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Lugard House 2019: Rowdy race for Bello’s job

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Dr. Joe Abah

Abah

Immediate past governor, Capt. Idris Wada, his predecessor’s oldest son, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, Abubakar Idris, erstwhile minister of Police Affairs, Barrister Humphrey Abah and member, House of Representatives, Ikeja Constituency, Hon James Abiodun Faleke are some of the big names that have surfaced in Kogi State’s governorship race.

In addition to the above list are 17 others, who have indicated intent or “still consulting.”

The list includes, a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Abdullahi Haruna; current serving member and former Deputy Speaker of Kogi House of Assembly, Hon Aliyu Akuh; United States based academic, Prof. Saidu Ogah; a former Council Chairman, Hon. Hassan Yakubu Enape, younger brother to former Governor Wada, who also is a son-in-law to Wada’s predecessor, Ibrahim Idris, Engr. Musa Wada; a security expert, Associate professor at University of Lagos, who holds a Doctorate Degree in Criminology, Dr. Ameh Erico; a former Commissioner for Health in Wada Administration and one time President, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA),

Dr. Idris Omede; a former Deputy Speaker in the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Omebije; Alhaji Mikail Isa; Chief Simeon Maha; Chief Sunday Umoru; and Henry Anibe Agbonika.

With the exception of Faleke and Abah, all belong to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Taking a cue from Edo, Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun States, which have had their election calendars severed from other states holding governorship elections simultaneously, the electorate in Kogi will have to wait until the last quarter of 2019 to elect their governor for another four years.

But politicians eyeing Lugard House are not leaving anything to chance, going by their activities.

Meetings are being held, committees are being set up, posters and billboards adorn strategic places.

At the last count, 21 aspirants are involved. However, a few have been more visible with their tentacles spread across state borders.

APC

AT a gathering held earlier in the year at Confluence Stadium, Lokoja and tagged ‘mega rally’, the ruling all Progressives Congress (APC) expressly endorsed incumbent governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello as its automatic candidate to run for a second term.

Although the rally was at the instance of the faction loyal to the governor, no other aspirant is yet to show interest on the APC platform.

Faleke, running mate to the late Prince Abubakar Audu at the 2015 governorship poll, earlier touted to give Bello a run for the APC ticket recently announced his decision to return to his Lagos constituency.

Presently, Faleke represents Ikeja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.

A large portion of his supporters, led by Daniel Isa, the Director-General of Audu/Faleke campaign organisation, has moved to Action Democratic Congress (ADC).

Another group of aggrieved APC members, led by Humphrey Abah, who was chairman, Abubakar Audu Campaign Organisation in 2015, is now in the Social Democratic Party (SDP). 

It would be recalled that the two contending groups in Kogi APC, Bello and Audu/Faleke factions, parted ways after the party’s parallel congresses, which appeared skewed in favour of the governor’s camp.

The reconciliation committee set up by APC leadership to reconcile aggrieved party members in the state, swung into action two weeks ago, with panel members expressing satisfaction with job done so far.

Committee chairman (Kogi West), Hon Duro Meseko, a former member of House of Representatives, said the committee was charged to meet with members, especially the aggrieved, with the aim of spearheading the restoration of peace, unity and tranquility at ward, local government and state levels, as well as make appropriate recommendations, where necessary.

Meseko, leading other members of the peace panel, including Senator Smart Adeyemi, General Paul Okutimo (Rtd) and Dr. Toyin Akanle, local government sole administrators and party stalwarts, disclosed that the panel members had a busy week touring Yagba West, Yagba East and Mopamuro Local Government Areas in Yagba Federal Constituency.

He described the journey as rewarding, revealing and successful, as aggrieved members turned up in their numbers to voice out their grievances.

He said: “It has been a wonderful experience.

Our task has been made easier by the willingness of party members to cooperate with the committee. We went round.

Although it is still ongoing, we realised there are issues, but we have succeeded to a large extent in restoring peace among party faithful. So many have now decamped back into the party.

“APC, like any other party, is not devoid of internal rancour. It is just that Kogi State has taken the lead in this instance.”

Asked if the ongoing peace initiative would be extended to Bello and James Faleke, the two main rivals in the crisis rocking the party in Kogi State since the 2015 governorship election, Meseko replied, “The prospect is very high. Faleke is a member of APC.

As such, he cannot be a hindrance to the peace process.

I can assure you that Faleke will be reconciled with the governor, as Iong as he remains a member of APC.

The committee is doing a great job. And many aggrieved members have been reconciled back into the party. I urge all members to embrace this reconciliation initiative aimed at repositioning our party.”

ADC

UNCONFIRMED sources said the ADC governorship ticket was reserved for Faleke.

Speculations of Faleke being associated with ADC in Kogi have not abated, despite his denial.

While a section of the local media hold the view that Faleke would run for 2019 Kogi governorship, another said he would be contesting for another term in the House of Representatives, for Ikeja Federal Constituency.

It is yet to be seen which of the two would survive at the end of the day.

When The Guardian asked him to clear the air on speculations surrounding his destination, Faleke said: “I cannot predict tomorrow.

God is the ultimate decider that gives power. If He deems me fit to serve, we will appreciate at the appropriate time.”

SDP

HAVING abandoned the APC boat, seeing as Governor Bello has gained full control of the party structure in the state, Humphrey Abah, a lawyer and his supporters moved to the Social Democratic Party (SDP), where he is running for governorship.

Abah, a seasoned politician, is key to the take-off and popularisation of SDP in Kogi State. He singlehandedly picked the bill for the nomination forms of would-be SDP exco members at all levels in the 21 local governments and three senatorial districts.

He was variously, Presidential Liaison Officer (Kogi State) to late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, Minister, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Police Affairs, Chairman, inter-ministerial committee, Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation and member, contact and mobilisation committee of same.

He was also the Chairman, Abubakar Audu Campaign Organisation in 2015.

Abah is the only visible SDP aspirant. If he has challengers for the party’s ticket, they have not shown his level of commitment.

The PDP and APC should put their acts together, if they must withstand the SDP onslaught.

The SDP is fast growing in Kogi as the third force and has many things going for it.

The interim state treasurer, Mr. Damilola Davidson told The Guardian that SDP is currently the best-organised party in Kogi State.

He said its membership drive is second to none, as it has presence in all the 239 electoral wards.

He exuded confidence that his party has been positioned as the alternative to the two leading parties.

However, the SDP is not devoid of its own internal wrangling, which became glaring during its recently concluded Congresses.

The emergence of two parallel executives was, however, quickly nipped in the bud after the party’s national leadership waded in and ordered harmonisation of lists of the two contending groups.

PDP

CAPT. Idris Wada, a retired pilot, who lost his seat to Bello after the controversial and highly litigated 2015 poll, is yet to openly indicate intention, but there are indicators that he would run.

A source close to the former governor said various groups within the PDP have proposed to Wada, based on public perception that he did better as governor, compared to the current administration.

He said: “As things stand now, he has the greatest opportunity because of the lows of the present government.

Meetings are being held to weigh available options. He should run, naturally, as he performed well during his tenure as governor.

On his part, Wada waxed philosophical, as he said: “God Almighty will determine who comes up as the next governor.

If God deems it right that I run, fine.

If not, I move on with my life. It is going to be a herculean task for whoever comes in, because of the state of things in Kogi now.

The election is still one and a half years away. A lot of things will be coming up, so you can’t rule out anything yet.”

Abubakar Idris is an unwilling governorship aspirant with prospects.

His father, former Governor Idris, is master of the political chessboard, with a huge war chest.

Many established politicians in Kogi today were his associates, appointees or beneficiaries of his benevolence.

His era witnessed monumental youth and women empowerment programmes and he embraced those categorised as the lowly class.

Little wonder he is seen as the rallying point in Kogi PDP, and his influence has not waned eight years after leaving office.

Abubakar Idris maintained a low profile throughout his father’s two terms in office.

A successful businessman, he has been tipped as the candidate to take the battle straight to Governor Bello.

In the words of a supporter, “If anybody ignores Bello, the person is making a mistake.

Bello is a typical Nigerian politician, and his chances to succeed are very high.

Besides, the governor is empowering an army of young people, who will do anything to sustain their relevance beyond this term.

“The only politician in Kogi State, who has the clout to suppress Bello’s antics is former governor Ibrahim Idris.

It is for this reason that some of us in the PDP have said, even if Ibro is not eligible to contest again, having completed the constitutional two terms, his son should benefit from his father’s goodwill.”

The source further revealed, “We had gone to Ibro sometimes earlier in the year to ask him to name his candidate for the next election, as the father of PDP in Kogi State.

His reply was that a ‘father’ does not name candidates. He then gave us the assignment to fish out a popular and capable candidate.

After sometime, we went back to tell him that we had found a candidate in the person of Abubakar Idris.

He said we were not being fair to him, if after calling him father of the party, we are asking him to produce his own son as an aspirant, when there are other aspirants in the party, who also come to him.

He said he was not comfortable with that arrangement, that PDP members in the state will have to decide who their candidate is through a transparent primary election, giving every aspirant a level playing ground to deepen internal democracy in the party, which will enhance the party’s chances in the general election.”

However, recent events showed that Idris advice was not heeded.

Various groups have been falling upon themselves, insisting on his son contesting.

But the younger Idris has neither accepted to run nor rejected the calls.

Last week, Kogi West Youth Alliance (KWYA) at the PDP state secretariat in Lokoja paid for the letter of intent form for Abubakar Idris to contest for Governorship in 2019.

The President of KWYA, Abu Sadiq and Secretary, Comrade Femi Temitope, said the group paid for the intent form because of its confidence in Idris to take the state to the next level.

KWYA said while it is still urging the former governor’s son to join the gubernatorial race, the move was to further convince him that their support was no fluke.

It described him as a philanthropist, who delights in settling school, medical and other bills of indigent youths.

Other groups, such as the Association for Lokoja-Kotonkarfe Market Men and forum Kogi West PDP Youth Leaders, at various forums, have expressed open support for the younger Idris.


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