Ahead of the November 11 governorship election in Kogi State an unprecedented mammoth crowd has been visible in most of the rallies by the dominant political parties.
These are the All Progressives Congress, APC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
The leading parties are all claiming dominance.
However, the question remains whether the crowd will transform to victory during the polls.
With nine days to the polls, the three parties are not relenting, while members of some of the weaker parties are busy cross-carpeting.
Findings, however, indicate that the mammoth crowd in some of the campaign rallies is as a result of home advantage.
The crowd that came to Ahmed Ododo’s rally at Okene is estimated to be over 30,000 people, while that of SDP and PDP were also unprecedented.
The Commissioner for Information and Communications, Evangelist Kingsley Femi Fanwo said the crowd seen at the party’s rallies at Okene were there on their own volition.
“We didn’t pay anybody anything; they love the party,” he claimed.
As for the SDP rally in Abocho, Dekina Local Government Area, Mr. Daniel Ijele, the campaign spokesperson, claimed the rally was crowded by supporters who had come simply for a glimpse and love for their son, Murtala Ajaka.
He described it as “the mother of all rallies.”
Dino Melaye of the PDP also showed his strength in Ankpa, where his Deputy (female) governorship candidate hails from.
The rally was equally massive.
A political analyst, Ahmed Muhammed told DAILY POST that Kogi West senatorial district will be the beautiful bride and would be the joker.
According to him, the people of Okun-speaking area, Lokoja-Koto, from the seven local government areas will be the deciding factor of who becomes the next governor of the state.
Similarly, another analyst, Hamza Aliyu, who is the Executive Director, Initiative for Grassroot Advancement, INGRA, said the mammoth crowd witnessed in the various political rallies will not translate into voting on election day.
Speaking to DAILY POST, Aliyu stated that politicians woo crowds financially to attend campaign rallies despite not having any good plan for the people.
Aliyu said, “in elections, campaigns are generally a means for candidates, parties and supporters to meet and share ideas, promote manifestos and sell their positions.
“However, due to our poor political orientation, coupled with little or no political party ideology, together with huge capacity of candidates to financially induce electorates (who are almost always willing accomplices), large crowds at campaign grounds almost always does not translate to votes on election day. This is a very sad development for our electoral system.
“This phenomenon is so pervasive that there are occasions when single individuals are found in multiple campaign venues for different candidates. It is also a reason for the violence that breaks out at some venues.
“As civil society, we need an entrenched political ideological system where parties and their supporters are known for having certain intrinsic positions on State issues such as the economy, health, etc.
“This is the only way citizens can benefit maximally from the plurality of political parties.
“We have and will always call for issue-based campaigns where positions of candidates and parties on topical issues form the criteria for selection rather than ethnicity, religion or gender.”
Fears over election violence in Kogi East
The Kogi NGOs Network, (KONGONET) has allayed fear over the increasing violence in Kogi-East ahead of the November 11 governorship election.
Amb. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, chairperson, KONGONET, in a statement on Monday, frowned at what he termed “dirty politics” playing out in Kogi East.
“We are happy to see the mammoth crowd gracing the campaign of political parties across the State.
“It is indeed a good omen that a substantial number of Kogites are ready to cast their franchise come November 11, 2023.
“However, we are seriously concerned about the ongoing pre-election violence, especially within the Eastern senatorial district of the state and the seeming dirt in pro-activeness of security agencies, especially the Nigeria police to prevent them from happening.
“We want a strong mobilisation and assurance of the security agencies for a peaceful gubernatorial election come 11th November, 2023.
“The past ugly experiences with regards to Kogi State gubernatorial elections should not be repeated,” he stressed.
Electorate are supporting candidates based on ethnicity, not competence – Activist
An activist in Kogi State, Comrade Idris Abdul Miliki has decried the way the electorate will cast their votes in the forthcoming election.
Comrade Miliki, who is the Executive Director, Conscience for Human Right and Conflict Resolution, (CHRCR) told DAILY POST that it is very worrisome and disappointing that the electorate are not supporting candidates based on ideology and competency, but were rather focusing on ethnicity.
Miliki stated that all hands must be on deck to avert violence.
Explaining further, Miliki said, “It is not everybody that attends your rally that likes you or will vote for you.
“Some of them are mobilised through resources and based on that, they are there. It is not criminal to see people attending rallies. Meanwhile, violence should be a source of concern for all because of our history in Kogi State and the perception we have about elections.
“What made this one very much worrisome is because people are not campaigning or supporting candidates or parties based on ideology or competence.
“They are supporting candidates based on ethnicity. The ruling party in Kogi State has made it worse. When you have an outgoing government and its chosen successor from the same zone, it means there is a problem.
“We have a party that has been in power for over seven years, and the level of performance compared to the resources available to the party is very disappointing and worrisome.
“Again, we have a party where the sitting Governor is from the same local government, including the candidate that wants to succeed him and the party chairman.
“That local government cannot single-handedly produce the governor by their votes.
“In that case, it will be a do or die affair. What is the rationale behind these three significant persons coming from the same area?
“In the Eastern and Western part of the State, the electorate are supporting candidates based on their ethnic affiliations. This is not a good thing for our democracy.”