by WALE IBRAHIM
WALE IBRAHIM writes on the deepening crisis in the Kogi State All Progressives Congress, APC, over who flies the party’s banner among the over 20 aspirants battling for its ticket in the 2015 gubernatorial election scheduled for later in the year.
Ahead of Kogi State gubernatorial election, no fewer than 20 aspirants are already jostling to contest for the number one seat on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC.
This was just as the aspirants are already consulting with the people at grass roots level and recruiting foot soldiers for the herculean tasks ahead. .
National Mirror investigations revealed that a war posters has already begun, as the state is now a theatre of posters and banners of aspirants vying for the occupation of Lugard House on APC platform.
It was learnt that from Kogi East senatorial district alone, about 15 gubernatorial aspirants have emerged, while six aspirants have signified their intention to contest from the Western senatorial district and four from the Central senatorial district.
Those eyeing the governorship from the Eastern flank of the state where the incumbent governor comes from and hoping to pick the APC ticket are the former governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu, Air Vice Marshall Salihu Atawodi, Senator Alex Kadiri, Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane, Alhaji Zakari Jiya, James Ocholi, SAN, Chief Tom Diche, Prince Shuaibu and Professor Yusuf Obaje.
From Kogi West senatorial district are Prince Yakubu Rotimi Obadofin, Engineer Olushola George Olumoroti, Alhaji Suleiman Baba Ali, Idris Hussein Kashim and Dr. Habeeb Abdullahi while former Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria, Chief Adnoyi Ojo Onukaba, Alhaji Bello Yahaya, popularly known as Fairplus, Alhaji Lamid Lawal Itopa and outgoing senator for the district, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi are the serious contenders from the Central district.
The APC, apart from winning the presidential election, is still basking in the euphoria of wining the state’s three senatorial seats, six House of Representatives’ and eleven House of Assembly seats in the just concluded general elections in the country.
Although the success at the polls in Kogi State is indeed a remarkable victory for a hard fighting opposition party, because no opposition party had been allowed to win even a councillorship seat or more than one House of Assembly seat since 2003, the PDP controlled the state. The APC need to work harder if it really want to dislodge the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from Lugard House.
Watchers of political events in the Confluence State are of opinion that APC has extremely done well during the just concluded general elections, however the party must put its house in order, while the current internal wrangling within the rank and file of the party must come to an end now for the benefit of people of the state.
They posited that if APC work harder, it might clinch the governorship seat in the forthcoming gubernatorial election slated for later in the year only if the leaders, loyalists and other stakeholders close ranks and work for success of the party.
But the only albatross now is the internal wrangling rocking APC in the state, as the warring factions have adopted various strategies to fight each other to a standstill, while media war and propaganda have since begun.
It has been allegations and counter allegations galore and advertorials have also become the order of the day since the party achieved its greatest victory in history of the state.
Prior to this time, what appeared like child play has finally snowballed into full scale war, as factions are ganging up against the leadership of Prince Audu, despite the fact that the party constitution recognises him as the leader of the party in the state.
Initially, there were parallel state executives at the beginning of the APC crisis in Kogi State after the merger of its component parties, but during the state congress of the party and the intervention of the national leadership of the party, there was harmonisation of the factions and the party was able to pick state executives at the state level.
As if this was not enough, another crisis rocked the APC to its roots during the primaries which led to the defection of many party members, particularly, aspirants who were seeking elective positions, who alleged that the state leaders of APC denied them the opportunity to contest the party primaries for Senate, House of Representative and House Assembly tickets.
However, when scores of supporters of the ruling PDP defected to the APC in the state, little did the party leadership envisaged that another crisis was in the offing. Though their defections paid off as they worked for the party’s success, particularly, in Kogi East and Central senatorial districts, personal interest is seemingly tearing the party apart when it is expected to cash on the gains of its victory in last general elections.
Be this as it may, tongues have begun to wag as to who is qualified to aspire for the governorship seat in the party within the caucus of the APC in the state and unless the national hierarchy of the party acts on time to resolve the crisis tearing the party apart, it may still be far from being in control of the Confluence State, despite all electoral success in last general elections.
Political pundits in the state argue that though the gubernatorial election will be a different ball game, stressing that character, experience, political antecedent, personality and other factors will definitely come to play in the process of choosing party candidate, who will fly the party’s flag later in the year.
However, feelers from the electorate in Kogi State indicated that if the APC fails to present a credible and acceptable candidate, the party should forget about winning the governorship seat for now
The question agitating the minds of the electorate now is would the APC get it right with the array of emerging gubernatorial aspirants, couple with the internal wrangling that have characterised its existence in Kogi State up till now?
How well or otherwise the party leadership handles the deepening crisis of the party in Kogi State will go a long way to make or mar the party’s chance in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, even as all the gladiators continue the battle for the soul of the party in Kogi State