With the Kogi state governorship election few months away, the Kogi West and Central senatorial zones have found their voice in the campaign for power shift following the political domination of the Igalas and governorsIdris Wada’s lack luster performance. YUSUF MOHAMMED reports
Since the creation of Kogi state in 1991, a non-Igala native has never been elected governor of the state.
Hallmark learnt that the Kogi Central Senatorial district has joined Kogi West in demanding that Kogi East Senatorial district should take a back seat ahead of the governorship poll scheduled to take place later in the year.
Kogi East has a larger population than any of the other districts and it has produced the two elected governors of the state since 1991. Prince AbubakarAudu from 1992 to 1993 and 1999 to 200; Alhaji Ibrahim Idris 2003 to 2011, and incumbent IdrisIchala Wada, who came to power in January 2012.
Kogi East which is the Igala speaking part has nine local governments out of the 21 local governments in the state.
Political actors from the West and Central zones are of the view that the former governor Idris and his successor, Wada who both hail from Kogi East, abandoned the other zones and blamed them for undue concentration of development in the East.
“I don’t agree with the view that Wada is developing any part to the detriment of another area,” said Bashir Usman, a member of APC Youth Ambassadors for Change in Kogi.
“If they say former governor Ibrahim Idris abandoned other zones and developed the East, I agree. But when it comes to the current governor, Wada, he has abandoned the entire state,” he stressed.
The clamour for power shift by Kogi West and Kogi East has also gained prominence among the youths.
All over the social media, Kogi youths from Igbira land and Kabba have formed various groups opposing the candidature of an Igala man in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The main focus is on the APC and not the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because it is believed that if Wada doesn’t run, he would field an Igala man to succeed him on the platform of the PDP.
Another reason why the APC is the main focus in the campaign for power shift is because the party has become more popular than PDP in the state, to the extent that it is believed by many that whoever emerges as the party’s flag bearer would defeat the incumbent, Governor Wada.
Ohiare Yusuf Muhammed from Kogi Central took to his face book page and posted a statement which read; “Why are we always opting for the office of the Deputy Governor? The West and Central need to unite to produce the next Governor now and not later. This is a task that must be done. Arise to achieve this mission,” he said.
They are of the view that the Igalas have failed over the years. Therefore someone from another tribe should be given a chance to govern the state.
AnateAdeiza, from Igbira land told Hallmark that, “the Igalas have been ruling for over 16 years with little to show for it. Former Governor, Idris performed poorly and the current governor, Idris is even doing worse. The only Igala governor who did well was Prince Audu even though he was perceived to be arrogant. The other two are cool headed but failed in developing the state.”
However, most Igalas are of the view that before the agitation for power shift, Dekina local government should produce the next governor till 2019.
Wada got the PDP ticket because he is from Dekina where the governorship position has been zoned to for eight years. Wada is about to complete four years in office with another four years left for Dekina.
Dekina is the largest local government in Kogi which contributed the highest number of votes to the election of Wada in the December 2011 election.
Dekina boasts of political heavyweights such as Senator Alex Kadiri, Senator Nicholas YahayaUgbane, James Ocholi (SAN), JibrinIsah (Echocho) and AlhajiYakubu Mohammed.
James Ocholi (SAN) was a PDP governorship aspirant in 2011. He however dumped the party for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and became its governorship candidate. He is now a leader of the APC in the state. Senator Alex Kadiri, Senator Nicholas YahayaUgbane and AlhajiYakubu Mohammed have all joined the APC.
It should be recalled that AlhajiIsahEchocho, who was expected to join the APC last year opted out at the eleventh hour. Political observers believe that the reason why Echocho did not defect was that he still has the hope of replacing Wada as PDP’s candidate in the forthcoming governorship election.
A PDP chieftain and a close confidant to Echocho spoke with Hallmark on the condition of anonymity few months to the Presidential election. He said, “The Presidential election will determine if Echocho would remain a PDP member or not. We are all waiting for February 14 presidential elections. If Buhari wins, most party members including Echocho will defect to the APC. I am sure of that.”
He further said that, “Wada is clearly a liability to the PDP. This is because he has become unpopular even in his own ward, not to talk of the entire state. His unpopularity stems from his controversial emergence as governor and the lack of development since he assumed office. The party won’t stand a chance with him as candidate unless they rig the election,” said a concerned stakeholder.
According to AbdullahiIdris who is from Kogi East, “the reason why people from the West and Central zones have found their voice is because Wada has performed poorly. I am an Igala man and it pains me that he has given room for a strong agitation for power shift. If Idris had supported either IsahEchocho or Alhaji Mohammed to succeed him instead of Wada, we wouldn’t be here talking about power shift but about the progress of the state. Any of them would have performed better than Wada. Idris put the Igalas in this mess.”
The APC might zone the governorship position to the East senatorial zone to counter the candidate of PDP which may likely come from that area.
However, political parties in the state learnt their lesson in 1999 when the PDP fielded a non-Igala candidate from the minority zone and lost the election to the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) who fielded Prince Audu from Kogi East.