Kogi State, located in Nigeria, has a rich political history that has shaped its present-day landscape. With a diverse population comprising various ethnic groups, including the Igala, Ebira, and Okun, the state has witnessed a series of political transitions and power dynamics. In this political analysis, I will critically assess the qualities and pedigree of the candidates vying for the number one leadership position in Kogi State, with a particular focus on the Igala agenda and the contenders’ positioning for victory.
Recognizing the significance of tribes, ethnicity, and the contenders’ backgrounds in the political dynamics of Kogi State is an undeniable reality. Thus, delving into the origins of these factors becomes imperative.
Kogi State has experienced governance under three Igala governors in the past: Late Prince Audu Abubakar, Ibrahim Idris, and Captain Ichala Wada. Altogether, Igalas led the state for not less than 16 years since the beginning of democratic system of government in 1999.
It would have been continuity for the Igalas as Audu was already an inch away from taking over power before Yahaya Bello from the Ebira extraction assumed office in 2015 through divine providence. Now, Bello is winding down from power after 8 good years. This means Ebiras have also enjoyed 8 years in spearheading the affairs of Kogi State. This historical fact holds significance in understanding the current political dynamics in the state and what the next election holds.
While it is important to recognize the contributions and failures of these past governors from the Igala and Ebira extractions, it is equally essential to evaluate the present political climate and the suitability of the candidates for the upcoming election.
Assessing Ahmed Usman Ododo: A Continuation of Yahaya Bello’s Legacy?
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is presenting Ahmed Usman Ododo as its candidate for the upcoming elections in Kogi State. However, it is crucial to critically evaluate the sincerity of his candidacy and the underlying motives behind it. Some argue that Ododo’s candidacy is merely a means to grant Yahaya Bello a third term and protect him from accountability for alleged mismanagement of funds and underperformance during his tenure.
Furthermore, the lack of substantial information regarding Ododo’s pedigree and track record raises concerns about his competency as a potential governor. His previous role as the Auditor General, where the local governments under his watch remained stagnant and ineffective, and further raises doubts about his ability to govern effectively.
These are the issues confronting the chances of Ododo and will definitely play out in the election.
Muri, Igala Agenda: Sincerity and Ulterior Motives
The Igala agenda, a movement advocating for Igala representation and a reclaiming of the “rightful position of the Igala ethnic group in Kogi State,” has gained traction. However, questions regarding its sincerity and fairness arise when considering that the Igala ethnic group has dominated the state’s political affairs for over 16 years. Other ethnic groups within Kogi State have not had equal opportunities for representation and governance.
However, the people have their right and because politics is said to be a game of interest, I will not blame Igalas if the people long to claim ownership of the state.
However, critics argue that the Igala agenda may be driven by self-interest rather than a genuine pursuit of equitable governance. This perception has led to skepticism and criticism, with people questioning the fairness and inclusivity of the Igala agenda. Candidates such as Samson Omale of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Adejo Okeme of the Labour Party (LP), and Juliet Elukpo of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), who possess party tickets, seemed to be disregarded in favor of Muri.
If there was any genuine ethnic agenda, it would have emerged from a fine consensus and not neglecting people who spent so much money to win their primaries and have their tickets to focus on someone who might face legal limitations in joining a new party to fly their flag.
The focus of the Igala agenda on Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, a candidate currently without a party ticket, raises questions about the objectives of the agenda. Some argue that the Igala agenda seems to prioritize a particular Igala representation while neglecting qualified candidates from other ethnic groups. This perception has led to skepticism and criticism, with people questioning the fairness and inclusivity of the Igala agenda.
The Igala agenda, being an ethnic agenda centered on the interests of the Igala people, faces inherent challenges in garnering widespread support. For a political party to win the Governorship election in Kogi State, it must secure at least 25% of the votes in 14 local government areas. Since the Igala agenda primarily represents the interests of a specific ethnic group, it becomes practically difficult to achieve this level of support, as other districts may actively oppose it to prevent the realization of the agenda.
Muritala Ajaka’s Injuries to PDP Candidates and the Consequences of Behavioral Attitudes in Elections
In the recent House of Assembly and National Assembly elections in Kogi State, the actions and behavior of Muritala Ajaka caused significant harm to the candidates of the PDP and even some aspirants of the APC, especially a young disabled man in Ankpa. The injuries inflicted by Ajaka emphasized the long-lasting consequences of behavioral attitudes in elections. It is essential to recognize that the affected candidates have their own followers, making Ajaka’s actions all the more impactful.
Muritala’s interference in the House of Assembly and National Assembly elections had a detrimental effect on the PDP candidates who were vying for these positions. His audacious actions frustrated the elections and caused setbacks for the PDP contenders. The injuries inflicted by Ajaka on these candidates are significant and should not be overlooked as they stand to hinder any agenda he leads.
Elections are not only a means for selecting representatives but also a reflection of the behavioral attitudes of the individuals involved. The actions of Muritala Ajaka during the elections have sown seeds of long-lasting consequences. Such actions can deeply impact the trust and support of the candidates and their followers. It is unlikely that those affected by Ajaka’s interference will readily support him in the future.
The frustrations experienced by the candidates and their followers as a result of Ajaka’s behavior may have long-lasting consequences, leading to strained relationships and a loss of faith in the political process.
In addition to the injuries caused by Ajaka, there are aspirants from both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP who lost in their respective party primaries. These aspirants often hold hope that if their party wins the elections, they will receive some form of compensation or consideration. However, it is important to question what the proponents of the Igala agenda can offer to these aspirants.
Leke Abejide: Western but Less Popular Candidate
Leke Abejide, representing the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and hailing from the west of Kogi State, is another contender in the race for governorship. If there were free rotation of power to the west, and consideration for all candidates regardless of their religious affiliation, it would have been a fair opportunity for Abejide to contest and have a chance of becoming the next governor of the state. However, the reality at hand shows that the House Member representing the people of Yagba Federal Constituency does not have the popularity needed to garner reasonable votes in the East or Central to overcome the APC nor the PDP, let alone the Igala agenda.
The Position of Dino Melaye
Dino Melaye, from the West extraction, stands out as a prominent and influential figure, even across the nation. His potential to break through the Igala race by engaging brave and forward-thinking youth sets him apart from Abejide. He is seen actively engaging the youth as well as not avoiding dependence on old politicians who have previously betrayed their trust. Melaye taps into the growing demand for new political narratives and progressive leadership.
Moreover, Melaye’s dominant position in the west, coupled with his strategic approach to securing a significant portion of the western votes and garnering support from the east, strengthens his prospects for victory.
Dino Melaye’s positioning in the west offers him a chance to attract support from the elites from across the state who believe in equity and fairness. With Barrister Natasha Akpoti delivering reasonable votes for the PDP in the central, Melaye’s chances of success are further enhanced.
With this comprehensive analysis of the political landscape in Kogi State and the candidates vying for leadership positions, it becomes evident that Dino Melaye is more favorably positioned for victory. His strategic approach, focus on engaging the youth, dominant position in the west, and appeal to a broad range of voters offer him significant advantages.
While the Igala agenda’s objective of reclaiming rightful representation for the Igala ethnic group has gained traction, it is important to ensure inclusivity, fairness, and broad-based governance in the state. The selection of candidates should be based on merit, competence, and alignment with the values and aspirations of the diverse population in Kogi State.
Religion, being a divisive factor in politics, should be set aside to foster unity and promote the principles of secular governance. It is crucial to focus on the candidates’ qualifications, track records, and their ability to address the needs and aspirations of the people. By removing the religious angle from the political discourse, Kogi State can move towards a more inclusive and progressive future.
Ultimately, the success of any candidate depends on their ability to unite the people, deliver effective governance, and work towards the overall development and progress of Kogi State. As the political landscape continues to evolve, it is imperative for the electorate to critically assess the candidates and choose leaders who will prioritize the interests of all citizens, regardless of their religious background or ethnic affiliation.
By promoting a politics of inclusivity, fairness, and competence, Kogi State can pave the way for a more prosperous and harmonious future for all its residents.