Kogi 2023 guber: Who will pick APC ticket

It is no longer news that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the curtain for the conduct of the 2023 gubernatorial election in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo States.

The Commission, late last year, announced March and April this year as the period for the conduct of party primaries for the off-season election.

Interestingly, the suspense and intrigues surrounding who will hold the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Kogi State and that of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), for the November 22nd Kogi State Governorship election has continued to cause sleepless night for many political calculators and pundits.

Many are already asking if power will remain in the Central Senatorial district or shift to Kogi West after the Eastern Senatorial district has ruled the State for 16 years.

A major problem starring the APC in the face is the court judgement which nullified its list for the scheduled governorship primary election.

DAILY POST reported that a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday nullified and set aside the Ward and Local Government congresses the APC purportedly conducted on February 7 to nominate its candidate for the November governorship election.

The court voided the two congresses because they were not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and the Constitution of the APC.

Delivering judgment in a suit instituted by a group of aggrieved APC members led by Realwan Okpanachi, Justice James Omotosho barred the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from using the unlawful delegates list that emanated from unlawful congresses for the party to select its governorship flagbearer.

The development is said to have been received with shock by the party hierarchy and has created anxiety in the State.

It is left to be seen whether it would go ahead with the primary election scheduled for this weekend.

DAILY POST x-rays the possible gubernatorial candidate across the three Senatorial Districts, with emphasis on the ruling APC.

All eyes are on the APC with Governor Yahaya Bello set to complete his second tenure in office.

However, the chances of the party retaining the state are dependent on a number of factors.

First, the intra-party unity before, during and after the primary election. Secondly, the decision of Governor Bello in respect of who he throws his weight behind and his success at doing so with the support of the national leadership of the Party.

The third is the criteria for the choice of candidates, primarily on the basis of pedigree, performance, capacity, financial muscle, loyalty and unifying ability at both intra and inter-party levels.

Political commentators have continued to ask if APC will go for continuity and allow power to remain in Kogi Central? This question according to political pundits became relevant at this point because there was a billboard once sponsored by a faceless group which surfaced in Lokoja and some strategic places in Kogi State calling for the Central Senatorial district to retain governorship for 16 years.

Another question in the minds of many Kogites is: ‘will the party consider a rotation formula by ceding the ticket to the Western axis on the altar of equity?’ It is worth noting that the western senatorial district has never produced a democratically elected Governor in the State.

Thirdly, will the Party look in the direction of the eastern axis this time around? This is considering that the zone can exercise its numerical strength on another political platform as a protest to depose APC should the ticket be ceded to another zone.

DAILY POST gathered that the Senator representing Kogi West Senator Smart Adeyemi, Commissioner for Finance, Hon. Asiwaju Idris, David Adebanji Jimoh are some of the dominant names from that axis that are scheming to pick the APC ticket.

Asiwaju Idris

Idris, who holds the traditional title of Turaki of Koton-Karfe, looks very much likely to pick the ticket if APC zones it to Kogi West. The case for him is that he was a university mate and long standing friend of the incumbent Governor, and he has been in charge of the critical ministry of finance since the inception of the administration.

In fact, he was in charge of the State economic team till the third quarter of last year. He has the resources to mount a successful bid. On the flip side, however, he is discussed in many corners as a political liability as he was reported never to have won his polling unit without stress in any election conducted since his appointment as Commissioner.

Senator Smart Adeyemi

He is a veteran Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District for the third time. He was a former National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). He is known nationally and one of the vocal voices in the Senate at all times. He has financial muscle with heavy investment in the hospitality business mostly in Ilorin, Kwara State.

He commands a reasonable level of political influence in the five Okun speaking Local Government Areas in Kogi West. He was until last year very close to the incumbent Governor who did everything for his return to the Senate during the 2019 election against Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Smart Adeyemi is seen among the Kogi West electorates even from his Okun kinsmen as a non-performer. His kinsmen, particularly the youths, constantly make reference to him as the fourth Senator from Kwara State because of his heavy investment in Ilorin without commensurable effort in his constituency.

In addition, several opinion holders see Smart Adeyemi as a champion of ethnic politics who might lack what it takes to manage the ethnic configuration and complexity in Kogi state. Just recently, former NUJ Vice President, Tim Ejiga lambasted the Kogi West Senator, describing him as a use and dump politician in Kogi State.


For Kogi Central, the current Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kogi State, Pharm. Abdulkarim Jamiu Asuku, the Accountant-General of the State, Alhaji Jibril Momoh, Dr Sanusi Ohiare, Barr. Salami Momodu Deedat, and the Auditor-General of the Local Government, Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo are those jostling to pick the APC ticket.

Although much could not be said about some of the above listed candidates, DAILY POST will be focusing on some who might likely shake the table during the primary election if the ruling party decides to sustain power in Kogi Central.

Pharm. Abdulkarim Jamiu Asuku

Whenever the issue of the governorship contest comes into mind, the current Chief of Staff, Pharm. Abdulkarim Jamiu Asuku, readily comes to mind. He has been visibly involved in political organisation in the State. He has the money, he has name recognition, and there are visible political structures openly rooting for him across the State. His humble disposition, relationship across divides and accessibility to all are also his major political assets. However, he has some obstacles to surmount on his way to realizing his ambition.

The first is the rumbling in his closest political family that led to the removal of the Chairman of Okene Local Government. Even with the reinstatement of the Chairman, the scars of the healing wounds are still visible as political hiccups against him.

The group loyal to the deposed Chairman are waiting for an opportunity for political payback. The second is the polarisation in the appointment of substantive Chief Imam of Okene which has pitted the political class against some powerful religious and traditional institutions in the area.

The Chief of Staff is alleged to be indirectly involved in the Imamship controversy. This might have a spillover effect which can threaten his ambition. There is also the hurdle of the no-love-lost relationship between him and the Deputy Governor, Chief Edward David Onoja.

Alhaji Momoh Jibril

The current Accountant-General of the State, Alhaji Momoh Jibril is another strong aspirant from Kogi Central. He is not very visible when it comes to political organisation and grassroot movement like the Chief of Staff.

But you could write him off at your own risk. He is very methodical and can strike decisively when it matters most. He has the required resources, in addition to having the ears of the incumbent Governor at all times. DAILY POST findings revealed that he is a childhood friend and classmate of the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello from their days at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

However, further findings revealed that his greatest drawback is that the charisma to pull people together is practically absent in him. In addition, the internal squabbles and lack of political influence beyond the occupational influence may be a drawback for his governorship ambition ahead of the primary election this Friday 14th April, 2023.

Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo.

Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo is the current Auditor General for Local Government. He has the money and the finesse to execute a Governorship project. He is said to be very generous, and that is considered his biggest strength. He is also seen as one of the close confidants of the incumbent Governor.

His major drawbacks, however, are the Local Government workers that are waiting to vent their anger should he get the APC ticket. Perceived clannish cold war from his origin in the Kogi central axis may also be a likely setback.

By and large, the three possible aspirants from the central axis have both moral and practical burden to offload because the public opinion is practically against the APC fielding any candidate, no matter how popular, from that axis. The argument is that such a candidate might not withstand the PDP or any other party from another zone in the State.

Dr. Sanusi Mohammed Ohiare

He is one of the Executive Directors in the Rural Electrification Agency who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017 and reappointed in 2022. He is from Adavi Local Government Area in Kogi Central and holds the traditional title of Alewo Ejeh Olamaboro. He is very young, innovative and industrious by all standards. Dr. Sanusi clearly fits into the definition of youth in governance with soaring credibility. His father once represented the Kogi central in the Senate. Dr. Sanusi is a staunch member of the APC at the national level. His father’s political structure is clearly an edge for him.

He has financial resources directly or indirectly to execute the governorship project. Anytime Kogi central political elites are mulling the idea of a young and dynamic possible successor to the incumbent Governor, the name of Dr. Sanusi resonates loudly. However, he is seen as a Diaspora politician who only connects with home during elections. He also has clannish issues and his father’s political foes as big huddles to cross. The question of whether the other two senatorial districts will support the APC to produce another Kogi State Governor from the Kogi central in quick succession is another major hurdle to cross.


The Eastern Senatorial District has an array of formidable party members who are likely to throw their hats into the ring. They include the current Deputy-Governor, Chief Edward David Onoja, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Alhaji Murtala Yakubu Ajaka, the Auditor-General of the State, Alhaji Yusuf Yakub Okala, Prince Shauibu Abubakar Audu, Idachaba Friday, Abubakar Yahaya Achimugu, Senator Yakubu Oseni and former Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Professor Stephen Ikani Ocheni.

Chief Edward David Onoja

The current Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Chief Edward David Onoja is no doubt a colossus in the current political dispensation in Kogi State. Under normal circumstances, he should have the right of first refusal in the upcoming contest within the APC. He was the Chief of Staff to the Governor at the onset of the administration. In fact, he was popularly dubbed the Governor’s twin brother, and was practically in charge of the New Direction administration in the first term.

Onoja was described in the first tenure of Governor Bello as Governor extraordinary, as he was the second most powerful person in the State when he was Chief of Staff. He overshadowed the then Deputy Governor Elder Simon Achuba until he was eventually impeached in a scenario akin to a palace coup.

Many unfortunately attributed the Governor’s lackluster performance in the first term largely to him because he was considered the de facto Governor. In addition, most of his core loyalists, including those he brought into government, seem to have deserted him because of perceived self-centeredness.

To worsen the matter, as it stands, it appears that there is a cold war between him and his erstwhile twin brother, an allegation he denounced as untrue in many opportunities he has had.

Another hindrance is the intensity of the rivalry between him and the current Chief of Staff, Pharm Asuku. Each carries enough weight to sink the other.

In addition, those he allegedly pushed out of the Government when he held sway as the de facto Governor and those he blocked from having close contact with his Principal, particularly kinsmen from the eastern plank, are eagerly waiting to pay back.

DAILY POST gathered that Onoja, for no just cause, seems to have more enemies spread across every part of the state, majorly from amongst his kinsmen which his recent philanthropic endeavors is trying to assuage. Another setback for the current Deputy Governor is the EBIGO agenda which he had propagated before now. Onoja has been in the forefront of promoting power shift outside the Eastern community. Him coming out to preach for a return of power to Kogi East after they have ruled for 16 years in the State without the West having a taste of it might likely spell doom for the frontline governorship aspirant.

Alhaji Murtala Yakubu Ajaka.

The second is the current APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Murtala Yakubu Ajaka.

He was the invisible puller of lever in the Buni-led APC Extra-Ordinary National Committee. He has the resources and has been doling out millions in humanitarian commitments. His name is relatively popular in the eastern flank of the State. But then, in party primaries, what matters most is the control you have over party structure.

He has been facing a serious battle for him to participate in the forthcoming primary. Recently from his ward in Igalamela Odolu Local Government, his suspension was announced by the executives which was later refuted. Also, recently, a court of competent jurisdiction stopped him from participating in APC primary which further compounded his problem ahead of the Governorship election. The big question here is- will he be allowed to get the APC ticket amidst the crisis surrounding him? Also, will the incumbent Governor trust him that much to facilitate his emergence as party standard bearer? There should be some doubt, a serious one at that

Alhaji Yakubu Yusuf Okala

Next is Alhaji Yakubu Yusuf Okala, the current Auditor General of the State. Feelers have it that he is working quietly behind the scene to get the Governor’s nod to pick the ticket. Like many others in Yahaya Bello’s cabinet, Okala has had a long standing relationship with the Governor. But Okala as Governor? That looks to be a hard sell, considering the role he played in the much discredited civil service audit in the State. Many still believe he was the architect of the arbitrariness that cut people off their means of livelihood. How then will APC campaign with his name on top of the ticket? Again, only time shall tell.

Professor Stephen Ikani Ocheni

He was the immediate past Minister of State, Labour and Employment.

Not much has been heard from him since he exited the Federal Executive Council. He used to be very close to the current Governor, a relationship that led to his appointment as Minister then. Financially, he is handicapped. Secondly, his performance as Minister back home was considered by many as not too superlative; it can be excused away with the fact he spent a few months in office and served under a substantive Minister. Some see him as an Abuja politician. He also has Alhaji Murtala Ajaka from the same Local Government to contend with in terms of political strength.

Alhaji Friday Idachaba

He is known as the government contractor and a business merchant who handles all government business. He is from the eastern axis of the State. He wields enormous influence as he was able to decide who flies the APC flags in some of the primaries conducted in the eastern axis in 2022. The decision to favour some candidates at the expense of others might be his major hindrance if he throws his heart into the rigs. Another hurdle is the cold relationship he has with the current Deputy Governor. Giving him the ticket might create division within the party.


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