By Boluwaji Obahopo, Lokoja
Political pundits who had initially narrowed the Kogi Central Senatorial contest to the two dominant political parties in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are beginning to have a rethink.
No thanks to the emergence of Barrister Natasha Hadiza Akpoti, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, a biracial lawyer who has fittingly put her political aspiration on the foundation of the relationship between Nigeria and Ukraine.
Born of a Ukranian mother and a Nigerian father in 1979, about the time the Ajaokuta Steel Complex was in advanced stage of construction, it is no surprise that Akpoti has put passion into the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex. She has unsurprisingly been dubbed the Steel Lady.
She is contending with Yakubu Ocheni, the APC candidate and the incumbent, Senator Ahmed Ogembe who is the incumbent.
Her strength in the contest is being reinforced by the pledges of support from those who were allegedly disenfranchised in the APC and the PDP.
The potentials of a third party candidate success are drawn from the experience of the senatorial district. In 1983 the district went against conventional wisdom by enthroning Senator Pius Jimoh of the Great Nigeria Peoples Party, GNPP, when the two dominant political parties at that time were the National Party of Nigeria, NPN and the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN.
Since 2015, Natasha Akpoti has been at the fore of the advocacy for the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company situated in Ajaokuta town within her local district in Kogi state. Natasha’s advocacy was termed as “disruptive” and she over time became known as a patriotic, nationalistic rebel nicknamed the “Queen of Steel” due to the aggressive and resilient manner in which she tackled the then Minister of Solid Minerals, Hon. Kayode Fayemi and bulldozed her expose on the long-hidden corruption and conspiracies.
“All I did was out of share patriotism and love for my country Nigeria. I exist today as a direct product of the relationship between the Soviet Union and Nigeria and for the sake of the big industrialization dream both nations shared. It breaks my heart when I watch the steel mill deteriorate by the year and its direct correlation, the collapse of Nigeria’s economy due to its inability to diversify from the oil sector.”