Kogi Central, East rerun polls: Top Contenders Back to the Trenches

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Barely two weeks to the senatorial re-run election in two senatorial districts of Kogi State, the Central and East senatorial districts, The Authority’s Ibrahim Obansa examines the build-up to the election as well as the contenders and their game plans.

Baring any last last minute change, the re-scheduled senatorial elec­tions in the East and Central sen­atorial districts of Kogi State will hold next week Saturday, february 20. The senators representing Kogi Central and East senatorial districts, Muhammed Salami Ohiare and Abdul Abdullahi, respectively, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had their elections nullified by the Court of Ap­peal sitting in Abuja last year Decem­ber. The court also barred the two of them from participating in the fresh election.

As it stands, Alhaji Ahmed Ogembe of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will be running against Senator Nuru­deen Abatemi-Usman of the Progres­sive Peoples Alliance, PPA, and Dr. Moses Wokili of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, and Kabiru Atta of the La­bour Party, LP, in the Central senatorial district, while Attai Aidoko of the PDP will have to contend with the candidate of the LP, Ibrahim Itodo in the East senatorial district.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had last week an­nounced that Ohiare, Abdullahi and one House of Representatives’ member, Abdullahi Bello representing Okene/Ogori-Magongo federal constituency and two other state House of Assembly members who contested on APC plat­form had been barred from partaking in the poll, in adherence to the court ruling.

INEC said the ruling APC and its candidates will not participate in five constituencies in the re-run elections in the state due to the judgement of the Appeal Court. The commission also said it has made arrangement to con­duct the re-run election in 1,988 poll­ing units in 14 local government areas of Kogi State.

Kogi State Resident Electoral Com­missioner, REC, Mallam Haliru Pai disclosed this during a stakeholders meeting. According to him, the re-run election will hold on February 20 in two senatorial districts of the state, Kogi Central and East.

He further disclosed that the APC will not be participating in the Kogi Central and East senatorial districts elections following the court ruling which barred the two candidates and the APC from contesting.

Mallam Pai also added that APC will not participate in the federal constituency election in Okene/Ogorimagongo federal constituency also as a result of court ruling adding that only the candi­date of the PDP is eligible for the re-run election.

This automatically conceded victory to Hon. Tijani Damisa, the candidate of the PDP for the federal constituency.
On the Kogi State House of Assem­bly re-run election, the REC said APC and its candidates will not participate in Ofu and Ankpa 1 re-run election, but said APC will participate in Idah, Deki­na Biraidu and Okura re-run election, stressing that the Idah re-run election will only take place in one unit, Ogegele ward, unit 001.

On the readiness of the commission, Pai noted that about 9,816 ad-hoc staff including members of the National
Youth Service Corps, security and assistant personnel will be participating in the re-run election.

Assuring the people of the state of free and fair re-run election, Pai said that the re-run election was as a result of non conduct of primary by one of the party in the state which led to liti­gation.

A source close to the PDP told The AUTHORITY that the candidates of the party for the two senatorial districts Ogembe and Senator Aidoko will BE coasting to victory with the exclusion of the APC candidates.

The source said: “With the exclusion of the APC and its candidates, the issue of incumbency power will not be there. We expect victory for the party.”

Another member of the PDP, Hon. Momoh Steven Aziz, expressed hope that the candidates of the PDP will be victorious, particularly adding that the senatorial candidate of the party in Kogi Central has done well in his pub­lic and private life to earn the support of the people.

Aziz said Ogembe had sunk bore­holes across the five local government areas of the senatorial district as a pri­vate citizen, while saying that he has also done well as chairman of Okene Local Government. He therefore called for the support of the people to enable him do more for the people.

Meanwhile, Ogembe has appealed to the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to look into the multi-billion naira Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Company and make it functional. He said he was going to work for the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, calling government to expedite action on the re-activation of the plant to generate employment for the citizenry and create wealth for the country.

He made the appeal while addressing the people of Kogi Central during his electioneering campaign, adding that if the steel company can be brought to life, it will generate massive employment in the country and also improve the economy, saying that the government will no longer wait for the pro­ceeds from crude oil to survive.

Ogembe also promised that if the people of Kogi Central give him the mandate as senator, his first priority is to see how the steel company will start working, noting that the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Company has been aban­doned for decades by previous admin­istrations, adding that with the coming of President Buhari, there is hope that the iron and steel company will be completed.

He also appeal to the Federal Gov­ernment to complete the Abuja-Loko­ja-Okene expressway, saying that many lives have been lost due to the bad situ­ation of the road, stressing that the road links South West and South East to the Northern part of the country.

Ogembe also urged the new gover­nor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to constitute a crack planning team to prepare the road map for his admin­istration, promising to complement him if elected, saying that the governor should governing the entire state and not a section of it, adding that Alhaji Bello should not just accept the report of such crack team but must implement it, if he knows that such report will as­sist him in governing the state.

He stressed that the Governor’s man­date should not only be that of change, but also of fresh ideas to consolidate the change mantra of the party that brought him to power.

Another candidate from the Central senatorial district, who also contested the senatorial seat in the last election on the platform of the LP, Kabiru Atta, said he represents the crops of generation that are consistently asking for positive change that can better the lives of the people at the grassroots.

Lamenting the attitudes of some poli­ticians, who after gaining the mandate of the people, would abandoned them, Attah said he will from time to time come closer to them to get acquainted with their plight and needs to enable him table it before the National As­sembly.

He said: “Already we have carried out needs assessment programme on over 500 people to know their problems in the community and what matter to them. We have collated those informa­tions and we will go ahead and forward it to the new government in the state for solution, if given the opportunity to serve the people.”
He however sought the support and votes of the people during the re-run election scheduled for February 20.Dr. Moses Wokili is a household name in the politics of Kogi State, having served as deputy governorship candidate to the late Prince Abubakar Audu, on the platform of the then Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. He is running on the platform of the SDP. His major setback, according to a politician from the area, is the lack of visible presence of his par­ty in the area. However, considering the clanish politics of Kogi Central, he may yet pull some surprises.

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