The race to replace Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, gathered momentum after the state Auditor General, Ahmed Ododo and Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Salami Ozigi-Deedat picked up their nomination and expression of interest forms.
The duo led hundreds of their supporters to the national headquarters of the All Progressives Congress in Abuja to buy the N50m forms.
The coming of Ododo and Deedat into the fray of the Kogi governorship primary has increased the number of political gladiators eyeing the coveted seat of power.
The development is coming two days after Bello’s Chief of Staff, Abdulkareem Asuku, showed up at the APC secretariat to buy his nomination form.
Although there are talks that Bello may impose his successor, he nevertheless gave his blessing for interested members of his cabinet and some loyalists to pursue their political ambition.
Aside from Asuku, Ododo and Deebat, sources at the secretariat confirmed that Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Secretary for the APC presidential campaign council, James Faleke, and the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Smart Adeyemi, have both sent emissaries to buy their forms.
The latest move has got political pundits wondering if Kogi deputy governor, Edward Onoja, who has never hidden his intention to replace Bello, would be willing to step down for any of the two veteran politicians or push all the way in a three horse race.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Ododo described Bello as a political leader who has made it possible for the son of nobody to become somebody.’
He stated that his experience as an auditor general of local governments in the state has put in a vantage position to consolidate on the gains of Bello’s administration.
He said, “I want to thank GYB, our leader who has brought us here today. He is our leader, mentor, and governor. He is a leader who has made it possible for the son of nobody to become somebody without consulting anybody.
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“GYB appointed me as the auditor general for local governments in 2016 without consulting anybody. Before he came in 2016, an Igala man does not see an Ebira or Okun man as his brother, it was a case where we relate based on tribe, religion and social class but today we see ourselves as Kogites. If I emerge as the candidate of the party, I will continue in the same manner.
“I’m going to consolidate the infrastructural development to ensure that I improve what he has put on the ground. As an auditor, I will continue on our revenue drive and ensure we block the loopholes while exploring new avenues to increase the revenue of the state.
We are not here to raise money for APC, and neither is it that we don’t know what to use the money for. Rather, it shows that GYB has raised leaders. We are here to show that the children of nobody can become somebody without knowing anybody. I tried in 1999 to contest for councillor because I don’t know anybody, but today, GYB has made it possible for everyone.”
Deedat, another grassroot politician, told journalists that he believed that the increasing number of Kogi aspirants picking up nomination forms is a healthy competition.
The commissioner also disclosed that he is ready to work with whoever emerges from the poll or through the imposition of his political godfather in a similar fashion, ‘Asiwaju determines who emerges to continue with Lagos development.’
“The fact that we are having so many aspirants that spring from his wings is a clear testament that his excellency is a great leader. I’m a practical politician who believes in the will of God. Whoever emerges, whether by election or the decision of our leader, will be acceptable, and we will work gladly, actively, and assiduously with him to win.
“Our primary aim is to ensure that our governor chooses his successor. Whoever emerges will work to sustain his legacies and add to them.
“To a very large extent, Lagos state has successfully done that. Asiwaju determines who emerges to continue with the development of the state. In Kogi state, we will not emerge and say we don’t have a leader, GYB will be our leader.
“Let me address the issue of godfather. You can use the word mentor, leader, and godfather. It depends on the nomenclature you want to use, if you call GYB my boss, you will be right because he was the one who appointed me commissioner for water resources in 2016 and later reappointed me commissioner for local governments and gave me the platform to vie for governor today,” he said.