Cover Stories, Politics, Seat of Power

Kogi Nov. 21 guber poll fall-out: Idris Wada, Abubakar Audu in neck-to-neck contest

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+Details of the all criticisms against the two gladiators

Idris Wada

Idris Wada

COME Saturday, November 21, 2015, people of Kogi State will decide who will rule them for the next four years.  And it’s crystal clear that the contest for the Lugard House, Lokoja, is basically between the candidate of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Capt. Idris Wada and Abubakar Audu of All Progressives Congress  (APC).

ENCOMIUM Weekly’s investigations revealed that the battle line is already drawn between the two political gladiators.  And whoever gets the soul of Kogi between the two popular candidates at the end of the election wouldn’t have threaded on a smooth path.

However, some political watchers in the state are insisting that Wada will retain the state’s number one seat against all odds, and this is largely dependent on the power of incumbency and little or no internal wrangling within the PDP hierarchy in the state while some still believe time is up for the soldier turned politician to pack his belongings from the Lugard House as People’s Prince, Abubakar will definitely come back to take his number one position as governor of the state after the November 21 governorship election.  This they said will be largely due to his credible performance while he was in power, especially between 1999 and 2003.  Audu’s achievements in some key areas, including education, housing, infrastructure and tourism, they concluded remain unmatchable since he left office in 2003.

An impeccable source from the state disclosed to ENCOMIUM Weekly that both candidates are now crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s where necessary ahead of the Saturday, November 21, 2015, guber poll which is of course, going to be a battle of the titans.

Wada, we were told, is capitalizing on his achievement at the grassroots level and support by party elders in the state, including Tunde Ogbeha who also doubles as Director-General, Wada Campaign Organisation.  It’s Ogbeha, who worked tirelessly against the return of Audu in 2003.  Now, he’s still sad to be hell bent in preventing the Kogi Prince from coming back as Chief Executive of the state.

Ogbeha is reportedly not alone in the anti-Audu campaign, he is said to be working hand-in-hand with other PDP top notchers, including former aide of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Kogi State, Olusola Akanmode, political leader of Ebira politics, Ahmed Tijani, former governor of Kwara State, General David Jemibewon (retd), former Chief of Army Staff, General Salihu Ibrahim, PDP National Chairman, Col. Ahmadu Ali (retd) and many others.

These and many other factors may work for Wada’s success at the poll.  But unlike the previous election when he enjoyed the support of the PDP controlled Federal Government, the reverse is certainly the case this time around as the government is under the control of APC.

Top on the criticism against Wada’s second term ambition, our source revealed, is basically non-performance.

“Kogi has been constantly adjudged one of the worst states in Nigeria under Governor Wada’s administration.  He has failed in certain aspects, including education, infrastructure and tourism.

Out of the 21 local councils in the state, Wada’s hands of development were only extended to few of them while some are still languishing in under-development.

“The only aspect where Wada may find it difficult to convince the people of Kogi State is that his rural development programme is faulty.  It didn’t cut across the whole 21 local councils.  And grassroots people are so sensitive to such a thing.

“Also, he’s being accused of embarking on bogus projects capable of draining the treasury of the state.  One of such are Kogi Hotel in Lokoja, N12b Kogi House in Abuja and many other yet to be completed projects within the state.  They see all these as needless projects and a waste of the state’s limited resources.  So, Wada is likely to find it difficult getting to the seat again.”

Another point that may go against Wada at the poll is his unresolved crisis with his runner-up at the PDP governorship primary election held on Monday, September 14, 2015, Isa Echolo, who only polled 139 votes against Wada’s 709.  The conduct of the election, we learnt, is still being criticized heavily by those loyal to Echolo.  And there’s likelihood of them working against his return in the November 21 governorship election in the state.

Meanwhile, in an interview granted a daily recently, Wada’s Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Mr. Jacob Ebi carpeted Wada’s critics.  He labeled them as selfless and parochial politicians who are only interested in bringing down the governor via their campaign of vendetta.

“Those saying Wada is not performing and therefore, doesn’t deserve second term are only far from home to see the development going on.  They’re also criticizing him from selfish and parochial perspectives.  Many of them are politicians, who on the altar of political vendetta, will never see anything good in the opposition.  The elders are not like that.  They know where the shoe pinches and are willing to give credit and to whom it’s due,” he was quoted to have said.

However, in what seems as a favourable political climate for Audu, is the fact that he has ample opportunity to count on a few factors to rise up to the challenge posed by the mountain of opposition to his bid to return to the Lugard House.

One of which is the federal might which may play a vital role in his victory just like it did in 2003, 2007 and 2011 for PDP in the state.

Audu’s APC now controls the government at the centre and he’s expected to benefit from the federal might to add up to the two senators and six House of Representatives members elected on the platform of APC against one senator and three House of Representatives members on the PDP platform.

To boost Audu’s chance, APC has also added more members in the state House of Assembly, increasing its tally to 10 as against 15 PDP members.  The factor of James Ocholi being appointed and confirmed as minister from the state is likely to further help Audu win Kogi guber election.

However, a political pundit in the state, Seidu Noah said Audu is not sure of any support from the federal level and even Ocholi may disown the Kogi Prince.

“Audu can’t count on Buhari’s support for now unless he looks for a way of apologizing to him about his inflammatory comment when Ocholi was named among ministers-designate.  I learnt he said Buhari failed to consult him before appointing Ocholi, meaning he has an alternative candidate to Ocholi.  And Ocholi was one of those that worked for Buhari’s victory in the state.  So, he must be compensated for that.

“Since that time, Audu has been finding it difficult to get Buhari and Ocholi’s attention.  And this may spell down for him unless a miracle happens.”

Another factor that may also work against Audu’s victory in the next governorship election, we learnt, is the evidence of bottled up acrimony ravaging the rank of the APC in Kogi is the 11-page report of the guber primary election appeal panel recommending the disqualification of Audu as APC gubernatorial candidate in the forthcoming election.

The report, therefore, recommended the adoption of the runner-up in the primary election, Alhaji Yahaya Bello as Audu’s replacement.  Bello, we gathered, has written a petition to the panel challenging the authenticity of Audu’s emergence as APC flag-bearer in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.

Also, the issue of Audu’s alleged involvement in N11b fraud when he was governor, instituted against him has also fallen under harsh criticism of well meaning Kogi indigenes.  And his situation was worsened when he reportedly confessed having stolen fund in his custody and he’s ready to return it if re-elected to office come November 21, 2015.

Audu has always been enmeshed in one controversy or the other both within and outside his political party.  During his second term in office, he was hugely accused of pocketing the whole of the state by naming every feature or edifice after himself.  Some of these projects named after him while in power include Kogi State University, which was turned to Abubakar Audu University. Others include Abubakar Audu Stadium, Abubakar Audu Hospital, Abubakar Audu Road and many more.

The Kogi popular prince is now under fresh attack over the choice of his running mate, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke from Lagos State, which is out-rightly outside the political class in Kogi State, and allegedly without consultation with members of the party in the state.  He’s said to be enjoying impunity and lacks respect for internal democracy.

His decision, we learnt, didn’t also go down well with Senator Dino Melaye, another APC giant from the same place with Faleke.  Although, some APC faithful applauded the choice of Faleke, who originates from Ekinrin Adde, Ijumu Local Government Area of the state (Kogi West), some members are still divided.

However, Audu has reportedly justified his choice of Faleke, saying he would help in developing the state.  Not only that, he said the home based politicians have always disappointed him, hence the decision to try someone outside the state with a wider horizon and one who understands the concept of development and has a bundle of experience in same.

Explanations of Audu, however, didn’t go down well with the APC supporters in the state as some of them our source said are still protesting, and that may work against Audu’s performance at the poll come Saturday, November 21, 2015.

“The truth of the matter is that the game is still dicey.  Audu and Wada both have a lot of things to clear before Kogi indigenes if they want to win the election.  But now, Audu has lesser chance than Wada because of his unresolved issues with his party in the state.”

However, Audu seems unshaken by all these criticisms, banking on the fact that the people of Kogi loved him during is second term in office as a result of his performance which no one has surpassed.  But the equation may not be in his favour this time around unless he is in good tune with the party hierarchy in the state and at the federal level.

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