Road To Lugard House: Kogi West Elders Forum Endorses Leke Abejide As Consensus Candidate

By Amuda Dan Sulaiman Fab

Ahead of November 11 election, Kogi West Elders Forum (KWEF) has announced its endorsement of Leke Abejide as the region’s consensus governorship candidate.

In a statement signed by the group’s chairman, General David Jemibewon (rtd), the elders said having gone through the stages of engagement and assessment of candidates and based on popular opinion, the highest-scoring candidate among the three frontline candidates in Kogi West senatorial district was Hon. Leke Abejide of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).

The Forum solicited for the support and cooperation of everyone in pushing the consensus candidate through to victory in the 11th November 2023 election in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.

The elders appealed to the two senatorial districts of Central and East to support their consensus candidate for a stronger bond of unity in the state.

KWEF also appealed to the other two candidates from the Western senatorial district to support Abejide, assuring that they will “remain as heroes at the end of success”.

The statement explained that KWEF worked with other groups like the Okun Development Association (ODA) and Okun Think Thank (OTT) in arriving at a consensus candidate for the West Senatorial District in the forthcoming governorship election.

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It added that the elders interfaced with various stakeholders as well as the three governorship candidates from the zone in the whole process.

“Hitherto, KWEF had agitated for power to rotate to the West since 2019. The agitation was considered legitimate, reasonable, fair and in the interest of peace, equity, and justice in the state. This was because the district had been shortchanged from the power-sharing arrangement to occupy the exalted office of the Executive Governor of the state since its creation in 1991.

“The forum consulted with critical stakeholders in the state and drew the public’s attention to the imbalance in the occupation of the office of the Executive Governor. At the same time, it called for correction by supporting a candidate from the West to win the election. To achieve this, the KWEF engaged with stakeholders in the state through its Contact and Mobilization Committee.

“The first critical stakeholder to be contacted was the incumbent governor, His Excellency Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello, whom the KWEF met several times between 2019- 23 to plead for support in the legitimate demand. KWEF is aware that some other stakeholders from Kogi West Senatorial District made similar visit during the same period.

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“The Forum and its affiliate groups subsequently visited the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in August to advance this cause and called for support of the Presidency towards a candidate from the Western Senatorial District as governor of the state.

“The forum believed this was in line with the ongoing democratic demand of many people, tribes, and regions in the country who have been denied a rotation of power.

“The responses the forum got from the Presidency reinforced our position that there was a need for the West to build the rank with the other two senatorial districts of East and Central to gain power in Kogi State,” the statement read.

KWEF, however, noted that during engagements, the three governorship candidates from the zone were bent on running for the election on their own.

“It was in line with the above that the forum engaged with aspiring candidates for the governorship election in Kogi West and politicians from other districts.

“The forum interacted with all the candidates who obtained INEC governorship forms from the West senatorial district, including those who lost out. The engagement continued at the post-primary elections when it was apparent that there were three frontline candidates in the West: Senator Dino Melaiye( PDP), Olayinka Braimoh (AA) and Hon Leke Abejide (ADC), who were individually considered to be qualified to run for the election on their steam but who would divide the votes against the unity of purpose of the people of West Senatorial District.

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“The three frontline candidates were invited several times to the forum to understand their preparedness level. The three candidates were, however, bent on running for the election on their own.

It was in light of the above that the forum set up a committee to assess the candidates on essential parameters such as: agenda for Kogi State, acceptability by all the three senatorial districts, spread and reach of campaigns, political experience, political appeal and popularity, internal party cohesion etc

“The forum ensured the three candidates were given fair assessments and ratings between August and October. Internal elections within the forum were held to supplement the work of the assessment committee of the forum.”

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