In the face of preparations for next year’s general elections, people of Kogi State are keeping an eye on the more distant election of the state’s Chief Executive. Politicians and other stakeholders are increasingly becoming excited on who will be the next occupant of Lugard House, the seat of power.
The second and final tenure of the incumbent, Governor Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress, APC terminates 26 January, 2024. Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has rolled out the schedule of activities for his replacement with the election fixed for 11 November, 2023. The off cycle poll will also take place in Bayelsa and Imo States.
Both the ruling APC and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP are perfecting strategies and preparations for the poll. While the former is determined to retain control of the State, the later is working round the clock plotting the graph of how to reclaim power, which it lost dramatically in 2015. The parties are expected to hold their Primaries from March 27 to April 17 next year.
An early entrant into the race on the platform of the opposition party is Dr Bolufemi Rotimi, a home based businessman. Tell tales of his aspiration are on the social media and in the diverse posters, proclaiming “Kogi first” and visible across the state. Bolu is also a member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council.
Born in the peak of the Nigerian civil war, the 54 year old aspirant hails from Okoro Gbede, a rustic agrarian community in Ijumu Local Government Area in Western Senatorial District of the state. Bolu grew up in the farm, the profession of his parents.
His humble background notwithstanding, young Bolu studied Accounting and Cooperative Management at the Federal Polytechnic Bida, Niger State and National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN respectively.
Soft spoken and tall, Bolu leaves an impression of calmness and depth as he dissects the Kogi situation.
He argued that part of the state’s trajectories is it’s history of leadership recruitment. He acknowledged that past and present leaders of the State have done their best to develop it. He however pointed out that their efforts may have yielded better results if they had been living in the state at the time of their respective elections into power.
“We need people who are home made and based to aspire to leadership positions. They will understand the terrain and needs of the people better. I relate with the people first hand, because I have always been part of them. I grew up here, partly schooled here and my businesses and home is here. I know Kogi well and have passion for its development.”
Bolu whose business interests covers the vast terrains of mining, agriculture, trading, oil and gas have cultivated relationships with every past elected government of the State. Over the years he has been on ground with succeeding administrations since 1999 when Nigeria embraced democracy.
But the tendon of his access to the people lies in philanthropy. Bolu is well known in every Constituency and he hurries to intervene in both public and private needs of the people. The vehicle through which he accesses people is his foundation, Rotshade Helpline Initiatives, RHI. The group gives funding support to students and the less privileged. It also sponsors free medical outreach and empowerment programs in various communities.
The News reports that since the creation of the State in 1991, no indigine of Kogi West has been elected Governor. The zone has therefore been making strong demands for power shift. Bolu who is believed to be reaching out and seeking support of stakeholders from other zones, is fast emerging as the rallying point of the demand.
He has promised to deepen unity, industrialization, agriculture and infrastructure development if he is elected. He said his strategy for development is centred on Kogi’s rich mineral resources. “We are too rich to be poor. With our solid mineral and oil deposits, we can certainly make live better for our people.” Bolu said.
For now the imminent hurdle is how to win his party’s ticket so as to feature in the main poll. Will he cross the bridge?