By Obafemi Babajide
My last piece where I gave a random reason why Bello still leads other contenders even though he is seen by many (unfortunately most of them are now in his camp now) as a bad candidate of the ruling All Progressives Party, was greeted with mixed feelings.
Why majority of my readers and followers thought I have been bought over to Bello’s camp, few actually felt I was been hacked! Some saw it as me playing a get into Bello’s camp card.
Few, just few of my friends and a fewer number of those who could read deep, understands the satire. Damn! Whatever happens to our comprehension level could just be unimaginable.
It is a big issue for some of us, that not even the two major contenders that we are left with at this point in time seem to be doing or saying the right things that behooves a candidate who will lead our crashing Kogi State out of these doldrums.
A lot might argue that, the re-admittance of Natasha Apoti into this race will do a lot, for me, I share not much of such feelings and I will tell you why before I end this piece.
Let me start my simple analyses from the incumbent governor, GYB. If part of politics is truely about manoveuring and scheming to get who and what you want in due course; then either you agree with me or not, with some of his latest moves, he (Bello) does know how to play politics.
Some Kogites may have argued about him learning politics on the job, having gate-crashed into power by sheer divine proviso, my argument is simple, even if it took him just a day to learn all what we saw him do, pre, during and the post APC primaries, to his present electioneering campaign, then he must be a brilliant and fast learner; atleast, political wise.
The other part of politics which he may have been seen to have performed woefully, is the administering and control of resources to create ease of life and even developments to the area he governs.
To some ardent believers and followers of GYB, this is grossly debatable owing to the fact of their believe that he met a state at the verge of collapsing due to huge debts, few months of non-payment of salaries, insurmountable issues of ghost workers, etc.
To many of us, especially those of us who had made it a point of duty to criticise and jolt him back to reasoning, not much has been done in the resuscitation of the dying state that he allegedly met.
Some of us still holds the simple and clear view that, to save the soul of Kogi State, we need a governor who can think out of the box. A governor who can demystify power for achievements, someone who will attract investments, a leader who will not only put round pegs in round holes but a leader who will put the resources of the state to work properly.
Untill we can see beyond tribe, religion and gender, it may be hard to get such, except we just stumble on one. Truth be told, there is dearth of developement in Kogi State.
Still keenly looking at Bello’s candidacy, another good thing that some people may have seen, is his even spread of political appointments. You may wish to agree with or argue against this facts, from the inception of democratic rule in Kogi State and since the days of the Late Prince Abubakar Audu, political appointments has never been this even.
Worthy of note also, is the complete and radical departure from gerontocracy to more youths involvement in power, we may now argue about performance of these youths or if those evenly spread appointments where properly done as to putting the right people in the right positions; another pertinent question is if the appointments where not too many or if the appointtees (most of who don’t even have an office space) duely deserved such appointment, in the first place.
But, a school of thought simply broke this down to me by saying that, you can not completely blame Bello for his appointments, he gave those appointment to those willing to work with him when he stumbled into power; others were still busy fighting him untill he was vindicated by the court of law.
Unto the major opposition and the main contender for the guber seat, Engineer Musa Wada. He wasn’t really known untill he vied for the candidacy of the PDP at the last guber primaries. Truth be told, he proved all book makers wrong by putting up a solid strategy in clinching the much coveted ticket of the PDP; as it was the general believe then that anyone who wins the PDP ticket is as good as having won the governorship seat of Kogi State.
But, instead of putting their house in order and moving on, majority of those who contested against him are still dazed on how he came in through the back door and stole the show completely.
Before now, he seemed not to be well known around. That his elder brother was a past governor was the only thing known about him when he won the primaries of his party.
This alone formed the crux of the arguments against him. The question whether the governoship position of the state is meant for only one family; the Wada family raged hot in the state.
The internal wrangling as a result of the party’s primary, may have caused a slow campaign start but few weeks to the election, PDP campaign suddenly woke up after series of criticism from various quarters.
As soon as PDP added more vigour and fire power into their campaign, their major opponent, the APC went back to slumber, this could be as a result of over confidence by the Bello campaign team.
This could also be a good and last minute strategy by the Wada team, who by now, you will agree with me about being good in strategies of winning an election (a case study of the PDP guber primary). But can that feat be replicated this time on a bigger stage? That will soon be known.
The last appeal court ruling on the Kogi West senatorial seat does not seem to help the PDP to really concentrate on this onerous task of saving the soul of Kogi State, INEC was believed to have even added salt to sore by putting the elections on same day with the governorship election.
In another vein, much as we see huge crowds troopping out to welcome both the PDP guber and senatorial candidates (there are arguements that same set of people also come out to welcome the APC candidate), much is still not being said in terms of their manifestos and how they will put the state on track, paradventure they wrest power from this percieved wobbling APC.
As a matter of fact, they goofed and fumbled in the use and choice of language implored in wooing the electorate. Although, the hunger in the land might make them look like a beautiful bride. But have they been able to convince a lot of people beyond reasonable doubts? 16th of November shall tell.
For so many, agendas and action points needed to be well articulated, door to door campaigns needed to be put to use, all these are still lacking in the PDP campaign. Although, both major contenders toe same line of campaign strategy, APC seem to be doing or have done better in the kind of campaign jamboree they both are using. Inanities and not the real topical issues rends the air from both sides.
With their mantra of “Bello Must Go” and the use of a melodious jingle in town, the message of power take over by the PDP seem audible enough to the deaf and clear enough to the blind. But once power is taken, what next? These questions and many are what some well meaning stakeholders are daily asking and answers must be provided quickly in other to still save the day.
When you look at the last Presidential election, Atiku and the PDP had the best jingles, mantra and social media presence, it didn’t translate to the needed votes eventually. This I hope will be a lesson for the Kogi State PDP, that good and viral jingles does not translate to votes in this era of vote buying and technical rigging. Enough said, let me quickly move to the other candidates.
Beautiful Natasha Apoti could have been a force in this election, she is brilliant and seem to know what she wanted in government and governance, coupled with the fact that she is from the same area with GYB.
Much as she seems as the third and great force, her campaign has been largely batterd and destabilized by both seen and unseen forces. Her recent hard earned victory at the court for the inclusion of her name on the ballot paper is rather coming too late for her and her party. How does she want to move round the state soliciting for votes in few days to this election?
As beautiful and as scintillating as her plans for the state may have been, does she have an existing political structure outside her senatorial area to win a state election in totality, does SDP her party have that needed structure too? Her oratory, plans, manifesto and undeniable beauty won’t win this election if you will agree with me. She came in rather too late!
Another great guy doing good and seem to really know what he is up to and what he wants to do for the state if given the chance is Dele Bello-Williams of the Grassroots Development Progressive’s Party, GDPN.
Given the resources and the wherewithal, Dele appears cerebral and ready to work. He has taken his campaign noiselessly around the nooks and crannies of Kogi State. He indeed is the king of house to house and door to door campaigns. I have followed him keenly, I can tell you for free that he has really identified where to take his campaign to and those to speak with.
But, Dele is a new entrance into the political clime, if he continues to engage people relentlessly and build on a solid structure which he has started right now, he may just be a surprise occupant of the Lugard House sometimes soon.
For me, for the first time, the battle of the soul of Kogi State lies in the Western zone of the state. Elections in the eastern part of the state might be keen and a bit close owing to the fact that there are two major gladiators contesting from that axis.
The central looks good for Bello, untill the inclusion of Natasha, whether she will do much to cause Bello some upsets in the central would be a major line of thought.
November 16th, a day of reckoning for all the governorship candidates vying for the leadership of Kogi State is almost here. A day -they say in politics- is too much for surprises, movements and counter movements.
For me, an hour is enough to cause a political upset if the atmosphere and price are right. Except for places where people are truely tired of those who rules them at the moment. Are Kogi State indigenes really tired of this present APC government as purported? Are they willing to crisscross and make the needed sacrifice of trying a new hand? Will they believe the incumbent and allow him to sustain power with the believe of turning a new leaf?
In my own opinion (and this is personal please), barring any last minute alterations and movements, with the present indices and data available, GYB may still win this election again. But like I said earlier, one hour is enough to cause an upset in politics.
Obafemi writes from "Akogba hill" in Ekinrin-Adde.