDP.
At the zero hour, the shout of ‘Atiku, Atiku, Atiku’ rented the air as efforts are being made to make way for him and his motorcade into the massively populated venue. A graphic survey of the teaming population which spread from zone 8 junction to somewhere along the State Assembly, a distance of almost two kilometres, would make any one wonder if any Kogi person remains at home.
Truly, all Kogites are ‘Atikulated’ and they have every reason to be:
For three years, livelihood of many families have been suspended, forcing majority of unpaid civil servants to indulge in sub-human mean of survival. The news trended, of a senior civil servant in the state who stole a 2 kg packet of semovita at Lokoja market in order for the family to eat after three days of hunger.
Time will fail us here to begin to count the number of Kogites that took to the suicide option, let alone the thousands that died due to their inabilities to procure timely medication since wages were not paid. Today, there are records of both husband and wife, working in different state ministries, who have not received a dime since the APC government came onboard in the state. Even the few months that were paid to many were based on embarrassing percentages. Every day, students drop out of school. Industrial Relations of the government of the day is near zero. The length of closure of state owned institutions remains despicable.
The government in the state flourishes in propaganda and the pursuit of shadows.
In the last two months, about four close aides to the governor have thrown in their letter of resignation because they are tired of messing up their credibility and by extension, their political future in defence of obvious failure.
For three years, the state government has no single project to point to apart from its revenue house, which was put in place to squeeze levies and rates out of families who are breathing heavily under the yoke of unpaid wages.
One may not be far from the truth to say the APC government in Kogi State has penchant for re-commissioning projects that were already commissioned by the predecessors.
So, the massive turn out of people at the PDP rally could be an obvious indication that Kogites are set and determined to get Nigeria and Kogi State working again.
Stanley Ajileye is a member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Team in Kogi State.