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Factors That May Shape Kogi’s 2015 Election: Atabor Julius

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Wada and Audu...is it going to be their show
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Atabor Julius x-rays some of the factors likely to determine the outcome of the November 21 Kogi governorship election

At the closing of the sales of APC nomination forms two weeks ago, a total of 27 aspirants reportedly picked their forms, while the PDP has adopted the “siddon look” approach to the sale of nomination forms, but one thing which is certain is that only two persons will be the major masquerades that will test their popularity on November 21, 2015.
In the APC, the plethora of aspirants notwithstanding, the main founder and promoter of the party in the state, Abubakar Audu is a very strong contender likely to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming election even as the incumbent governor, Captain Idris Wada will rather die than to be defeated in the next month primary election.
Wada, although has not publicly declared his intention, his body language suggests he is deadly in the race. He has started in earnest to assemble his campaign strategists across the state as meeting upon meetings of critical stakeholders are taking place across the state, preparatory to the delegate and primary elections.
While Audu has 26 aspirants to contend with in the primary election, Wada is yet to know those in the race with him, despite the uninspiring billboards dotting the landscape of Lokoja suggestive of one or two aspirants, who may contest against him in the primary. But barring any surprises at the primary, the battle is likely going to be between Audu and Wada, since the agitators of power shift have swallowed their words for being unable to narrow down to a single consensus candidate.
The inability of the  proponent of power shift, the likes of Tom Adaba, Eyitayo Lambo and a host of others from the central and west senatorial Zones to  arrive at  a consensus candidate for the Zones, may have  cleared the coast  for Audu of the APC  to slug it out with Wada of  the PDP.The entry of Philip Salau, a former deputy governor of the state into the race on the Labour Party platform, could however deal a permanent blow to the original intent of the power shift agitators. In a shift to douse agitation tension, the Kogi elders on the platform of the PDP recently ratified Wada's second term bid even as the issue of power rotation was consigned to 2019.
Public commentators in the state alluded to what is happening in the state as a rape on the office of the governor which in other clime is highly revered and those seeking it are also very distinguished and accomplished personalities. Alas, in Kogi State, because of uninspiring performances of successive governments, the door was wide open to all kinds of shenanigans to vie for the office of the governor even when most of the aspirants knew they could not win a local council election.
They are of the opinion that it was the low status of the successive governments that have in the past fuelled the violent agitation for power shift, which kept resonating whenever there is governorship election. They lamented at the huge crowd of aspirants who dared to pick nomination forms.
Four years ago, no fewer than 32 aspirants obtained their nomination forms on the then ruling PDP, unfortunately, aspirants have decided to stage a boycott of the PDP form for the APC, the party that now controls the centre and most of the states in the federation which  at the last count, 27 of its aspirants  had collected their forms and had been screened by the national screening committee  of the party while the former biggest party in Africa is yet to begin the sale of forms less than few weeks  to the primary election.
The trend that every Dick and Harry had bought the APC forms was roundly condemned by Audu, calling it a "PDP arrangement to create crisis for the APC". He alleged that most of those who collected the APC nomination forms were given N10million each to destabilise his party. Although there was no official reaction by the PDP, the people have begun to accept the allegation for the uncontrolled crowd of aspirants in the APC without appreciative attraction to the PDP. But the contest is likely going to be fought by Wada and Audu and if it goes this way, a number of factors both tangible and intangible will definitely shape the election.

The Performance Debate
The electorate will cast their votes for the candidate of their choice based on their track records. Wada is the incumbent governor of the state, who is known to be methodical in handling state matters. According to some commentators, Wada’s main achievement in four years is the abolition of the deadly violent activities that made the state unattractive in the past.
He has equally restored sanity and prudence in governance, blocking all known leakages. He has made welfare of the civil servants his cardinal policy even as he was up to date in the payment of salaries and other benefits at a time most states cannot pay salaries of their workforce for months.
He has not fared badly in the area of infrastructural facility as he has optimised revenue accruable to the state in giving a facelift to education, health, tourism and transport sectors etc. Audu, in his separate two times, had demonstrated wizardry in the management of the state. His achievement was largely on economic and infrastructure development with little attention to the welfare of state civil servants which has remained his albatross.

Personality and Public Perception
The incumbent governor is known for his humble disposition. He could hardly hurt a fly, many are wont to say. How the humble disposition has been able to translate into good governance is for the electorate to judge. Audu is known for his high falutin and domineering tendency, which the people have come to tag as arrogance. How this has also affected good governance is a subject of debate for the electorate. Public perception is however a key factor in the way the electorate cast their votes. This brings the power of the media to the fore. It is left for the media managers of Wada and Audu to create and rebrand their principals.

Role of the Civil Servants
Civil servants are a very strong population in the issue of election and electioneering. They can make or mar the chances of candidates. Based on what happened in 2003, Wada may have an edge with the civil servants in the state given the way he has handled them so far.

The Soapbox Mantra
Audu has repeatedly told his supporters that his desire to rule the state again is borne out of his desire to rescue the state from his perceived decay and rot. He calls the state his "baby" saying he cannot fold his arms watching her to deteriorate. He had severally assured the people not to panic as he has put behind him, the incidence of his defeat in 2003.
While Audu was busy reassuring the people of the fear of vendetta, Wada has been empathetic with the people over the economic downturn that has hit the state through the fall of the crude oil prices, the mainstay of the nation's economy. He is believed to have been working hard to convince the people especially the workers at the local government councils, who have been on percentage salaries since inception of this administration that when the situation improves as it was for last month, the monster of percentages would be extinct.

Weight of Incumbency
In as much as Wada enjoys the patrimony associated with the incumbency, his party has lost grounds at the centre while Audu will make up his disadvantage in the state with the enormous support from the central government if he clinches the party’s ticket. How well the opportunity availed by the incumbency weight is maximised would determine who laughs last in the November 21 poll, the first acid test of the electoral body in a post-Professor Attahiru Jega’s era.
Agitation for Power shift
At creation, Kogi State was configured for three major tribes: Igala, Ebira and the Okuns. Unfortunately, the Igala big brothers have monopolised the office of the governor of the state since the democratic governance of the state. This, monopoly had led to violent struggles by the rest tribes to occupy the coveted Lord Lugard House albeit without success.
In as much as the benefactors may wish to stifle it, it kept resonating at every election period. It was in the light of this that the Eyitayo Lambo led committee worked in vain to get a consensus candidate that could represent the central and west Zones in the governorship election.
Speaking to THISDAY recently, a former Minister of Police Affairs and a frontline actor in the creation of the state, Gen. David Jemibewon noted that the struggle is long overdue but it should be handled by all the stakeholders across the state.
He added that since the consensus governor will not rule only the two zones, all the zones must sit on a roundtable to fashion out modalities for a smooth transition to other zones. Having the advice of the general in Mind, the duo started in earnest to woo supporters from the zones on how best to handle the power rotation. Analysts believed that the sincerity of purpose and the political will of the aspirants to match the promise with reality will determine the degree of support from the two Zones.

Campaign War Chest
Wada as a sitting governor may rely heavily on funds available to the state and personal fortunes. His headache will come on the heels of the PDP which has lost the centre and the states in the North central zone.
His ability to persuade his personal friends and friends of the administration to support his bid will play a role in his ambition.
Audu enjoys relaxed personal fortunes and idle funds that can be deployed for the success of his ambition. The APC at the centre may not be distracted to lose Kogi, which is considered very important to the central government for its historical connection to Abuja, the seat of power.
Kogi, being the only opposition party in the North Central zone, Wada may need to learn from his counterpart in Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose's election, especially his winning strategy in the midst of menacing opposition.

District Rivalry
The Igala nation is composed of three major divisions: Idah, Ankpa and Dekina Native Authority. Idah and Ankpa have had their smooth tenures that is, prince Abubakar Audu of Idah district, had ruled in 1992 and 1999 while Alhaji Ibrahim Idris of Ankpa district has successfully completed his two tenures.
While Wada of Dekina district is facing fierce opposition from Audu, a scenario some commentators on Igala politics called a betrayal of brotherly trust. One of the aspirants of the APC from Dekina District said if he fails to get the ticket, all of the aspirants from Dekina  will fall back to support their son, Wada which he labelled "Dekina Agenda".  

The Ibrahim Idris Connection
A former governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris still weighs a lot of political influence in the state. Observers believe that the Marveric politician is only studying the trend before throwing his support for the candidate.
Although the trio had been very good friends, the political divide has kept Audu away from Idris, a situation that will remain frosty till after the election.
However, certain external factors that may play up without the input of the aspirants may also create an upset at the poll. Until then, the aspirants have gone to the trenches digging deep for success.

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