By Ibidapo Balogun
As the countdown to Saturday, November 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State reaches fever pitch, the re-election bid of the incumbent chief executive of the state, Capt Idris Ichalla Wada, has received a major boost with the endorsement of his candidature by the Yoruba Community in the state.
The Yoruba Community is an amalgam of people of Yoruba extraction resident in the state, drawn from the Yoruba-speaking states of Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Oyo, Lagos and Kwara, respectively, who constitute a large percentage of the voting population in Kogi State.
It is distinct from the indigenous Okun-Yoruba ethnic stock who straddle six of the 21 local government areas in the state, notably Ijumu, Kabba-Bunu, Lokoja, Mopamuro, Yagba East and Yagba West.
The Yoruba Community in Kogi State made the resolve at the weekend in Lokoja, the state capital, at a reception in honour of the visiting Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
Mimiko, who doubles at the Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, Governors’ Forum, was in the state in solidarity with his counterpart whose major challenger, is two-time Governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu of the All Peoples’ Congress (APC).
The Ondo State Governor, who addressed his audience in Yoruba, told them that Kogi State was a very peculiar one, given its location at the very centre of the nation, which made it home for all Nigerians.
He said it was divine and not by happenstance that Kogi State is bounded by about nine states and the Federal Capital Territory, including the Yoruba-speaking states of Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Kwara.
He reminded them of the age-long socio-cultural affinities between Kogi and it’s neighbouring states, which explains why they have found an ideal home away from their original states of origin, in Kogi State.
Gov. Mimiko who observed that from information available to him, Yoruba resident in the state are fully integrated into the socio-economic scheme without any form of discrimination, advised them against making the mistake of ‘being conned into voting for gods from other lands,’ which will upset the stability and peace they have always enjoyed.
He tasked them to consolidate on their positions as major stakeholders in the affairs of the state, by returning Gov. Wada at the Saturday November 21 governorship election.
Paramount leader of the Yoruba Community in Kogi State, Oba Bello Audu, on behalf of delegates to the meeting, expressed deep appreciation to host Governor Wada for putting the interactive session together.
He equally thanked the august guest, Gov Mimiko, for finding time to check on his kinsmen of O’dua descent.
Oba Audu noted that under the leadership of Gov. Wada, non-indigenes across cultures and ethnicities, have found a worthy home in Kogi State.
According to him: ‘We are one and the same with the people of Kogi State. Our children do not pay discriminatory school fees, our businesses are not levied selective taxes, indeed the issue of state of origin is almost a non-issue for us here because of the way we have been embraced by our hosts and the governor.’
Oba Bello Audu asked Gov Wada to rest assured that the goodwill of his administration to non-indegenous communities in the state will be reciprocated, come November 21, 2015.
Gov. Wada thanked his guest for making out time to visit Kogi State at the height of the campaigns, despite his busy schedule.
He equally expressed appreciation for his frank interaction with the Yoruba Community and for their unalloyed commitment to his re-election. He pledged that better times await all residents in Kogi State in the months and years ahead, once his administration surmounts its present challenges.
The Kogi State Governor used the opportunity to invite his guest to please lead other PDP governors to the grand finale of the campaign, just before the election.
Dignitaries at the interaction which lasted well beyond midnight, included the host governor, Capt. Wada, his predecessor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, Director-General of the Wada/Awoniyi Campaign Organisation, former Military Governor of Akwa Ibom & Edo States, Gen. Tunde Ogbeha and Chief of Staff to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Prince Olusola Akanmode.
Former Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Alhaji Musa Ahmadu, Member of the House of Representatives representing Ondo East and West who is also Chairman, House Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector, Hon. Joseph Iranola Akinkaja, his colleague representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency who is also Chairman, House Committee on Capital Markets, Hon Tajudeen Yusuf, as well as PDP stalwart from Lokoja local government area, Hon Yabagi Bologi, were also in attendance.