Those who wondered what could bring the governor’s son home in such a glitzy manner later realised that his mission was to obtain his membership card of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and declare his aspiration for a seat in the House of Representatives where he hopes to represent the Ankpa/Omala/Olamaboro Constituency after the next general elecction.
Arriving his hometown Abejukolo, the 40-year-old Muhammed whose posters and banners had been placed in strategic places, was surrounded by hundreds of youths and market women who were slugging it out with one another to grab their own share of money he was intermittently dishing out.
After relaxing a bit at his father’s residence, Muhammed proceeded to the palace of the paramount traditional ruler of the community, His Royal Highness Boniface Musa, the Ojogba of Ife, for a royal blessing. The palace was filled to capacity as hundreds of people in the area thronged to give their illustrious son a befitting reception. The monarch, while pouring his blessings on the governor’s son, stressed the need for the people of the community to rally round him on his aspiration. He described him as an epitome of humility in whom the community is hopeful of a bright future.
Muhammed’s visit coincided with Jumaat (Muslim Friday prayer). Without getting carried away by the deafening reception by thousands of ‘admirers’, he proceeded to the Abejukolo Central Mosque for the Jumaat prayer. The 30 minutes before his arrival witnessed a commotion in the mosque as those in the congregation were pressurising the Imam to commence the sermon on schedule without waiting for anyone.
Stepping out of the mosque after the prayer, Muhammed was encircled by many of the Muslim faithful and the beggars whom he also rained money on.
Declaring his ambition for the race, Muhammed confirmed that aside from riding on the back of his father who is the state governor, he is passionate about enhancing quality representation of his constituency at the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
“My father has laid a good example for me on how to be committed to the service of the people. His achievements are there for record purposes. If I get the opportunity and the privilege to represent my constituency in the House of Representatives, I could not deviate from the path of exemplary leadership my father has created. So, my being in the race is to seek an opportunity to serve my people”, he said.
The Chairman of Omala Local Government Council, Ali Ajuh, would not leave anyone in doubt that backing the governor’s son’s aspiration is the wisest thing to do. According to him, Muhammed “is a good character who, if voted into the House of Representatives in 2011, will not disappoint us. His charisma is enough to guarantee us an adequate and quality representation in the National Assembly”.
Hassan Abu, one of the aides to the governor’s son, sees his boss’ electioneering project as an affair for the entire Igalaland.
Abu said, “One major way through which our people can appreciate the good work of Governor Ibrahim is to be committed to ensuring the emergence of his son in the forthcoming general elections as our representative at the National Assembly”.
While the Chairman of the Olamaboro Local Government Area, Mr. Yunusa Olofu, posits that Muhammed should have been encouraged to eye a senatorial seat owing to his acceptability among the people; the Executive Secretary of Kogi State Local Government Pensions Board, Aminu Atabor, believes that Governor Idris’ dedication to the cause of Igalaland in particular and the state in general should not go unrewarded, emphasising that the governor deserves getting a family successor. He also argues that supporting his son’s ambition for a seat in the House of Representatives would not be too much an appreciation.
Meanwhile, a PDP leader from the constituency, Alhaji Ibrahim Linco -Ocheje, had earlier confirmed that the governor had given his nod to his son’s intention to contest the election.
Understandably, this has sparked insinuations from different quarters that the governor is out to impose his son on the constituency by compelling other aspirants to put their minds off the race. But after the Governor’s Special Adviser on Youth Empowerment, Mr. Friday Sani mobilised youth leaders from the nine local government areas in Kogi East for Muhammed’s solidarity support, Muhammed, after due consideration, succumbed to the pressure mounted on him by Igala youths to contest in the election.
A commissioner with the state Independent Electoral Commission, Haruna Ibrahim asserts that whoever intends to ruffle feathers with Muhammed will be knocking his/her head against a brick wall. He said Muhammed had supporters and admirers who are convinced that he possesses unbeatable credentials for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Speaking to Sunday Trust, the Director of Press to the governor, Mr. Richard Elesho, clarified, “If the governor did not compel anybody to step down for him while contesting the gubernatorial election, how can he now compel anybody to step down for his son in the race for the House of Representatives? Of course, there could be horse trading which is subject to the consideration of the people of the constituency. That Alhaji Ibrahim Idris is the state governor does not influence the qualification of his son for a seat in the House of Representatives. Is anything wrong in Muhammed aspiring to be a public servant? It is wrong to consider it morally wrong for the governor to endorse his son’s political ambition as long as there is a level playing ground”.
Also, Mr Daniel Edoh, President, Forum of Kogi East Print Journalists, in a release, discredited the allegation of imposition against the governor, stressing that that it is morally wrong to deprive Muhammed of his right to contest election on the grounds of his father’s status as governor.
“Neither party primaries nor the general elections have taken place. To say at this stage that a citizen should not indicate interest in contesting in an election for which he/she is constitutionally qualified simply because he is a governor’s son amounts to political intolerance and discrimination,” Edoh said.
Apart from Abdullahi Ibrahim, member representing Ankpa I Constituency in the State House of Assembly, the governor’s son is likely to be locking horns with one of his kinsmen, the Majority Leader of the House, Barrister Adamu Muhammed who is perceived to be interested in the race.
But in a chat with Sunday Trust, the Majority Leader, whom many perceived to have stylishly withdrawn from the race, dispelled the insinuation that the thunderous reception granted Muhammed was aimed at intimidating other aspirants, saying that the community was merely showcasing its traditional way of honouring its kinsmen from outside. Nothing, to him, is more paramount than the emergence of a candidate that would ensure quality representation of the constituency at the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
Against the growing concern over what happens to the political equation if Senator Nicholas Ugbane and Ali Attai Usman, representing Ankpa/Omala/Olamaboro Constituency in the House of Representatives, succeed in realising their ambitions to become Kogi State governor and Senator respectively in the next elections; the Majority Leader contends that such a development is not undemocratic.
“Although Senator Nicholas Ugbane is from Kogi East, he is not from the same federal constituency with the governor’s son. He is from Dekina/Bassa Federal Constituency. From Dekina Local Government Area alone, no fewer than five people are aspiring to be governor of the state in the next dispensation. Even if there is a consensus that the state governor, the senator from the East and the representative of any of the other federal constituencies there should come from the same village, what is bad in that?” the Majority Leader queried.