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Kogi: Hurdles as Wada seeks return to Lugard House

Capt Idris Wada former Kogi State governor
Capt Idris Wada, former Kogi State governor

The immediate past governor of Kogi State, Capt Idris Wada recently declared his interest to contest the November 16 governorship election in the state, raising questions as to whether he will be successful this time.

Wada’s quest to return to power in 2015 never sailed through having lost to the late Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC governorship flag bearer who was already coasting home to victory prior to his death thus, paving the way for the emergence of Governor Yahaya Bello.

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The former governor is prominent amongst those who have so far picked the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) expression of interest and nomination forms ahead of the forthcoming election.

Others who have also picked forms to contest under the PDP include a son of former governor Ibrahim Idris (Ibro), Abubakar Ibrahim; a Quantity Surveyor, Aminu Suleiman; a security expert, Joe Ameh Erico and a former Kogi Assembly member, Emmanuel Omebije.

Wada, after obtaining his forms at the party’s secretariat in Abuja last week, expressed optimism of coming out victorious in the election this time around.

The former governor, who alleged he was rigged out in 2015, said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would not fold its arms this this time round and watch the All Progressives Congress (APC) or any individual perpetrate violence in the November 16 governorship election to “steal” the party’s mandate in the state.

He said PDP leaders would organize active people to come up with a clear response strategy to any violence tendency on the part of the ruling party. Wada argued that the 2015 governorship election which eased him out as governor of the state was manipulated in favour of the current government.

“Yes they brought violence during the 2015 election. This time around if they try it, we will respond if not more than what they throw at us. We are not going to watch people steal an election from us this time around; we are going to fight for it. We are going to unite the people of our party.

“Let me tell you, in 2015, we did not lose election, it was stolen from us; you all know what happened. So clearly it was a stolen election.  But as one, who has faith in God, we accepted the result and we are moving on.

“This is an opportunity for our people to compare. Are they better off now, than they were while I was there? Let them answer that question.

“We are going to organize our own young and active people to come up with a very clear response strategy to any violence tendency on the part of the ruling party or anyone in the state,” he said.

Wada said the APC-led government in the state has failed on its campaign promises and caused untold hardship to the people while the security situation was worsening by the day.

“Now people are sleeping with one eye closed, or even both eyes opened. We are going to bring back a situation where they can sleep and go about their businesses peacefully if PDP comes back to power in the state,” he said.

He promised to use his wealth of experience as a former governor who understood the challenges of the people to govern the state better, in all sectors if given a second chance.

The former governor has been “talking tough” and appears to be more determined about his quest of returning to the “Lugard House”.

Wada, who hails from Dekina local government area of the state, is not a stranger to the political terrain of the state having contested in the last election where he polled over 199,000 votes.

He has been moving round the 21 local government areas of the state to talk to party stakeholders and woo delegates ahead of the party’s primary as well as the main election.

However, there seems to be some odds and hurdles on the path of the former governor in his ambition to stage a comeback to Kogi’s seat of power. The first major hurdle is that of obtaining the PDP’s governorship ticket for the election.

In 2011, Wada rode to power almost seamlessly with the full support of former governor Ibrahim Idris (Ibro) who was and still remains one of the powerful political godfathers as far as PDP is concerned in the state.

Wada equally enjoyed the full supports of the former governor Ibrahim Idris when he contested for the second time in 2015 but was not successful.

Pundits said that the entrance of Abubakar Ibrahim, a son of former governor Ibrahim Idris in the governorship race might pose some serious challenge to Wada’s ambition.

Even though, the former governor Ibrahim has consistently maintained that he would not impose his son on the people, the argument still remains that he (Ibro) would certainly not abandon his son for other candidates considering the fact that “blood is thicker than water”.

This implies that Wada would be walking a tight rope in the party’s primary where the flag bearer would emerge ahead of the November governorship election.

Notwithstanding, Wada having been governor of Kogi State for four years no doubt has his own sphere of political influence and structure which he would galvanize to his advantage ahead of the primaries.

Whether his influence and political structures are strong enough to deliver him in the primary only time will tell. Associates of former governor Wada are however exuding confidence that he would emerge victorious against all odds.

Other analysts said that Wada has the needed political experience and leadership mien to win the election when compared to other aspirants seeking for the governorship position.

According to them, the current situation of the state is complex and therefore, needs someone like the former governor to fix and not “greenhorns” in politics.

Wada himself reechoed this line of thoughts recently during a meeting with some PDP delegates ahead of September party’s primary.

The former governor said the time for experience to come to play in choosing the next governor has come.

Wada told the delegates that 2019 was not a time to experiment with any “first timer” aspirant seeking to govern the state, saying that he is best suited to shoulder the challenge of restoring hope to the people.

Besides, the former governor is also using the issue of power shift (rotation) to also woo support from Kogi Central and West senatorial districts in particular.

Wada says he remains the only person from Kogi East who can guarantee power rotation to Kogi Central and West since this chance would be his second and last term in office if given the opportunity.

He pointed out that the other first time aspirants would want to complete their second terms in office and as such, the dream of having power rotation to Central and West might be a mirage.

But opinions are however said to be divided amongst PDP stakeholders as to whether Wada should be given another opportunity to fly the party’s flag for some reasons.

One of their arguments is that since Wada failed in the last election as an incumbent governor who had all the resources at his disposal, what would be his chances now that he has been out of power for four years.

Also, given the huge financial involvement in running for election in this part of the world, there are fears as to whether  the former governor can single handedly bankroll the election without the backing of the likes of Ibro if given the party’s ticket this time around.

Others have also argued that age is not so much on the side of the former governor and as such, a younger candidate should be fielded for the election.

But associates of the former governor believe that he is fully ready and equipped in all ramifications to face the election and win.

On the other hand, some stakeholders are opposed to the choice of Abubakar Ibrahim, a son of former governor Ibrahim Idris (Ibro) on ground that it would be tantamount to establishing a political dynasty for the former governor’s family in the state.

No doubt, it will not be an easy ride for former governor Wada in his bid to stage a come-back as Kogi governor.

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