With less than one week for Nigerians to decide their next President, it is becoming more interesting and suspense-packed in Kogi State, especially as the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari won’t be on the ballot.
The question on the lips of many Kogites, is- “who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari?” What will be the voting pattern across the three Senatorial districts, especially among the three leading Presidential candidates- APC, PDP and Labour Party? Who says what to influence the people to vote for any of the candidates?
Many Nigerians have declared the 2023 Presidential election as a make or mar process that would determine the unity and sovereignty of the country. They are of the view that any decision taken by the electorates, either for or against the leading candidates, will clearly define the fortunes of Nigeria in the next four to eight years.
In Kogi State, the voting pattern of the electorates will vary.
The State is divided into three Senatorial districts, West, (Okun), East, (Igala), and Central, (Ebira).
No doubt, the State is currently governed by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), but there might be a twist in the expectations of the people as it concerns the presidential candidate who would carry the day.
Kogi West Voting Pattern
The voting pattern in the Western part of Kogi State might go in a different direction compared to what happened in 2019. Political bigwigs, such as the Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Secretary to the State Government, Dr Falashade Arike Ayoade, Commissioner for Finance, Hon. Asiru, Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Victor Omofaiye, serving Senator Smart Adeyemi and many more are members of the ruling APC, and have great influence in Kogi West. However, they have the likes of former Deputy Governor, Arch. Yomi Awoniyi, a lawmaker who represented Kogi West, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, Senator Dino Melaye, Sam Abenemi to contend with.
Since 1999 till date, the opposition PDP has gained many votes from this axis. Despite the outcome of the 2019 general election, the APC could not win convincingly as the people of the West have continued to show their loyalty to the PDP owing to the fact that they have not seen much impact from the ruling party.
According to some political analysts, most of the political appointees under Governor Yahaya Bello-led administration cannot deliver for their party in Kogi West. They are not seen as grassroots politicians who can convincingly woo voters to vote for their presidential candidate.
The likes of Awoniyi, Ogbeha, Melaye, Abenemin all have a great influence in Kogi West to ensure that the PDP maintains its winning streak.
However, the serving lawmaker representing Yagba Federal Constituency, Hon. Leke Abejide of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, may spring surprise for the APC presidential candidate in his constituency. Abejide is a strong loyalist of Tinubu, who has consistently in his re-election campaign to the House of Representatives, appealed to his supporters to re-elect him and vote Tinubu for president. Abejide, who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise, in one of his reelection campaigns in Yagba Federal constituency said, “We are not mentioning APC in our (campaign) programme; we are only mentioning Tinubu, and that is the project I want to deliver. Whatever it is going to cost me, even if it is my mandate (re-election), I don’t mind”.
Voting Pattern In East
The voting pattern in the Eastern part of Kogi State may be a one-way traffic. While many from this ethnic group believe that the incumbent Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello is not willing to relinquish power to another ethnic group after eight years, political pundits are of the view that the opposition PDP might have bloc votes for their presidential candidate, while Labour will also follow in the same part. The ruling APC has big names from this region. Deputy spokesperson of APC, Yakubu Murtala Ajaka, Senator Isah Echocho, Deputy Governor, David Onoja and many more are from the East and will be rooting for the APC Presidential Candidate, Tinubu, while former Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, Capt. Idris Wada, Austin Okai, Victor Adoji, Senatorial Candidate for Kogi East Senatorial District will be on ground to maintain their political relevance in Kogi State by ensuring that the PDP candidate, Atiku, gets the desired votes.
Kogi Central Voting Pattern
It will be a case of no retreat no surrender in the Central Senatorial District. The power play between the candidate of PDP in Kogi Central Senatorial election, Natasha Akpoti and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State will take the centre stage during the Presidential and National Assembly election. Natasha Akpoti has continued to gain sympathy from electorates in the zone, for being the only woman who stood firm to condemn some policies initiated by the Government in Kogi State. Her stand to ensure the total resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State and the failure of the Buhari Government to do it as promised in 2015 might work against the APC Presidential Candidate. While Governor Yahaya Bello will be rooting for his candidate, Engr. Abubakar Ohere to win the Central Senatorial election, the PDP candidate on the order hand will be expecting nothing less than victory for herself and her presidential candidate. Governor Bello and Natasha have been at loggerheads since 2019.
The PDP candidate had on different occasions accused the incumbent Governor of sponsoring violence, which the Governor through his aides has refuted. Despite Governor Bello-led APC getting bloc votes for the party in the 2019 election, the scenario may twist this time as the people of Kogi Central now have a divided loyalty for the APC and the PDP. The cold war between the Ohinoyi of Ebira land, HRM Dr Ado Ibrahim and Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaye Bello might also work against the APC presidential candidate as loyalists to the monarch have vowed that the Governor’s candidate will not succeed at the poll.
Crack In APC
There is a cold war going on among members of the ruling APC. The party is divided into two camps in Kogi State. One camp is loyal to Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, while the other is loyal to the lawmaker from Lagos State, James Falake, who is Tinubu’s right hand man. The circumstances that brought Governor Yahaya Bello to power following the demise of Prince Abubakar Audu have continued to linger for over seven years. On several occasions, the Camp of Governor Bello has accused Faleke of anti-party activities in Kogi State.
Recently, a socio-political group, Kogi West Conscience, called on the national leadership of the APC to address the imminent crisis that will soon erupt in the party as a result of brazen anti-party activities.
In a statement signed by the group’s national president, Ademola Bakare, he said it is worrisome that the national secretary of the party’s presidential campaign council, James Faleke, is working against all candidates of APC in Kogi West, aside his political god-father, Senator Bola Tinubu who is flying the party’s presidential flag.
“It is no longer a secret that James Faleke only works for APC in Lagos and the party’s presidential candidate. We confidently submit that Faleke is working against Kogi Assembly Speaker, Prince Kolawole Matthew who is APC House of Reps candidate for Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu federal constituency. He has pitched his tent with the candidates of his ‘actual party’, African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the two federal constituencies in Okun land- Yagba and Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu.
“Last weekend, Faleke played host to APC stakeholders in Kogi West and to our surprise, he invited the House of Reps candidates of ADC, Leke Abejide and Idris Salman to the event. Not only did he invite them, he practically endorsed them in the presence of APC stakeholders.
“He didn’t hide his hatred for APC in Kogi West and made it clear that his sole interest is his god-father emerging president of the nation.
“It is important to note that APC lost all House of Reps seats in Kogi West in 2019 due to anti-party activities. We regained the senate seat through the doggedness of Governor Yahaya Bello and Senator Smart Adeyemi,” he said.
In a quick response, a Kogi based-socio-political group, Kogi West Agenda, said that no cheap propaganda can distract the Secretary of Tinubu/Shettima Presidential campaign council, Hon. James Faleke, from his determination to deliver Nigeria’s vote for Bola Tinubu and other candidates of the party.
The coordinator of the group, Arowolo Solomon, in a statement said: “The so-called anti-party only exists in the writer’s imagination and that of his sponsors. It is pertinent to state that if there is any anti-party or would be, Faleke cannot be a party to such distraction.
“This is surely the handiwork of the opposition who knows they will be defeated at the 2023 polls. The target is to distract the party and government in the country by sowing seeds of discord.
“APC as a family has come a long way and has worked very hard to maintain the number one position in the politics of the country, and will not allow any passenger to come in between.
“Let me use this medium to warn such fourth columnists that Faleke is an excellent politician who has always projected the goals of our party beyond personal interests and will do everything for the growth of the party. This tactic is so elementary that we could have ignored it but for record purposes.”
The decision of the APC to hold Adhoc delegates Congress on February 7, 2023, has also further thrown the APC into disarray.
DAILY POST recalls that the National Secretariat of the APC had on Friday, February 3, 2023, announced the composition of the Electoral Panel headed by one Lawan Samaila Abdullahi to conduct the Primaries to pick adhoc delegates that will vote to elect a Gubernatorial candidate for the Party during the April 8 Governorship Primaries.
But the decision has not gone down well with some members of the party who wondered why the party would take such an action this time when campaigns for the various offices are in top gear.
A chieftain of the party from Okene, Alhaji Ahmed Oiza, who fumed at the decision, told journalists in Lokoja that those behind the decision do not mean well for the party.
“Why the haste to elect ad hoc Delegates? We still have until late March to do the Congress so why must we be distracted from the campaigns going on at the moment. Even our Party’s constitution is very clear on the time frame within which to conduct ad hoc delegates Congresses. Let me ask a pertinent question, gentlemen of the Press. Why are Imo and Bayelsa States not also holding their Congresses on the same February 7? Why Kogi? Why distract us?”, He declared.
Responding, the Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, described as ludicrous and laughable, cooked up allegations by a group he described as “illegal and unknown to the APC constitution”, over the delegates list.
“The constitution of our party is very clear on how congresses are conducted. The National Headquarters of our party followed the due process required, as well as all constitutional requirements, processes and procedures. There is no ward in Kogi that is domiciled in Abuja. Therefore, those who wish to participate in the process should come to Kogi State.
“The Congresses were held at the various wards across the state and delegates have been duly elected. The Governor is only interested in a peaceful APC that follows the dictates of its constitution,” Fanwo said.
Attacks On Opposition Parties
There have been reported attacks on opposition parties’ members across the State. The opposition PDP has accused the ruling APC of masterminding the attack, while the ruling APC has distanced itself from orchestrating violence in the State.
There were reports of violence in the suburb of Abocho in Dekina Local Government Area on Wednesday 16th February, 2023, and in Ihima, Okehi Local Government on Thursday 17th of February, 2023.
Both according to the Head, Media Team, Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, of the PDP in Kogi State, Austyn Ochu, “The actions of the thugs in a suburb of Abocho, where they inflicted injuries on their victims with guns and matchet, and the coordinated attack on party members who were holding ward meetings in Ihima leading to the destruction of their property, confirm the speculation in our previous press releases that there is an organised attempt to gag the opposition by unleashing violence on the unsuspecting PDP members on the eve of the elections.
“It is therefore instructive that the State Security apparatus must intensify surveillance on such black spots as Dekina, Okene, Okehi, Adavi, Olamaboro and such other places where these thugs are being used as instruments in the hands of unpopular candidates, to intimidate the opposition prior to the February General Election.
“The PCC hereby calls on the Security Agencies once again to swing into action immediately to arrest those who are known to be behind the recent violence in Abocho and Okehi in order to bring them to book and dissuade further unwarranted attack on law abiding PDP members in the state.
“The PDP wishes to assure party faithful and supporters that the party is prepared more than ever before to confront the challenges ahead with equanimity and will not submit to acts of intimidation. The PDP is resolved to do everything within the ambit of the law to protect her members from being disenfranchised in the next week’s General Election”.
How Naira Redesign, Fuel Scarcity Saga Will Affect Presidential Election
The issue of naira redesign, economic hardship and lingering fuel scarcity will probably push electorates to vote for candidates of their choice without being influenced by party leaders, individuals or people around them. In a chat with some electorates in Kogi State, they expressed their dissatisfaction with the current hardship Nigerians are facing.
According to them, it will amount to suicide to elect another leader who will take the nation backward compared to the way it was in 2015.
Speaking during an interview with DAILY POST, a resident of Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, Abdul Mohammed said the era of vote buying is over in Nigeria.
He said no politician can induce him for votes come February 25, adding that the present hardship in the country is an attestation of failed leadership since 2015.
“The present Government has failed us. We are all suffering. No money, no food, no fuel and many more, yet they still want us to believe in them. This is not possible.
“I would rather vote for a candidate that would change the situation of Nigeria for good rather than collect money on election day to suffer for another eight years. I don’t need any leader or person to tell me who I will vote for. I have made up my mind.”
Mrs Janet Abraham, a petty trader in Lokoja, described the presidential election as a battle between light and darkness.
Lamenting the economic situation of the country, Abrahim averred that, “the Presidential election in 2023 can be compared to light and darkness. It is left for Nigerians to make their choice. As for me, I have made mine to follow the light because Nigeria as we speak is under captivity in the hands of some power drunk politicians who believe that the country belongs to them”.
Status of Obi and Kwawanso in Kogi
The Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi has continued to draw sympathy from some electorates in Kogi State who believe that the two leading parties, the PDP and the APC are no better option for a renewed Nigeria.
DAILY POST gathered that traders and business owners have repeatedly shown their interest to vote for the former Anambra State Governor.
The party has been enmeshed with pockets of crisis in the State, as party stakeholders have repeatedly accused the present exco of ethnicizing the Obi movement. However, the leadership of the Labour Party has come out to debunk the claim, expressing optimism that they will deliver for their principal on election day. Across the three Senatorial Districts, it is expected that the Labour Party will contend with other leading candidates at the ballot to share votes in Kogi East, while a similar situation might play out in Kogi West and Central.
Meanwhile, the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNP, has not been stable in Kogi State. Not much has been said about the former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwawanso, NNPP presidential candidate. His probability of gaining many votes from the three Senatorial Districts of Kogi State is very slim in view of the party’s lack of presence across the 21 Local Government Areas of the State.
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