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Kogi East politician, professionals strategise to take back Lugard house

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Late Abubakar Audu

There is no doubt that the demise of late Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the 2015 Kogi State governorship election, on the verge of victory, created a vacuum in the political leadership of Kogi East, home of the Igala people.

Politically, his death changed the political equation vis-a-vis the relevance of Igala people in the state and the country.

Just as the people were putting behind the pain of his death, another tragedy befell the senatorial district, when on March 6, 2016, the minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi, also died in a ghastly motor accident along Kaduna-Abuja highway.

Putting these tragedies behind, politicians from the district have started regrouping to strategise, as 2019 general elections beckon.

The group, under the aegis of ‘Political leaders from Kogi East,’ are said to be making underground consultations and meeting with relevant stakeholders before making public their interests.

The Kogi East senatorial district, which has the majority Igala ethnic group, has over the years maintained its political dominance, when it comes to who occupies ‘Lugard House.’

On the other hand, the minority ethnic groups as the Ebira in Kogi Central senatorial district and Okun in Kogi West senatorial district, have been left with the deputy governorship position, as past efforts to produce a governor from the two districts never saw light of the day.

Kogi East produced the first and second civilian governors in the persons of late Prince Abubakar Audu, followed by Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, who governed for two successive terms and then the immediate past governor, Capt. Idris Ichalla Wada, who eventually lost his second term bid in 2015.

This dominance from the eastern flank became a reason for serious agitation for power shift to the minority Ebiras in the central senatorial district and Okuns in the west senatorial district.

During the 2015 governorship election, the late Prince Audu had polled 240,867 votes, giving him an edge over his opponent, the then Governor Idris Wada, who trailed behind with 199,514.

However, Audu died while coasting to victory and the APC eventually replaced him with Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who became governor on January 27, 2016, thus ending Kogi East’s political dominance and effecting power shift to Kogi Central senatorial district by sheer providence.

That debilitating loss of power after many years of political hegemony appeared not to have gone down well with Kogi East politicians and they are said to be putting their acts together to reclaim the governorship position from Governor Bello, who is also believed to be seeking a second term in office.

However, going by Bello’s determination to retain power, it would not be a tea party for Kogi East, as he has also been strategising to actualise his dream.

The group started meeting in Abuja, where they held three meetings before coming home to Dekina to be close to the electorate on behalf of whom they are talking.

The Guardian gathered that the home meeting drew greater participation. At least, there were 10 representatives from each local government in Kogi East and everyone that has ever held a political post was part of the meeting, as well as all aspirants on whatever political platform.

The presidents of Ukomu Igala, Ojuju Agbadufu, Igala Youth Congress (IYC), Igala Roundtable, many Igala groups together with their secretaries were also part of the meeting that lasted several hours.

The group’s concern was that in the country and Kogi State’s political equation, the Igalas have lost out and it is not ready to accept such situation anymore. So, it was concluded that whatever is necessary, legal, free and fair, must be done to address the situation.

They lamented their people’s poor condition, as well as, lack of infrastructure in the state, especially in Kogi East.

Senator Alex Kadiri, convener of the meeting, said: “We have suffered enough and we must do things to help us return to our old glory in a fair manner. It is our intention that in the forthcoming 2019 election, we will not be foolish again to allow 200 Igala or Bassa spring out in search of the coveted position.”

He indicated that the group would impress upon the people and make them understand the need to use the whopping sums to set up cottage industries in their areas or to help provide potable water in their communities, instead of foolishly throwing away such money for the singular purpose of purchasing nomination forms.

He explained that though there were suggestions on the need for zoning of offices to particular areas, but they were rejected because it was still too early in the year. He, however, said they would be heading in that direction.

He said: “It should not be an all comers affair, as we have tried that in the past and it failed. That was where we stopped.

“What we aim to achieve now is unlike the past, when persons in over 60 or 70 registered political parties, who desire to be called His Excellency would pick governorship tickets of their various platforms, which amounts to sheer waste of time, resources and effort.

“Rather, we would identify our interests in existing parties and any of them that catches our interest would be considered in terms of patronage and care for our people.

“We can no longer continue to grope in the dark, and we would not encourage a large number of our people to buy ticket of one platform just for one person to be picked at the end. It is all foolishness.”

On whether the Igala people have learned their lessons and would abide by the arrangement, he said they couldn’t say for sure, and that that was the reason for the dialogue.

“We will keep dialoguing and identifying the disadvantages of our past action and the advantages of what we are canvassing now. We believe that with time, they will understand us,” he said.

On the political terrain that has been very unfriendly, leading to the recent attacks on Gabriel Aduku and himself, he said: “These are activities of small-minded people. Some of us have outgrown that. Chief Aduku and I are not small boys, and we cannot die twice.


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KogiPrince Abubakar Audu
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