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Kogi East Senate: The Risk of PDP Choosing Attai Aidoko, By Idris Omahi

Peter Okunoren

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Jim Rohn, an American author and motivational speaker once said, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”

This seems to be the dilemma of the people of Kogi East Senatorial District of Kogi State. From one political dispensation to another, they have been forced to settle for an ordinary representation in the National Assembly – the kind that has added very little or nothing to their quality of living.

Another season of decision making is fast approaching; a season where making the wrong choice of who will represent them this time around will consign them to yet another four years of perpetual retrogression. So, as the buildup to the general elections gathers momentum, the people of Kogi East Senatorial District are praying; those who know how to fast are resorting to that. But the prayer point is that God should bring a messiah (or messiahs) who will speak for them confidently at the National Assembly and the district will bounce back to reckoning.

The name, Senator Attai Aidoko, is not new to those who have followed the politics of Kogi State for close to two decades. If not for anything else, he will always be remembered for representing Kogi East at the National Assembly for 16 years (House of Representatives – eight years and in the Senate for another eight years) with nothing to show.

He had earlier represented Ankpa/Omala/Olamaboro Federal Constituency from 2003 to 2011. And the people have said the only dividends of democracy accruing from his representation are seeing his fine face when another election season is approaching, and of course, listening to political sweet nothings when their votes are solicited the next time.

They have said between 2011 and 2018 (going to 2019), they have searched and searched, and continued to search, but the senator cannot be tagged with any meaningful development in any part of Kogi East Senatorial District, not even with his influence as chairman, Senate Committee on SEGS.

One of Aidoko’s townsmen summed up their frustration recently. He was quoted as saying, “The only stream sustaining our community and the neighborhood and is about four kilometers away. Aidoko is far from our challenges because he only comes here in the night and disappear before dawn since he became a senator.  As you can see we have no potable water, no electricity and other basic infrastructures.”

Even the boys are not smiling at the moment. Igala youths recently spoke the minds of the entire youths of the district. According to them, the senator is a liability on the good people of Kogi East and he has no political relevance in both the region and at the national level. The youths are crying out, very loud at that, that as the longest-serving federal lawmaker from Kogi East, he has serially failed them “in terms of good legislation, provision of amenities through constituency projects and youth empowerment.”

They continued by saying, “We can’t continue to wallow in this politics of stagnation where some wicked few individuals will gather together to oppose everything that is good for our land.

“Our region has suffered so much neglect despite the fact that we have several opportunities to develop, but we have been suffering so much neglect because of the attitude of some of our leaders.”

The Kogi East people are going, albeit caps in hands to God, to the gods, and to whatever power they believe in, to yarn some miracle intervention of sorts, so that as the Peoples Democratic Party is choosing its candidates in Kogi East, they should settle with a quality candidate who will better their lots, who will be their voice when other brand-new senators take their hallowed seats in the hallowed chamber.

Anything less than a suitable candidate will attract rebellion from the voters, and the people, especially if the current occupant gets the ticket. You see, the people have been bitten more than twice. Who knows, they may be shy the next time they are bitten. Even as they do not trust the All Progressives Congress promise-and-fail kind of politics, chances are that they may rather feel comfortable with it by offering their protest votes to an APC candidate possibly coming from Dekina or the Idah axis of the zone. If for any reason the incumbent senator returns to contest on the platform of PDP, chances are Dekina/Basa will go for APC, Idah Federal Constituency will go for APC and Ankpa/Omala will go for APC. Though, this will bring a new chapter of failed promises, it could be the last resort just to teach the party delegates a lesson.

PDP in the Kogi East is in need of a new face who can energize their base. There is so much anxiety at the moment because the current occupant as a product is not strong enough to move market for the party in the face of the electorate. Just think of it, he has never won the primaries. He gets the ticket through the back door.

Another burning issue that may consume the PDP in Kogi East is the marginalization of the Idah axis of the zone. Kogi East Senatorial district has nine local government areas and three federal constituencies. They include the Idah axis: Idah, Ibaji, Igalamela/Odolu and Ofu; Dekina axis: Dekina, Bassa and the Ankpa axis which consists of the Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala.

The choices before the political class and the electorate are between progress and retrogression, unity and disunity, equity and inequity; and of course a wide prospect of prosperity for millions and not just the elite few.

Between 1999 and 2003, Dr. Alex Kadiri, a Dekina citizen was elected into the senate. Senator Nicholas Ugbane also from Dekina succeeded Dr Alex Kadiri and served in the senate for eight consecutive years. The zoning formula favoured Dekina yet again in the race for Lugard House which led to the emergence of Captain Idris Wada as governor of Kogi State.

Similarly, Ankpa Federal Constituency has also been largely favoured since the return to democratic rule. Alhaji Ibrahim Idris governed for nine years. Senator Attai Aidoko, another native of Ankpa Federal Constituency has been in the National Assembly since 2003.

Barr. Dangana Ocheja was elected in 2011. His representation was truncated by Attai Aidoko Ali through the judiciary after just six months. The implication is that since 1999, Idah Federal Constituency (comprising Idah/Ofu/Igalamela-Odolu/Ibaji) despite its massive voter strength has not produced a senator. This clearly indicates that equity has been conspicuously overlooked in favour of marginalisation.

One may argue that several indigenes of Idah Federal Constituency were beneficiaries of high-profile political appointments. But we need to remember that an appointment is a prerogative of the chief executive and is not necessarily a true representation of the desire of the masses.

Back in 1999, President Obasanjo appointed Dr. Eyitayo Lambo and Bayo Ojo as Minister of Health and Attorney General and Minister of Justice respectively. Both were from Kabba town. The office of the deputy governor today is the outcome of a doctrine of necessity by the powers that be and not a product of consensual agreement by Igala political stakeholders. Deputy Governor Simon Achuba was forcefully shoved down the throats of the people and they were forced to swallow without complaints.

The clamour for a Kogi East senator of Idah extraction has never been this deafening. It is a major topic of discussion where two or more are gather. If the leaders of the PDP in Kogi State are serious about balancing this highly lopsided senatorial representation in 2019, and are also serious about retaining the massive votes of Idah, Igalamela-Odolu/Ofu/Ibaji citizens, then, they must act quickly and smartly to exterminate the political oppression, subjugation and marginalisation that has been handed down on these politically sensitive people for so long.

Idah Federal constituency has one of the largest voting population in Kogi State. Collection of PVC in the four local government areas has been impressive. If the leadership of the PDP is thinking about zoning the senate to another constituency besides Idah in 2019, they should have a rethink. Several able-bodied individuals with vast experience and impeccable records of hard work, honesty and credibility are very ready and willing to join the senatorial race in 2019.

The “systematic marginalisation” of Idah Federal Constituency must be brought to a halt. The recycling of “expired” familiar names with dismal performances in the senate must also stop. Fresh ideas, fresh approach and better results in 2019 are what the Kogi East people demand and Idah Federal Constituency has a large pool of intelligent, honest and hardworking persons that are ready, able and willing to do the job.

The people know this. The party knows this. Apparently, our distinguished senator himself is well aware. That explains the reason he has been going from pillar to post, seeking crude means to actualize his dream of going back to the senate to warm the seat on behalf of the Kogi East people. Perhaps that was the motive behind his alleged enlisting of more than a dozen propagandists to carry out a smear campaign so as to truncate the ambition of other leading aspirants in the race.

A whopping N20 million, according to reports was given to a party chieftain to facilitate this smear campaign. And part of their briefs was to make the party hierarchy see other leading aspirants as impostors and agents of the opposition and this involved writing several anonymous letters to some party stakeholders.

The leaders of the party are aware of Aidoko’s desperation, that is why they said no to an automatic ticket for our dear senator. They rather expect Senator Aidoko to test his popularity and make his achievements open doors for him if he has done well for his constituency. But the senator is not resting in his oars.

He is making every effort to return to the senate and elongate the suffering period of Kogi East people. This time, the people will resist him with their precious votes.

–      Omahi, a political analyst writes from Idah, Kogi State, Nigeria. 081222016330.

POLITICS

Election Postponement: PDP Asks INEC Chairman To Resign, Accuses APC Of ‘Grand Conspiracy’

Peter Okunoren

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Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has asked Mahmood Yakubu to resign as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Speaking through Ike Abonyi, his media aide, shortly after the elections were postponed by INEC, Secondus said his party was rejecting the new dates.

He said it was a “deliberate, pre-determined agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to cling on to power even when it’s obvious to him that Nigerians want him out”.

Secondus said the postponement was part of a “grand design” by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to thwart the will of Nigerians “at all cost”.

He said the APC “in connivance with INEC have been trying all options including but not limited to burning down INEC offices in some states and destroying of electoral materials to create artificial problems upon which to stand for their dubious act”.

“With several of their rigging options failing, they have to force INEC to agree to a shift in the election or a staggered election with flimsy excuses pre-manufactured for the purpose,” he said in the statement sent to TheCable.

“For the avoidance of doubt the PDP sees this action as wicked and we are also aware of other dubious designs like the deployment of hooded security operatives who would be ruthless on the people ostensibly to scare them away.”

Secondus said the “wicked killing” of over 60 persons mostly women and children in southern Kaduna on the eve of election “is a copious ploy by the APC to frighten the people away from voting knowing too well that they were not going to record any vote from the area”.

“Recall that the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai had earlier threatened international election observers of going to their country in body bags and with the fatal violence in the state on the eve of election, it’s clear what the motives are, to frighten the observers from the state so that he can carry out his nefarious acts,” he said.

The PDP chairman also drew the attention to the statement of President Muhammadu Buhari that nobody can unseat him from office as an indication of what he wanted to do.

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BREAKING: INEC Postpones Presidential Election, Announces New Dates

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has moved the presidential and national assembly elections till February 23.

The governorship and state assembly elections will now hold on March 9.

He said the decision was taken after a careful review of the plan for the exercise.

“Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible,” he said.

“Consequently, the commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23 February 2019.

“Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.

“This was a difficult decision for the Commission to take, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.”

He announced that the commission will meet key stakeholders to update them on the development at 2pm on Saturday.

INEC had summoned stakeholders to an emergency meeting on Friday night following logistics problem in some states.

In Ekiti state, electoral materials had not arrived some areas as of 9pm. There were also issues in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Taraba and Rivers.

In 2011, the national assembly elections were postponed because of insufficient materials shortly after voting had commenced nationwide.

Four years later, elections were moved by six weeks to allow the military tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, although many thought it was because the incumbent government was afraid of losing.

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POLITICS

2019 Elections: Atiku Is My Good Friend But We Will Send Him Into Retirement On Saturday —- Tinubu

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A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said on Thursday in Lagos that the party would send the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, into retirement on Saturday for the good of Nigeria.

Tinubu said this in a statement made available by his Media Officer, Tunde Rahman.
He said: “This election is more than a contest between two men, President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, for that one exalted chair.

“Look, I have made no attempts to hide my friendship with Atiku. We are friends before this election and hopefully we will be friends after Feb. 16 when he goes into retirement.

“For the good of Nigeria and even the good of Atiku himself, we will do well to send him into retirement on Saturday.

“Perhaps, we should also send Obi into retirement along with his boss come Feb. 16. Perhaps together they might manage to discover the place where they might learn compassion for the common man.”

Tinubu said there was not much good that could be found in the policies and programmes announced by the PDP.

He said: “Atiku’s answers to our economic challenges are to shrink and restrain government from being the active catalyst toward a diversified economy that assured broadly-shared prosperity through the just allocation of wealth and reward according to sweat and toil put forth by the Nigerian people.

“They seek an unfair, unjust and unequal Nigeria. Their definition of Nigeria is a nation run by the greedy, for the profit of the rich, at the command of the mighty.”

Tinubu said the objective of the APC was to remake Nigeria into a great nation.

He said: “Our vision is the opposite of theirs, Unlike the PDP, we, the APC, are anchored to the proposition that every Nigerian is entitled to equal access and sufficient economic opportunity so that he may use his talents, skills and committed exertion to carve for himself and his loved ones the decent and good life every human being seeks.

“The ordinary person is not to be shortchanged of the fair dividends of his honest sweat and diligent labour simply because he may be poor or because the powerful and wealthy want more.

“Because of the APC’s concerns for the struggles of the average person, we launched beneficial social welfare programmes such as the school feeding programme, Trader-Moni and N-Power.

“As such, we have made progress caring for our most needy and vulnerable through these and other innovative and unprecedented policies. These programmes are of the type all great nations do for their citizens.”

Tinubu said the APC was not satisfied by what had been accomplished, saying what had been done was but the opening phase of a more ambitious undertaking.

He said: “We have just begun to fight poverty and reform this economy on the scale required. Though we have helped millions, several millions more are needed to end poverty’s stranglehold on their lives.

“We must expand the scope and reach of our social welfare programmes to encompass those other people who have been denied access to the productive economy through no fault of their own.

“Additionally, we must put idle hands to work to build a modern infrastructure that will energise agricultural output in rural areas and foster labour-intensive industrialisation in our growing cities.”

The former governor of Lagos State said the second term of President Buhari would be dedicated to changing the structure of the economy for the better.

He said: “We must amend our national economic architecture to unlock the full potentials of our people and our land. To me, this is the core mandate of government for and of the people.

“Throughout the campaign, we have talked about taking Nigeria to the Next Level. To me, this Next Level is informed by forging a new partnership between government and the governed to create a more just and prosperous economy for all.

“The beginning of this new partnership is already taking shape. As stated before, we have initiated a first phase of social welfare programmes.”

Tinubu urged the people of South West to join APC in implementing the Next Level agenda.

He said: “The South West has always been at the vanguard of progressive governance in Nigeria. Today should be no exception to this historic role we have played.

“I ask the people of the South West to join the APC so that we attain the Next Level by implementing this bold and good new partnership built on the following pillars: power, infrastructure, housing, industrialisation, agriculture and social security.”

Tinubu said that the coming elections were a choice between progress and retreat.

He said: “The future is uncertain until we enter it. February 16 is Election Day and on that day Nigeria shall step into its future.

“How you vote on that day will determine whether we walk into the future in a manner that guides our subsequent steps toward the national greatness that calls to us or will we walk into it backwards as if feebly trying to reinvent the past.

“One road leads to a certain replay of the economic injustices of the past. It is a road well-worn with familiar pitfalls and setbacks built into the very nature of it.

“The other road provides the truest, brightest chance for us to enter into our hopeful future but only if we are brave enough to believe in our capacity to improve our nation.”

Tinubu urged Nigerians to vote for President Buhari for a secured future.

He said: “This is the future we must enter. This is the future the APC champions. This is future you must choose on Election Day. Vote for yourselves by voting for President Buhari.”

Tinubu urged Nigerians to conduct themselves peacefully before, during and after the elections to ensure a violence-free exercise.

He said: “In the exercise of our civic duty at this historic and important moment, I ask that you conduct yourselves with utmost tolerance and in equal peace towards both political ally and political opponent.

“Let us show the world that we know the true meaning of democracy. On Election Day let not an angry hand be raised against any Nigerian.

“No matter our political differences, let us remember we are of one land and of the same national family.

“This election shall be free and fair and conducted without the arm of violence. For this is as Nigeria and our democratic exercise must be to achieve the excellent destination intended for us.”

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