PDP chances brighten as INEC holds guber, Kogi West Senatorial polls same day
Apart from the power of incumbency which a lot of people say may leverage by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the scheduled November 16 governorship and Kogi West Senatorial elections, the chances of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) seem to be getting brighter, especially as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed both elections same day.
INEC had firstly scheduled the governorship election before the Court of Appeal sacked the Senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye and ordered a fresh election to be conducted. This was the situation that compelled the electoral umpire to fix both the governorship and senatorial elections on same day.
With the scheduled polls, political watchers who are very familiar with the politics in Kogi have appeared disturbed that the major threat the APC and its governorship candidate, Yahaya Bello may be facing is the choice of Musa Wada by the PDP as governorship flagbearer, and now being joined by Dino Melaya in the election.
The unfolding debate over the dicey nature of the Kogi election, especially with regards to alleged non-performance of the incumbent Governor Bello and the popularity of Senator Melaye, as well as full political backing of PDP’s Musa Wada by the former governor of the state, Idris Wada, are among many issues commentators have perceived the election will not be a tea party.
At the other hand, Bello is incumbent governor and has all security control to his disposal. He is also seen as a goal-getter and somewhat a ruthless politician who does not take things easy when pursuing a political cause. But the unfolding events will determine whether the outcome will be positive or negative, on both sides of either APC or PDP.
However, the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole has assured that victory is for his party. He based his conviction on the capacity of the governor to not take things for joke and to give PDP a serious political battle. Oshiomhole said Bello has performed maximally and his re-election easy.
His words: “I think Governor Bello has shown that he has capacity and going forward he would have learnt a couple of lessons in his first term. I have passed through that process and I know that your second term is always the time you want to do those legacy projects you will like to be remembered for.
“Because the only benefits in this business is that when I leave, what would I be remembered for? The thing that will drive Governor Yahaya Bello’s second term is at the heart of our campaign. We have also seen the candidate nominated by the PDP, we want to make sure when we go to the field of play, Kogi people will have no problems voting for our candidate in Kogi State as their preferred candidate. We are in a democracy, we believe we will defeat him (Wada), we are not going to walk over him. We will contest with him and we will defeat him clearly and squarely,” Oshiomhole stated.
Curiously, what the APC and Oshiomhole do not know, or choose to ignore is the key fact that the abysmal performance of the Kogi governor, especially with regards to non-payment of salaries by Bello is what the PDP is capitalising on. The opposition party seems to be fully backed by the majority of the Kogi populace, particularly the civil servants.
But Governor Yahaya Bello has insisted that he is fully prepared to not merely defeat the PDP but has since put in place viable political structures that the PDP cannot in anyway be able to penetrate.
“As regards level of preparedness, I am not just preparing now, I have been ready for this election even before the last general election that produced Mr. President, the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly. So, we are well prepared for the election.
“As for victory, I think by the grace of God, it is assured. We are not going to take anything for granted. Whether the candidate of the opposition party is strong or not, we will approach the election with all amount of seriousness and ensure that it is conducted freely and fairly and we will become victorious by the grace of God. On November 17th we will be announced the winner,” Bello boasted.
At the moment, there are several issues why many have not gotten convinced about whether the APC will be able to defeat the PDP.
Chiefly among the issues is that since both elections are scheduled on same day, Musa Wada and Dino Melaye’s popularity in Kogi is a high selling point for the PDP.
Retrospectively, many may have recalled the major role Melaye played while campaigning for Bello in the last Kogi governorship election. By that time, Bello was not so visible and his popularity could not be compared to Melaye’s. At that time, at some points, Melaye, who seemingly became political father figure of Bello, moving with him from village to village, had used his political might and sagacity to mobilise for Bello. He also had used the authority of his closeness to former Senate President Bukola Saraki to lobby the APC to settle for Bello after the death of Abubakar Audu.
On the side of delivery and victory, election is an exercise that requires adequate security. If the senatorial election were to be held on a different date from the governorship, the security structure, controlled by Governor Bello, would have been more concentrated in Melaye’s zone to cage the PDP and give APC upper hand in the place.
Also, Senator Smart Adeyemi, the APC senatorial candidate is currently the director-general of Governor Bello campaign council. Many are wondering how, with his less popularity to Melaye’s or Wada’s, will he be able to manage going round nooks and crannies of his senatorial district, and at the same time be committed to his personal contest and also be working for the governor?
Of course, many political observers have seen that Smart is hiding under the political umbrella of Bello and there is no way he will match Melaye, who is standing with the people. Also, it is seen that Kogi West where Melaye hails from is bigger than Kogi Central where Governor Bello is from and going by numerical strength, more votes will come from the former than the latter.
Seeing that PDP’s chances are brighter and if not muscled, may coast to victory, it was alleged that the APC has perfected plans to arrest all opposition strong men so that they would not be available on the day of election and APC will have a smooth run.
But the PDP said even if the election were not holding on same day, the party is not shaken and is ready to tackle the APC headlong.
The party, through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a reaction insisted that there is nothing to stop the victory of the PDP. He further pointed out that with rousing crowd that graced the PDP campaign rallies, it is clearly enough indication that the Kogi people are tired of Bello. Whether election is fixed on same day or not, PDP will win.
“The people of Kogi State have resolved that Yahaya Bello must go. Moreover, Yahaya Bello is surely leaving office in January 2020 after being handed an inevitable defeat on November 16. Anybody supporting him in suppressing the people may find himself sharing his badge of shame and public rejection as a failed leader.
“The APC has commenced the clampdown and punishment of innocent citizens of Kogi State, having realised that the people are not ready to change their resolve to kick out the incompetent, corrupt and disdainful Bello administration.
“The APC, out of desperation, has started framing and arresting innocent Nigerians, harassing and victimising women and youths, blocking peoples’ means of livelihood and issuing threats on the citizenry, all in the failed bid to inject crisis, derail the electoral process and manipulate the outcome of the polls,” he said.
“The PDP therefore, urges security agencies not to allow themselves to be entangled with the APC against the people as such will diminish the trust, respect and confidence that people have for them,” Ologondiyan said.
Solomon Ayado, Abuja