Newcomer vs Buhari’s ally: These factors will determine the winner of Kogi guber poll

Newcomer vs Buhari’s ally: These factors will determine the winner of Kogi guber poll
November 15
18:05 2019

In less than 24 hours, the electorate in Kogi will march to the polls to vote for who will become the next governor. At the last count, 23 candidates were cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the governorship election but the exercise is no doubt a two-horse race between Yahaya Bello, the incumbent governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Apart from the power of incumbency for the APC, and the PDP being the main opposition party in the state, none of the 21 other candidates seems to enjoy the popularity and support of Bello and Wada. While Bello, an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, emerged the APC flag-bearer after at least 12 aspirants were disqualified from the race, Wada was named the PDP candidate after defeating other party bigwigs such as Idris Wada, immediate past governor of the state and his elder brother; Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi west; and Abubakar Ibrahim, son of a former governor.


No doubt the emergence of Bello and Wada rekindled the rivalry between the two parties which dates back to 2015 when the PDP was butted out of the Lugard House, the seat of power in the state, by the “progressives.” Abubakar Audu who had contested under the APC against Wada of the PDP, was favoured to be the next governor but died shortly after the election was declared inconclusive. 

Bello, who came second in the governorship primary, was then chosen as Audu’s replacement ahead of James Faleke, late Audu’s running mate. Since the shocking defeat suffered by the PDP, the two parties have been at loggerheads.


In Kogi, ethnicity plays a key role in elections; so key that it is widely believed in the state such that it is widely believed Bello would not have been able to get the majority votes in an election considering he is from Ebira, a minority ethnic group in the state. 

Although Kogi state stands on a tripod of the Igalas (majorly Kogi east) with the largest population, followed by the Ebiras (Kogi central) and Okun (Yoruba speaking and Kogi west) area of the state, the Igalas usually decide who governs Kogi as a result of their superior numbers which translates to more voting strength (it is reported that the Igalas contribute about 49 percent of total votes cast in any state-wide election).

With such a scenario, the PDP was not going to let what it may consider a golden opportunity pass by, which was why the party made sure a contender from Igala emerges its candidate. TheCable gathered that in the build up to the party primary, about seven aspirants stepped down to pave the way  and support the top contenders.

Realising the voting strength of the Igala, Bello picked Edward Onoja, his running mate, from the ethnic group. No doubt the voters will be divided along this line.



Unlike Bello, Wada is a greenhorn — though upbeat — politician whose emergence as the PDP candidate shocked many both in the state and in the rank and file of the party. How he managed to defeat Idris Wada, his elder brother and immediate past governor of the state; Ibrahim Idris, son of an ex-governor of the state; and Melaye, still remains a surprise to many, but what is certain is that he would be needing all the support and experience of the two former governors if he is to stand any chance of displacing Bello.

On the other hand, the current governor is considered a tactician who is always ahead of his opponents. Although he had no prior experience in politics before emerging governor in 2015, recent happenings in Kogi regarding his ousted deputy and over the four years of his term have shown what he is capable of. 

He is so close to the president whom he embarked on a door-to-door campaign for during the last elections. In addition, the APC leadership looks ready to do whatever it can to retain the state as they cannot afford to lose Kogi to the PDP at a time like this when the party had just won seven of the nine seats in the house of representatives, two of the three senatorial seats and all the 25 state assembly seats.

Here is a dossier on the two candidates:


Age 44
First degree in accounting, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria; masters in business administration, also in ABU.
Public service career
RMAFC (revenue officer, accountant)
Political career Kogi state governor (2015-date)
Campaign promises Gender equity, jobs, agriculture, payment of salaries
Weaknesses Inability to pay salaries as and when due, dearth of infrastructure, Ebira origin (Kogi central is said to account for just 20 percent of the total votes in the state)
Strengths Incumbency, federal ‘might’, President Muhammadu Buhari’s ally, believed to have the financial strength, has support of the federal lawmakers ie. two senators and seven members of house of representatives
Striking quote “24 hours is too short to list my achievements.”



Age 57
Education First degree in building from ABU, Zaria; M.Sc in transport from Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University); PGD in civil engineering from Federal University of Technology, Akure; and PhD in environmental science from University of Calabar.
Public service career Chief port engineer, Tin-Can Island Port; principal manager, capital project of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) HQ.
Political career No major political experience
Campaign promises Increased revenue, state of emergency on all sectors, community-based government, improved standard of living, infrastructural growth.
Weaknesses Lack of adequate experience in politics, opposition candidate.
Strengths From the majority ethnic group in Kogi ie Igala, strong grassroots support base, backed by two former governors.
Striking quote “If I become the governor, I will declare a state of emergency because all sectors in Kogi state are dead.”



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