Tales from Kogi Guber primaries, A Postmortem 

By Richard Elesho

The dust raised by the recent primaries for the election or selection of candidates in the forthcoming Kogi Governorship election may not settle soon. In fact, rather than heaving sigh of relief, the exercise ended up inflicting birth pangs and lacerated pains, of differing intensity, on membership of the various political parties.

Incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello is statute barred from running, as his second tenure comes to a close 27 January, 2024. But, his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC is one of the front runners.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had fixed the poll for 11 November. The off-cycle election will hold concurrently in two other stares, namely Imo and Bayelsa. Political parties conducted primaries within the approved window of 27 March to 17 April.

The primaries were however far from being rancour free, in the Confluence State. It has produced a sizable number of parallel candidates and left the notable parties, including the APC and main opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP with life threatening fractures.

Ethnicity, agitation for power shift and a desperate attempt to self perpetuation, were factors that expanded the fault lines of the state. Kogi has three Senatorial Districts, dominated almost exclusively by distinct races.

Since it’s creation in 1991, Kogi West has been shut out of Lugard House, the seat of power. Conversely, Kogi East monopolized the office for about 18 years, while Kogi Central is completing 8 years, under the incumbent Governor Bello.

With such skewed record, the West has fervently been at the forefront demanding for power rotation. The Central is desperate to equalise with the East, even as the latter is eager for a comeback after the hiatus.

As it stands, candidates that emerged from the primaries, cut across all the Senatorial Districts. Similarly, unresolved complaints emanating from the process have left many of the parties in a state of confusion. Thus far, no less than 11 out of 18 political parties have completed the rituals of picking flag bearers. Most of them ramshackle. Let us check them.


The party had the largest assembly of aspirants in the state. No less than 17 politicians bought its N50 million each, nomination and expression of interest forms.

The party was planning for Indirect Primary, when a court ruling over it’s delegates’ list forced it to detour. It’s direct primary held on Friday, 14 April, under the coordination of Governor Ahmed Matawalle of Zamfara State.

About 24 hours to the exercise, the withdrawal of eight of the aspirants including Deputy Governor Edward Onoja, Chief of Staff Asuku Jamiu and Finance Commissioner, Asiru Idris was announced at a stakeholders meeting. Usman Ododo, the state Auditor-General for LG was also unveiled as Bello’s preferred successor.

Matawalle abandoned his duty post, midway to voting on election day, leaving Patrick Obahiagbon, a former Federal legislator notorious for verbosity and use of high sounding words, to complete the process. In the small hours of Saturday, he announced Ododo as winner of the poll.

The announced is from the same LG with the outgoing Governor and said to be his cousin.

Other aspirants, notably Senator Smart Adeyemi, Muritala Ajaka, Sanusi Ohiare and Stephen Ocheni cried foul, insisting there was no unified election. Ajaka said he won in a parallel exercise. Adeyemi’s supporters are also claiming victory.

Two members of the party, Rilwan Opkanachi and Yahaya Seidu Nuhu have filled complaints on the primary at an Abuja High Court. They claimed the process did not meet the expectations of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution. They inferred that the primary was odouferous and therefore urged the court to nullify Ododo’s ticket.


Ten aspirants bought the party’s nomination forms. They were all from Kogi East and Kogi West. There was no aspirant from the Central.


The party opted for Indirect Primary, which held at Kefas Multipurpose Hall, Lokoja on Sunday, 16 April. Former Kaduna Governor, Ahmed Makarfi was Chairman of the electoral committee.


Days to the poll, a group of stakeholders at a Press Briefing accused one of the aspirants, Senator Dino Melaye of using his connections at the national Secretariat of the party to change the Delegates list. Immediate past presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar exonerated himself from involvement in the plot.


Dino was curiously declared winner, having scored majority of the ballots. He polled 313 ballots to defeat his closest rival Ilona Idoko Idris who had 124 votes.


The atmosphere was tension soaked with earlier protests over the delegates list. The process however went on smoothly, under the supervision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.


Hon Kabiru Usman garnered 121 votes while former Deputy Governor, Awoniyi scored 77 votes and the PDP governorship candidate in 2019 Engr Musa Wada had a total of 56 votes, Ojaja Gideon had 5 votes, while Bolufemi Rotimi scored 2 votes.


Awoniyi discredited the primary as lacking in integrity. Some aggrieved members have since left the party, while Dino was said to be running from pillar to post seeking reconciliation.

How far can he go?

Parallel candidates

The Kogi political space is also occupied by other political parties with double claimants to the Guber ticket. African Democratic Congress, ADC, New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP are in this group.


ADC held it’s first Congress at Idri Nana Hotel, Lokoja on Saturday, 15 April. It was coordinated by national officials of the party and observed by INEC. Leke Abejide who represents Yagba Federal Constituency in the Green Chamber picked the ticket, on that occasion.


Surprisingly, less than 48 hours later, another Congress took place at Lilly Ground Hotel. The parallel exercise produced Abejide’s former stooge, Dele Williams as candidate.


There were claims that the second primary was influenced by forces outside the party.


The situation was similar in Labour Party, LP primary which held the same Saturday. Unresolved frictions between loyalists of Isaac Alfa and Barrister Adejoh Okeme led to hoodlums dispersing the crowd with gunshots. Adejoh was later declared winner of the ticket.


NNPP Primary which took place 16 April at the Amusement Park also produced two claimants to the flag. Musa Mubarak and Hassan Bawa are both holding to different ends of the banner.


While the selection processes of the big parties had issues, those of smaller parties were less controversial. An Abuja based property developer, Adeyinka Braimoh picked the ticket of Action Alliance, AA. Barrister Julius Elukpo is candidate of Action Democratic Party, ADP, and Dauda Isah, Allied People’s Movement, APM.

The other candidates are Usman Jubrin of Social Democratic Party, SDP, Samson Omale of Young People’s Party, YPP, and Abdullahi Babajo of People’s Redemption Party, PRP.


It’s  a crowded field of candidates. Enough for the Kogi electorate to pick from. Who will win the final race? Time will tell

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