By Emmanuel Aziken
The political match-up between Senators Smart Adeyemi and Dino Melaye is arguably one of the most fascinating fixtures of contemporary times.
It is a contest that has defied political platforms given the swinging political inclinations of the two political combatants.
It started in 2015 when Senator Adeyemi, dubbed as the ‘Man Of God’ by Senate correspondents sought to defy political permutations in Kogi West with his aspiration for a third term.
Adeyemi had in 2007 succeeded Senator Tunde Ogbeha who dropped a third term aspiration upon the zoning permutations binding the three federal constituencies in Kogi West.
Smart’s third term aspiration was something of an issue for some. But certainly not for many constituents who had benefited enormously from his ventures as a senator. He had used his position as a senator, former journalist, and other connections to build stadia, construct roads, import drugs, and hospital equipment for hospitals in Kogi West.
However, political leaders of the constituency with his predecessor, Ogbeha among them, did not see why he should go for another term.
Ogbeha had represented Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency sector of the senatorial constituency, and Smart represented Kabba/Bunnu/Ijumu Federal Constituency.
The political leaders of the zone who stamped their feet in support of the third federal constituency, Yagba Federal Constituency were, however, reported by the younger elements in the constituency to be inspired more by envy at what was seen as the enviable works of Smart.
An attempt by the then governor of the state, Ibrahim Idris to thwart Smart at the primary election was rejected by PDP voters who returned him as the candidate despite obstacles put on his way and the intrigue of shifting the primary election venue on the eve of the primary.
Failing to stop Smart, the elders organized and mobilized around the candidate presented by Yagba Federal Constituency in the person of Sam Aro, a former member of the House of Representatives who picked the ticket of Accord.
The All Progressives Congress, APC which was just emerging at that time did not hold primaries as the father of the party in the state, the late Prince Abubakar Audu dispensed the tickets as he liked. Dino being the favourite organizer for Audu in Kogi West easily took the ticket to the chagrin of the elders in the senatorial district.
In the main election Smart led with more than 10,000 votes but the election was inconclusive forcing a runoff. At the second position was Aro of Accord, Dino of the APC third.
However, following the loss of President Jonathan and still unexplained intrigues, and with enthusiasm for the PDP waned, Dino emerged from the third position in the runoff elections in Lokoja and Kogi Local Government Areas to win the seat with about 2,000 votes.
That was how Dino bested Smart to occupy the Kogi West Senate Seat between 2015 and 2019.
Those who wanted Smart out were even more shocked with the emergence of Dino who is also from the same local government area as Smart.
So whatever way today’s election goes, the Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency would have held the Senate seat for four terms against the aspiration of the elders.
However, Dino who was a leading cheerleader in the 2015 campaigns of the APC was to fall out with the party and eventually switch sides to his former party, PDP.
At about the same time, Smart also switched sides to the APC, shocking many of his close watchers. Again, he easily picked the APC Senate ticket for the 2019 Senate election but in the main election Dino again triumphed in an election that was reportedly characterized by intrigues including allegations of over-voting with as much as 40,000 votes.
It was also alleged that Smart was sabotaged within the APC as a major power broker within the Yahaya Bello camp worked against Smart on the suspicion that Smart could be a challenge to him in the tussle to succeed Bello in 2023.
The result of the 2019 election was eventually annulled after the courts declared that the incident of over-voting made the result invalid and thus setting the stage for the rerun.
After the first round of voting on November 16, Smart was leading with about 20,000 votes. The challenge for Dino overcoming the lead is not helped by the fact that not more than 15,000 voters are expected to come out in areas where the election is to be held.
Even that figure is ambitious. Given the mayhem that characterized the election of November 16, the fear is that many people will not come out.
Undoubtedly, Smart is in a good position to win the election which could bring to an end the repeated face-offs between the two men.
After today’s vote the balance of power between the two men would definitely be redefined.
Unfortunately, after the three previous electoral engagements, it is not expected that the world will see a sequel to the running battle between two of the most articulate senators to have graced the Senate since. But today, one of them will go!