The November governorship election in Kogi State is now a straight fight between Governor Yahaya Bello of the state, who is the APC candidate and Alhaji Musa Wada, the Peoples Democratic Party choice standard bearer, writes Ibrahim Oyewale
As the dust raised by the just concluded primaries of the various political parties like the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), amongst others in Kogi State, begins to settle down, it is obvious that the battle line has been drawn between the ruling party and the major opposition party in the Confluence State.
The emergence of the incumbent governor of the state, Yahaya Adoza Bello as the Standard flag bearer of the APC and Alhaji Musa Wada, an engineer by profession for the PDP, has rekindled the old rivalry between the two parties, with particular reference to the shocking defeat of then ruling party by APC after 13 years of reign in Kogi State.
No doubt, November 16, 2019 will provide another opportunities for the two parties to test their political might, since the ouster of PDP from the Lugard House, Kogi’s seat of power by the APC-led by the late Abubakar Audu, and the his running mate, James Abiodun Faleke, who is in the House of Representatives, representing Ikeja Federal Constituency of Lagos State.
The historical defeat has not only put paid to the winner takes all attitude of the PDP, but also put the entire members of the party in disarray in Kogi State until the build-up to 2019 general elections, when the hierarchy of the party vowed to recapture the seat of power, a feat yet to be realised based on the outcome of several elections that were held in the state since APC took over.
Watchers of political events in the state have consistently posited that the ethnicity sentiments of the various component parts might continue to hinder the socio-political development of the state, citing the tripod that make up Kogi State, with the Igalas having largest population and followed by the Ebiras and Okun (Yoruba speaking) area of the state.
This, it is generally believed, will continue to play a major in the political calculus of who becomes what in the state as exemplified in the political arrangement that operates in the state since its creation from old Benue and Kwara States.
However, the politics and intrigues that have continued to trail the outcome of the governorship primaries notwithstanding, the political gladiators are expected to go back to their chessboard and trenches to re-strategise for the battle ahead.
But, irrespective of the fact that the turf is already crowded ahead of the election, the election has been described as a straight fight between Bello and Wada, former governor Idris Wada of the state.
Apart from the ethic card, which is very pronounced in the state, political observers are of the view that other factors will soon come to play in the build-up to the election such as antecedents, performances and the opinions formed by people as result of this.
In an interview with THISDAY on Sunday, a political analyst, Mr. Oloruntoba Ajayi, disclosed that the forthcoming governorship battle was between two major ethnic groups, the Ebiras and Igalas with Okuns and other minorities playing determinant role in who wins.
According to him, “had it been any Igala man picked APC ticket, the election would have been a walk over for the ruling APC”, arguing that with the emergence of Wada from Igalaland and Eastern Senatorial district, the die will be the cast, because they will queue behind their son by giving him block votes ditto the APC as Ebiras will not leave any stone unturned to retain the seat of power in the state for the next four years.”
Yahaya Bello is the incumbent governor and was believed to have been brought to power by providence following the sudden death of Audu, who was coasting home to victory in the 2015 governorship election. Bello is young and has been in charge for past four years.
Believed to hold the ace for now, he is also considered a tactician, who is always ahead of his opponents based on his antecedents since 2016 and subsequent emergence as the APC candidate despite several efforts to stop him.
First off, Bello will rely on the power of incumbency to retain the seat. Second, the battle will be between the centripetal and centrifugal forces as the APC can’t afford to lose Kogi State to balance the equation between the ruling Party and opposition party. He is believed to have the financial muscle to prosecute the political ambition. More so, the Ebiras are seemingly ready to support their own by voting for Bello come November 16 2019.
He will rely also on the two senators, seven House of Representatives members, the 25 members of the House of Assembly, commissioners and all the political appointees from the various districts would be ready to work at grassroots level for the victory of APC. His achievements will also be added advantage for his ambition.
Political pundits are of the opinion that what could have been an added advantage to the APC administration might work against the party during the forthcoming governorship election.
A social critic and analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, argued that if Bello administration had succeeded in weeding out the ghost workers and consistently paying salary to civil servants as and when due, there wouldn’t be cause for alarm.
However, he held the view that with the untold hardship foisted on them and their immediate family, the election period might be the time to pay back.
Musa Wada is an engineer, greenhorn politician and new entrant into the murky water of politics. His emergence as the PDP candidate still remains a surprise to many in the PDP, including his brother, Captain Wada, also a contestant and his father-in-law and former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, whose first son lost narrowly to Wada. He might have to rely on the experience of the duo to navigate the path to the Lugard House on November 16.
Presumably, after a thorough reconciliation may have been done and all other aspirants had given their nod for his candidature, Wada might enjoy the support of the entire people of Igala land of the Eastern flank of the state, who might be willing to work for his victory at poll in November, having emerged from a strong opposition PDP.
Observers of political events in the state argued that Wada is good material and with huge financial war chest to prosecute his gubernatorial ambition. M
Mohammed Ameh Ocheni, while speaking to THISDAY, stated that his candidacy provides the opportunity for the people of Igala to fight back and reclaim their lost glory, adding that having lost the seat of power in the last four year, the people had been relegated to the background.
Many people are of the view that Musa Wada has not acquired the enough experience in public service and governance to compete on the turf. They claimed that Kogi State is currently in a mess that requires experienced hands.
Thus, the question agitating the minds of Kogi people now is that whoever wins the election between Bello and Wada may not be a fantastic choice after all. But since the fight is a straight one between both, the answer to who eventually emerges is in the hands of time.