By Valentine Opaluwa
Between the two major contenders for the November 16th Governorship election in Kogi State there is every need for objective analysis and assessment of the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), the incumbent Gov’, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello. and that of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Engr. Musa Wada from the positions of strength and weaknesses because both candidates are clearly the leading hopeful in the run up to the election.
Looking at Govr, Yahaya Bello the APC candidate from position of strength is the incumbency factor which confers on him an advantage. More so, that the ruling party at the federal level is APC.
GYB as a sitting governor has the privilege of the support of all or most of the political appointees like commissioners. special advisers, board members at Federal and state levels, the local government chairmen in the state and of course, the legislative arms both at the National and the State Assemblies, where 25 members are of the ruling party.
There is also a strong notion among some APC members that “federal might” would be deployed to aid APC and GYB to win the election and secure a second term in office by all means. Therefore, GYB can be considered as a strong candidate given the apparatus at his disposal and his capacity to use his foot soldiers who are already brewing for political thuggery and brigandage.
In fact, spectacularly political office holders are desperate and like they did in the last general election, they may also carry A.K. 47 and other arms to influence the outcome of the election in favour of GYB, the “White Lion”. Also GYB as sitting governor has a large purse therefore has plenty of resources to throw around in other to curry support of some people and do vote buying if possible.
On the other hand, Engr. Musa Wada, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), position of strength lies in the fact that the party has been dominant in the state and produced the governors since 2003 until 2015 when it lost the baton of leadership in a very controversial way to Governor Yahaya Bello of APC. Therefore, the party has strong political structure across the 21 local governments area in the state.
Another position of strength for Engr. Musa Wada is that he does not have any political baggage working against him ;he has no corruption case hanging on his neck as a retired civil servant.
Also before he ventured into politics, he was well known by many people in the state especially in Kogi East where he hails from and given the circumstances that surrounded his emergence in the PDP primary election he does not have a known political godfather that can impede on governance of the state if he is elected. Another strong factor in favour of his candidacy is the fact that Engr. Wada is well educated and has vast knowledge of administration coupled with the fact that he is known to have unquenchable desire to render service to the people for some times now there, his emergence on the political soup opera is not accidental.
He is from Kogi East where the bulk of votes for Kogi State governorship reside and lastly which by no means the least, is that GYB’s administration is acknowledged to have received huge fund from the federal government in the name of Bailout fund, Paris refund, Infrastructure fund, Ecological Fund and Internal Generated Revenues yet the civil servants, teachers and pensioners in the state are owe salaries for months, some for more than 30 months and in the same vein, the government has not completed any infrastructural projects a side from the Revenue House in Lokoja.
In fact, since he came into office about four years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari or Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo have never commission any project executed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration of Govr. Yahaya Bello. This is a source of strength for Engr. Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Now what are the weaknesses of Governor Yahaya Bello as the incumbent governor of Kogi State? Even though, Bello inherited an outstanding salary of two months owe the state civil servants by his predecessor, Capt Idris Wada.
Graciously, President Muhammadu Buhari upon assumption of office met this debt burden across the states. Many governors were owing workers salaries as delicate as the issue of workers salary is to the economy and well-being of the citizens. Let call it Buharinomic, bailout funds that were secure for the states made it possible to overcome the challenges of payment of workers salary every month.
Alas Kogi State government under Govr. Yahaya Bello was receiving the bailout fund but was not paying the workers adequately and promptly and in some cases no payment at all. In the name of screening exercise, he oppressed the civil servants, teachers, pensioners and of course the good people of Kogi State. Conducting screening exercise to weed out ghost workers is a noble idea but it was done in a shady manner with a pre – conceived mind.
Kogi State became notorious place of attention, as the workers cried out, some of them committed suicide; a Director Mr. Soje hung himself and the reason for the act was that he could not fend for himself and family because he was not receiving salary. There were those who died in the course of traveling to Lokoja for the screening exercise that was simply a conduct pipe and tool of oppression and denigration of Kogi State workers and people.
Secondly, despite the huge resources that Govr. Bello has received from the federal government he has not executed infrastructural projects like roads, housing, or venture into solid minerals that is scattered across the state, education has not fare better. GYB was ensued in bitter acrimony with lecturers at the state owned University in Anyigba. He did the unthinkable by proscribing ASUU, a power which was not his but needed to display arrogance. Many professors and senior lecturers left the citadel of learning which was once reckoned as one of the best state owned in the country.
Thirdly, the populace groins in pain and penury because most of them depended on salary paid their father and mother to go to school, to pay fees, to feed the family and provide health care services in the case of ill health. Some extended family members depend on their brother, sisters, sons and daughters to make end meet and take care of bills. The absence or inadequate salary makes it difficult for them to get the support and assistance they normally recieve from their family members, relations and friends.
Fourthly, Gov. Yahaya Bello belongs to the Ebira Okene ethnic group and since he came to power as a result of the sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu of blessed memory’ he has been trying to erase the foot print of his predecessors in different ways, the destruction of architectural master pieces in different roundabout in the state were removed. He once ordered the arrest of Alhaji Mohammed Audu, the first son of late politician on thump up charges.
GYB did not hide his deep hatred and animosity towards Igala people. This can be easily be seen from his appointments. As a matter of fact, key commissioners were only reserve for the Ebira and Okun people. Can you imagine this anomie in a state where the people of Kogi East, the Igala and the Bassa are clearly in majority, none was found worthy to serve as Commissioner for Finance, Commissioner for Works, Commissioner for Health, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Commissioner for Agriculture, the Speaker and the SSG are from Kogi West and impactful positions like SDG, Local Government Service Commission has not been occupied by an Igala man under GYB’s administration. Even though, for reason of survival some Igala youth are supporting his re – election especially the appointees and those he procured victory for in the State House of Assembly and those at the National Assembly. One good turn they say deserves another since personal interest is a strong variable in the whole gamut of politics.
However, they are very insignificant to sway majority of the votes from Kogi East for GYB who has treated the people of Kogi East so unfairly despite being the people that paved the way for him to become governor. Certainly it was not the Ebiras and Okun that gave him majority of the votes in the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election in 2015 which he took second, and it was on that premise that he was nominated to replace Prince Abubakar Audu who was already cruising to victory in that election.
GYB has displayed crass ignorance of governance by choosing the path of oppression, dictatorship and pretentious hate for a section of the state. He is attempting to divide and rule the people of Kogi East, so as to incapacitate them politically but from all indication it is a mirage, because his supporters cannot give him up to 15% of the votes that will be cast in Kogi East in a free, fair and credible contest.
Fifthly, GYB does not have a grip on Kogi West Senatorial District where Senator Dino Melaye represents before court nullified his election on technical ground. At the moment two House of Representative seats that were deemed lost by the People Democratic Party (PDP) has been overturned by the Court of Appeal that of Honourable Shaba of Lokoja/Koton-Karfe Federal Constituency and HonourableTijani Yusuf of Kabba/Ijumu Federal Constituency.
Moreover, the appointees of GYB from Kogi West from the Secretary to the State Government, Speaker of the State Assembly, Commissioners and Special Advisers are not well known politicians who have the people on their side aside Senator Smart Adeyemi, most of the experienced politicians that decide the outcome of election in Kogi West are in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), namely Chief Shola Akomode, Gen. Jemibewon, Brig. Tunde Ogbeha among others.
While the weaknesses of Engr. Musa Wada are that he is a very independent minded person and would not have become the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, if he does possess this attribute. He contested the PDP primary against all odds. He was persuaded by elders and younger men to step down for his elder brother, the former Governor of Kogi State, Capt. Idris Ichala Wada but he never budge, he was seeing beyond the request for him to step down.
Abubakar Ibrahim Idris, the son of former Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji. Ibrahim Idris was also contesting and had the support of his father-in-law, His Excellency, Ibrahim Idris, again he refused to succumb to pressure to step down. Engr. Musa Wada was not considered as a front runner in the primary election, but he was far ahead before the disruption during the last stages of the primary election.
In politics especially on our climes, an independent person is often seen as one who would not like to compromise thus supporting an independent minded person is not common. However, independent minded personality which appears to be a weakness in Engr. Musa Wada is a source of strength because an independent minded person is better for the people of the state than a yes man.
Again the fact that he is a younger brother to Captain Idris Wada the former governor some people are likely to see it as perpetuation of one family in power but that story is not flying among many people. Given the way he emerged and the failure of leadership of the magnitude we are having in Kogi State getting somebody like Engr. Musa Wada is good omen, that the state can be in a safe hand who would be driven by people centred leadership to enhance genuine development. He has the capacity and characteristics to advance the cause of the state positively and he is seen as such a leader by many well meaning Kogite of different shades of opinion and persuasion as things stand.
He does not have the resources to withstand GYB in terms of money for the election. However, luckily for Engr. Musa Wada his campaign is more like a movement and volunteers are many because of the strong desire for change of government for the better. Even though money for logistics and so on and so forth is necessary, it has become people project and that means individual donations is now driving the campaign and you know PDP is behind Engr. Musa Wada in totality.
The power of the people to demostrate their will to get freedom from oppressive leaders, be it monarchy and dictatorship is legendry in human history and about to be repeated. This time, it is about revolting against a young leader who came to power through providence but instead disgrace the very people who are the very essence of political leadership and democracy.
Engr Musa Wada seeming weakness has been eroded by the prevailing situation in Kogi State. Therefore, in comparision, while the strength of GYB is rooted in using anti-democratic forces to change the will of the people in the forthcoming election, Engr. Musa Wada is widely accepted not only in Kogi East but in Kogi West and of course Kogi Central. Therefore, in a free and fair contest, GYB is not popular enough to get 25% of the vote cast across the three Senatorial Districts in the state. The reason is simple, most civil servants, teachers, and pensioners would not vote for him and many others who are their beneficiaries and the generality of the people of the state because of the poverty and lack of democratic essentials which characterize his administration since he took the reign of power in 2016.
#Mr Opaluwa, a social commentator writes from Abuja