One hundred and eighty one days to the all-important November 16 governorship election in Kogi state, the aspiration of Admiral Usman Oyibe Jibrin seems to reverberating across the state. The excitement and acceptance that greeted his declaration is so overwhelming.
In Kogi, people are beginning to talk about the former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) as the most likely to succeed the Governor Yahaya Bello. Against early expectations, Admiral Jibrin chose to run on the platform of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and this seems to be the master stroke.
His decision has started attracting politicians across party divide, especially estranged APC stalwarts who will never associate with the fumbling and widely rejected government of Yahaya Bello.
Core politicians from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fold are already considering the option of defecting to APC to help actualize the Jibrin governorship aspiration.
Politicians across party divides are scheming relentlessly to be part of the next government that is expected to emerge after the election and all efforts are geared towards Admiral Jibrin’s aspiration at the moment.
With his rising popularity among leaders and electorate, politicians are upping their games to associate and negotiate with the man believed to be the next Governor of Kogi state, Admiral Usman Jibrin.
Most interesting part is the current high-level lobbying to be Admiral Jibrin’s running mate in the November election. Key politicians in the race to deputize Jibrin are from both PDP and APC.
Most prominent among these politicians are former senatorial aspirants from Kogi West. Top on the list is a former member House of Representatives and former commissioner in the state, Chief Tolorunjuwon Faniyi. Credible information have it that former senatorial candidate of Accord Party in 2015, Chief Sam Aro is also in the race to deputize Jibrin. With Senator Dino Melaye, from Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal constituency, in the National Assembly, the deputy governorship slot should be for either Yagba or Lokoja/Koto federal constituency.
However, strategists are considering a running mate from Kogi Central, the senatorial district of Governor Yahaya Bello.
They are of the firm belief that Kogi West is already a no-go area for Yahaya Bello’s re-election aspiration, hence the need to make credible in road into Kogi Central.
The strategists prefer the senatorial candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP) for Kogi Central in the last election, Barr. Natasha Hadiza Akpoti as the most suitable to deputize Jibrin.
The main challenge envisaged is the chance of convincing Natasha to sacrifice her governorship ambition and run with Jibrin. Many of the opinion that Natasha is likely to emerge governorship candidate of SDP.
Top politicians within the Audu/Faleke faction of the APC are not left behind in the jostling for the prized deputy governorship slot.
Already, the director general of the Audu/Faleke campaign organization during the ill-fated 2015 governorship election, Dan Isah has aligned with Admiral Jibrin’s aspiration. Pundits believe he is the point man of the Audu/Faleke group sent to ensure the group gets the deputy governorship slot for the November election.
For many, Admiral Jibrin is Kogi state governor-in-waiting. His acceptability in Kogi East is not in doubt as witnessed on Sunday when he visited the district.
Large crowd of enthusiastic supporters hailed the former Naval Chief as he passed through Itobe and other towns in Kogi East on Sunday. The emerging strong support from key politicians in Kogi West is a good omen.
Once he clinched the APC ticket in August, as widely expected, he will sail through Kogi Central without hitches as the electorate in Ebiraland love President Buhari’s APC more than they love their wayward son, Yahaya Bello.
The choice of running mate will, no doubt, determine the chances of Jibrin at the polls.
– Adejoh Usman writes from Idah.