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INTERVIEW: Kogi guber is mine to win… Yahaya Bello’s loyalists are with me, says SDP’s Ajaka

INTERVIEW: Kogi guber is mine to win… Yahaya Bello’s loyalists are with me, says SDP’s Ajaka
October 21
08:51 2023

Murtala Yakubu Ajaka was until May 2023 a staunch member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). As a former deputy national publicity secretary and member of the national working committee, he was actively involved in the ruling party’s campaign for the 2023 elections. But when he was disqualified from participating in the APC governorship primary election in Kogi state on April 14, 2023, Ajaka subsequently pitched his tent with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as the party’s candidate for the November 11 governorship election.

In this interview with TheCable, Ajaka, from Kogi East senatorial district, talks about his preparedness for the upcoming election, his falling out with Yahaya Bello, the outgoing governor, and his chances of defeating leading contenders like Ahmed Ododo of the APC and Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).


TheCable: Why are you called ‘The Solution’?

Ajaka: As you can see, I have shown sincerity and determination to serve the people and determination to give more infrastructure to Kogi people; that is the problem we are having in Kogi. Not just Kogi, it’s a national issue. [But] Kogi is the worst and people know. With the small opportunity I got at the national secretariat, people are feeling the impact.

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TheCable: Why do you think Kogi is the way it is in terms of development?

Ajaka: “The only things that Yahaya Bello improved in Kogi are thuggery, intimidation and violence, it’s only in Kogi that people are afraid of expressing themselves.”

Ajaka: It is so because of the people in charge. Since 2003, the state has been regressing, if it takes 10 steps forward, it goes 50 steps backwards. That was why we thought that with the emergence of Yahaya Bello, things were going to change because of the way he emerged. It was a pure case of miracle. God said he would be the governor of Kogi and he became, but I don’t think he followed God to do what he was supposed to do for us.

He caused more insecurity, and the infrastructure, education sector, and agricultural sector all got worse than he met it, virtually everything he met, he brought the standard down. The only thing that he improved on was thuggery, intimidation and violence, it’s only in Kogi that people are afraid of expressing themselves. Even under Abacha, as difficult as it was, there were still dissenting voices.

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TheCable: Why are more people not speaking up if the state is as you’ve described?

Ajaka: When you fall into trauma, it takes time for you to get out of it. The state, as it stands now, is in a state of trauma and it takes a process before we can come out of it

TheCable: Regarding the elections, the state is heavily polarised. Do you have stakeholder support outside your zone?

Ajaka: “Yahaya Bello failed to lead as a statesman, he wants to give it to his brother from the same local government. It has never happened in the history of the state.”

Ajaka: Yes, I do. However, the eastern plank is the most populated and most agitated, but it’s a normal thing when you are in the majority. The incumbent governor did not manage things well. There is a way he would have handled this succession issue and it wouldn’t have caused any problem.

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TheCable: What do you think is the best way?

Ajaka: If you are not ready to go with the majority, you give it to the next majority which is the Okun people (the Yoruba-speaking part of Kogi). If you had given it to them, the Igala man has no justification to say he will be in that office for now. Yahaya Bello failed to lead as a statesman; he wants to give it to his brother from the same local government. It has never happened in the history of the state — even when the Igalas were doing it back to back — for an Igala man to succeed an Igala man from the same local government.

Right in his backyard in Adavi, Okehi, and Ajaokuta, they are all against the governor, because everything has turned out to be about Okene. Yes, all these local governments sprung from Okene but they have become autonomous — and they want to be treated equally.

TheCable: You were once a supporter of Yahaya Bello. What changed?

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Ajaka with Bello… when the going was good

Ajaka: No, I was not a supporter, we were together in the party and we were very close allies. And when he wanted to be president I had no choice but to follow him because there’s nothing God cannot do. If God wants you to be president then none of us can stop that.

He approached me to rub his back and he’ll rub my back; that is I support him for president and he supports me for the governorship race. That’s how I came into the race, he knows my capacity to network, and we leveraged on that in his campaign.

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TheCable: The Kogi election is less than three weeks away. How prepared are you?

Ajaka: “I have the capacity and the temperament to lead the state.”

Ajaka: I am the most prepared, I have been around for the past three years. I’ve done a lot and I am still doing more. Of all the aspirants I am the strongest. When I say strongest, it is not in size or strength. I am talking about spread. Over the years, I have shown the people that I have the capacity and the temperament to lead the state and they understand that. That’s why across the length and breadth of the state, virtually everybody is supporting us — except the governor and his crew.

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TheCable: Are you prepared for the possibility of losing?

Ajaka: “Sixteen local governments including the serving chairmen are with me.”

Ajaka: I will win by a landslide. I have a very strong conviction that the election is mine to win, I have seen over sixteen local governments including the serving chairmen, and almost all the chairmen are with me. These are the main soldiers of the government. I have done the groundwork.

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TheCable: Do you have faith in INEC’s ability to deliver a credible election?

INEC result sheet

An INEC official filling a result sheet

Ajaka: I have absolute confidence in INEC’s capacity and capability to conduct a free and fair election and I am very certain this election is going to be as free, clear and white as snow. Forget anything anybody might say. They might disagree with INEC, but based on what I’ve seen on the ground, INEC is going to conduct a free and fair election.

TheCable: There are people worried about the security situation in the state and how it may affect the election…

Ajaka: The law is very clear, if you vote, you go back home. If you don’t want to vote, you leave the voting areas.

TheCable: It is believed that SDP does not have a strong structure in the state. Don’t you think that will affect your chances?

Ajaka: It’s not about the party, it’s about the individual. The people are aware that I have crossed over to the other side, but they are still ready to support me wherever I am. One of our elders and father is in the race also, but people are not looking in his direction. So I’m fully convinced that I will win.

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