Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:08 am
By Ayorinde Oluokun
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC announced the time table for the November 16th Kogi State Governorship election, players in the political scene of the Confluence State have been busy with permutations on how best to displace the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello.
Some of the measures being considered by some of the political actors may be deemed weird, while others may simply border on the ridiculous.
Having a candidate who is sellable to the people is unarguably a key launchpad to gain political power and it is therefore not a surprise that the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC, presently the ruling party in the state and the main opposition PDP are in a frenzy over who flies their respective flags, with interesting takeaways.
One of the interesting trends in the two political parties is the emergence of what some have called,’dynasty politics’ – a term now being used by some to describe attempts by some family lines in the state to perpetuate themselves in the leadership positions of the confluence state.
Since the creation of the state nearly three decades ago, three men, all of them Igala from Kogi East have been elected into the office of Governor.
The state has also had an Acting Governor in the person of Clarence Olafemi, and an incumbent ‘supplementary’ Governor Bello, who inherited the votes of a candidate who died just before he was declared winner of the 2015 Kogi governorship election.
The three former governors are Late Prince Abubakar Audu, Alh. Ibrahim Idris and Capt. Idris Wada.
For the impending 2019 election, the families of the former governors are well represented in the governorship race, adding a phratry dimension to the crucial exercise.
In the ruling party, two children of Late Abubakar Audu, the first and second civilian Governor of the state are in contention for the APC ticket. They are Mohammed Audu, and his step-brother Mona Mustapha Audu. They were in fact three, until Yahaya Audu stepped down from the contest.
Both Mustapha and Mohammed are reported to have paid the mandatory N24m fee for expression of interest and nomination forms. Efforts by family members and other concerned individuals to harmonise their aspirations have so far been abortive.
Mohammed, who appeared to be the more popular aspirant from the late Audu family is a businessman with a Masters Degree in Strategic Marketing Management.
He was his late father’s Campaign Director of Finance and Logistics.
So far, each of the brothers have held to their guns and boasting of their ability to become the next governor of Kogi State if they get the APC ticket. Their posters, banners and other campaign paraphenalia dot the state. They are both leveraging on their late father’s towering profile in their bid to become the next occupant of Lugard House.
Indeed, the late Audu was a political enigma in his days. A former banker and ex-finance commissioner in the old Benue State, he came to the lime light in 1992 when he was elected first Governor of Kogi State. However, he could not complete his tenure due to the political bump triggered by the concellation of the June 12 1993 Presidential election.
At the return of democracy in 1999, he was re-elected Governor on the platform of the defunct All Peoples Party, APP, thus becoming the first and second man to be elected Governor of the state.
He was coasting to victory against then incumbent Governor Wada during the last governorship exercise in 2015 when he suddenly died during the collation of the result.
The late Audu was a contestant in all the all seven gubernatorial elections held in the state in his lifetime.
He was victorious in two of the elections, lost four, while one was declared inconclusive, though he was dead even before the final declaration of the result.
This is the first Governorship election ever without Audu’s colourful and what some may describe as “comical presence” on the ballot.
But then, Mohammed and Mona are attempting to fill the vacuum for him with their bid for the APC gubernatorial ticket.
In the opposition PDP, families of two former governors, Ibrahim and Wada are providing interesting research materials for students of politics. The activities of members of the family as they made strenuous efforts to wrestle power from the APC and Yahaya Bello, the present landlord of Lugard House and a man with the canivorous self adulation of ‘White Lion’ are talk of the town in Kogi.
Sources, however, said Abubakar Ibrahim, a miner with certificates in Agriculture, management and Diplomacy is the aspirant to beat for the PDP ticket. He is the Chief Executive of Aira Integrated Services, AIS, a notable company in the FCT.
The 51-year-old businessman is the first son of Ibrahim Idris, who governed Kogi State for nearly nine years from 2003-2012.
Abubakar’s has reiterated that although he is proud of his father’s towering achievements, his political ambition is self conceived.
When the senior Ibrahim governed the Confluence State, he pursued populist agenda and layed the structural foundation for development of the state. Ibro, as he is fondly called is a humble servant-leader who struck the right cord with the masses throughout his days in power.
He has remained in touch with them nearly a decade after he left office. He built a massive political structure while in office and applied same to successfully install a successor. His political structure and his deep pockets are believed to be placed at the disposal of his scion.
The Ibrahim Idris family is not having a field day for the PDP ticket. Indeed, the race seems like a personality clash between Ibrahim and his political creation and successor, Idris Wada.
Wada is seeking a second and final term, relying on the contacts he built while in office to return to Lugard House.
Being out of favour with his predecessor is however not the only challenge to the Second term dream.
Another formidable opposition is the enemy within. Wada’s younger brother, Musa is also in the race for the PDP governorship ticket. Musa is a trained engineer and former Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
He was said to have mooted the idea of contesting the governorship in 2011, but jettisoned the idea in support of his elder brother following the intervention of their father, Pa. Wada Ejiga, a former native Court judge.
But Pa Wada is now dead, leaving the brothers to pursue their political ambition without regard for the other.
To make the political trajectory more intriguing, Musa is married to one of the daughters of Ibro, while Suleiman, her brother is playing a major role in the campaign.
Until very recently, another participant in the Kogi dynastic politics is Sen. Ahmadu Ali, former National Chairman of the PDP and one time Federal Commissioner for Education.
His son Mohammed was also in the race for the PDP ticket, though he has now dropped the idea.
The young man was rumoured to have gone into the race to whittle down the influence of the other lineages.
The Kogi electorate is broken down into three major groups over the permutations. One group is opposed to the aspirants on the sentiment that ‘we cannot serve father and son.’
A second group is in support of the dynasty politicians. This group does not see anything wrong in the aspiration of former governors and their families as long as they do not run against the law.
A third group is sitting on the fence.
For now, the multiplex dynastic rat race to Lugard House gathers momentum. Over to the Kogi electorate.