Battle for the Soul of Kogi Begins

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Ibrahim Oyewale writes that with the successful completion of the primaries of various political parties, all is now set for the governorship battle in Kogi State on November 16

The political landscape in Kogi State has been a beehive of activities following the official release of the time table for November 16th governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the electoral umpire in accordance with provisions of Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

The commission had also called on eligible voters who have duly registered and have not collected their Permanent Voter Cards in the Confluence State to use this opportunity to do so to enable them exercise their franchise during the forthcoming governorship election.

At at a recent stakeholders meeting at INEC State Headquarters in Lokoja, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor James Apam disclosed that no fewer than 170,664 PVCs are unclaimed since 2010 and those who registered before 2019 general elections. He told the stakeholders that the the commission would commence distribution of PVCs to assist the owners in their localities across the three senatorial districts of the State.

With the successful completion of the various primaries and emergence of gubernatorial candidates of various political parties, all is now set for the battles ahead as political gladiators who had withdrawn into their cocoon after the general elections in the country are now back to their trenches plotting to win the November 16th gubernatorial election.

The electorate in the Confluence State, no doubt will be filing out once again to elect who will governor the state in the next four years. The just concluded governorship primaries have produced no fewer that 69 candidates from various political parties jostling to occupy the Lugard House- Seat of Power in Lokoja.

The battle for the soul of Kogi State will be very interesting as the opposition parties candidates vow to unseat the incumbent governor, Yahaya Adoza Bello who is seeking a second term in office.

Among those eyeing Lugard House are the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello of All Progressive Congress (APC) seeking another fresh term. Mr. Musa Wada will be slugging it out with Bello as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP). The emergence of the two as flag bearers of their parties has not only rekindled the old rivalry between the PDP and APC, but also the battle line may have been clearly drawn.

Others are Samuel Alfa Audu of the Action Alliance (AA), Ibrahim Jubrin of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dambo Dantelle of the Allied Progressives Movement (APM) , the Amazon, Natasha Akpoti (Social Democratic Party (SDP), Joseph Idachaba of the (PPN), Godwin Atawodi of the Democratic Alliance, Mrs Justina Abanida of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) ,Jimoh Ahmadu of the MAJA, Ibrahim Itodo of the Labour Party and several others whose names are yet to be made public .

The All Progressive Congress APC and its candidate will rely so much on the massive votes garnered for the President Buhari in the 2019 national elections. The party posted other impressive results, winning 7 out of 9 House of Representatives seats from Kogi State. The APC also won two of the three senatorial seats as well as clinching all the 25 seats in the state Assembly.

Speaking shortly after picking APC ticket Governor Yahaya Bello told journalists in Abuja that his numerous achievements are dotted across the three senatorial districts and he also announced that the government has established infrastructure in each of the 21 local government areas of the state.

The Bello administration is still basking in the euphoria of tackling insecurity which was the greatest problem of the state as citizens sleep with their eyes closed. Businesses have returned and visitors pass through the state unmolested.

Meanwhile the PDP on its part dismissed all the claims of the ruling APC, claiming that existing infrastructure in the state were projects initiated and completed when PDP governors ruled the state and the party was poised to return to power based on that. The PDP in Kogi claims that there is no way its achievements in 13 years of governing the state could be compared to the four years of alleged maladministration by Governor Bello.

The opposition party alleged that since coming to office the APC administration, it has never won any election genuinely, alleging that the use of force, intimidation and thuggery gave power to the APC and not popularity.

Political observers and concerned citizens have expressed fears that as witnessed during the last general elections, if stringent measures are not put in place, the November election may end up a charade, except security agencies are challenged to live up to expectation.

They alleged that in the last national elections, incumbency was fully utilised as all the security apparatus in the state received instructions and directives from the governor who is the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of the state. Security officials openly participated in rigging and snatching of ballot boxes, they alleged.

The PDP also accused APC of intimidating voters on the orders of top government house officials who led the operations.

According to reports government house officials used by both fake and conventional police to chase away voters and even arrest prospective voters on trumped up charges. Scores of agents of opposing political parties were arrested and detained in the government house guard room.

Patriotic citizens who reported cases of electoral malpractices were either ignored or arrested. Senior security officers deny or encourage malpractices committed by their juniors.

Another area of concern is the suspected mercenary role played by the Federal Government to state elections especially in favour of the ruling party.

Accusing fingers were pointed at the INEC for either feigning ignorance or outrightly supporting and even participating in electoral malpractices.

There are also allegations that during the last general elections, vote shops were created not far from polling stations where agents of parties and contestants buy votes. While security agents were used to arrange and organise voters who collected money were directed on how to vote and who to vote for.

Despite allegations and counter allegations, realignment of political forces have continued unabated toward the gubernatorial polls. Many youth groups are on the match everyday in the major cities of the state, particularly the state capital, Lokoja drumming support for their preferred candidate.

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Political observers and concerned citizens have expressed fears that as witnessed during the last general elections, if stringent measures are not put in place, the November election may end up a charade, except security agencies are challenged to live up to expectexpectations

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