Ahmed Usman Ododo, the former Kogi State Auditor-General for Local Governments, has bagged the support of Governor Yahaya Bello to pick the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the party’s primary election on Friday.
Consequently, the Kogi State Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja, whom many thought would be endorsed as successor by Governor Bello, announced his withdrawal from the race after his principal made his preferred choice of candidate known to the public.
“To God be the Glory for Life and Divine Health. My appreciation to my leader, HE Alhaji Yahaya Bello and all my supporters for your love and prayers. Let Love, Patience and Perseverance lead. I am forever grateful,” Onojo wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.
Also, Bello’s Chief of Staff, Mohammed Asuku, who is one of the top aspirants for the APC ticket, withdrew from the race.
“I sincerely appreciate His Excellency, my benefactor, for all that Allah has been using him to do in my life.
“As such, I hereby submit myself publicly to the decision taken today and I will forever live to remain loyal and dedicated to the decision of my party as I enjoin all my well wishers to work with us for our great party APC to become victorious in the November 11th General Election,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Others who similarly announced their withdrawal from the race after Bello’s endorsement are Ashiru Idris, Okala Yakubu, Momoh Jubril and David Jimoh.
The 2023 Kogi State governorship election will take place on November 11 2023 as earlier announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In endorsing his tribesman, Governor Bello ignored the clamour for equitable distribution of political power among the Western, Central and Eastern Senatorial districts in the state.
James Faleke, a House of Representatives member and former deputy governorship candidate of the APC in the state, had said few days ago that it was the turn of Kogi West to produce next governor.
Faleke said in a statement: “For equity, justice and fairness, it is only reasonable to lend my voice to the call by many that our great party, the All Progressives Congress should ensure the candidate for the governorship election emerged democratically from Kogi West. For a heterogeneous state such as Kogi State, giving all parts of the state a sense of belonging is key to peaceful coexistence among the several ethnic groups in the state.
“For more than 16 years, our brothers from the Eastern Senatorial District held sway in Lugard House through the late Prince Abubakar Audu, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and Captain Idris Wada respectively.
“Kogi Central by the end of the tenure of Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello would have been in the saddle for eight years, uninterrupted. While not discounting the right of those concerned to contest for any office, I believe that the time has come to be just and fair to all.
“The clamour for power shift pre-2015 by Kogi West and Kogi Central was to correct the marginalisation of the two Districts in the Governorship seat. My position is not premised on any sense of entitlement but on the ideals of equity and fairness which late Abubakar Audu preached before his untimely death.
“The victory of our great party, APC in 2015 especially in Kogi West was the avowed commitment of late Prince Abubakar Audu to ensure power shifts to other parts of the State. APC cannot afford to be in opposition in Kogi State and all hands must be on deck to make sure to convincingly win in the November 22, 2023 governorship.
“There are several states in Nigeria where governorship positions are rotated amongst the three Senatorial Districts with attendant Peace, unity and progress, why must we be different? We must eschew things that could continually engender bitterness, distrust and disunity amongst us especially, when deciding on who should be the Chief Executive of this great State. What should be of importance is our collective quest and preparedness to engender a united Kogi State for socio-political and economic prosperity.”