KOGI GUBER: PDP DUMPS FRESH PRIMARY FOR ECHOCHO
Ahead of the Kogi State gubernatorial election in 2012, hope appears dim for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to hold a fresh party primary before the Independent National Electoral Commission's (INEC) September 22 deadline.
Alredy, series of meetings are being held by top political players in the state with sworn political enemies shifting ground and creating avenues to cross fertilize ideas on how to move the state forward.
The heat that the January 9 party primary generated within the party created serious ill-feelings among the political gladiators which eventually resulted to media wars and litigations.
But findings revealed that this time around, most agitators of power shift may have shifted ground to support the candidacy of Alhaji Jubrin Isah Echocho, whose election nearly tore the party into shreds.
A group of party elders both within and outside the state had talks with arrowheads of those calling for a fresh party primary. They contend that should a fresh primary be held, it would give the opposition the leverage to latch on the division within the party leading to serious humiliations at the polls. It was therefore, agreed that it was better to reconcile opposing camps.
The three senators from the state are now working with other members of the National Assembly from the state to ensure that there was no fresh primary, so as to uphold the candidature of Echocho and Clarence Olafemi as the running mate. The 25-member of the state House of Assembly may have also reached a consensus to back the duo as some politicians in the state gathered last weekend at Mopa to renew their support for Olafemi as running mate to Echocho.
The reconciliation within the party may have paid off. Sources said 20 governorship aspirants agreed to forgo their ambition. They have been reduced to only two with Isah Kutepa from the West and Adinoyi Ojo from the Central still in the race.
Member National Assembly representing Dekina/ Bassa Federal Constituency, Tom Zakari, told Daily Sun that the federal and state lawmakers in the state have not only agreed that the previous primary be used for the general elections but are working frantically toward actualizing it.
He emphasized that since the last primary was not cancelled but rather differed due to the extension of the tenure of office of the governor, it is best for the party to retain it: 'We would be able to use the finance and energy that would have been dissipated in intra-party politicking to win and retain the state as one of the solid PDP states. 'Remember, we have just about three months to the election proper. While we respect the opinions of every member we have seen that the best way to stay intact and avert political rancor is to abide with the outcome of the last primary.'
Similarly, the PDP Deputy Chairman, East Senatorial District, Alhaji Linco Ocheje said: 'The resolve to abide by the previous primary of the party was never an affront to any individual or group of persons. We are just calculating that it is best for us to ensure our party's victory at the general election.'
Though the placid attitude of the Governor Ibrahim over the issue was yet unclear, considering his continued claim that his administration would provide a level playing ground for all the aspirants, some of his aides confirmed his preference for Echocho. One of them said: 'When the cheeps are down we know who the gladiators are but definitely not Aaron Baba.'
An opinion leader from Bassa Local Government area, Alhaji Danladi Bello, hammered on the need to eschew disharmony within the state PDP. He called on aggrieved members to work in the collective interest of the party.