Mr. Phrank Shaibu, a public communication consultant and former Special Adviser on Media and Strategy to former Governor Ibrahim Idris of Kogi State in an interactive session with journalists in Lagos, spoke on the political developments in Kogi State ahead of the forthcoming gubernatorial elections.
Kogi State governorship election is around the corner and the general belief is that the incumbent governor, Capt. Idris Wada, will seek re-election. Is this a welcome development for the people of the state?
I really don’t know how that can be a welcome development for the good people of Kogi State. Rather, I think it would come as a curse if the incumbent governor decides to seek re-election. I say this because many instances abound.
For example, the recent public booing of the governor by the citizens during the inauguration of the new House of Assembly speaks volume of the distaste the people have and have developed for him. In every nook and cranny of Kogi State, the story about Wada’s leadership is depressing, but, sadly, those that are expected to act as political watchdogs and even those officially mandated to check the governor’s excesses in the Kogi House of Assembly either do not have strong teeth or may have compromised for self-aggrandizement.
Right now, Kogi State is like a rudderless ship, moving with no defined purpose and direction. Under Mr. Wada, everything about social and economic development in Kogi State is getting worse. Specifically, in the past three years, the state has found itself in a downward spiral with a governor that is clueless on how to steer it out. This can’t be a welcome development.
Kogi State has had its share of good and bad times, but where do you think the state got it wrong?
The situation Kogi people are facing today is not far from self-inflicted, because it was before our own very eyes that a brilliant candidate in Jibrin Isah Echocho was schemed out of the governorship race, courtesy of the former national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in active connivance with the immediate past governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris. I do not agree with you that Kogi State has had its good times. When you say good times, it means we have experienced some form of quality leadership that has translated to betterment of the lives of ordinary Kogities. This has not been the case in the state since 1999. We have been unfortunate and we have remained unfortunate, and we will continue to be unfortunate, until we make up our minds on the way forward. And one of the ways forward is to dispense with all those that have governed the state in times past.Prince Abubakar Audu and Alhaji Ibrahim Idris inclusive.
In your opinion, who do you think the best candidate is, given the fact that you have expressed reservations about the two leading contenders Prince Abubakar Audu and Governor Idris Wada?
The PDP is virtually dead under Wada, but I hear he wants to run for a second term. How he intends to achieve this remains a wild guess because under him, the PDP base has been grossly eroded and has been weakened at all levels. While the APC is in a precarious situation and may even suffer a dishonorable defeat, because Audu’s presence as a candidate will incur voters’ anger, thus making the prospects of other party contestants better.
Indeed, from the results of the recent general elections, it is obvious that the PDP cannot get any better under Wada. Already, the supporters of PDP have made good their threat to abandon Idris Wada as clearly demonstrated in the past general elections where they voted largely for another political party, the APC. What seems clear about Kogi State politics is that a new dawn has arrived for the Kogi people.
The truth is that, even if the national leadership of the PDP once again decides to subjugate the Kogi people’s choice by organising a shabby party primaries, and use it as a facade to ensure that Governor Wada emerges as candidate in the next governorship contest, it will not amount to any major threat to the final results of the state governorship elections, especially in this era of reformed electoral processes in Nigeria.
The fact is that the weak electoral process in 2011 which advanced impunity for the emergence of Wada as governor cannot be repeated. I also believe that the collective desire for change in Kogi State may materialise regardless of political affiliation. The simple guess is that in the next elections, people will look more at individuals than parties.
Are you saying the PDP doesn’t have a chance?
For now, it may really not be the end for the PDP or absolute victory for any other political party in Kogi’s forthcoming governorship elections. Indeed, if the rumour regarding efforts to rebuild the PDP is true and that discussions are ongoing to bring back some disenchanted members of the party like Jibrin Isah Echocho, the man of the PDP infamous stolen mandate saga, then it may be a new chapter for the PDP. Whether the screws will ever tighten on such a proposal regarding Echocho, is a difficult guess because a lot of water seems to have crossed under the bridge and I just pray Echocho agrees to put the past behind him and fly the party’s ticket, knowing the pain he went through in their hands. Nonetheless, for the PDP to make an impact at the forthcoming elections, it has to shop for a new candidate within its fold, because if Wada remains its candidate, then it will mean making a weak party climb a steep hill and the consequences may send the PDP to the dustbin of history in Kogi State.
But in some quarters, it is believed that Audu remains the best from the array of contenders judging by his previous stint as governor of the state. What do you have to say?
One of the most convincing arguments by knowledgeable analysts on the deplorable situation of Kogi State is that its woes are self-induced both in scale and scope because it dates back to the advent of the 4th republic in 1999 with Audu as governor. Please don’t also forget that Audu was also governor of the state in the short-lived 3rdrepublic.
Indeed, there has been a endless altercation over the political prospects of Kogi State because the Kogi people have been innocent victims of the machinations in the hands of their so- called politicians.
Thus, for Kogi State to be a functional society, in all good sense of it, especially after many years of misrule, the electorate must adopt a new approach that will project them as being set for engagement with its political leadership.
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