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Kogi: Still reeling from effects of primaries

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Atiku Abubakar

The emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has brought some life into the party in Kogi State, with a ripple effect on the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

Wild jubilation greeted Atiku’s announcement in most parts of Kogi State, especially Kogi Central, which used to be the traditional stronghold of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The jubilation might not be unconnected with the current administration’s harsh policies that have brought untold hardship to many households.

Kogi PDP is still licking its wounds after losing 2015 Governorship election to the APC. So, for members, Atiku’s emergence was hope rekindled.

However, the ruling APC in Kogi has been bogged down with internal wrangling in spite of the 2015 victory, as the party’s original candidate for that election, Prince Abubakar Audu, gave up the ghost on the verge of winning the election. He was replaced by Yahaya Bello.

That replacement succeeded in bequeathing horrendous crises to the party, as those that worked for its success were not accorded their dues because ‘the new Pharaoh did not know Joseph.’

Ever since, party members have been in disarray, and all has not been well with the party in the state.

There has also been disquiet over conduct of the party’s primaries held recently. During the primaries, imposition of candidates ruled, as many contestants that could not protest their exclusion, are said to be having something up their sleeves, as they nurse their bruised ego, silently waiting for an opportune time to deal with the party.

In Kogi, APC has not really put any mechanism in place to assuage aggrieved members, who may not speak their minds for fear of the unknown, which perpetually hangs over the party.

Some party members told The Guardian that they were not expecting Atiku to emerge winner at the PDP Port Harcourt convention, as all their permutations gave it to Sokoto Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

They lamented that APC didn’t handle the fallout of its primaries wisely, as the impunity, which used to be PDP’s hallmark was deployed to cause disaffection among its ranks, when people that lost in the primaries were handed tickets in many states.

Though PDP had its fair share of dispute, emanating from automatic tickets for rAPC members, who joined after dumping APC based on a Memorandum of Understanding, it was not as rampant as that of the APC.

Speaking for the Governor, the Director General Media and Publicity to Governor Yahaya Bello acknowledged that Atiku Abubakar is a politician of repute, especially being Vice President for eight years.

He said: “He is no doubt a big shot in the Nigerian political space. However, contesting against President Muhammadu Buhari will be a tough one.

The seriousness of the challenge posed by Atiku candidacy was further highlighted by Governor Yahaya Bello, who before now, always told whoever cared to listen that Buhari would win 2019 election with a very big margin.

He was even quoted to have boasted that Kogi State would deliver more votes for Buhari than Katsina, the President’s home state.

But the Governor could not hide his apprehension after the primary that threw up Atiku. He warned APC not underrate PDP.

He spoke when President Muhammadu Buhari hosted youth political appointees to a dinner at the Presidential Villa.

Bello also warned that PDP is not a pushover that should be taken for granted by the ruling APC in next year’s general election.

According to him, APC must aggressively go out to market

President Buhari and the numerous projects of his government in the last three years, if it must remain in power after 2019.

Executive Director, Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Jasper Azuatalam, said most Nigerians are disappointed in President Buhari, as he has failed to perform the expected magic.

He observed that many who voted overwhelmingly for President Buhari in Kogi State seem to not be in his list of priority states, as they have been impoverished with backlogs of unpaid salaries.

The people recalled with nostalgia the enthusiasm with which they voted Buhari and the bandwagon that paved way for many elected on APC platform to be catapulted into power.

An APC chieftain in Kogi State, Alhaji Linco Ocheje, however, advised that: “Atiku is not a threat at all. The South West PDP could not pick a vice President or national chairman. What are they telling the South West people to do about Atiku? South East cannot compromise 2023 for PDP. Buhari has only four years to go, so supporting any other candidate who will do eight years means they would be automatically schemed out. So, the South east is a concluded issue for APC.”


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