Ahead of Kogi State gubernatorial election scheduled to hold on November 16, some stakeholders have expressed interest to join force with African Democratic Congress (ADC) to oust the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the incumbent governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello.
The stakeholders, comprising youths, elders and women leaders among others, spoke when a coalition of credible governorship contenders across various local governments met with ADC National Chairman, Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu.
They said their mission was to work out a pact with the party to deliver the state from the stranglehold of APC, Governor Bello and other political jobbers. However, the question they could not answer is whether such a partnership under ADC would be strong enough to either stop the ruling party or displace the machinery of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The understanding comes on the heels of a similar resolution by Kogi women and National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) to support the female gubernatorial candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Ms Natasha Akpoti, who contested Kogi Central Senatorial Seat in 2019. She clinched SDP’s ticket unopposed, thereby raising concerns as to what would become of her Senatorial mandate if she also wins the governorship.
But, notwithstanding the puzzling scenario, women groups, which believe she can do better if given the mandate to rule Kogi State as governor, have thrown their weight behind her. To set the ball rolling, a group, ‘Women Supporting Women’ in Kogi State, said it mobilised resources and purchased the expression of interest and nomination forms for the lawyer-turned politician to contest the governorship election.
Spokesperson of the women group, Hajia Ummihani Otokiti, said they were motivated to pull their resources together to ensure she contests to give the womenfolk a lift from the backwaters where the men have relegated them. As if not to be left behind, the National Council For Women Society (NCWS) has taken over and are already celebrating the SDP’s candidate, who they eulogise as “one of us.”
Apart from show of support, NCWS went further to present her to the new Minister for Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, who is also the current North Central zonal coordinator of the society. During the brief event, the issue of lacklustre attitude of women to supporting one of their own was thrown up, even as the minister vowed to do everything to work with NCWS to help Nigerian women get elected into political positions.
The minister said it was time for women to support and encourage active participation of fellow women in politics, adding that it would generate positive change in Nigerian politics.
Tallen said: “As you can see, the governorship aspirant for Kogi State, Natasha Akpoti, is in our midst. It is time for women to support their own and have active participation in politics.
“We intend to have more women not just coming out to participate in the process, but being winners of elections. We hope to have women as governors, speakers and the rest. We are going to change the narrative this time; it’s time for women to actively participate in politics.”
The Women Affairs Minister said she had set up a committee to find lasting solution to women’s marginalization in politics, promising that better days lie ahead for Nigerian women in politics. While disclosing that she has been a member of NCWS since 1986, Tallen promised to work with the apex women’s group to help Nigerian women, adding that they could not afford to fail.
While adding her voice, NCWS’s President, Dr. Gloria Laraba Shoda, expressed satisfaction that one of theirs was steering the ministry of women affairs and championing support for women’s active participation in politics.
Responding, Akpoti said: “I am going back to my state to commence campaign and I believe beyond party line, the minister is going to use all the machineries in place to ensure our victory.
“My vision is towards advancement of Kogi State and making it an industrial hub of the country, which it is supposed to be, and to also ensure social justice.”
She lamented that in its years of democratic existence, Nigeria has never produced a female elected governor, stressing that her victory would set a new dawn in the political history of Kogi State and Nigeria as the first elected female governor. The SDP candidate maintained that Nigerian women had paid their dues in contributing their quota in nurturing democracy, saying that the women are not begging this time around, but “are asking for their due right in nation building.”
According to her, any country that actually shuts down one of its gender from contributing it’s own quota towards development is a country led half blind, adding that it is the reason Nigerians are not proud of what the country is today.
Having been at the forefront of advocacy for the revival of Ajaokuta Steel Complex, she said if given the mandate as governor, she would work closely with the presidency.
In her words: “Though it is a federal project, even at that, the state governor has enormous influence in ensuring that as the host state the greatest steel plant in Africa realises its dreams beyond its moribund state today.
“This we will do so that it can generate revenue, thousands and millions of jobs for the unemployed youths. Through that we would be able to curb poverty and we would be able to drive a new Nigeria again.”
While indicating that Kogi is about to make history, Akpoti declared, “A Nigeria that is industrialised, rich, robust and would be a pride of West Africa and Africa at large.”
The spokesman of the coalition, Professor Ambe Allaghi, said after critical review, the leaders of Kogi State are of the belief that ADC is the only party that could bring succour to the people, having tested the leadership of the two major political parties in the past. The don added that ADC could have won majority of the seats in the national and state assemblies during the last general elections in the state “if not for the massive rigging and brutal use of force by Governor Bello and his team.
“But as we are looking up to November 16, the people of Kogi have resolved to ensure that their votes will produce the governor this time and not imposition by any single person or party. Except Governor Bello will preside over a ghost state, our youth, women and elders have vowed that the gubernatorial election must be free and fair.”
The group assured Nwosu of its readiness to transform of Kogi through the ballot in the coming election, saying that apart from the 50 delegates that met with ADC’s leadership, they have the support of traditional and religious leaders, retired civil servants, workers, teachers, and students of Kogi State.
One of the delegates, Princess Victoria Momoh, said the women have resolved to use their organizational abilities and motherly instinct to nurture the system for the betterment of the people.
According to her, “This time we are prepared; a lot of mobilisation is going on. I told our people that only a credible party like ADC will work in alignment with our aspiration. As I stand here, I speak the voice of millions in Kogi people, both young and old, but especially women. ADC will not regret working with us.”
While declaring that the time for talk is over, the youth leader, Mr. Evaristus Idogbe, said: “Ours is action. The youth of Kogi will do something new in Nigeria; we shall set example with ADC in Kogi. We need to open up this state as the real ‘Confluence State.’ I know you as a strategic leader; please, you must be available all the way for the people of Kogi and Nigeria. We cannot work in isolation.”
In his remark, ADC National Secretary, Alhaji Said Abdulahi, commended the delegates, just as he disclosed that Professor Ambe’s team is the most authentic group, saying, “Be assure that your mission is completely in sync with that of our party.”
Nwosu said he has been understudying the malaise in Kogi and Nigerian politics with a view to correcting it, adding, “What is happening in Kogi is not an exception; Nigeria is in a dire straight. The callousness of political leaders in this country threatens our democracy and the very foundation of our nation.
“The vagabond rascality and callousness were as a result of lack of knowledge, inexperience, and corruption of the present corps of leaders. Due to their cluelessness, they employ dirty tactics to hide and commit mayhem.”
He assured that the party has been working to rescue Nigeria, adding that the last general election was a test case. As you just confirmed, ADC should have won Kogi East senatorial seat, a total of six House of Representatives’ members, and more than three quarters of Kogi State House of Assembly, but the ruling party conspired with a few bigots, thugs, and slave masters to deny the people their wishes.
“It is time to say enough is enough. ADC will support your state and the people, but you all have big work to do. We shall hearken to your demand to postpone our primary so that you can sort out yourselves completely. We already have two aspirants who purchased our forms; you must carry them along, because we intend to do so. Luckily, one of them is already part of your team.”
ADC holds its governorship primary today.