By Phrank Shaibu
The uniqueness of the forthcoming Kogi State gubernatorial election is not in doubt as it will be remarkable for many reasons. Aside the fact that it is going to be the first major election after the 2015 general elections, it will be an opportunity to open another chapter in the PDP troubled politics.
The popular assumption is that the discontent that worked against the PDP in the presidential election may recur in the Kogi election largely because the party leadership in the state is not different from the national PDP leadership against which allegations of corruption, bad leadership and breach of trust of the electorate have been levelled.
Observers of Kogi politics would readily attest to the fact that Governor Wada Idris’ membership of the PDP is now a big thorn in the flesh of the party and a huge political liability. The gap between his electioneering promises and delivery has reached a crisis point and the people of Kogi understand this situation perfectly well. The few supporters of Idris in the diminished PDP may find this honest statement quite disappointing.
Even their hope that, through imposition, the governor will be given the chance to serve a second term is an illusion and any buyer of such fable may either have just rejoined us from the moon or could be one of those that encourage the continuous mismanagement of Kogi.
PDP primary election of 2011, which imposed Idris as the candidate of the party in the Kogi gubernatorial race, remains a classic instance of impunity in our recent history. The state voters are still bitter over how the PDP manipulated the electoral process and switched their choice candidate, Jibrin Isa Echocho, with Idris. Indeed, the plot to ensure that the stolen mandate of Isah was never recovered was beyond the PDP members as the then chieftains of the PDP at the national leadership level blocked all efforts by aggrieved persons to get redress by ensuring that they frustrated every avenue including disregard for the order of the courts.
From hindsight, one will be right to state that the PDP certainly took an extreme risk in ignoring the desire of its members and, till date, the party has not found a solution because the Kogi PDP continues to hang the toga of shattered credibility. Even now, Kogi is enmeshed in allegations of inappropriate leadership and ill-advised political decisions just like the allegations heaped on the Jonathan administration before its fall.
From Audu Abubakar, Ibrahim Idris to Idris, Kogi seems to have been manipulated to exclude elites from being made governor. The nearest to Kogi being ruled by a graduate was in 2011 when, a first class graduate of economics, was denied his ticket after having won the primary election of the then famous PDP. Sadly, those who refused Kogi this turnaround were led by the then Governor Ibrahim Idris.
The question on the lips of most focused youths would not be far from the fact that the Kogi people deserve a change in their political diet especially given that, in the past 16 years, the political parties have fed them with clueless leaders foisted on the state. Nevertheless, the antidote for the Kogi people should be to find a good leader irrespective of political affiliation; such a move, if employed in the coming election, will do the state good and open opportunities.
Already, there appears to be a shared view among Kogi youths regarding the qualities of the next governor of their state because since the word emerged that Isah is being pressured to re-contest. Many of the youths have raced to support the political quest to ensure their generation does not lose out in the desire to produce a capable hand for the Kogi governorship. The speculation on Isah seems to be sending shivers down the spines of some prospective contenders who understand that, in a properly conducted election under the reformed electoral system, where rigging is made very difficult, a popular candidate like Isah will be every one’s bet for a win.
Whatever happens in the Kogi election may not just be a pointer to Nigeria’s new political trend but a yardstick to confirm the sustainability of its new found electoral credibility.