Kogi 2015: Wada- A Needless Sentiment! By Petra Akinti Onyegbule
In less than three months from now, voters from the three senatorial districts of Kogi State will be at the polls to decide their next governor. Already, various political parties are busy with the electoral process of selecting their respective candidates for the gubernatorial contest and pollsters are at work on varied analysis regarding the chances of the contending parties. Presently, the political battle seems to have been narrowed down to two major parties in the State, the APC and PDP. Whilst not discarding the possibility and likely political necessity of sudden emergence of a new political coalition to fight these two big parties, should they be perceived as projecting the wrong candidates, however, the situation in Kogi as at now, suggests that in the Kogi governorship race, the PDP, which is the ruling Party in Kogi state is in a hot battle with the APC, which is the National ruling party on whom will emerge victorious at the polls.
Interestingly, in the Kogi state political struggle for leadership, there is no weak side as the two referenced parties are known to have quality and near equal political strength that if strategically engaged can deliver victory at the polls or even upturn credible predictions on the outcome of the elections. Specifically, the APC which used to be accorded a minority opposition status has in the last general elections of about six months ago demonstrated viability and increased membership capacity by giving the PDP a good fight. The APC’s defeat of the PDP at the presidential election and in many of its stronghold constituencies in the national legislative elections has defined a new political era in Kogi state.
Any objective analyst will agree that in the present Kogi state politics; it is not necessarily any of the two party’s electoral antecedent that will be a determining factor for triumph but the quality of the candidate representing the party because the programmes of the parties are indistinguishable. For instance, in the past six months, the PDP has been witnessing a decreased membership in favour of the APC but surprisingly, a large percentage of these brand new joiners that decamped from the PDP into the APC neither know the political ideology of their new party nor do they have any understanding of its manifesto. Their migration is mostly out of frustration by the present leadership of the PDP. In fact, this truly reflects the nature of personalized politics that is practiced in Kogi State and there is really no indication that a change in voters perception will occur before the governorship election as the Kogi public seems to have vowed
never to flow with a party that presents an unpopular candidate. Either way, any party that presents the wrong candidate may end up being an early victim even before votes are counted. Therein is the real challenge for the two major parties because the actual contest will rest on the choice of an appropriate candidate not on party campaign rhetoric that are termed highly deceitful.
For the APC, a decision has already been taken and Prince Audu Abubakar, one time governor of Kogi state has emerged as its candidate after a well acknowledged transparent party primary that led to his selection. Obviously, there will be some aggrieved persons that may not accept Prince Audu Abubakar as a right choice for their party especially given his controversial political antecedents but the fact remains that democracy was put to action and the majority votes carried the day. As such, whether or not Prince Audu Abubakar is the right choice or not is really an augment that a conclusion cannot be derived at the moment because such a contentious issue would be put to test in the coming weeks and months when broad decisions have been reached by other parties regarding their candidates. In any case, the fact is that the APC has presented a candidate for the electorate to decide.
On the converse, the PDP members and its leadership seem flummoxed on their choice of a candidate. Even though the party primary is yet to be held for the determination of its candidate for the governorship race, the battle for the ticket seems very complicated. In the political fight for the party’s nomination are two key candidates, Governor Wada Idris and Jibrin Isah Echocho. Both men, in the past four years are known to be operating on different pages as they control different factions of the PDP membership. Whilst on one side, Wada Idris is the incumbent governor, courtesy of an alleged party imposition in 2011, on the other side, Jibrin Isah Echocho is popularly regarded as the displaced people’s choice for Governorship in 2011 election due to party impunity and complicated legal issues. Besides these conjectures, the fact remains that the PDP is in a dilemma that has thrust it into fragments and shaky political situation that threatens it chance of victory in the forthcoming elections.
To some warped extent, Governor Idris Wada is the presumptive governorship nominee given the PDP’s alleged primordial tradition of automatic ticket in the era of permissible gross electoral malpractice of rigging. Nevertheless, there exist great doubt about the official endorsement of Idris Wada given his gross unpopularity and the PDP’s purported on-going reforms that advances fairplay. In reality, Wada’s intention for a second term is already sucking the oxygen from the PDP and it is not really a callous horror for some analysts to have thrown decorum to the wind by stating that one must be half-mad to dream up Idris Wada as emerging the next Governor in the coming elections because his past three years stay in office has been the worst leadership catastrophe for Kogi state. For these set of thinkers, their belief is that the PDP which claims to be running a reform agenda cannot continue to play out its embarrassing past, yet live in fallacy of
electoral victory in modern day competitive politics.
In fact in the Kogi PDP, the general assumption is that the party’s problem in the coming elections is all about Idris Wada’s trust issues, credibility and underperformance in his first term in office. The basic understanding is that Governor Wada has a scary political future, thus his quest for second term carries a mixed baggage of liabilities and political minuses including a major trust gap with voters and even his party members. Indeed, if these assumptions are anything to go by, the political consequences of a Wada’s candidacy for the PDP are many and serious as the Kogi electorate will be so unmotivated by the prospects of a Wada’s come back. Presently, the reason for Wada’s quest for return is still incomprehensive to many voters in Kogi, especially those that feel that his agenda in office in the past three years has not brought to them any visible benefit or firm hope of a better future.
For now, Governor Idris Wada in his capacity as both the State Party leader of the PDP and incumbent governor is not sparing any effort at ensuring that he gets a second chance but the forces against him in the PDP fold are fighting very hard to make sure that their party not only survives the predicted political death that will come with Wada as its candidate but are working assiduously to rebrand their party. Thus, the pressure on the National Party leadership of the PDP to encourage Wada to step aside as the Kogi Party leader should not be strange news as many genuine supporters of the PDP believe that such a measure would permit a proper rebuilding of the party’s membership and strategy for the coming elections. Right or wrong, the simple fact is that the PDP members that have voiced their views against Wada seem to be in the majority aside long list of state sponsored gale of endorsees.
Simply put, Wada may have all the dramatic flair of an incumbent but his antecedent in government as governor is huge minus and this is a very low point when his political personality is deconstructed for the same position he seeks. The clear indication from here is that Wada will get a rough welcome by his party members even if the PDP leadership eventually endorses him. Already, some groups in the PDP have petitioned the national leadership of their party by stating that Wada has conducted the affairs of both their party and government in a manner that seemingly lack good sense of direction, vision and purposeful leadership. These public petitions from a section of the PDP faithful have thrust massive credibility burden on the entire PDP. Thus, Wada’s consideration for a second term will always be greeted by questions and the nature of answers the national party leadership will provide to convince the voting public that Wada’s low rated-performance in office will be of added value to the Kogi electorate’s collective quest for a great Kogi. Unfortunately, assurances from the PDP on Wada will be very doubtful because even if explanations are made, they cannot be demonstrated or backed with action in this limited time before the election. As such, the road map to victory in this governorship election for the PDP will be difficult to achieve with Wada.
The sponsored propaganda that Wada remains a joker in the coming election appears baseless. Realistically, such remarks should be best considered as a myth inarticulately fostered by his supporters because the great question is where Wada would get his supporters from especially given that he has not shown any apparent potential of containing the rapid growth in the membership and popularity of the APC which has largely benefitted from the PDP’s thinning membership. Indeed, vital and common political observation about Wada’s headship of Kogi PDP is that the party has been degraded from a ruling majority status to a struggling political gathering of sorts. Most explanations regarding PDP’s failure in the last election is not far from Wada’s inability to hold the party together.
In as much as Wada’s comfort may rest on his likely ability to manipulate delegates in the forthcoming party primary, the real consolation for the PDP members that are against his candidacy is that the era of manipulation and exploitation of voters choice is over and this is something that no national party leadership would want for fear of electoral defeat at the polls. For now, progressive politics demands that national PDP must seek new ways of conveying to the Kogi electorate its readiness to reinvigorate its party in Kogi state especially given that the Wada’s government has been widely assessed as a failure. In fact, any credible analyst would agree that now that Wada has become unelectable, the most effective way the PDP can redeem itself from Wada’s growing unpopularity will be to refashion itself. This belief is based on the assumption that the PDP has lost its way under the present leadership of Wada that could not sustain a united party. As such, if Wada is changed or asked to step down, the PDP will then have a remedy that will attract new membership and stop further members exiting its umbrella. Otherwise, granting Wada the ticket means that the PDP is not set for reform but still embracing its awkward politics of impunity. Many supporters of the PDP are already distraught but they believe that the selection of a new candidate for the PDP will not only grant their party the opportunity for a reasonable contest but project the party’s present national leadership as honourable exception from the past.
The PDP needs a decisive breakthrough on its choice of standard bearer because Kogi right now deserves a candidate that can boost the fortunes of the youths and revive the hopes of the masses. This is where Wada’s failure as governor has shown that he is utterly inadequate for consideration for a second tenure. As such, the Wada camp should stop their daydream on second term because even the most conclusive argument in favour of Wada to be PDP’s candidacy can never suggest a victory over Audu Abubakar, the contestant from the APC. The common task for the real PDP members is to work for Wada’s exit or get ready for their party’s political extinction in Kogi state.
ONYEGBULE writes from Ogori Magongo,Kogi State.