In a few hours’ time, my beloved home state of Kogi will be locked in a contestation for power that promises to be both intense and interesting. Saturday, November 11 governorship election in Kogi state is one of three off-season governorship elections scheduled for that same day, including Bayelsa and Imo states, where the incumbents are battling to keep their seats. As a two-time former commissioner of information in Kogi state, a three-times spokesperson of the governorship campaigns, and an elder in the state, while I wish the various contenders the best of luck, I cannot help but lend my professional and analytical lenses into the state of this highly anticipated competition.
Kogi governorship unlike its peers has no incumbent in the ring, as the incumbent, Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello is outgoing after completing its constitutionally mandated two terms of eight years. While about twelve candidates are vying for this most prestigious office, to be the commander in chief of the confluence state, only about four of them can be said to be popular, including Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo who is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Murtala Ajaka who is the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Dino Melaye who is the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Honourable Leke Abejide, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
While Ododo is the immediate past auditor general of local government in the state and a protégé of the incumbent and outgoing governor, Mr Ajaka is a former deputy national publicity secretary of the APC, while Melaye is a former senator and spokesperson of the PDP’s 2023 presidential campaign, with the ADC candidate being a current House of Representatives member representing Yagba federal constituency respectively.
The aforementioned candidates are relatively more popular than others in the race by virtue of their previous/present political offices and the strength of their campaigns. But despite the impressive campaign machinery of both the PDP and the ADC, I believe that the impending election is a two-horse race between the candidate of the APC and the SDP. While Dino Melaye is a great personality and a very competent administrator with growing momentum, however, the intricacies of the emergent political realities in the state, particularly in his Kogi West senatorial district will no doubt hamstring him and be counterintuitive to his prospect.
The Kogi election from the look of things will be heavily influenced by religious and ethnic sentiment, with voters expected to vote in favor of candidates sharing their religious and ethnic affinities, with the Ebiras of Kogi Central senatorial district expected to vote massively for Alhaji Ododo of the APC, who himself is an Ebira from Kogi Central, while the Igalas from Kogi East are expected to vote massively for Murtala Ajaka popularly known as Muri, who himself is from Kogi East. The Okuns of Kogi West expected to vote massively for both Dino Melaye and Leke Abejide. According to data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about 1.9 million voters will be voting in the election with about four hundred and fifty thousand coming from Kogi Central, while nine hundred and fifty thousand voters coming from Kogi East and about five hundred thousand coming from Kogi West respectively. From the above data, Kogi East has the majority of voters and is key to the victory of the eventual victor.
Ododo and the APC seem to enjoy an overwhelming predominance in Kogi Central by virtue of the factors mentioned above, but in Kogi East, it is not all Uhuru as a result of the incumbency power of the APC, with most elective and appointive positions being occupied by the APC, by that very fact making it a battleground zone as both the APC and SDP.
Jostle for votes. While the Igalas are determined to return power to the zone after an eight years hiatus the APC still has a good prospect there. I am projecting the SDP and their champion Muri Ajaka securing between 45 to 55 percent of the votes while the APC will garner between 30 to 40 percent of the votes. In Kogi Central I expect the APC to win overwhelmingly with between 70 and 80 percent of the votes, if not more even though I expect some votes for the PDP because of the recent enthronement of Natasha Akpoti as Senator representing Kogi Central. In Kogi West, the shifting political realities have seen Leke Abejide of the ADC rising to greater influence and predominance. While Dino has always been a strong force in the Lokoja and Koto axis, Abejide who has two federal constituencies in his pocket, his Yagba and Kabba Ijumu federal constituencies being a serving rep member from the district seems to be winning the hearts and minds of his Okun kinsmen. The PDP in Kogi state has seen its rank depleted in the lead-up to the election with key members decamping to both the SDP and APC leaving Dino with a remnant structure. But Kogi West will also be a significant battleground as the four leading parties square up against each other and are expected to win roughly equal proportions of votes there as both the APC and SDP move to play spoiler roles.
From the above analysis, both the APC and SDP are expected to emerge with higher percentages of the casted and distributed votes. While we all expect a rancorous outplay in Kogi East I am urging the police and other security agencies to focus their attention there in the interest of a free, fair, and secured poll. God bless Kogi State.
Dr. Tom Ohikere is the Managing Director of the APC NewsOnline and a former commissioner of information in Kogi state, he writes from Abuja