Echoes of power shift as Awoniyi joins Kogi 2023 guber race
ARCHITECT, technocrat and son of the late Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Chief Sunday Awoniyi, at the weekend, declared his intention to contest the governorship of Kogi State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Yomi Awoniyi, who was deputy to the immediate past governor of the state, Capt Idris Wada, made the declaration after he picked nomination and expression of intent forms for the gubernatorial primary of the PDP, scheduled for April 14 to 16, 2023.
In a statement he personally signed in Lokoja, Awoniyi said his desire to vie for the office of governor is not borne out of a desire for self-promotion or personal aggrandisement, but rather a genuine belief that he possesses “the character, capacity, competence, commitment, knowledge, experience and resolve to address the myriad of problems besetting the state.”
He told the people: “My sincere hope and prayer are for you to join hands with me as we seek to do what is good for our dear state. I will be visiting you in the days ahead to further expound on my vision for Kogi State.”
Awoniyi, who is currently the Director General of the Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Council in Kogi State, under the chairmanship of erstwhile governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, however, noted: “I am totally focused on the much bigger assignment of ensuring total victory at the polls in the February 25, 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections. Victory on this day is germane for the success of our party in subsequent political programmes.”
His declaration ahead of the Kogi State governorship election is, no doubt, significant, given the larger-than-life stature of his father in national politics, Kogi State, and the age-long agitation for power shift to the Yoruba speaking part of the state.
It is expected, in coming days, that Awoniyi’s quest would renew discourse on governance of the state between the previous Wada administration, which he served as deputy governor, and the succeeding Yahaya Bello-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
Governorship aspirants from the seven local councils of Kogi West (to which Awoniyi belongs), have, since creation of the state in 1999, been treated as underdogs. By the time the tenure of Bello ends in January 2024, Okunland or Kogi West would have been effectively shut out of office for 33 successive years (1991 to 2024).
The Igala in Kogi East, who have nine local councils, had produced the late Prince Abubakar Audu, Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada, until 2015. Audu, who was aiming for a second term in office, died while cruising to victory in the governorship election of November 2015.
Bello, an Ebira from Kogi Central, with five local councils, took over as the replacement candidate of the APC, following Audu’s demise.