Today’s gubernatorial election in Kogi State is poised to be fiercely contested, with potentially far-reaching implications for both the state and the nation.
Nevertheless, what is evident is the election’s ethnic undertones, as each leading candidate roots their campaign deeply in their respective senatorial zones based on an analysis by Vanguard.
Among the contenders – Ahmed Ododo (APC), Leke Abejide (ADC), Muritala Ajaka (SDP), and Dino Melaye (PDP) – these four have emerged as frontrunners among the 18 candidates. Ododo stands alone from Kogi Central, while Dino and Leke hail from the Western flank and Ajaka from the Eastern district.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Ododo
Ododo, backed by the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello, commands significant support in the Ebira-dominated Kogi Central. Despite the APC’s statewide influence, Ododo faces challenges in the other senatorial districts due to perceived breaches of agreements and lingering discontent among the Ebira people.
Additionally, internal clan issues and discontent among teachers and local government workers may contribute to apathy in Kogi Central, which has the lowest number of registered voters.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Ajaka
Muritala Ajaka of the SDP relies on his zone’s high number of registered voters and sentiments stirred by alleged attacks from the state governor. While comfortable in the Kogi East, the SDP needs more widespread influence, with analysts speculating potential challenges for Ajaka to secure the required percentage in two-thirds of the state’s local government areas.
Ajaka enjoys support in his Yagba Federal Constituency, giving him an advantage in five of the seven council areas in the zone.
Leke Abejide – A Unifying Figure
Leke appears as the candidate with minimal political baggage, fostering alliances across party lines. Despite being theoretically endorsed by the other senatorial districts, his ADC party has limited representation in the state, concentrated in the Western axis.
Dino Melaye’s PDP Challenge
Dino Melaye relies on the strength of the PDP and his image as a credible voice. However, internal divisions within the PDP and defections to the APC may pose obstacles. His influence in his local government of Ijumu is also in question.
Issues Shaping the Kogi Election:
1. Ethnic and Sectional Politics:
The election is expected to be a confrontation among the three major ethnic groups – Igala, Ebira, and Okun. The minorities may hold the key to victory.
2. Political Violence:
Kogi’s notoriety for political violence remains a significant concern, although assurances have been made for a violence-free election.
3. Money Politics:
Money’s influence in elections, including vote-buying, could impact the outcome.
4. Youth Participation:
While the youth are expected to play a significant role, vote-buying and electoral malpractices may target them.
5. Deployment of Security Personnel:
Heavy military deployment raises concerns about potential impacts on voter turnout.
6. Candidates’ Strengths and Weaknesses:
The candidates’ strengths and weaknesses and voter demographics will influence the election outcome.
With 1,932,654 registered voters, the ethnic minorities may sway the election, emphasizing the pivotal role of groups like Bassa Nge, Bassa Kwomu, Nupe, Ogori-Magongo, and non-indigenes.
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In the face of political violence, money politics, youth participation, and security concerns, the Kogi election’s dynamics remain unpredictable.
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