Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been declared winner of the November 16, 2019 governorship election. Against all predictions to the contrary, he has made history, as the first minority to win a governorship election in the state, back-to-back. Yahaya Bello not only secured a landslide block votes from all five councils in his Kogi Central base, he also won majority of the votes in Kogi West, leading in five of the seven councils. Then the unexpected happened; the offset of the majority Igala in Kogi East Senatorial District, where the APC candidate took two out of the nine councils. The PDP candidate, Engr Musa Wada is an Igala. Thus, Bello, a minority won in 12 of the 21 local government areas. It is the first of its kind in the state’s history. But the election also goes down in history as the most violent and controversial. 10 lives were reportedly lost, the 10th being the post-election killing of a women leader of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kogi East, Mrs. Acheju Abuh, who was burnt alive in her home in Ochadamu Ward. The killing was later attributed as a reprisal attack following an initial incidence during which one life was lost.
The Nigeria Bar Association Election Working Group (NBAEWG), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and Socio-Economic Research and Development Centre (SERDEC) spoke in unison in condemning the conduct of the election.“The NBAEWG noted that; “in the light of the large scale acts of violence, disruptions of the electoral process, snatching of electoral material by armed persons some of whom were dressed in police uniform, coupled with sporadic gunshots that scared voters away from voting centres, as observed by the NBA EWG, the election in Kogi State failed to meet the minimum standard of a credible election.”
A retired Navy Commodore and former member, House of Assembly, Mopamuro Constituency, Hon Folusho Daniel said; “the election brought to the fore the level of man’s inhumanity to man in pursuit of ambition, greed and power.” Daniel, a PDP chieftain lamented: “I have lived over six decades now and I have witnessed many elections but I have never seen this type. The lives that have been lost will never vote again. Some are nursing permanent physical and emotional injuries that will live with them for the rest of their lives on account of that election. Some are still in detention for no just causes than a desire to express their will in an election that should be free and fair. My personal experience was not palatable. I was chased and trailed all about and everywhere like a common criminal for arrest and detention. For many days I kept sleeping in different locations to evade arrests and detention.
My only crime was that I wanted to follow my conscience and my inalienable and constitutional immunity to the free choice of my preferred candidate in the election. The fact remains that the election has defined us as a people. It has also shown very clearly that inordinate ambition knows no boundary, limits, brother or sister. Kogi Poll has cast thick, dark and ominous clouds on the psyche and conscience of the people. It was not an election but war against the people. I love the courage and valour of our boys and others who believe in us and followed us to this epic battle. I will never forget as some of you unarmed, undefended, faced and challenged automatic weapons even at the risk of your lives. I later reflected on the whole episode and I saw how much daring risks we took. It was by divine interventions that some of us were not killed in this election. Some others who were not so lucky are either in the mortuary now or newly buried while the luckier ones are nursing one injury or another. May the souls of those killed in this election rest in peace.”
Natasha Akpoti Waves A Wand
In all of these, this year’s election in Kogi State has succeeded in throwing up a phenomenon; that is Natasha Akpoti, win or lose. A lawyer, businesswoman and philanthropist, Akpoti was senatorial candidate for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Kogi Central Senatorial District at the February 23 poll. She lost in controversial circumstances to the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate and now senator representing the zone, Yakubu Osheni. Her bid to legally claim the seat at the tribunal was however unsuccessful. Undeterred, she picked the gauntlet and pushes for the more daunting task of becoming the governor of her state. She won the primary of her party (SDP), which subsequently nominated her as its governorship flag bearer. Curiously, and amidst legal puzzles, Akpoti was disqualified by INEC on the ground that her running mate was under the statutory age of 35. This unlawful action of the electoral umpires was done with out tact, knowing that the Commission did not have the exclusive rights to disqualify any candidate validly nominated by his/her party. Akpoti’s fighting spirit was rewarded by the Abuja Federal High Court, which ordered her reinstatement on the ballot for the November 16 governorship election.
Again, Akpoti’s name echoed across the globe following the burning of the SDP Secretariat in Lokoja on the night she made a triumphant ride to the capital city. The attack on Akpoti at the entrance to the peace signing parley in Lokoja, involving all stakeholders in the election highlighted the bullying, arson and vandalism that had been meted out to Natasha since the beginning of this election season.
Kemi Roland, a social media influencer and woman activist wrote under her pen name “Kemi Sisi Eko”: “I am doing that first as a woman in solidarity and as a citizen of Kogi State and as a Nigerian who believes in fairness and also in the sanctity of the rights of all. We all need to get something clear, she has rights same as all the men contesting in this election, she can vote and be voted just like every one of us in Kogi. I hope this is clear. Today, she was bullied, assaulted and beaten to the ground; what horror, what madness! It is hard enough that she is a woman and she is contesting for the position of governor which before now seems like the exclusive preserve of men in a state that has never elected a woman into any position. It is hard enough that she is beautiful, very intelligent and vivacious. These powerful combination, which had gained her dedicated followers were hard pills to swallow for the majority of those who have the temerity to write salacious and bawdry prose about her on the internet. How do you wake up, plan, and execute the beating of a Woman! Is that how you beat your wives at home? We wont be surprised to hear that is the same way you maltreat your daughters too. ……. Why don’t you try that with the men that are contesting, if those beaters had half a sense they should have faced Engr. Wada instead and beat him also, but no, they are cowards and cowards look for soft targets, and they picked on Natasha.”
According to the SPD, the logo of the party was missing on the ballot, in disregard of court order.Though she was declared to have lost the election, she is clearly the winner in the entire process, from nomination to campaigns. She had barely one week to market her self. She suffered more, but her passion for development was far above what her traducers claim. She is far more articulate, brilliant and fearless. Nigerians can’t wait to see her again!
Akpoti, Wada Rejects Result, Calls for Cancelation of Poll
MEANWHILE the SDP governorship candidate, Natasha Akpoti has rejected the result of the election, calling for the cancellation of the poll. The SDP candidate called on the INEC to cancel the election in Kogi Central Senatorial District and some other parts of Lokoja and order for a rerun, for what it described as irregularities, intimidation, violence amongst other.
In a petition addressed to the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the SDP candidate said election did not hold in 780 polling units in Kogi Central as result of violence by APC thugs whom she said attacked voters, electoral officials, and destroyed electoral materials.
“The APC-led thugs were shooting at voters, which resulted in the death of voters. The thugs, in most cases were shielded by security agents who are supposed to provide security for the citizenry. “What happened in Kogi Central and other parts of the state is a far-cry from a credible election. Ballot boxes were destroyed and burnt in Okene, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori Magongo and Okehi local government areas and other part of the state.
“SDP agents were chased away from the various polling units of Kogi Central Senatorial, in some polling units SDP agents were tied with ropes by APC thugs. In Okene local government, our agents were not even allowed to cone near the polling units as APC thugs were seen brandishing guns and announcing to voters not come and vote unless they were to only vote APC”, the petition said. According to the petition, in some polling units, there were no result sheet, 2015 stamped ballot papers were used in the conduct of the election and in most cases SDP was written with pencil on the result sheet.
“Ballot papers already thumb-printed by voters in favour SDP already tucked into the ballot boxes were sorted out by APC led thugs and burnt,” it said. The SDP governorship candidate stated that it is clear the election did not hold in 780 polling unit of Kogi Central Senatorial District and Kogi State at large and result cannot be emanating from where election did not hold.
“The election as it is now cannot pass the test of fairness and credibility. Whatever gains INEC seem to have achieved in the conduct of election in the past will be completely eroded if the election in Kogi Central Senatorial District and some other parts of Kogi State is allowed to stand,” the petition stated.
PDP candidate, Engr. Musa Wada earlier rumoured to have conceded defeat denied to have issued a statement congratulating Bello. Wada, who vowed to challenge the outcome in court, said he could not have congratulated “a man who robbed me of my victory.”His words “the (election) is a scam. It is not a reflection of the wishes of the people. Results were written in accordance with their own wishes. Kogi people should not despair. We are going to pursue this to logical conclusions within the confines of Nigerian laws. Even though there is not any hope anywhere in Nigeria now from the judiciary to the legislature, every arm has been commandeered by the executive. Naturally, the judiciary should be the last hope for the common man: we hope to get justice there.”
Wada said it was unfortunate that the election was marred by violence despite the huge deployment of security personnel, alleging that the violent disruption of the electoral process was perpetrated by the same security personnel. “The violence was aided by the security personnel. They were escorting thugs to cause mayhem especially in our areas of strength. Everything that happened in this election is nothing but a charade, a daylight robbery.”Wada said the conduct of the Kogi governorship election is one more evidence that presently there is no democracy in Nigeria. He however called for patience, urging the people to continue to tolerate the system with the hope that “one day democracy will come to Nigeria but as far as I am concerned presently there is no democracy in Nigeria.”