By Boluwaji Obahopo
LAST Saturday would remain memorable in the minds of Kogi people who envisaged the polls might be trailed by violence but still went out to carry out their civic duties to determine a new governor, who will pilot the affairs of the state for the next four years.
The turnout of voters was impressive. The electorate also cast their ballots peacefully. But before the exercise ended violence erupted in Lokoja the state capital and in many parts of the Eastern senatorial axis. Comparatively, the polls went peacefully in Kogi West and Kogi Central.
The dark spot
At the end of the exercise, six persons were killed: Three in Lokoja, two at Abocho in Dekina LGA , and one person in Aiyetoro Gbede, who incidentally was a nephew to the Peoples Democratic Party, Kogi West Senatorial Candidate, Senator Dino Melaye.
INEC cancels 13,770 votes
With reported cases of widespread of violence, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, cancelled 13,770 votes. The result from Adavi and Okene council areas, however, caused a stir in the state when the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, scored 68,000 and 115,000 respectively as against the PDP which had less than 500 votes in both local councils.
INEC announces APC as winner
At the end of the exercise, the INEC on Monday announced the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello as winner. Announcing the result, Professor Ibrahim Garuba, Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said “with the powers conferred on me by the constitution, and having satisfied all the electoral requirement, and scored the highest votes cast, I hereby declare the APC candidate, Yahaya Bello winner of the governorship election.”
Why APC won
As it panned, the APC had a better strategy that guaranteed it victory at the polls.
One of its masterstrokes was the fielding of an Igala person, Edward Onoja, as the running mate to Yahaya Bello while retaining an Okun man as the Speaker of the state House of Assembly.
The Igala whose son is taking shelter under the PDP umbrella would have gotten chunk votes but for the influence and strategy of the deputy governor. Despite controlling 49 percent of the registered voters in the state, the votes were suppressed. APC was able to garner 88,777 of the 202,403 votes cast in the district, representing 44 percent. APC won four of the nine councils in the zone.
Kogi West“Kogi West for a long time had wanted their son to at least be at the Executive arm of government and see Bello who has only one term left as the quickest gateway to their power shift ambition. This immensely accounted for the success APC recorded in the senatorial district where it polled 79,899 of the 136,142 votes cast, representing 59 percent. APC won five of the seven local council in the zone.
In Ijumu, where the APC and PDP candidates for the rerun senatorial election, Smart Adeyemi and Dino Melaye hailed from, the APC triumphed beating PDP. It scored 8,363 votes while PDP got 5,903 votes.
Also, the position of Speaker, Kolawole Matthew, spoke volumes in Kabba/Bunu LGA area as the APC recorded massive votes compared to that of the PDP.
The above strategies adopted by the APC played a vital role in the manner Kogites voted for the party
The ethnic angle
The electorate voted according to tribal dictates. The Igala, who are the most populous voted for their son but could not enjoy their numerical advantage like in the past. Though they won five of the nine LGAs but the margin of victory paled into insignificance on account of what the Egbira gave their kinsman, Bello.
The PDP candidate, Engineer Musa Wada scored 112,626 of the 202,403 votes cast in his district giving him 63 percent. However, Bello got 236,005 of the 244,698 votes cast in his zone, giving him 96.4 percent.
Long before the election, it was obvious that any attempt to canvass for a non – Egbira man in Kogi Central would not yield dividend.
The Igala too openly supported their own with the hope of returning to power which they had retained since the creation of Kogi in 1999 but lost in 2015 through the death of the leading candidate in that election, Prince Abubakar Audu.
The voting pattern last Saturday further confirmed the ethnic cards played by the three major ethnic groups across the three senatorial districts.
In Dekina, Engineer Wada’s hometown, PDP recorded 16, 575 votes against 8, 948 got by APC’s , Yahaya Bello.
In Ibaji where the impeached deputy governor, Elder Simon Achuba hails from from APC had 12,682 votes against PDP’s 10,504. APC also won the state capital, Lokoja with 19,457 votes against 11,059 of PDP.
Summarily, APC won 96.4% of votes cast in Kogi Central, 59% in West and 44% in East; while PDP won just 3.6% in Central, 41% in West and 63% in East. APC won 12 of the 21 LGAs while PDP cornered nine.
This victory is for Kogi people – Bello
Governor Bello thanked the people of Kogi for re-electing him and described his re-election as victory for true democracy.
The governor in a statement by his Director General, Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo said: “This victory is for Kogi people that value true democracy. And we can assure that Governor Bello will not abandon his campaign slogan which expresses his desire to do more for Kogi people. We thank Kogites who voted for us. We also thank Kogi people who did not vote for us; they have challenged the governor to do more for them to earn their confidence.
“We urged the PDP, to exemplify the spirit of sportsmanship by accepting the verdict of Kogi People. We also thank the party hierarchy for throwing their weight behind the governor.
“We thank INEC, security operatives and other public institutions for ensuring that the election was free, fair, credible and peaceful. Governor Bello will do more for Kogi, Kogites will be better for it.”
The result is “Satanic” — Wada, PDP
However, the PDP governorship candidate, Musa Wada rejected the results even before the final collation. Wada said he will challenge the result at the tribunal, describing it as “Satanic”, adding that it did not reflect the aspirations of the people of the state.
How other parties fared
At the poll, the Social Democratic Party, SDP, was viewed as the third force or dark horse in the race. There was initial disqualification of its candidate by INEC over non-eligibility of the party deputy governorship candidate before a federal High court ordered otherwise, a move that affected the party’s performance. PDP’s hope that Natasha Akpoti of SDP will play a spoiler for Bello in Kogi Central failed woefully. She only succeeded in polling 9,482 votes and even lost her polling unit.
For the poll, total registered voters was 1,646,350; accredited voters 636,202; total valid votes 610,744; total votes cast 624,514 while rejected votes were 13,770.
From the above, only 39 percent of the registered voters voted in the election, the highest in the voting history of the state even though most registered voters did not partake in the election.