Kogi23’ Gubernatorial tussle: in search of a perfect fit for Lugard House

The end of a dawn, decade and other time measurements factor opens up the opportunity for the entrant of a new one and it is without mincing words the New Direction administration Governor Yahaya Bello has laid a very strong solid foundation for what the future generation would remember his style and principle of leadership as well as his good gestures to every corners of the confluence state. Now, the people of Kogi state and particularly the supporters of the All Progressive Congress have turned their search light to who becomes the next occupant of the highly historic Lugard house.

The 2023 elections is winding down to a close and what is left is the forth coming the House of Assembly and Governorship elections of some other states. We all are aware that the gubernatorial election in Kogi state will hold towards the end of the year 2023 and interested political parties including the ruling All Progressive Congress have began to put modalities in place and engage in some housekeeping in a bid to guarantee a good outing. In seasons as this Kogi state becomes the cynosure of all eyes and political interest, as its political gladiators and of much concern those within the rank and file of the APC take the center stage, with the bid of taking over the governorship seat from Governor Yahaya Bello, whose tenure ends by January, 27 2024.

Expectedly, the crescendo of political jingoism within the state has increased with various alignments of interest groups with the aspirations of their preferred candidates for different reasons ranging from genuine to hypocritical outlook. Don’t get me wrongly democracy is fully expressed when individuals are free to make certain choices they dim fit but at a critical cross road as this, the overall interest of the people and the state should be superior to any individualistic desire. Let’s bear in mind that just like I said earlier that the leaderships of Governor Bello has laid a solid strong foundation.   

There are also agitations from different Groups and ethnic enclave over who should lay claim to the staff of affairs. In all honesty while some of these agitations are too ethnocentric in my own view and try to demean leadership role to where one comes from and not what they can offer, to the sponsors of these claim they are valid; this is however a democracy where opinions, claims and agitation are valid as long as it is within constitutional provisions. There is the discuss of Equity, Justice and fairness on one hand and on the other capacity and competence. Governor Yahaya Bello in his wisdom has made his choice of which side of the debate he is on and if you are a follower of his political school of thought, your guess is as good as mine; a balance of both is attainable under a good leader.

To put in proper context, from the different agitating concerns Kogi west as a region claims it has never tasted the leadership position since the beginning of the state, hence they should be given the chance for equity purpose. In their own agitation Groups from central insists on equity, fairness and justice based on the premise that, the east spent 16 years in government, hence they should be allowed to equal this number and then the west region would have their span of equal number of years. Groups in the Eastern region are caught in between wanting back their mandate and a return of power premised on being the most populated region. All of these agitations are valid based on what I will refer to as individual introspect and differences in though patterns.

However the All Progressive Congress have a list of very strong and popular aspirants jostling for the Governorship of Kogi State either directly or otherwise some of them including but in no order of reference are Edward David Onoja, the incumbent Deputy Governor, Pharmacist Asuku Abdulkareem Jamiu – who until recently was the chief of staff to Kogi state governor, Alhaji Momoh Jimoh , the erstwhile Accountant General of kogi state, Kogi born Hon. Abiodun James Faleke , member representing Ikeja federal constituency and Muritala Ajaka, the All Progressive Congress Deputy National Publicity Secretary and member of the APC National Working Committee. Let’s do a little x-ray on their chances of these aspirants one after the other.

Edward David Onoja was the former Chief of Staff to Kogi State governor and the present Deputy Governor of Kogi State. It is believed in many quarters that his people are not too happy with him for fostering and supporting Governor Yahaya Bello on them using the enemuneme – the outsider is better, while some are yet to forgive him for the rule he actively played in the impeachment of former deputy governor, simon achuba. In fact the problems experienced in the first term of the GYB led government were alleged to be his doing. Some issues ranged from nonpayment of salaries and the limited or no access that many individuals had to the Governor as well as many other atrocities as claimed by those who alleged. Some others opinioned that the Deputy governor is a very vindictive fellow, who is proud and arrogant and as such, when he becomes the governor of Kogi State, a lot of persons will leave the state. However, one thing you cannot take away from him is that, he has invested in young persons and his teeming followers and aides are made up of young men from across the state in their late twenties and late thirties. But permutations are believed to favour him particularly with regards to how the Igala Political class has started to rally around him. Politically, Edward Onoja is a strong grass root mobilizer and a force to be reckoned with.

Young, energetic and vibrant, Abdulkareem Asuku Jamiu is widely loved. When he was appointed as chief of staff, he made frantic effort to reconcile aggrieved APC members back with government which made him gain friends where his predecessors gained enemies. The proponents of Asuku for governor are projecting his youthfulness, kindness and approachability. He is widely loved across kogi State by youth and appointees of government. A philanthropist, Asuku is selfless, haven paid bills too numerous to count, from hospital bills to school fees, rents, gifted cars without looking back. His definition of riches is how many lives one can influence and affect positively and he has demonstrated this in lots he has lifted using his office as chief of staff. Politically, Asuku is on ground in Kogi Central, haven won all 43 polling unit under his purview during the last presidential election and can be said to have political structure across board made of young vibrant people, who are waiting to push his cause across the state. Many of these individuals are those whom he has used his platforms to lift. Many of them refer to themselves as disciples of Asukulifted. One question that comes to mind is if these structures can deliver at the forth coming primary polls. Only time will tell.

Not much is known about the profile of Alhaji Momoj Jibril as his name does not ring a bell in Kogi politics due his low profile disposition which might possibly come back to hurt him. Not many know he is the Accountant General of the state, except for few political appointees. It is rumored in some quarters that he is likely to take over from Governor Yahaya Bello due to his closeness and knowledge of the state’s financial dealings. However, it cannot be said that he has political structures in comparison with the calibers of the deputy governor and Chief of staff, it was also alleged that he could not deliver his polling unit in the last General and Senatorial and House of Representative Elections. Another very accusation on the street that opposition could use against him if eventually he emerges is the allegation that he often refuse to disburse funds even after being approved by the governor despite the validity of the approval or the project involved. The fear in some quarters is , if he emerges due to his closeness to the governor, on which political structure will be push his cause? Many opined that APC will loose to PDP if he clinches the ticket. Nevertheless in Nigeria, people often have a very short memory span and surprise is not ruled out.

Hon James Abiodion Falake has been a household name in Kogi State politics since 2015 when he was the running mate of the revered political leader late prince Abubakar in the kogi state governorship election. Representing the good people of Ikeja federal constituency under the All Progressive Congress, James Faleke played a very symbolic role as the Secretary of the All Progressive Congress Presidential Campaign Council of the Just concluded Tinunu/Shettima victory at the polls. One of the toppings for James Faleke is his closeness to the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who at different occasions described the lawmaker as an hard worker and a diligent steward who has consistently remained unwavering in followership and loyalty. Similarly, disgruntled persons within the rank of the All Progressive Congress believe that the James Faleke deserves a shot at the governorship, owing to the fact that he was the running mate of the late Prince Abubakar Audu, the supposed winner of the 2015 gubernatorial elections.

James Abiodun’s romance with the African Democratic Congress in the just concluded elections which led to APC’s failure to clinch the Kabb Bunu/Ijumu, Yagba Federal house and possibly the incoming house of assembly, raised a lot of questions. Mr. James Faleke sure have some suspicious politicking planned for this season as there were hints that the APC henchman released a huge sum of money to support all the ADC house of Assembly candidates in kogi west obviously against his own party. If such action is not defined as anti party activity, I don’t what then it is. I assume the APC in Kogi state cannot take relevant action against Faleke either because he is not a registered member of the party in the state or they are afraid of the sacred cow, the Kogi state All Progressive Congress should take caution.

When the sales of governorship form commenced, Hon Gamji purchased a governorship form in the name of Abiodun James Faleke, which he -Falake later debunked, the theory is that, the Faleke group will present Gamji for governorship, while he falake settles at the national for the Chief of Staff to Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. However true these theories are, time would unravel them.

Similarly we have Murital Ajaka, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressive Congress and a party strong Stewart from Idah Local Government area. Although not a new entrant to the ranks of APC in the state, his popularity soared recently for being a philanthropist, a community builder, a strong party man and a supporter of the New Direction government. Although not a part of the inner caucus of the APC new direction government, he is hoping to bank on his connection with the All Progressive NWC, his presumed popularity in Igala land and some other political theatrics on his sleeve to win the ticket and fly the party’s gubernatorial flag. However , Igala land votes are not enough to make him the governor of Kogi State.

These analysis does not reflect all the intending aspirants as there are more from the All progressive Congress leagues some of whom have made their ambition secret while other are not so popular in all ramification. The honest appeal is for the party rank and file to allow the best candidate win. Not just in competency but in appeal and popularity, in ideas and genuineness of heart and good intention to the people of the state. One who can win the oppositions convincingly and sustain the good work of this current administration.

The delegates holds the final and ultimate say with regards to who becomes the party’s flag bearer and depending on the type of voting system the party leadership agrees to dynamics of things can change for or against any of the contenders in a split seconds hence those jubilating of their victory should relax and allow politicking take its full cause. One thing I can assure is that there are interesting days ahead and just as the Governor has set the ball rolling, may the best man clinch the prize for the good of the people and Kogi State .

Abdullteef Abdulhakeem
Writes from Lokoja


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