OPINION: How Kogi Guber Will Be Won And Lost By Michael Onjewu
On Saturday, November 16, eligible voters will go the polls to elect a new governor for Kogi state.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a total of 1,485,828 persons have collected their PVC's representing 90.2% of the 1,646,350 registered voters. 24 candidates will square it out in 2,548 Polling Units across 21 local government areas.
Despite the array of candidates, the election will be a two-horse race between the current governor and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Yahaya Bello and Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While Bello is from the mainly Ebira speaking Kogi Central, Wada, a brother to a former governor is from the Igala speaking Kogi East.
In this article, I will attempt to analyze the areas of strength of these candidates and what will probably shape the decision of voters come Satuday.
Bello's area of strength:
For current governor Yahaya Bello, Saturday's election will the first true test of his popularity in Kogi. He emerged governor in 2016 following the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, winner of the 2015 election who died before results were declared.
Power Of Incumbency
As the current governor, Yahaya Bello enjoys the power of incumbency, which may give him an edge over his competitors. In Nigeria, chief executives wield enormous powers over state apparatus which they deploy at will to achieve their political aim. Yahaya Bello may likely deploy the instrumentality of state to ensure his emergence as governor.
Political Divisions In Kogi West and East
The political divisions among the IgaIas and Okuns will serve as a major boost to governor Yahaya Bello's re-election bid. The governor will cash on the rancours by ensuring that he gets at least 50% of the votes through the influence of the likes of Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West) and current deputy governor, Edward Onoja (Kogi East) while ensuring that he gets the bulk of the votes cast from his mainly Ebira speaking (Kogi Central). There are insinuations that the Atah of Igala is indirectly working for Bello's emergence.
Wada's area of strength:
Wada though a novice in the political turf is from the majority Igala tribe who has ruled the north-central state the most. He will depend solely on the votes from the Igala speaking Kogi east to stand any chance against Bello.
Though an introvert in nature, Wada's support base especially among the Igalas have soured in recent weeks following endorsements from key Igala stakeholders. There is also a sentiment among the Igala tribe that power should return to Kogi east where it belongs.
Bello's Inability To Provide Critical Infrasture As Governor
Another factor that may play out in Wada's favor is the inability of governor Bello to provide basic and critical infrastructures in the state since coming to power in 2016. Bello has been accused of performing poorly as governor based on all index of development. Bello's inability to deliver in terms of road construction, quality education, improved health care, social welfare will serve as a stimulus to the people of Kogi to elect Wada come Saturday.
Bello's Inability To Pay Salaries
Most Kogi workers will seek an alternative to Yahaya Bello over the inability of the governor to pay salaries despite receiving bailout funds from the federal government. Reports say workers are being owed for as much as three years leading to many of them committing suicide. Civil servants across Kogi will most likely vote Wada in Saturday's crunch election.
Wada will most likely secure more votes in Kogi West following his decision to pick a running mate from the region. The political influence of Senator Dino Melaye who is also seeking re-election as a senator under the PDP will in no small measure help the electoral fortune of Wada. The People of Kogi West are said to be aggrieved following the decision of the APC to deny James Faleke the mandate of becoming governor after the death of Prince Abubakar Audu in 2015.
Both the APC and PDP candidates may fancy their chances because they stand a nearly equal chance of winning one each.
As the journey of electing a new occupant for Lugard House in Lokoja begins tomorrow, the people of Kogi must elect a leader that will take them to the promised land.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of yans.ng.