Kogi Governorship Election 2023: Will Dino Melaye Be the First Okun Man to Occupy Lugard House?
On Sunday, April 16, Senator Dino Melaye emerged as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the November 11 governorship election in Kogi state.
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He secured 313 votes to defeat other aspirants, including his closest challenger, Idoko Ilonah, who got 124 votes.
The 49-year-old politician is on the verge of history if he emerges the governor of the north-central state in November.
Kogi 2023: The major tribes and the political landscape
Kogi, a state founded in 1991, consists of many tribes. Still, the dominant ones are the Igala in the east, Ebira in the central, and the Okun in the west.
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While the Igalas and the Ebiras have presided over the state over the years, the Okuns are yet to get the same opportunity. Senator Melaye now carries the hope of the Yoruba-speaking tribe to occupy the coveted position of Kogi state chief executive.
The PDP governorship candidate's main challenger is Usman Ahmed Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Interestingly, Ododo, a former auditor general of local governments in Kogi state, is from the Ebira tribe, just like the incumbent governor, Yahaya Adoza Bello.
Senator Smart Adeyemi, an aspirant for the APC governorship primary election, claimed on Channels Television that Ododo is a cousin to the governor. An allegation that the Bello's camp has not refuted.
Will Senator Melaye get the support of Igala?
While there are suggestions that Melaye won't get the support of the majority tribe, the Igala, his media aide, Sam Noni, says people from the area will queue behind his boss.
''100%,'' he said when Legit.ng asked him if Senator Melaye would get the support of the Kogi East people.
''The Igalas know that after eight years of an Ebira governor, it is only fair for power to move to Kogi West.
''Also, they know that if power remains in Kogi Central, where Ahmed Ododo is from, power will take another 16 years to return to Kogi East.
''To maintain peace and unity in the state, we should adopt power rotation, and this time it is the turn of Kogi West.''
Melaye's quest to become Kogi governor: PDP chieftain speaks
Theophilus Abu Agada, a PDP chieftain in Kogi state, agrees with Noni and dismissed suggestions that the party's delegates erred in electing Melaye as their flag bearer.
''I do not think the PDP committed a political blunder by giving their ticket to Senator Dino Melaye.
''Senator Melaye competed for the ticket and won squarely through a transparent process, and no aspirant who participated has challenged the outcome.
''Okuns are part and parcel of Kogi state and deserve to fly the flag of PDP. It is interesting to note that they have always supported candidates from the Igala extraction.
''I do not see any reason why the Igalas would not support them to produce a governor for the first time since the creation of the state. For equity and fairness, Igalas have done 16 years, and Ebiras have done eight years; it is time for an Okun person also to govern.''
Kogi guber: Former House of Reps member Duro Meseko warns APC
On his part, a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon Duro Meseko, warned his party, the APC, that not zoning its ticket to Kogi West may have serious electoral consequences for the party in the forthcoming polls.
''We all know what fairness and justice connote in a given environment. Kogi West people have been craving for their turn to drive the seat of power in Kogi and would stop at nothing to fight for it,'' he told Legit.ng in a phone interview.
On whether the people of Kogi West will give bloc votes to Senator Melaye since he is from the area, Hon Meseko said:
''More than two governorship aspirants from different political parties are running for the top position from Kogi West. We will sit down to agree on the best of the lot. There's no automatic ticket from Okunland.''
Kogi 2023: How Melaye is taking steps to boost his chances
Meanwhile, the battle ahead is not lost on Senator Melaye. Since his emergence, he has been on a fence-mending mission to get his fellow contestants to rally around him for the forthcoming election.
He has also visited key PDP leaders in the state, including former governors Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada.
Agada says the PDP governorship candidate is on the right part, noting that:
''All Melaye needs to do is close ranks with his opponents in the primaries and rally round stakeholders in Kogi East, and he will be victorious at the end of the day.''
Whether this strategy will work for Senator Melaye and catapult him into Government House, Lokoja, remains to be seen in the coming months.
5 reasons why Dino Melaye emerged PDP governorship candidate in Kogi
In a previous report, Legit.ng highlighted five reasons why Senator Melaye emerged as the PDP guber candidate in Kogi state.
One of the listed reasons is Atiku Abubakar’s backing.
Senator Melaye was said to have had the backing of former vice president and PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar as he vied for the ticket.