How Wada Secured PDP’s Ticket In Kogi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How Wada Secured PDP’s Ticket In Kogi

Posted: Sep 18, 2015 at 12:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Adah


The just concluded People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primaries in Kogi State was characterised by a lot of intrigues and horse trading. The primary which was initially scheduled to hold on September 10 was shifted to Monday, September 14. Though the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, gave logistic challenge as the main reason behind the shift, political observers attributed the shift to internal wrangling and power play within the party.

The incumbent governor, Idris Wada who would be completing his first term in January 2016 and has indicated interest to contest for second term was reported to have incurred the wrath of former President Goodluck Jonathan and some national leaders of the party over his inability to deliver the state for PDP in the last general elections. However, some leaders of the party in the state like Gen. Tunde Ogbeha (rtd) Salifu Ibrahim, David Jemibewon among others warned the party against giving the governorship ticket to Jibrin Isah (Echocho) who was rumored to enjoy the support of the party leadership at the centre.

They argued that the party risked defeat in the hand of Isah whom they said was too close to the governorship candidate of APC, Prince Abubakar Audu.  The party elders promised to give their maximum support to Wada’s second term aspiration instead of supporting Isah whose loyalty to the party is doubtful. In addition, Isah who won the first governorship primaries of the party in 2011 before it was cancelled was accused of not supporting the party enough during the last general elections.

Analysts believe that such sentiments against Isah may have contributed to the landslide victory of Wada in the September 14 primaries.  About three aspirants took part in the primaries held at Confluence Stadium, Lokoja.  Wada who defeated two other contestants got 709 votes, while Isah came a distant second with 139 votes. The third contestant, Mr. Moses Banjo could not garner a single vote.  Wada in his acceptance speech dedicated the victory to the people of Kogi State and urged the people to work for the victory of the party at November 21 governorship elections.

“Today’s victory is dedicated to all Kogi people who have been supporting our modest contribution to the development of the state. I congratulate my brothers who contested with me. Together, we shall give PDP a resounding victory on November 21?, he said. Wada promised to immediately embark on reconciliation to ensure a united party as it prepares for the governorship election. “Now that the primary is over, I will do all I can for us to reconcile and work together as a team because this is the only way through which we can record success in the election.”  Isah who came second in the primaries immediately congratulated Wada which may be an indication that he would work with him. 

Now that PDP has finally got a standard bearer, the stage is now set for the epic battle between Audu and Wada.  The emergence of both candidates from the east senatorial district may have laid to rest the agitation for power shift in the 2015 governorship elections as demanded by some groups in the state. Since the return of democracy in 1999, the east senatorial zone mostly inhabited by the Igalas has been producing the governor.  November 21 will be the second time Wada and Audu are meeting in the governorship election of the confluence state.  The first encounter on December 3, 2011 Wada defeated Audu by over 100,000 votes. In a recent interview published in one of the national dailies Wada boasted that he would defeat Audu again as he did the first time.

Observers believe that sentiments and other factors may dominate the campaign leading to the election by the two candidates as the two candidates would be made to tell electorates their achievements.  Audu who was the governor of the state between 1999 and 2003 claimed that the state has not move forward since he left Lugard House in 2003 and promised to accelerate the pace of economic development in the state if voted into office for another term. However, Wada disputed the claim by Audu that his administration and that of his predecessor, Ibrahim Idris have not done enough to lift the state forward. He claimed the construction of the ongoing Teaching Hospital at Kogi State University as one of his major achievement. He blamed the wrong perception of his administration’s achievement on lack of enough publicity.

But the Executive Director, Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, a non- governmental organisation, Comrade Miliki Abdul who has decried the level of infrastructural decay in the state recently described Wada’s administration in Kogi as motion without movement.  Abdul said that Kogi is one of the states in the country that is not fortunate in having a governor that is passionate about the development of the state. He lamented that most of the states created at the same time with Kogi are a head of the state in terms of development. “With the exemption of Prince Abubakar Audu who laid the foundation for the development of the state others that came after him only succeeded in bringing down the state,” he said. 

Speaking in the same vein, Kogi State Chairman of APC, Haddy Ametuo expressed confidence that the November 21 governorship election would terminate the government of PDP in the state.  According to Ametuo the state has not witnessed any good development since it fell under the leadership of PDP since 2003.  Some believe that the two leading political parties in the state have equal strength in the forth coming governorship election.  While the power of incumbency may be Wada’s strength at the poll, Audu may leverage on the popularity of APC in the state to win the election. Moreover, the state may not want to remain the only state in north-central in the hold of opposition as other states, like Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kwara and Niger belong to APC.   As the two candidates appear set to begin their campaigns, the electorates have another opportunity to decide among the two and other candidates that may emerge from other political parties the one with better idea and that can be trusted to deliver on campaign promises.