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Lokoja/Kogi-Koto: The Jostle To Replace Late Buba Jibril

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Even though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to issue a statement for a by election to fill in the space for late Hon Buba Jibril’s seat, in the House of Representatives, politicians are all out to seek the support of their constituents. SAM EGWU writes.

The battle over who occupies the vacant exalted position of late Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representative, representing Lokoja- Kogi constituency, heats up in Lokoja /Kogi/Kotokarfe. Our correspondent gathered that intensive consultations and nocturnal meetings are taking place daily among supporters in the two local government areas, Lokoja and Kogi/Kotokarfe. Several pressure groups lauding the image of the person who they support are busy trying to outwit themselves in the journey.
Buba Umar Jibril, died after a brief illness in March 27, 2018, and it is going to be a fierce battle between the notable indigenous politicians, who have thrown in their hat in the ring, ready for the contest. A closer look at the prospective aspirants from APC who have indicated interest, Haruna Isah, the present Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor of Kogi state, Governor Yahaya Bello, GYB, All Progressive Congress, (APC), Hon. Mabo Muhammad Kassim, the senior legislative Assistant to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Dogara, who belongs to late Hon. Buba Jibril’s factional APC, and Hon. Ahmed Umar Imam, the former speaker of the Kogi state House of Assembly have themselves to sought out at the primary.
The candidate of the PDP, Engineer Bashir Gegu, who may be in the race as a matter of testing the remaining popularity of Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) may rely on the diminishing popularity of APC to be grateful. They have been talking tough on how and why they deserve to be considered for the plum job, if anything the capacity to plough back the dividends of democracy to the electorates.

The beauty of the political game in the federal constituency would be that the men who throw their hat into the political ring for contest are grassroots politicians jostling to slug it out from each other. So, the people of Lokoja-Koto would decide who leads them in the remaining eleven months to complete late Hon. Buba’s tenure, based on their antecedents, among other factors, and what the people know about them.
A political analyst based in Lokoja, Dr Yahaya Zubairu told LEADERSHIP Sunday that while the GYB, APC will be seeking to consolidate on its victory, using the power of incumbency on one side, and his achievements in spreading appointments in the area as other, the Buba’s faction within the APC is relying without equivocation, on the support of late Buba’s dynasty for success of their candidate at the polls.

However, going by his popularity, coupled with his acceptance by the federal constituency in the traditional area of Lokoja, the former speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Ahmed Umar Imam and Mabo Kassim are presently making efforts to pull the strings by dumping the APC to pick tickets in another party, either in SDP or Accord Party, that will open fresh and straight challenge to the incumbent to stress out his understanding of politics to the fullest in Lokoja/Kogi Koto where recently a recall bid of Senator Dino Melaye hit the rocks.
The former speaker of the Kogi state House of Assembly, Hon Imam has gone far ahead in his bid, through the constituency works he performed so well within the period he was sworn – in as member of the state Assembly and during his stint on speaker’s seat to give him edge. He further pointed out that within the Lokoja axis, in the short period Ahmed Umar Imam spent in the Kogi State House of Assembly he has proved to be a worthy ambassador which could certainly work out for him under normal circumstances.
Hon Imam Umar, may decide any moment from now to dump APC for another party to contest, while the PDP led by the former Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Musa Ahmadu and the leader of the PDP in the constituency, Senator Tunde Ogbeha would want to exercise their influence in the area, especially in Koto karfe area which is regarded as one of the strongholds of the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The Lokoja-Kogi by election is also crucial to the people of the constituency because of the immeasurable role and kind disposition of the late member and deputy majority leader, Hon. Buba Umar Jibril, whose untimely death brought grief and pain to the people of Lokoja- Koto communities. The people would not be in a hurry, but will check through the profiles of those contesting to bring about who would not let them down when it matters most.
Overtly or covertly, the two leaders of the PDP, in the federal constituency considering the number of years(3 terms) spent by Hon. Buba in the National Assembly, vowed to go the extra mile to ensure that the position does not come under the control of the APC any longer. The party, it was learned will hide under the present hardship to finally settle scores and send a warning signal that all is not yet lost, saying that what people are going through at this moment is an eye opener and a divine lesson to know where the water is deep and the current high.
In this battle for supremacy, one of the biggest factors in Haruna’s favour is the incumbency factor. Haruna has full support of the governor, in the contest and as such he should go home and relax. However, the electorates who spoke to our reporter noted that the election will certainly go the way Senator Dino Melaye, recall went. A complete crash. People have become more agitated now about the future of All Progressive Congress, (APC) in Kogi State.

Most businesses have no market, Lokoja township roads are terribly bad, movement restricted because of bad township road and most food items brought to the market from within and outside got rotten away, no patronage. These are some of the issues that are piling up to be reviewed when the time comes, it was gathered. Though Haruna seems the man to beat in the forthcoming bye -election in Lokoja/Kogi-Koto, putting all indices together as the immediate past chairman of A P C in Lokoja.
He is believed to have the sympathy of the majority of the party faithfuls in the area. Some observers who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday in Lokoja are of the view that Alhaji Kashim Mabo is quick to cave in under intense pressure from the opposition. This position however, has made people to be wary when he intends to contest.
“Mabo would have been the best option in terms of followership, he is being liked by people based on his principle and loyalty to the ideals and philosophy of late Buba Jibril, but he is seen to back out when pressure mounts. They said he should rather remain with his current appointment as a senior legislative aide to Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
The PDP Leader, Senator Tunde Ogbeha who hails from the same constituency with late Buba Jibril has publicly identified with the PDP candidate from Kogi local government against candidates from Lokoja Local Government Area. One of the factors that may mar the PDP candidate at the election is the perceived lack of broad -based support among the electorates, and how the party came out with acceptable candidate to face the electorates after being off circulation for three years now, due to lack of cohesion between the people in Lokoja and part of Kogi local government areas, compared to the previous National Assembly election.
Only the people of the constituency would decide which way the pendulum swings and it is going to be a matter of time, they say, ‘time shall tell’.

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