BY CHARLES KUMOLU
As the battle for Lugard House (Kogi Government House) climaxes today, all eyes would be on the candidates of various political parties. But behind the parties are leading politicians and stakeholders, whose influence would contribute to whatever becomes the outcome. Such people include Senator Tunde Ogbeha, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
Senator Tunde Ogbeha
The retired military officer is certainly one of the loudest figures in Kogi politics.
His name sounds loud just the way his influence extends beyond his Kogi West Senatorial District.
In the days preceding today, Ogbeha did not hide his desire for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to retain the leadership of the state.
Ogheha, who was a member of the National Assembly between 1999 and 2003, can also be credited with the feat of being one of the few politicians in Kogi State that brought the incumbent governor to office. Earlier, he had expressed optimism that despite the crisis in the party due to the emergence of its candidate, Capt Idris Wada, PDP will still come tops in today’s election.
“With the obvious crisis at hand, is PDP not about losing control of the Government House, Lokoja, to the opposition? We are hoping not. I am not a prophet to know whether PDP would lose or win but as a member of PDP, I want my party to win,” he stated.
Although, Ogbeha cannot be said to have an anointed candidate, conventional wisdom suggests that he is for Wada. And this is expected of any loyal party man. The implication of this is that supporters of the former Bendel State military governor would work for Wada’s victory.
Dr. Ahmadu Ali
Observers of political events during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, would not be in a haste to forget Ahmadu Ali. As PDP national chairman, he was instrumental to both the unpopular and popular inactions of that era. His influence was felt in all state chapters of the party.
As chairman of the ruling PDP, Senator Ali’s influence in the socio_political arrangement was not underestimated.
For a head of a political body that has the President, Vice President and 28 of the 36 states under its control, his influence was far_reaching. And in his home state, he was the number one power broker. He is highly respected among his ethnic Igala people of Kogi State.
Although, Ali’s name did not prominently feature in all the post _ election maneuvering, his support for Wada is not a hidden issue. For instance, at a fund raising function for Wada, a delighted Ali urged Wada and his running mate to prioritise education in the state.
He said that Kogi State had been an educational hub in the northern region. “It is on record that Kogi State served the defunct northern region with civil servants. This is as a result of the educational level of the state. I want you to prioritise education in the state,” he said.
The PDP chieftain also expressed confidence in the governorship candidate and his running mate, saying, “I have confidence in Wada since he had piloted so many aircraft without a crash. I don’t think there would be any crash in Kogi State. He is the right person to deliver the goods in Kogi State,” he added.
A lot of people would be surprised about how Bola Ahmed Tinubu made this list. But the common knowledge that ACN is fielding a candidate in the election, says load about why Tinubu is a factor in Kogi elections.
Having become a political collosus, Tinubu’s image would in many ways, contribute to how the elections would be won and lost. The indication that the battle would be between Tinubu and PDP, emerged during the campaign, when the former Lagos governor stormed Lokoja to lend support to the ACN candidate.
Accordingly, the Tinubu-led ACN squad, included the National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, Governors Babatunde Fashola of Lagos; Adams Oshiomohle of Edo; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti; Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun; Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo and Rauf Aregbesola of Osun among others.
Tinubu had in March this year, when Audu defected from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to the party, promised to give him maximum support to clinch the mandate of the people for Lord Luggard House in December 3, 2011.
Tinubu, while speaking at the rally, said the party had all it takes both human and technical to match the strategy of the PDP, adding that the party was in the state not for expansionism but to help a man who had been the only progressive voice of the state since 2003 when he lost the bid to be returned to power.
One obvious thing about the ANPP in this election is that it is not considered a threat to anyone. Had Audu remained in ANPP, the party would have been given a serious thought.
Not even the confidence of its candidate Elder Ubolo Itodo Okpanachi, can convince critics about ANPP’s chances.
Nevertheless, one man, who would also call the shots today, is Ogbonnaya Onu. As ANPP national chairman, Onu’s visible and invisible actions would affect the outcome of the polls.
Since he assumed the leadership of the party, the ANPP appears to be on its way to resuscitation. But that does not seem to give the party a chance in this exercise, as it is believed that Kogi ANPP is gone with Audu’s defection.
Gen Mohammadu Buhari
Mr. James Ocholi, is the governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, in Kogi but Buhari is the loudest CPC name in the state. Reason: Buhari personifies everything CPC.
Therefore, the former Head of State is one of the unseen hands, who would contribute to how the elections would be won and lost.
Although, during the campaign rally in Lokoja, Buhari did not dwell much on prospects of victory, as he focused on state of the nation, he still remains a factor in today’s polls.
Kogi: The facts and figures (-BY Clifford Ndujihe)
KOGI State is one of the most unique states of Nigeria. Created on August 27, 1991 by then military regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida with 21 Local Councils, its capital, Lokoja, was Nigeria’s former administrative capital before Lagos and now Abuja.
History and people
Also known as the Confluence State with an estimated population of 3,278,487, Kogi was carved out from parts of Kwara and Benue states. The State as presently constituted, comprises the peoples of the defunct Kabba Province of Northern Nigeria.
The three main ethnic groups and languages are Igala, Ebira and Okun (similar to Yoruba). The minority groups are Bassa, a small fraction of Nupe mainly in Lokoja, Gwari, Kakanda, Oworo people (similar to Yoruba), Ogori Magongo and the Eggan community under Lokoja Local Council
Agriculture and resources
Apart from federal allocation, Agriculture is the mainstay Kogi. The agricultural produce include coffee, cocoa, palm oil, cashews, groundnuts, maize, cassava, yam, rice and melon.
The mineral resources include coal, limestone, iron, petroleum and tin.
Kogi hosts the largest iron and steel industry in Nigeria, the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and one of the largest cement factories in Africa, the Obajana Cement Factory, which is a subsidiary of Dangote Group, owned by a multi_Billionaire business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.