The much awaited Kogi State governorship election is less than seven weeks from now and all activities for the success of the exercise are on course.
All participating political parties have elected their candidates and submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) for necessary action.
All the primaries were conducted peacefully except that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that was violently disrupted by yet to be identified persons.
It is doubtful as it stands that a free, fair, transparent and credible election will hold in Kogi State owing to the fact that recent primaries held in the state were signals to what the November poll will portend.
Meanwhile all the concerned political parties are getting ready for the election, despite apprehensions, threats and intimidation, as the candidates await clearance by INEC.
As the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) under Governor Yahaya Bello is strategising to retain power, it’s approach to governance at inception has pitched it against the people.
While they introduced the “new direction agenda” that excludes persons above 40 years of age from political appointments, massive purge of the civil service was also carried out rendering thousands unemployed.
The Bello administration also sidelined the political party, the APC that through which he came to power as over 90 percent of the political appointees were PDP members.
To worsen the situation the new direction government balkanised the leadership of the ruling party and constituted a parallel executive, a case yet to be settled.
The Labour Union was not spared as it was emasculated for daring to demand for payment of workers’ salaries as at when due.
In fact some state civil servants were not paid for over 30 months while the lucky ones got either quarter or half, if there were payments at intervals of 3 to 4 months.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, Kogi State University Ayingba chapter, was proscribed over its demands for payment of salaries and improvement on the institution’s infrastructure.
This singular action demoralised the lecturers and over 130 Professors left. Same goes for the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) whose score of members left the state for greener pastures.
In fact the state almost collapsed if not for the second tranche of the bailout N30.8bn. which was used to settle five months salaries on the eve of the APC primaries.
These and many other anti people activities in the name of reforms were witnessed and felt with pains. Many died due to lack of money to settle medical bills, while scores were said to have committed suicide.
However, the government of Bello said it has proven to the world that it’s programmes have been accepted by the people of the state hence successes recorded by the ruling APC during the re-run election that was conducted last year to replace the late Buba Jibrin who represented Lokoja/kogi at the House of Representatives.
Massive votes were garnered for the President and the party won 7 out of 9 House of Representatives seats from Kogi State. The party also boasts of winning 2 out of the 3 senatorial seats as well as clinching all the 25 seats of the state Assembly.
The government recently announced that it has established infrastructure in each of the 23 local government areas of the state.
According to Bello, insecurity which was the greatest problem of the state has been permanently tackled as citizens sleep with their eyes closed. Businesses have returned and visitors come and pass through the state unmolested.
The PDP on its part dismissed all the claims of the ruling APC, claiming that all existing infrastructure in the state were its projects and will be returned to power based on that.
The opposition party alleged that since coming to office the APC administration has never won any election genuinely, alleging that the use of force, intimidation and thuggery gave APC power and not popularity.
Observers and concerned citizens have expressed fears that as witnessed during the last general elections. If stringent measures are not put in place, the November election may end up a charade.
They alleged that in the last elections incumbency was fully utilised as all the security apparatus in the state received instructions and directives from the governor who is the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of the state. Security officials openly participated in rigging and snatching of ballot boxes.
They are also accused of intimidating voters on the orders of top government house officials who led the operations.
According to reports government house officials covered by both fake and conventional police to chase away voters and even arrest prospective voters on trumped up charges.
Scores of agents of opposing political parties were arrested and detained in the government house guard room.
Patriotic citizens who reported cases of electoral malpractices were either ignored or arrested. Senior security officers deny or encourage malpractices committed by their juniors.
Another area of concern is the mercenary role of the Federal Government to state elections especially as it affects their own party.
INEC is another problem as they either feign ignorance or outrightly support and even participate in election malpractices.
During the last general elections, vote shops were created not far from polling stations where agents of parties and contestants by votes.
Security agents were used to arrange and organise voters who collect money and be directed to where and who to vote for.