Kogi West PDP Heads Back to the Drawing Board — Nigeria Today
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Kogi West PDP Heads Back to the Drawing Board

Ahead of the 2019 elections, the Peoples Democratic Party in Kogi West Senatorial District is putting strategies in place to retake the seat it narrowly lost to the All Progressives Congress in 2015, writes Shola Oyeyipo

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi West Senatorial District has zoned the its senate ticket for the 2019 election to Yagba Federal Constituency.

The decision was taken recently, during the party’s zonal stakeholders meeting held at the City Hall in Mopa, Mopamuro Local Council headquarters, following the adoption of the recommendations of the Strategic Committee on Party Offices and General Election.

The meeting, the fifth in its series since the PDP rebirth following the ruling of the Supreme Court which upheld the Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee (NWC) of the PDP as the authentic leader of the party. was attended by members of the party from the three federal constituencies of Lokoja/Kotonkarfe, Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu and Yagba. The decision, as contained in the communiqué, was taken after members from all but one of the seven local government areas in the senatorial district voted in support of the committee’s recommendations. Stakeholders from Lokoja, Kotonkarfe, Ijumu, Mopamuro, Yagba West and Yagba East aligned with the zoning.

However, party members from Kabba/Bunu local government argued that the area also deserved to be considered for the senate slot in the rotation arrangement. Speakers from Kabba/Bunu contended that it was among the local governments yet to produce a senator since the aborted third republic. However, other speakers from Kotonkarfe, Lokoja and Ijumu local governments in a counter argument, spoke unanimously in favour of rotation of the senate seat to Yagba on the ground that the arrangement was on federal constituency basis and not a local government-by-local government affair. The matter was put into voice vote, with members overwhelmingly voting in support of rotation of the senate seat to Yagba.

The decision came on the backdrop of the existing zoning arrangement among the three federal constituencies since the commencement of the current dispensation in 1999. Senator Tunde Ogbeha from Lokoja/Kotonkarfe served two-terms from 1999 to 2007. Senator Smart Adeyemi from Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu took the baton and served two-terms from 2007 to 2015. Ogbeha and Adeyemi contested on the platform of the PDP. Although it was expected that the baton would shift to Yagba in 2015, Senator Dino Melaiye also from Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu won the 2015 election but on a different political party platform, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In April, 2017, the zonal PDP executives set up the Strategic Committee on Election into Party Offices and General Election, to look into causes of the defeat suffered by the party in the last election and provide the roadmap for the 2019 polls.

The 23-man committee, chaired by Alhaji Muhammed Abdulrahman, in its 14-page report earlier submitted to the PDP zonal chairmen, Taiwo Kola-Ojo in Kabba, headquarters of Kogi West Senatorial District and read to the stakeholders at the Mopa meeting for adoption, stated in part: “Kogi West Senatorial District must ensure the rotation of the senate seat at the National Assembly between her constituents (the federal constituencies of Lokoja/Kotonkarfe, Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu and Yagba. National and State offices zone to Kogi West must be rotated within the zone. The same principles must apply to appointments. The candidate for the election into the Senate for 2019 should come from Yagba Federal Constituency, after which it goes back to Lokoja/Kotonkarfe and Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu”

In a related development, the people of South-east Yagba rose from a ‘multi-party’ meeting, held at Jege, Yagba East Local Government, at the weekend, where they demanded that the House of Representatives seat of Yagba Federal Constituency be zoned to the area. The meeting was attended by members of both the PDP and the APC, retired and serving public officials, youth leaders, market women and students.

According to a communiqué signed by Comrade Shola Adebola, the meeting discussed the pitiful state of the roads, which have turned to death traps as a result of pressure on it occasioned by road diversion from Omuo to Kabba. The meeting reviewed the political situation in the area and the level of disunity among the political class ad concluded that this was the bane of underdevelopment in the area.

“It therefore resolved that all the parties must close ranks and speak with one voice in the interest of the district. The forthcoming National Assembly election was extensively discussed and the meeting resolved that as a matter of priority, the parties must work assiduously to clinch the House of Representatives seat of Yagba Federal Constituency in 2019, while our political class should show interest in the Senate slot, if they so desire, without compromising the House of Reps slot, which is our natural turn by our federal constituency rotation formula. The political class was advised to extend hands of brotherhood to Isanlu axis, Yagba West and Mopamuro local governments in their quest to clinch the House of Reps slot“, the communiqué stated in part.

Meanwhile, hundreds of supporters of former Acting Governor of Kogi State, Chief Clarence Olafemi, have defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Led by a former Vice-Chairman of the Mopamuro Local Council who until Monday was a State APC Youth Leader, Oyebode Makinde, the new PDP members from across the 10 electoral wards in the council were received by the Kogi West Senatorial District Chairman of the PDP, Taiwo Kola-Ojo inside the crowded Mopa City Hall during the party’s zonal stakeholders meeting. The defectors said they were returning “home” after their “unfruitful” sojourn in APC.

According to Makinde, about 70 percent of the APC ward executives in the LGA defected. He named the notable figures to include Tope Ajayi (LGA Party Secretary), Folake Salami (Assistant Women Leader), Maxwell Adegoke (Organising Secretary), Femi Adeyeye (Ward 1 Chairman), Timothy K. Obaba (Ward 2 Vice-Chairman), Henry Jeremiah (Ward 3 Chairman), Segun Alaiyemola (Ward 4 Chairman), Rtd Major RS Akoni (Ward 8 Chairman), Taiye Omokore (Ward 9 Chairnan), all Ward 10 Exco, Rtd Major TS Selewo and Oyebode Makinde.

Speaking on behalf of the defectors, Makinde said, “I used to be a state officer of the failed party called APC but I am happy to announce to you that I have ceased to belong to that party, the last two years of the APC led administration in the state emasculated those of us who contributed to building the party in the state. In the situation where those of us who formed the party in the state were turned to political orphans, and now being harassed, intimidated and insulted for no fault, other than the fact that we worked for APC to win the state in the last governorship election, our return to PDP has become inevitable, signalled the death of APC in the State, and the bidding of goodbye to Lugard House by the incumbent governor of the state”.

Receiving the returnees, Taiwo Kola-Ojo commended them for coming back home now that the ovation is loudest.
Ojo described the APC-led administration in the state as a poison that has killed thousands of citizens in just two years.

Ojo said while government is about welfare of the people, the government in Kogi is concerned about inflicting hardship, pain, sickness, and death on the lives of kogites since its inception in January, 2016.
He assured all members of equal treatment and opportunities to attain their ambitions and aspirations,

Although he was not in attendance, the defection is said to have the endorsement of the former APC Board of Trustees member. He had hinted in an interview with a national daily that a return to the PDP was top priority after he alleged marginalization of 95 percent of original members of the APC in the state by the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello. Bello had been drafted as a replacement for the late governorship candidate of the APC, Prince Abubakar Audu, who died while he was clearly coasting to victory in the November 21, 2015 poll.

Olafemi who was a one-time Speaker of Kogi State Assembly was among notable Kogi politicians who staged the mass defection from the PDP to the APC at formation stages, in the run up to the 2015 elections. The exodus was believed to have partly contributed to the defeat of the PDP in the state by the APC in the November 21, 2015 governorship poll. The defeat ended PDP’s rule in the state after 13 years.

Former Deputy Chief of Staff (Presidency), Prince Olusola Akanmode, who joined other PDP leaders to welcome the returnees, urged them to approach the rebirth of the party with ‘cautious optimism’.

He advised party members not to take things for granted as politics, according to him is full of surprises.
His words: “Let it not be said of us that we have learnt nothing. When an elder falls, he rises up, looks back, dusts himself up and continues his journey, aware not to repeat the same mistake that led to his previous slip. After all what had happened in 2015, one hopes that lessons have been learnt. We should therefore welcome the situation with cautious optimism.

“Let us not take many things for granted, especially when it comes to contest for political office. There is nothing wrong with jostling, but we allow jostling to divide us. What we call empowerment by political office holders is negligible compare to what they take home, so why should we allow it to divide us? The most important thing for us is to get organised. We may not achieve all our individual ambitions, but there is no limit to what we can achieve collectively”

Although it was expected that the baton would shift to Yagba in 2015, Senator Dino Melaiye also from Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu won the election on a different political party platform.

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