Controversies as Kogi East endorses ADC senatorial candidate
Political leaders in Kogi East Senatorial District may have taken the zone’s destiny in their hands, as they have endorsed Victor Adoji, a senatorial candidate on ADC platform for 2019 National Assembly election.
The reason for their action may not be unconnected with the feeling that the senatorial district had suffered misrepresentation in the Red Chamber over the years, owing to the incumbent senator, Attai Aidoko’s penchant for always using the court to return to the Senate, even after being defeated at the polls.
In the last six years, the senatorial district had had opportunity to change the baton more than four times, but Attai Aidoko always triumphed at the court to retain the seat.
The task of coming up with a desirable and acceptable candidate to turn the tide in the district’s favour and actualise the dream was given to a sub-committee of Kogi East Elders Council. And having completed its assignment, the sub-committee made its stand known.
A recent interactive report submitted by the sub-committee read: “At a time the Igala/Bassa ethnic nationalities have found themselves at a critical crossroads in their political itinerary, the Kogi East Elders Council established the Political Committee to facilitate a viable and smooth political transition and development in the zone. The Committee membership was drawn from political and business elite, the academia, various professionals and socio-cultural groups.”
The committee’s mandate includes, providing level playing field for contestants at the local, state and federal levels, as well as screening and presenting the best candidates, irrespective of political affiliation.
Apparently from past experiences, the elders felt the district had lost a lot of political grounds at the state and federal levels.
No doubt, the demise of late Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the 2015 Governorship election in the state at the verge of victory created a vacuum in Kogi East political leadership, the home of the Igalas.
Audu’s death altered the political equation vis-a-vis the Igala’s relevance in the state and country.
And just as the people were putting behind them 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 motor accident along Kaduna-Abuja highway.
After Ocholi’s death, it was almost six months before a replacement was made with Prof Stephen Ocieni, the current Minister of State for Labour and employment.
In 2011, barely one year into the 6th National Assembly, the Senator who won the election, Barrister Dangana Ocheje lost to Aidoko at the Appeal Court.
In 2015, Abdulrahman Abubakar, an APC candidate, won the election and was sworn in. Not long after, however, Aidoko went to court over impropriety at the primary election that produced Abubakar.
He won the case, as the seat was declared vacant and a rerun election was ordered.
But Isaac Alfa, who was already in court over ownership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket won against Aidoko, and was fielded in the rerun election. The APC candidate was barred from contesting and PDP won in the rerun.
Again, Aidoko went to court and was returned. Since 2015, Kogi East has had a turnover of not less than three senators, with almost one-year vacuum.
Expectedly, this has not gone down well with the leaders, who were annoyed by the automatic ticket given Aidoko by the opposition PDP’s National Working Committee.
Knowing that the only political position under their control, which is that of the Senator representing the district should not be left in jeopardy, the leaders felt the best way forward was to regroup and strategise.
The meeting held at Chida International Hotel, Abuja on December 7 and 8, 2018, was said to have lasted hours, as each candidate was made to undergo rigorous screening. Adoji emerged winner with the highest score of 88.8 percent.
After the event, the committee chairman said: “On the basis of outcome of the interaction, the candidate who deservedly scored the highest rating, Dr. Victor Alewo Adoji of ADC, is hereby recommended for adoption as the Igala/Bassa senatorial candidate come 2019.”
The committee said it had found in Dr. Adoji “a focused, dynamic, clear-headed and patriotic young man, whose antecedent coupled with his vision will propel Igala/Bassa people and land to heights that would be envied by others in the nearest future.”
The group, therefore, urged traditional, community and political leaders, as well as the academia, market women, socio-cultural organisations and the entire district to ensure Adoji’s victory in the forthcoming general elections.
Analysts said the candidature of Adoji, the former corporate communications manager of Zenith Bank, has received blessings, as his philanthropic disposition has endeared him to many people. Indeed, a door-to-door sensitisation campaign for his victory is already underway.
Many people are also supporting Adoji because the PDP senatorial primary billed to hold in Idah did not, as aspirants waited in vain for arrival of voting materials. At the end, the incumbent Senator representing the district, Aidoko’s name was submitted.
Many PDP leaders were not happy with result of the primary. Their grouse was that the district had suffered enough misrepresentation over the years. So, they would have preferred a candidate with lighter baggage.
There seemed to be an unwritten agreement that PDP would work for Adoji, who moved to ADC to actualise his ambition.
However, the chairman of Emerging Leaders Forum, Kogi East, Dr. Salisu Ogbo Usman picked holes in the processes adopted by the sub-committee of the Elders’ Council, saying Adoji’s purported adoption was a pre-determined hatchet job to manipulate Kogi East elders
Usman stated that the criteria used for the adoption was “deliberately and manipulatively crafted to suit the set purpose without bearing in mind the derivable benefits for Kogi East electorate. The adoption was craftily designed to favour a particular party candidate.”
The Kogi State ADC Grassroots Frontiers, however, commended the Elders’ Council for adopting Adoji.
Speaking at a press conference at Anyigba recently, President of the group, Mr. Atek’ojo Samson Usman said the Elders Council manifested much-desired wisdom at tackling the political quagmire the zone found itself at the Senatorial level.
The body lauded the elders for being audacious in the face of intimidation, and for defying threats to their lives from certain quarters.
It noted that due process was followed in the choice of Dr. Victor Alewo Adoji, and that the Council’s decision would usher in a new era in Kogi East political firmament.
The group cautioned the Council to be wary of those playing the second fiddle, just as it urged the elders to be wary of “political contractors, who would fake political groups to put pressure on them in order to change their stand.”
According to them, there was no need for those who are indisposed to the development to make a storm out of a teacup.