Kogi East/Central: Battle royal as Oseni, Ogembe, Echocho, Aidoko, others jostle for Senate seats
Kogi East and Kogi Central senatorial districts are set for epic battles come 2019 as not less than 46 candidates have tentatively obtained their parties nod, as well as INEC’s listing to be part of the race for the two seats on the platforms of about 32 political parties.
In spite of the array of contestants from two dozens political parties, political analysts believe that the major battle would be that of candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress’ (APC) candidates Jibrin Isah in the east, Yakubu Oseni in the central versus candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Attai Aidoko in the East and Ahmed Ogembe in the Central.
However, The Guardian checks indicate that possible surprises may be thrown up by some candidates who were shortchanged or marginalised during the primaries in the two political parties and were forced to dump their original parties for less popular parties, believing that their individual popularity would give them victory.
Such candidates whose popularity goes beyond party influence are, Natasha Akpoti of SDP Kogi Central and Victor Adoji of the ADC Kogi East.
After the primary election, many who contested on the platform of the PDP and APC after payment of huge sums to purchase the nomination and expression of interest forms, were kept in the dark as to the venue of the primaries in the case of the PDP, while in the APC they were persuaded to drop their ambition for the anointed candidates of the powers that be with promises to be compensated later with appointments.
In Kogi East, the PDP senatorial primary that was billed to take place in Idah did not hold as aspirants waited in vain for the arrival of the voting materials. At the end of the day, the incumbent Senator representing the district, Attai Aidoko’s name was submitted, while others were made to lick their wounds because of a purported MOU that favored the incumbent.
However, aspirants who waited for the primary in vain at the Stephen Achema Handbags Stadium, included highly favored Victor Adoji, Airvice Marshal (rtd) Ibrahim Alfa, Hajia Halima Alfa, and Captain (rtd) Joe Agada.
Though Victor Adoji’s name did not feature in the tentative list of candidates released by INEC, The Guardian was told on good authority that he was to be on the final list after his name would have been substituted for Obetule Emmanuel D. of the ADC.
Feelers from Kogi East indicate that Aidoko who is featured as the PDP candidate would have it rough as many leaders of the party were not happy with his emergence through the back door without a proper primary.
Their grouse is that the senatorial district had suffered misrepresentation at the red chamber over the years because the incumbent senator had always utilized technicalities of court processes to return to the Senate even after he was defeated at the polls.
Hence in the last six years the senatorial district has had less than five changes of baton with Aidoko triumphing at the court and retaining the seat. In 2011, barely one year into the 6th legislative Assembly the Senator who won the election Barrister Dangana Ocheje lost at the Appeal Court to Aidoko through technicalities.
In 2015, the APC candidate, Abdulrahman Abubakar won the election and was sworn in. Not long after, Attai Aidoko went to court over improper primary election against Abubakar, he won the case, the seat was declared vacant and a rerun election was ordered. But Isaac Alfa, who was already in court for the ownership of the PDP ticket worn the case against Aidoko and was fielded in the rerun election in which the APC candidate was barred from contesting and the PDP won the rerun.
Again Aidoko went to court against Alfa over ownership of the ticked and was returned.
Since 2015, Kogi East has had a turnover of not less than three senators, whose tenures were at best epileptic.
This has not gone down well with the PDP leaders who were angered by the automatic ticket that was delivered to him by the National Working Committee of the party; hence they are mulling massive support for Victor Adoji, who they believe would return to the PDP after winning the election on the platform of ADC.
The candidacy of Adoji, a former corporate communications manager of the Zenith Bank, analysts said has recieved alot of blessings as his philantropic disposition has endeared many electorate to his side. Already there is massive door-to-door sensitization in Kogi East for his emergence.
However, the fear of Aidoko as the candidate of PDP is the beginning of wisdom as he has remained very smart in the art of using technicalities of court procedure to always return as Senator for the past eight years even after losing the election.
Another candidate of note fron the east is Jibrin Isah Echocho of the APC who was an ex-director of the defunct AfriBank and a philantropist of note.
Echocho was like a Boulevard for every Kogites in 2011 when he surfaced on the political turf like another George Washington of America in Kogi. He went ahead to win the January, 9th, 2011 PDP Governorship primaries however other events overtook the victory as ex-Governor Idris Wada later won the second primary.
He lost out and ever since then he had tried his luck in the PDP primary in 2015 when he contested against Wada then but lost.
He later joined the APC when late candidate of the Party Abubakar Audu died while coasting to victory. Before long he piched his tent with the Governor Yahaya Bello faction of the party.
At the primary election he contested against the Younger brother of Yahaya Audu and being the favored candidate of the Governor he won the primary.
Though Echocho in the Kogi East flank is a candidate of note however his being associated with Governor Bello as his favoured candidate may robb off on him negatively because of perceived lack of performance of the APC Government in the State.
In the Central for the PDP Ahmed Ogembe who emerged as the Party’s candidate got the ticket with much ado about other serious contenders.
The major issue is the war chest of the State Government that may be deployed to ensure the APC candidate wins at all cost because the Governor is also from the Central senatorial district.
The fact that the Governorship election in Kogi State is not happening alongside other States makes the senatorial election the most coveted during the February 2019 election.
Though Senator Ahmed Ogembe the incumbent is himself a hard nut to crack when it comes to election, it would be really battle royal in the central as the APC candidate Yakubu Oseni is also a well-known former banker and the executive chairman Kogi State Internal Revenue Services.
A veteran Journalist, Otori Ozigi described Oseni as a man of honesty and integrity who has brought the badge of honor as a former banker to bear in politics.
He said he is a man that plays politics with out bitterness or rancour adding that he would be an example to upcoming generation of leaders in Ebira land.
“As chairman of KGIRS he employed over 200 graduates from the senatorial district other things that will go for him is his level headedness.
However, a candidate that may spring surprise in the election is the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Natasha Akpoti who has been very vocal against the sale of Ajaokuta Steel Complex that is very dear to the people.
The electorates in the Central Senatorial district are said not to be very predictable as a little issue like that of Ajaokuta can sway their votes.
At the outset Akpoti was in the good books of the Governor and the APC and was touted to be given the APC ticket but she later fell out with the Governor’s camp and she quickly pitched her tent with the SDP.
However the SDP may not be very popular in the senatorial district but she has spread her tentacles in terms of awareness creation on her candidacy on the platform of the new Party.
The other issue going for her is gender as many of the womenfolk may fall for her based on that.