The number of aspirants seeking to take over the mantle of leadership in Kogi State has risen considerably with the primaries just few months away.
The race for the Lugard House, Kogi State has commenced in earnest as the number aspirants jostling to upstage Governor Idris Wada have increased with the governorship primaries just around the corner.
Some of the aspirants have made their intention known through formal declarations while some others only put out their posters for their supporters and electorate to know they are in the race.
One of such aspirants is Senator Alex Usman Kadiri, who even though he has not made a formal statement to signify his interest in the forthcoming governorship election, his posters could be seen all over Lokoja, the state capital.
It would be recalled that Kadiri was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before defecting to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Hallmark gathered that Kadiri is only running in order to be relevant within the APC as he joined the party at the concluding part of the party’s campaign for presidential and national assembly elections.
A member of the APC who doesn’t want his name mentioned said, “Alex Kadiri would not get the party’s ticket. There are factors that play a big role in Kogi politics. First of all he is a Christian and he is married to an Edo woman. Those factors may work against him, he said.
Another impediment to his ambition is that he was among the APC leaders in Kogi that signed a petition against Prince Audu Abubakar who is seen as the party’s leader.
Yahaya Ibrahim reasoned that why should he (Kadiri) be against Audu to the extent of signing petitions against him and yet contest for the governorship. Alex Kadiri joining the race goes to show that he was only criticizing Audu for his own selfish ambition unlike James Ocholi (SAN) who was criticizing Audu because he really has the interest of the party at heart,” he stressed.
Prince Audu, who many believe he should not contest as the leader of the party is the first candidate to throw his hat into the governorship ring.
Audu’s declaration was greeted with criticisms. Although his regime was adjudged as one of the best and as one of the good governors Kogi has ever had, many complain about his style of leadership. In the view of some Kogites, Audu behaved like an emperor while he was in office, therefore they would not like someone like him to govern again.
There were allegations that his commissioners used to sit on the floor while he sat on a chair to address them. Just recently, Kogi East APC elders alleged that Audu slapped the APC woman leader in the state and warned that the party would lose if Audu is fielded as the party’s candidate.
Ahead of Kogi State gubernatorial election slated for October, 2015, a former chieftain of the PDP and a billionaire businessman, Isah Kutepa has joined the race for the Lugard House on the platform of the APC.
Sources revealed that he was one of those behind the formulation of the strategies that led to the victory of the APC against PDP in the state.
On his gubernatorial ambition, Hallmark gathered that the businessman turned politician just registered with the party, however sources said he has been supporting the party right from the period the three main opposition parties consummated the merger that formed the APC.
According to a source, “Kutepa as a member of PDP was supporting APC. Besides, he financed the party in the last general election and people tend to say look, why don’t you aspire for governorship of Kogi State on the platform of APC. I think that is what convinced him now.”
It would be recalled that he commanded a large followership in 2011 elections that brought governor Idris Wada and would have won the PDP primaries if not for the power of incumbency as the former governor, Ibrahim Idris threw his weight behind the candidature of Wada.
Idris, however compensated Kutepa by allowing him nominate the Deputy Governor, Yomi Awoniyi.
Based on precedents, it can be deduced that Kutepa’s undoing might be his ethnicity. He is from Basa local government area which consists of the minority ethnic group in the state.
Engineer Olushola George Olumoroti from Kogi West kick-started his campaign earlier than the other aspirants. He was the second to declare after Abdul-Aziz Aliyu from Kogi Central who lost his life in a ghastly motor accident.
So far, the frontline aspirants for the APC are Prince Audu, Kadiri, Kutepa and George Olumoroti.
However, some stakeholders of the APC in the state are wooing Alhaji Yakubu Mohammed to run for governor in order to have quality aspirants and leadership. Mohammed aspired for the Kogi governorship in 2011 on the platform of PDP. He is believed to be the favourite to clinch the ticket due to his pedigree. However, due to some reasons best known to the former governor Idris, he decided to go for Jibrin Isah Echocho at the last minute.
Echocho was also unfortunate because he lost his mandate due to a court judgment which elongated the tenure of Idris, and a fresh primary election was conducted in PDP.
Before the fresh primaries, Idris dumped Echocho for Wada who is his in-law and business associate.
This time around, Hallmark gathered that Governor Wada will slug it out with former Dekina local government chairman, Mohammed Ali, and Isah for the PDP ticket.
Sources within Kogi State are of the view that the PDP still stand a chance of winning the state if Prince Audu emerges as the APC candidate.
According to a political analyst, Alhaji Isah Inuwa, “the best bet for PDP is to substitute Wada for someone else so they would be able to win. PDP should not get carried away with people saying that if Audu emerges they don’t mind voting for Wada”.
He further expressed that, “I agree that people don’t want Audu to return. It is not that he didn’t do well as a governor; they just can’t stand his arrogance. He sees himself as a ‘god’. Some civil servants who haven’t been paid by Wada for over five months are even saying that they prefer to vote Wada than Audu. In my opinion, Audu would be defeated by any other candidate PDP fields but not Wada,” he maintained.