Kogi on the march towards governorship election
THE tedious road to the conduct of the ward and state congresses of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State was last Thursday traversed starting with the rescheduled ward congress, held two days earlier.
With the successful conduct of the exercises barring any further complaints from any quarters, all is now set for the PDP governorship primaries slated to hold between August 25 and September 15, as stipulated for all political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for the November 21 governorship election.
Kogi State had been a firm PDP state since 1999 until it lost some ground in the last Presidential and National Assembly elections, a development that almost changed the initial thinking until the party bounced back in the State Assembly election.
It would be recalled that divergent opinions have been made about the state of affairs in the Kogi PDP, with opponents suggesting that the incumbent Governor Idris Wada was without firm control of the party.
Furthermore the issue of his ability to win the next governorship election if given the ticket was raised but recent development, in which his loyalists swept all party offices during the congresses, has changed the perception.
The governor’s opponents within the PDP who had labeled him a political neophyte were either not visible during the congresses, or could not contend with the strong presence of structures of Wada at the grassroots.
It would be recalled that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP believed to be acting based on a petition from Wada’s opponents, had announced that “after a careful review of the reports of the Congress Committee and Appeal Committee, which held in respect of the three-man Ad-hoc Delegates Ward Congresses in the state on June 27, 2015 decided to cancel the exercise.”
The National Publicity Secretary of party, Chief Olisa Metuh, while announcing the cancellation said, “The participation of a ‘Local Organizing Committee’, which is unknown to the Constitution of the party and the guidelines marred the congresses. Consequently, a new 3-Man Ad-hoc Delegates Ward Congresses was scheduled for the 14th of July 2015.”
A congress with a difference
MANY adjudged the repeated congress, witnessed by the national and regional officers of the PDP, as the best ever in the state for its transparency and the creation of a level playing field for all contestants. Metuh commended the peaceful and orderly conduct of the delegates and said the party is on course in the state.
While he lamented the earlier cancellation, Metuh said the enthusiasm displayed by members to follow the rules to the letter showed that the party has what it takes to win the state in the forthcoming governorship election.
According to Metuh who said the performance of the PDP government in the state remains unrivaled, a victory in the governorship election will enable the government complete all the legacy projects it has initiated.
He averred that the repeated congress was geared towards giving fair hearing to some aggrieved interest “to strengthen the party’s stand in the new dispensation after its loss in the general election.”
He urged the members of the party in the state not to allow the alleged harassment and intimidation by the government in the centre to dampen their resolve to retain control of Kogi in the governorship election.
According to him, “the repeat Ward Congress is the new vision of the party to carry every one along after its lost in the general election. There is the need for members to put the party’s interest in mind.”
Wada on his part believed that the rancour-free conduct of the congress signify a ‘change’ within the party that will change the history of the party in the state.
The governor noted that other elections in the past had always ended in chaos or postponement, thus leading to quarrel or protest over consensus candidates forced on the party by political gladiators “but the last exercise was exceptional and a plus for the party. The free hand given to the party members to elect their delegates and vote for the executive members of their choices is reason for the free and fair conduct of the congress.”
The governor expressed confidence that the new party executives are eager to show what they can contribute to the growth and success of the party adding “Kogi PDP is one big family”.
He also commended the NWC for their interest in ensuring that the PDP in the state remains united and tasked members to work for the collective interest of the party and to shun issues that would not foster togetherness.
Wada who still maintained silence on whether he will contest for a second term or not; said people should wait till when the party rolls out it timetable for collection of governorship forms and see if he will pick the forms or not.
Wada and other contenders
WHILE all eyes are on Wada to pick the governorship form, other contender eyeing the position are Jibrin Isah aka Echocho, the acclaimed winner of the controversial January 2011 PDP governorship primaries.
Although, Senator Smart Adeyemi, who represented Kogi Wes in the last Senatet has also been mentioned to have shown interest in Wada’s job, he has however not declared his intention concerning the race.
Other likely contenders include Nicholas Ugbane, a two-term Senator, Suleiman Baba Ali, nephew to former governor, Abubakar Audu, Yahaya Bello Fairplus, a retired Civil Servant and proprietor of Fairplus Transport, Usman Jibrin, a former Chief of Naval Staff, Col Ahmed Usman (rtd), a former military administrator of Oyo and Ondo States and Air Vice Marshal Salihu Atawodi.
Also in the list of those who have shown interest in the governorship race is Positive Ihiabe a former House of Representatives member, Senator Alex Kadiri, Mohammed Ali, Alhaji Isa Kutepa, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi Usman, Abdul Adama who was a former Special Adviser to Wada on Public Private Partnership and Abubakar Audu.
While it is correct to say that almost all the contenders have very intimidating profiles the incumbent is said to be banking on his achievements to tilt the pendulum towards his side.
The governor is said to be relying on the public commendation of his administration’s prudent management of resources particularly in the payment of salaries to workers amidst dwindling financial allocation to states.
Despite paucity of funds, the state under Wada is known to have embarked on some legacy projects some of which include the University Teaching Hospital Anyigba, the 500 housing units in Ganaja and the Diagnostic and Imaging Centre in Lokoja.
Others are the remodeling of Kogi Hotels, the completion of 58 road projects across the state, on-going dualization of Ganaja-Otokiti multi lane road, the on-going dualization of the entrance to Lokoja to the new Market Road, improvement in infrastructures in the education sector through upgrade in Primary and Iconic Secondary Schools and many others that are changing the landscape of the state.