By BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO, LOKOJA
The electoral fortune the All Progressive Congress, APC, enjoyed in the last general election in Kogi State has turned it to a beautiful pride.
However, the victory seems to have intoxicated some of the party members who now parad themselves as aspirants for the November 21 governorship election in the state. At the last count, 30 aspirants are jostling to contest the poll. They include Engineer George Olumoroti, Prince Rotimi Obadofin, Dr Habeeb Yaqeen, Lanre Ipinmisho, Baba Ali Suleiman (Western Senatorial axis); Dr. Adinoyi Onukaba, Yahaya Bello, Nurudeen Abatemi (Central Senatorial axis); Prince Abubakar Audu, AVM Salihu Atawodi, Chief James Ocholi, Sen Nicholas Ugbane, Chief Tim Diche, Abdullahi Adama and Senator Alex Kadiri.
Meanwhile, mudelinging name calling, blackmail and media wars have suddenly become handy tools in the battle.
Political analysts predict that future elections will not be rosy for the Kogi APC if it failed to put its house order. To them, the pattern the March 28 polls followed would not continue as the APC would have to contend with the PDP at the grass-roots.
The …. categorize the over aspirants into CONTENDERS, PRETENDERS and SPOILERS.
The likes of Lanre Ipinmisho, Dr. Adinoyi Onukaba, Sen Nurudeen Abatemi, Sen Nicholas Ugbane, Chief Tim Diche, Abdullahi Adama and others have attracted the toga of pretenders. Aside their posters scantily posted around the state capital, Lokoja, and other towns in Kogi, their bid appears, to only exist in name.
Ipinmisho, a former NDLEA DG, like others, is seen as a political neophyte whose only antecedent is the private security company he set up after his tenure at NDLEA. All the aspirants in this category don’t have the structure to help them in this contest.
From the outset, it was obvious that the over 20 aspirants who hail from the Eastern Senatorial axis are out for a spoiler game. Their target: Prince Abubakar Audu; on former governor of the state whose track record has remained unmatched 12 years after he left Lugard House. The aspirant are Atawodi track, Ocholi, Ugbane, Diche, Adama, and Kadiri have proved themselves through their action and inaction as antagonists in the party.
First, they formed themselves into the State APC Elders Forum and have been using the platform to fight Audu’s ambition. Many describe them as ‘Abuja’ politicians.
Some of them belonged to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, but defected the APC just on the eve of March elections.
The aspirants first called on the national party to stop Audu from contesting the November poll. Not satisfied, they asked the leadership to dissolve the ward, local government and state executives put in place months before they joined the APC on the grounds that they had been ‘hijacked’ by Audu.
Olumoroti, Obadofin, Yaqeen, Suleiman, Bello and Audu fall in the category of contenders.
Olumoroti and Yaqeen have been moving round the state to showcase their agenda while Obadofin has been on the radar of guber the race since 2003 and was once the guber candidate of the defuct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
In the case of Bello, the CEO of Fair Plus Transportation Company, he has shown tremendous passion for the governorship position. He organized the Youth Arise Group in Kogi which galvanized support for President Muhammed Buhari emergence, while many groups have lent support for his aspiration through endorsement. The aspirant also has financial muscles and youthful disposition (40 years old) to put his hat in the ring. Meanwhile, the down side to his aspiration lack of political structure to actualize the dream. Pundits said he has being spending his money to the wrong people.
For Ocholi, who was the guber candidate of Congress of Progressive Change, CPC, in 2011, has suddenly gone cold. There is no poster to announce his interest, neither is there any hint he is contesting. He has quietly admitted to the rumour that he’s secretly working to become a Minister from the state.
When the PDP took the state leadership in 2003 with Alhaji Ibrahim Idris assuming office, Audu of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, was the incumbent governor. But Audu is still a factor in the current governorship race. He is the undisputed leader of APC in the state. He also has utmost control on party structures and executives who will eventually produce the delegates for the primary election.
His Lokoja residence hosted APC meetings where strategies were mapped out in the run up to the 2015 elections. It is obvious that Audu’s has undying governorship ambition which will play a huge role in the determination of the Kogi governorship election. If Audu decides to throw his hat into the ring once again, as he has done since the creation of the state in 1991, it is feared that it would be difficult for any other aspirant in the APC to stop him. Audu was governor between 1991 and 1992 during the aborted third republic. He was re-elected governor in 1999 and ruled until his loss to Idris in 2003.
Meanwhile, how the various tendencies in APC and indeed the electorate in Kogi react to Audu’s candidature will make or mar the party’s challenge at the governorship poll.