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JONATHAN, IBB, ATIKU BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF KOGI

By NBF News
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Ahead Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) primaries, controversies over the issue of zoning the presidency may have been laid to rest.

Already, the issue has caused some divisions between the Southern and Northern parts of the country with some states already pitching camp with President Goodluck Jonathan's ambition, while some are supporting former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida and former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, two leading contenders from the Northern extraction.

In the heat of the controversy, Kogi is one of the states in the North that came out boldly to throw its weight behind the presidential ambition of Jonathan.

At a stakeholders' meeting held recently at the Lugard House, Lokoja, which was presided over by Governor Ibrahim Idris, it was unanimously agreed that the state would no longer be subservient to the Hausa- Fulani's hegemonic tendencies, who had in the time past 'used 'the state only to dump it later.

The meeting specifically pointed out that when some strategic positions were zoned to the North during the second tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, and one of the positions was given to Kogi, some Northern elements vehemently opposed the candidate presented by the state, saying the state was not part of the core North.

But beyond this stakeholders meetings, Daily Sun learnt that even some prominent indigenes of the state who were part of the meeting went behind closed door to give support to some Northern aspirants.

Such aspirants include Gen. Babangida, whose presence is almost felt in the 21 local government areas, as he has conspicuous campaign offices and coordinators not only in Lokoja, the state capital, but in virtually all the local government headquaters.

Of all the three contenders, Babangida is believed by political observers to have a strong presence in the state, aside from the state government which work for the incumbent president.

According to Daily Sun investigations,IBB's popularity in the state may not be unconnected with a sizeable number of people especially top military brass who benefited either through political patronage or contracts during his eight years as military president.

Although, some of these people may not be able to exert some form of control in their respective areas when it comes to voting, many of them literally have some political office holders in their pockets.

Names like David Jemibewon, former military governor of old Oyo State and former Minister of Police Affairs and a respected PDP stalwart in the state and two-time military governor and a Senator Brig. Gen Tunde Ogheha, who was regarded as one of the'IBB Boys' are the prominent people believed to be working underground for IBB in the western senatorial district.

IBB is said to have high regards for Jemibewon, who he has visited in recent times in his private residences both in Lokoja and Iyah-Gbedde, his country home on more than two occasions.

In the central senatorial district of the state, people like Gen Saliu Ibrahim, former Chief of Army Staff during the IBB regime, and Gen Amuda, an ambassador and a governorship aspirant are believed to be strongly working for him.

Former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Isaac Alfa, former governor of Oyo state, Col Usman Ahmed, former Chief of Defence Staff, Ibrahim Ogohi among others are also believed to be working for the emergence of IBB as the PDP candidate in the eastern senatorial district of the state. Although, talks among masses in the streets and social outlets tend to favour Jonathan's candidacy, little is being seen on ground to signify the realization of his ambition.

According to a source, who did not want his name in print, he said most of the people believed to be working for IBB would soon switch over to where Governor Idris instructs them to go even as he said some council chairmen are already waiting for such directives. As for Atiku, investigations revealed that he may find it tough to penetrate through the state as little attention is been paid to his ambition.

Save for Sola Akanmode, his deputy Chief of Staff at the Presidency, who is battling to be reckoned with in his governorship ambition in the state and Onukaba Ojo regarded as an accomplished journalist and pockets of some supporters Atiku may as well forget about any meaningful support from the state.

But political analysts believe Atiku could spring up some surprises to win his fair share of the delegates from the state if he could still make his presence felt by having campaign offices not only in the state capital, but in all the 21 local government areas of the state.

Whatever happens, events in the days ahead would determine who is more popular in the state.