THE ABUJA REPORT
By Yemi Adebowale
It is pertinent to draw the attention of the National Working Committee of the PDP to the emerging dynamics of the PDP Kogi crisis. After a close observation of what is going on in Kogi State PDP, it is in the best interest of the party to give the current governor Captain Idris Wada the gubernatorial ticket to run for a deserved second term in office. Let me explain.
The argument that if Wada should win the primaries in Kogi State will make PDP lose out in the coming elections defies logic. Governor Wada has declared his readiness for the November 21 governorship polls if given the nod by the PDP to fly its flag, saying he is battle ready to defeat any opponent.
As the battle for the Lokoja Government House is gradually unfolding, PDP should take a cue from Ekiti State and learn lessons for the victory that was won in Ekiti State.
Moreso, the embarrassing defeat of Jimi Agbaje in the just concluded gubernatorial elections in Lagos State should also not be forgotten in a hurry. It was a straight battle between Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the gubernatorial candidate of the party in 2007, who is believed to have substantial control of the party machinery, and Agbaje, a new entrant into the party but a well-known gubernatorial aspirant in the state, who had the support of PDP in Abuja.
Many analysts had predicted an Obanikoro victory in the primary and had projected an Obanikoro/Agbaje ticket as an effective strategy to wrest power from the APC-led government. But against analysts’ projections, Agbaje ‘defeated’ Obanikoro under very controversial circumstances – a situation that almost destroyed the party in Lagos State but for the timely intervention of the then President Jonathan who brokered a truce.
Obanikoro’s defeat by Agbaje was not without the support of the Muazu led PDP NWC and that miscalculated interference threw the Lagos PDP into a terrible crisis. Obanikoro rejected the outcome and even instituted a lawsuit against the party’s candidate, Jimi Agbaje. Many thought that PDP was on a familiar path that had made its bid to occupy the Alausa Government House in the past 15 years a mirage.
It should however be noted that the emergence of Jimi Agbaje as the party gubernatorial flag bearer led to the loss of the election as Jimi Agbaje was a weaker candidate for Akinwunmi Ambode of the All progressive Congress (APC).
The lesson to draw from the Lagos experience is simple and instructive. Before PDP starts shopping for Wada’s replacement, which has been touted as the real reason for the last day postponement of the governorship primaries, the party should bear in mind that the gubernatorial candidate of APC in Kogi state is someone who happens to be Captain Idris Wada’s predecessor, Abubakar Audu.
In 2011, Captain Idris Wada ran against Audu. He was in Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) then. He is a human being who also comes under the platform of a political party. The election will be a competition not just between parties, but also individuals. Individual attributes will play a role but then it is up to the Kogi voters to decide whether they want to support someone they know as respectful and humane or a man who is regarded as very violent, arrogant and hated by civil servants who constitute majority of the state’s population. It is a democratic choice that the people will make.
It is also worthy of note that Wada has performed well since assumption of office, he has worked with sincerity and without propaganda because he did not want to deceive the people of the state. Yes, it is true that the APC won the presidential election but PDP won the state assembly election and the loss of PDP in the presidential election should not be used as a yardstick in the selection of its gubernatorial candidate.
The campaign of calumny mounted against the Governor of Kogi State by some ‘faceless agents of darkness’ who desperately want to reverse the positive trend of development that the current administration has brought to the state should be brushed aside. This was the same template used in Ekiti State in the case of Fayose but as the party paid no attention to it then and experienced victory, it should do the same now in Kogi State.
Wada’s effort in managing the lean resources of the state is equal to none. His managerial savviness is commendable and in spite of the current financial challenge, the governor has kept faith with the state’s workers. Wada has prudently managed the resources of the state in the face of dwindling revenues from the federation account to the state for policies and projects with direct bearing on the people.
Wada’s achievements in the education sector which include the establishment of College of Medicine at the Kogi State University, health sector, providing free treatment in all 21 local government areas of the state, roads and agricultural sector which include making the state the largest cassava producing state in the country, the rice production program and the expansion of Agro-business in the state could only be sustained and improved upon by returning Captain Idris Wada for the second term.
The bottom-line is that the APC cannot play out Wada playing up the performance card. He has actually performed. PDP only needs to throw its full weight behind this sitting governor who has also demonstrated loyalty to the party by staying put in the thick of the nPDP crisis that saw the likes of Abdulfatah Ahmed and Kwankwaso leaving the party.
Wada on his part will need to shore up his media management strategy to amplify what he has done in Kogi. In this regard, the PDP needs to support Wada by providing advisory and technical media support on what Wada needs to do to amplify his achievements in the media. This is what the PDP needs to do, not shopping for a replacement for a sitting governor. A sitting governor at anytime is a plus in Nigerian politics. The PDP should cash in on it to win Kogi State.
Audu will be coming into this race with money, APC’s power of incumbency at the center, a financially strong running mate and experience as a former Governor. The only candidate who can match Audu money for money, incumbency for incumbency and political power for political power is Governor Idris Wada. PDP should not make the mistake of discarding him. The outcome will be another crisis-ridden party reminiscent of what happened in Lagos after Obanikoro was robbed of his gubernatorial ticket and Agbaje crowned candidate of the party. PDP should learn from its recent past.