For about 13 unbroken years, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) held on to the Kogi’s seat of power popularly known as Lugard House.
The party first produced former governor Ibrahim Idris, aka, Ibro, who governed the state between 2003 and 2012. In the same vein, the party continued its dominance and hegemony in the political space with the emergence of former Governor Idris Ichalla Wada, who also governed the state between 2012 and January 2016.
However, the party suffered a deadly blow during the November 21, 2015 governorship election when its candidate, Capt Wada, lost his re-election bid to the All Progressives Congress candidate, late Prince Abubakar Audu, who passed on while coasting to victory.
The late Audu had polled 240,867 votes to have an edge over his opponent, the then Governor Idris Wada, who trailed behind with 199,514.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) eventually replaced its late candidate with Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who was inaugurated as the Kogi State governor on January 27, 2016, to end the 13 years of PDP’s political dominance in the state.
Following the shattering defeat suffered at the poll and coupled with the ensuing leadership crises that rocked the PDP at the national level, the party and its stakeholders in the state went back to the trenches.
However, the ruling of the Supreme Court which put an end to the lingering crises in the PDP appeared to have brought about a renewed hope and vigour for the party.
In an apparent move to reinvent the PDP and make it more formidable for victory in the next election, the party shortly after the Supreme Court’s verdict held an expanded stakeholders’ meeting in Lokoja to chart the way forward.
The meeting witnessed a large turnout of top party leaders and supporters, amongst them former governor Ibrahim Idris and the immediate past governor Idris Wada.
Others in attendance include, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, Senator Ahmed Ogembe representing Kogi Central at the Senate, Rep Emmanuel Egwu, Rep Tajudeen Yusuf, Patrick Adaba, Yahaya Karaku, Kola Ologbodiyan, Bar. Kola Ojo, Dr Idris Omede and Malam Zakari Alfa amongst others.
At the meeting, the party members and stakeholders spoke frankly on the mistakes that led to their defeat at the last polls and called for correction in the future election to guarantee their victory.
Despite the grounds they have lost to the APC, the leaders and stakeholders of the PDP at the meeting exuded confidence of upstaging the governing All Progressive Congress in the state and bounce back to power.
The meeting set machinery in place to reconcile all aggrieved members of the party and ensure that those who defected were wooed back to the fold.
The leaders also directed PDP members to replicate the stakeholders’ meeting at ward levels down to polling units in order to carry everybody along in their determination to win the next poll.
They also promised to tap from the painful lessons learnt from their defeat occasioned by lack of internal democracy by doing away with impunity and respecting the party’s constitution and the will of the majority.
The immediate past governor, Captain Idris Wada said he will not repeat the mistakes of the past because the party had gone through a lot of things in the last two years, adding that all those who betrayed the PDP in the last general election are already suffering and seeking a return to the party.
Wada urged members to remain determined to rebuilding and repositioning the party for the next contest while assuring them that the PDP will not lose elections again in the state.
He called on party executives at ward and local government levels to hold similar meetings and sensitize other members on the need to remain loyal to the party.
Also a former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, who is the leader of the party in the state announced that the PDP will take over the mantle of leadership in the state in 2020, adding that the leaders have resolved to work together and that from all indications, the members were ready to fight the battle.
“We have learnt our lessons in a very hard way and it was good for us to learn it that way. We would be more conscious of whatever we do to ensure such division does not come up again.
“I am interested in working hard to bring back our lost glory because the children are suffering and no father would be happy to see his children suffering. PDP is fully ready to take over in 2020 to salvage Kogi State from impunity and maladministration of the APC administration,” he said.
Also in a recent interview after the ward congresses of the PDP in the state, former governor Idris still restated the party’s readiness to take over power.
He said the party has reinvented itself and would come out stronger in the next election.
He regretted that the PDP lost the 2015 gubernatorial election because of internal squabbles and imposition of candidates, adding that the party has learnt from its mistakes.
He expressed surprise over “the level of support and goodwill the party still enjoys from people of the state”, saying the next governorship election would just be a “walkover” for the party as “landslide victory” was assured.
”In 2019, by the grace of God, PDP will field a governorship candidate that is young, focused, highly educated, intelligent, dynamic who will listen to advice from elderly and experienced people and above all who will have the fear of God.
“We will not field somebody who will tear the state apart, neither shall we bring somebody that will spread hunger and starvation. We will bring somebody who will wipe away our poverty and make the state great again.
“The elders say it is when a man marries the second wife that he knows who is better; we as a party have learnt our lessons and the electorate also have learnt their lesson that Kogi State is safe and secured in the hands of the PDP. The people have tasted the second wife and they now know who is better,” he said.
The former governor expressed happiness with the peaceful conduct of the party’s ward congresses in the state.
One of the grounds the PDP is leveraging on is the lingering internal crisis bedevilling the governing APC in the state, especially the standoff between the governor and some members/executives of his party.
The alleged inability of the APC national leadership to resolve the internal wrangling in the state’s chapter coupled with the alleged side-lining of those who worked for the party’s victory in 2015, led to the recent defection of about 1,000 loyalists of a stalwart of the APC and former acting governor in the state, Chief Clarence Olafemi to the opposition PDP.
It was learnt that Olafemi who is a former BOT member of the APC is also weighing the option of returning to the PDP fold should the governing party fail to put its house in order.
The party is also said to be latching on the issue of unpaid salaries and pensions as ground to woo the electorate ahead of the 2020 governorship election.
Another strategy of the PDP is to field a credible and widely accepted governorship candidate from amongst majority Igala ethnic nationality to face the incumbent governor should he choose to seek a re-election.
But the Director General, Media and Publicity to the Governor of Kogi State, Kingsley Fanwo has dismissed the threat by former governor of Kogi State, Ibrahim Idris to the effect that the opposition PDP will take over the state in 2019, saying it is “mere wishful thinking”.
According to the governor’s image-maker, it is in order for people to dream dreams but that the “reality of the inglorious past of the party in the state will soon dawn on their leaders”.
“It is a tall dream for the PDP to think four years are enough to forget the pains they inflicted on the people of the state in their era of docile governance.
“Between 2003-2015, Kogi was under the blanket of underdevelopment and retrogression. Our commonwealth became the wealth of a privileged few and our people were left in a hopeless dungeon to go through an agonising sting of bad leadership.
“The administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello has come to restore hope to the hopeless and has galvanized unprecedented reforms that will refocus the state towards greatness.
“While it is the occupation of the PDP to keep politicking; the present administration will continue to deliver democracy dividends to the people of Kogi State, thereby nailing the chances of the PDP.
“Former Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris should thank the present administration for giving electricity to his Abejukolo people. For nine years, he couldn’t give power to his people. Within eighteen months, we did that for his people.
“A congregation of failed politicians cannot displace the New Direction Movement that has returned power to the people”.
Fanwo called on the PDP to play politics without bitterness and to also devise mental means of dealing with the “gale of decamping that has ravaged the opposition party in the state”.
He assured people of the state of the governor’s commitment to improve their living standards, saying the people know the difference between “a failed past and the present hope”.