We are few days to November 16th – a democratic round about for the people of Kogi State to decide either to make a turn or to fudge ahead. The struggle which is basically between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) already seems to have a predictable end.
From observational trends, the battle appears to have taken the shape of a contest between a powerless masses and a powerful boss, raising the big question of ‘who decides the fate’?
The PDP on one hand has secured an internal harmony and a massive support that the party hasn’t tasted since 2015 general election through the 2016 guber to the 2019 general election. Most surprisingly, the party standard bearer- Mr. Musa Wada came from ‘nowhere’ and squeezed such a great wave.
The APC on the other hand has had the state as its stronghold – an inheritance from their late hero, Prince Abubakar Audu. However, in recent times, the APC has suffered a deal of internal fractions (the Audu’s group and the Bello’s faction). The reinstatement of Natasha Akpoti of the Social Democratic Party is no doubt a big threat to these two strong contenders.
These conditions alongside other immeasurable factors are raising a heavy red card on the face of the APC and their candidate, Yahaya Bello. However, all these conditions put together cannot amount to determinants of Yahaya Bello, Musa Wada or the voting masses’ fate in Kogi State. There are still other important questions to be answered.
Can the people of Kogi confide their trust in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the transformer of their divergent wishes to make a collective rational choice? Can institutions and agencies maintain their ‘independent’ status to guarantee free, fair and credible election? Can the power of voter cards supersede the temptation of voters’ cash? If we can step out of our domain of fantasies and be realistic to ourselves, the most appropriate answer to these questions is a capital NO.
An average voter who witnessed election in Kogi State (no matter the position contested) will in recent times, understand that conducting an election in the state is just ceremonial, a waste of time and resources. Democracy has been put on a life support in Kogi.
To this end, even though I cannot bring myself to accuse anybody or determine anybody’s fate, Kogi election may be rigged and I enjoin the people of the state to expect the worst while preparing for the best.
Sule Matthew, Bayero University, Kano