Kogi gov, senatorial polls and the fears
YEKINI JIMOH writes on the palpable fear that has enveloped Kogi State ahead the governorship and senatorial elections scheduled to hold in the state on Saturday.
Palpable fear and tension have enveloped the entire landscape of Kogi State, some 72 hours to the conduct of the governorship election in the state. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the rerun election for the Kogi West Senatorial District will be conducted same day. The electorate and the entire citizenry are afraid of how the election would be conducted and its likely outcome. Political thugs of different party shades have hijacked the political process, even as accusations and counter-accusations among the contenders have become the order of the day in the state.
This should, however, not come as a surprise as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu and even the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, have, at various times and places, called the attention of Nigerians to the fact that Kogi and Bayelsa states are the flashpoints ahead the governorship election, taking place in the two states on Saturday.
None of the political parties involved in the coming elections can be totally absolved of blame in the pervading tension across the state. However, the leading contenders in the two elections namely, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are more culpable as their campaign trails are often nothing but a mere display of thugs publicly brandishing dangerous weapons without any fear of been arrested by the security agents at the venue of the campaigns.
As things stand in the state, you dare not discuss the political situation as you don’t who is listening to you and neither will you know which side of the political divides he or she belongs. The general view in the state is that the situation is of grave concern to the electorate and the people alike, as all the political parties are desperate to win the elections, especially the governorship contest, at all cost. The governorship election has particularly taken a more worrisome and dangerous dimension as it has dovetailed into a sort of tribal war between the Igalas and the Ebiras.
On Monday, the state secretariat of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Lokoja was razed down by some hoodlums. The party’s governorship candidate, Natasha Akpoti, singled out the APC for attack as she accused the party leadership and its members as the masterminds of the incident.
“The state is no longer safe ones you are not supporting the governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, for second term in office. Is this how we are going to sit-down and watch the illegality of the APC in Kogi State? They invaded our party secretariat with arms, shooting sporadically and destroyed everything and then burnt down the property just because of election.
“I am calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole and the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, to call Governor Yahaya Bello to order. Why are they supporting illegality in Kogi State? The state belongs to every Kogi citizens. I see no reason why Bello should think that he can use violence to achieve his aims. We will not allow that; the people of Kogi have spoken,” she said.
However, the APC and the governor’s camps did not take things laying low as the Director General, Media and Publicity to the governor, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, did not only denied the allegation, but also advised the SDP governorship candidate to leave Governor Bello out of her personal issues and travails.
“She is always out for unmerited sympathy. The governor is against violence and has already told security agents to ensure the governorship election is peaceful. Governor Yahaya Bello can never be behind that [the burning of the SDP secretariat],” he stated.
The governor had, during his campaign in Anyigba, last week, alleged that opposition parties in the state were planning to import thugs from six states for the Kogi election to unleash terror disrupt the election. He listed the states to include Rivers, Nasarawa, Ekiti, Kwara, Taraba and Benue.
He however warned against the alleged plan, stressing that no amount of evils and sinister plans can hamper the integrity of the election. This was as he declared that whoever is caught would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“It is only a bastard that will invite a foreigner to come and kill his people because of election. Please do me a favour; youths, women and residents of the Igala Kingdom, you know yourselves. Do not take the law into your hand. We are not unaware of their plans to import into Kogi State machineries from Port Harcourt [Rivers], Nasarawa, Ekiti, Kwara and Taraba states and agatus from Benue State.
“I am assuring them if they have ever succeeded in doing that in others states, the governorship election in Kogi State on November 16 will be exceptional and it will be the last state they will ever intrude to cause mayhem during election. We are resolute to maintain and sustain the existing peace in the state.
“The forthcoming election is about the future of the citizens of the state and I am optimistic that the APC will win the election conveniently because the youth and the women in the state have said no to political fatherism where governance is been transfer from father to son and from an in-law to another in-law,” the governor had said.
Also Senator Dino Melaye of the PDP and whose senatorial contest with Senator Smart Adeyemi of the APC comes up same date with the governorship election, alleged that the Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Matthew Kolawole, has submitted names of 27 PDP members in Kabba/Bunu to the police for arrest.
Melaye, in a statement made available to the Nigerian Tribune, further alleged: “All your plans are on my palm. Arewa in Kabba is habouring thugs in his hotel in Kabba. I have audio and video evidence that will send all these actors to jail. You really don’t know who you are dealing with.
All your plans will fail and all those thugs you gave a coloured hand-band identification sign will leave our soil with marks. We will protect our votes to the latter. No one should be afraid because there will be sporadic gun shots to scare people. Votes will count. We are poles ahead of all you criminals. The end has come and no one can stop it. People’s will must prevail. All thugs leave our land while you are still living. The houses of those who haboured you are known to us in all the seven local government areas. We are watching the police and others.”
However, Speaker Kolawole denied the allegation and also accused Senator Melaye of planning to kidnap some prominent APC chairman in Kabba/Bunu. The Speaker, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Femi Olugbemi, stated: “Ahead of Saturday’s governorship and Senate elections, plans by the embattled Senator Dino Melaye to harass, intimidate and kidnap prominent leaders of the APC in Kiri land to pave way for his election have been uncovered.”
Kolawole said Melaye has vowed to use all means possible to secure his victory at poll, adding: “Sources close to the embattled former senator revealed the meetings he held in Aiyetoro and Akutupa Kiri overnight with some PDP leaders in the area where they have marked some prominent APC leaders and followers to be kidnapped, tortured and even killed to enable them to have a smooth sail at the poll. He was seeing boasting at the meeting that he is not a newcomer in the field of politics hence he is battle ready to use the bad boys to win the election. He assured his people not to panic as many strange faces that will be seen around are the people that will work for his victory.
“It is good to note that five Toyota Sienna buses, branded with PDP logo with the pictures of their candidates in the governorship and senatorial elections, have been sighted in different locations in the Kabba metropolis conveying some suspected notorious thugs and hooligans imported by the embattled former Senator Dino Melaye from Toto area of Nasarawa, Katsina-Ala in Benue and Ajegunle boys from Lagos, as he has vowed to cause mayhem before, during and after the election, he added.
However, some security agents deployed to the state to ensure peace during the elections have started arriving Lokoja, the state capital. Many of the officers and men of the police were seen at the state Police Command, even as they were expected to move to their various posts as from yesterday. A senior police officer who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune said the officers were ready for the election, even as he assured that the state Police Command is ready to tackle any problem that might arise before, during and after the elections.