By Adewale Sunday
The 2019 General Elections in Nigeria might have come and gone but the outcome for the governing All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kogi West Senatorial District with its performance in the said elections may linger for sometime in terms of lessons learnt.
Prior to the elections, the party might have concluded within itself that the elections will be a walk over without considering factors that might work against the fortunes of the party especially for the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in the area.
The party was seen to be on ground in the zone considering the wonderful performances of the party during the 2015 Governorship Election in the state.
In this write up, I try to xray the reasons for the party’s woeful performance despite being the ruling party in the state.
It is pertinent to note that our findings revealed that the choices of the party candidates for the Senatorial and House of Representatives in Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu and Yagba Federal Constituencies were the first main challenge as the personalities were alleged not to be well accepted by the majority of the electorates in the area.
First, is the Senatorial candidate, Senator Smart Adeyemi, a two term Senator that represented the district from 2007 to 2015 before he lost to the incumbent Senator Dino Melaye of the APC then due to what many political pundits refer to as his arrogant attitude and lack of courtesies to people.
However, in the build up to the APC Kogi West primary, his main contender, Dr Toyin Akanle had informed the leadership of the party not to toil with the fortunes of the party by giving the party ticket to Sen. Smart Adeyemi as he may not be able win due to what he called many of Senator Adeyemi’s sins against the people of Kogi West people when he represented them at the upper chamber between 2007 and 2015.
Despite this, Senator Adeyemi emerged the party standard bearer at the party primary conducted in Kabba and Dr Toyin Akanle protested against the outcome of the primary.
He went further to petition the national headquarters of the party through the Appeals Committee of the primary citing irregularities and called for the outright cancellation of the primary result but all efforts of Akanle proved abortive, as Senator Adeyemi was given a clean bill by the committee to contest for the general elections.
However, as someone who should be magnanimous in victory and call for immediate reconciliation with other contestants whom he contested with in the party primary, he was alleged to have called their bluff especially, his main rival who is known to command a strong followership across the senatorial district.
Our findings further revealed that instead of him to reconcile with Team Akanle, he decided to seat back in Abuja hoping on the party and the State Government to perform magic for him to win the election.
Perhaps, as at the time the party set up a reconciliatory committee to reconcile all factions and aggrieved persons, it was too late as both Team Akanle and Team Smart Adeyemi could not seat together to discuss the way forward for the party.
It is interest to note that Dr Toyin Akanle did not decamp from the party but he was alleged to have fold his hands to proof his point of the non acceptability of Senator Smart Adeyemi.
The attitude of his team members across the seven local government areas during the elections was a big minus for the victory of the party in the district.
Many of his supporters who spoke to our source boasted that Senator Smart Adeyemi cannot win any election again in Kogi West, stressing that he was a wrong candidate abinitio for the party, pointing out that Dino Melaye’s victory at the poll was occasioned by the error of the ruling party in the zone not his popularity, nor performance.
We further gathered that Senator Smart Adeyemi also caused his own downfall as displayed during the campaign rallies which according to many, he was seen not to be ready for the contest as some of his actions in the course of the campaigns were detrimental to his success at the poll.
On many occasions, he exchanged physical combat with some of the party stalwarts that went round with him, e.g the Kunle Ola saga at Hon. Idris Asiru’s house in Isanlu where Kunle Ola accused him of not recognising their group which led to serious issues, aside the ugly scenario that took place at the Ogga residents of Hon Pius Kolawole, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, where out of annoyance due to Adeyemi’s misconducts, the people abandoned the food prepared for them by the SA and Barrister Tunde Irukera on the day of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo’s visit to Kogi State.
His non acceptability was further entrenched as displayed by the number of votes he garnered in his own local government as records show that he could only win PDP in his unit in Iyara ward with 6 votes difference, as APC polled 82 votes while PDP 76 votes, in the overall he lost Ijumu Local Government Area with 3232 votes difference while APC polled 8517 votes, PDP polled 11749 votes.
It is also good to note that he lost in the following local governments, Lokoja, Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, Moapmuro, Yagba East, Yagba West and won in Kogi Local government with small margin, 6 out of the 7 local government areas that made up of Kogi West Senatorial District.
According to the investigation, Senator Dino Melaye was never a better candidate in term of character and performance but it seems the people have had enough of his arrogance and disdain attitudes which is why the people according to our source prefer Senator Dino Melaye to Senator Smart Adeyemi.
Even in Yagba land, despite the state government appointees, elected members and some key stakeholders within the party in the federal constituency, there was an agreement to work for the candidate of the ADC, Elder Leke Abejide in exchange of the APC State House of Assembly.
According to our source, it was also alleged that the Commissioner for Finance did not release the money meant for logistics for the elections in the seven local government areas of Kogi West.
It was established that all parties in Yagba land agreed to work together as they shared the positions among the three major parties, PDP for Senate, ADC for the House of Representative while APC takes the State House of Assembly, this was the simple logic the stakeholders in Yagba used according to our findings.
It is a known fact that Senator Smart Adeyemi is currently having issues with Chief Jide Omokore, Chief Sam Oluowa, Chief Funsho Owoyemi and Barrister Tunde Ayeni from Iyah Gbede, Gen Oshanupin, Chief Ben Olowodola, Hon James Abiodun Faleke etc these personalities was alleged to have worked vehemently against his ambition.
However, Senator Smart Adeyemi lost the election to himself in Kogi West courtesy of his arrogance and consistence fight with people at different time.
While in Kiriland, he was quoted to have said that he did not plan to contest until he was prevailed upon which made him to signify his intention.
He was further reported to have said that he only decided to visit Kiriland for posterity sake, noting that he knew that the people will not vote for him, despite knowing that Kiriland is the determinant factor of any election in Bunuland.
When asked what were his achievements in the area for his 8 years at the National Assembly, he could not have much to say as the people pointed to the 500 kva Mikano Generator Senator Dino Melaye gave the community aside other complimentary projects like boreholes and the Giro hill rehabilitation they have enjoyed from him.
While in his federal constituency, he was seen as someone who has pushed his luck too far and reasonably should have taken a break from contesting for elective positions, while in Lokoja some of his political associates were seen to be a burden on him as many in the area no longer have faith in his candidature via his association with some of the people around him.
Also, many of the bigwigs in Kogi West are still not happy with Senator Smart Adeyemi due to his alleged role in 2010 which made the Kabba to lose the Federal University to Lokoja.
According to information gathered, they opined that his arrogance and consistent fight with the former Governor, Ibrahim Idris, made him to recommend Lokoja for the prestigious institutions that should have added value to Okunland being home to many outstanding academics in both Nigeria and abroad.
They said despite his closeness with the then President Goodluck Jonathan, he was not able to facilitate any tangible and meaningful projects to the district.
While in Yagba federal constituency, our findings revealed that some party officials and appointee of the State Government sold off the House of Representatives for the State Houses as Hon Henry Tuesday Abimbola was alleged not be seen around on time to canvass for votes in the area.
Very many of them felt he was proud and too big to come down from his high horse to talk to the people only depending on the State Government to do it for him.
Many of the electorates in Yagba East also felt since the Local Government was not lucky to have produced the Senator, it is better they have the House of Representatives in person of Hon Leke Abejide, a business Mogul who is based in the northern city of Kano/Jigawa and have the capacity to deliver.
It is based on this the people of Yagba East Local Government especially voted en masse for Hon Leke Abejide while Abimbola votes from Mopamuro could not withstand that of East and West Local Governments.
While in the case of Wemi Jones, his kinsmen in Bunuland abandoned him due to his cunning ways of handling issues.
His failure to interact and dialogue with the who is who politically in Bunu made him to lose his stronghold where he could only win 2 out of 6 wards in Bunuland.
Investigation further revealed that he lost Okebukun ward where he hails from due to high handedness of not being ready to come down to the level of the people, as he was quoted to have said, ‘if the party and state government is not ready to fund his election to win then it is a shame’ he said
Hon Tajudeen Yusuf of the PDP were able to garner the much votes he has in Kabba district courtesy of Club 12 agenda coupled with Hon Kola Ologbondiyan the National Publicity Secretary of the main opposition party, PDP who is from Ilajo family who are still angry about the emergence of the new Obaro of Kabba.
The PDP also played a joker of the hope of the party winning the Presidential Elections, wherein Atiku Abubakar would be sweared in as the next president of Nigeria and Hon Kola Ologbondiyan would be appointed Federal Minister on Information.
These were some of the permutations that led majority of Kabba electorate to vote for the PDP.
The APC were able to garner the votes they got in Kabba district courtesy of the Obaro of Kabba, His Royal Majesty, Oba Solomon Dele Owoniyi and the Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Mr Matthew Kolawole, as only his family, Omodo, fraction of club 12 and the none indigenes voted for the party.
While in Ijumu the party leaders and government officials at both state and local government compromised the process to favour the opposition especially the ADC candidates, as our findings revealed that the Deputy Governorship Candidate to late Audu Abubakar in the 2015 Governorship Election in Kogi State, Hon James Abiodun Faleke who still command large number of followers in the area directed all his loyalists within the APC to work for the emergence of the ADC candidates.
Some Political Analysts opined that Mr Wemi Jones did not lose to Hon TJ Yusuf nor PDP but he lost to his kinsmen and APC in Bunu as it is expected that he will secure 90% of the votes being where he hails from, noting that if he was able to garner the kind of votes TJ got from Kabba, from Bunu, he would have won the elections.
With the wonderful performance of the APC in the just concluded State House of Assembly Elections wherein the party have 25/25 Assembly Members in the state, it is pretty sure that Governor Yahaya Bello would have a smooth sail at the November Governorship poll in the State.
The successful outcome of the State Assembly Elections in Kogi West has changed the narrative to confirm some of these facts about the wrong candidature of some the personalities paraded by the APC in the federal elections in the area.
This we hope the leadership of the APC or other political parties would take cognizance of, as fielding a wrong candidate can spell doom for any political party in a given election.
Adewale Sunday is a Political Analyst from Lokoja,Kogi State.