As party flag-bearers in the November 21, 2015 Kogi governorship election emerge, SAM EGWU takes a look at how the the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates
he forthcoming governorship election in Kogi State is largely a two horse race between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
And for those flyin the flags of these two prominent parties, Capt. Idris Wada of PDP and Prince Abubakar Audu of APC, it is a repeat of events of four years ago.
In the 2011 election held in December, Wada defeated Audu, who contested on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Although other candidates have emerged to contest the gubernatorial election in Kogi state this November, from APGA and SDP, all eyes are on the candidates of the major parties, PDP and APC. Both candidates cannot be pushed over easily but in politics, anything is to be expected.
One of the things usually taken into consideration when choosing the person to fly a party’s flag is the charisma of such a person, their ability to lead and if he has the kind of followership that can cause the party to win the election. That is why choosing a flagbearer must go beyond personal interest.
In the case of the Kogi governorship contest, the strength of both parties and their candidates cannot be underestimated, each one having served the state before, with Wada as incumbent governor, seeking reelection.
While successive administrations have done their best, the last three and half years, under Capt Idris Wada as governor, have remained a watershed in the state’s history.
This is because no administration since the creation of the state faced the kind of challenges the Wada administration has been confronted with. In the face of all these, the Wada administration has recorded remarkable achievements.
Capt Wada assumed office at a time the state’s internally generated revenue was a paltry N150 million and average monthly statutory allocation of about N3.5 billion, with a wage bill of N3.2 billion.
However, amidst the financial challenges which made states with dwindling allocation from the federation account not to be able to pay workers salaries, Kogi state under Capt Wada was able to meet its obligation to workers as well as improve the basic infrastructure that have direct bearing on the lives of the people, without retrenching anybody.
Apart from the completion of projects initiated by his predecessor, such as the Confluence Beach Hotel, the Olympic Size Stadium, phase two of the state secretariat, Greater Lokoja Water Works, the Capt Wada administration has constructed 58 roads across the state.
Aside the completion of the 270 unit post flood housing units, the 500 housing units in Ganaja and Crusher areas of Lokoja are at advanced stages of completion.
Mention must also be made of the on-going work at the Kogi State University Teaching Hospital, Anyigba, the Remodeling of Kogi Hotel, the 17 Storey Kogi House, the Felele Trailer Park, and the Diagnostic and Imaging Centre amongst other projects. In the health sector, apart from the establishment of five zonal hospitals in Kabba, Anyigba, Okene and Idah, all other General Hospitals in the state are undergoing rehabilitation and re-equipping.
The relatively peaceful outcome of the recent primaries which saw Wada emerge as candidate of PDP, was a huge plus, as many feared that it might spell doom for the party if he had been defeated.
Still, for a state that is in a hurry to develop, he has been largely accused of not doing enough. His opponents believe that he has not maximised the potentials of the state; human and natural (especially it’s tourism potentials).
Moreso, the not too favourable perception of his party, PDP, which has governed the state for the better part of the last 16 years, is a hurdle he needs to cross.
Wada’s arch rival, Prince Abubakar Audu, is no stranger to governorship election, having since become the face of the opposition in Kogi State. He has dominated the political land scape from the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) to All Peoples Party (APP), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) ACN and now APC, gathering huge electioneering experience.
Audu had been governor of Kogi State two times but in the dynamics of politics, he has another four year single term to complete the circle of two terms of eight years.
His strongest point according to observers, is that Audu has a high taste for structural development, perhaps at the expense of human development. Most of the structures in the state today are the handiworks of Audu.
Some of the infrastructure, especially roads constructed by Audu, began to deteriorate during the administration of former Governor Ibrahim Idris and there has been no stopping them ever since.
Some observers opined that if Idris had continued from where Audu stopped, by completing some of the projects he initiated, when he became the governor in 2003, Kogi would have moved beyond the present stage.
Audu’s effort brought about the Kogi State University, Confluence Beach hotel, Perparanda square, Lokokwoma Phase 1 and 2, 200 housing units phase1 and 2, eye clinic in Ogonicha, opening up of Ganaja-Ajaokuta road, initiating the Obajana cement industry among other projects that cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
In this present dispensation, all hands are on deck to see what the civil servants are up to because to most of the analysts, both Wada and Audu have their strengths and weaknesses and only the voters can decide.
While they say that the card reader technology may deliver credible election in the state, they however noted that the ‘Buhari Tsunami’that swept across the country during the general election is over and people will now have to depend on their respective political sagacity to emerge victorious.
Some analysts say it is not initiating projects that matters, that what matters most is the monitoring and the quality of the projects, which some say has the character of determining the voting pattern and from the primaries conducted by APC and PDP, observers are of the opinion that both Wada and Audu have a big task ahead of them, of image laundering to give the people the kind of superior character that is different from the past.
Political pundits say the people will not treat each of the candidates on their merits and their track record of performance, as each of them has served in similar capacity in the state in the past.
Some observers however expressed fears that both Wada and Audu may be on a vengeful mission.
While some said that Capt Idris may have learnt some lessons from what tranversed before the party primary, coupled with the slow pace of development that has characterised some of his structural developments, they also argued that Audu has to watch his back from the civil servant mindset and the traditional rulers.
As campaigns begin in earnest, the ability of each of the candidates to convince the electorate to vote for them with the programmes they have in stock for them, viz a viz what they achieved in the past will count for each of them.