As the race for Lugard house Lokoja gains steam, the All Progressives Congress (APC) buoyed by its victory at the presidential elections as well as sweeping many states away at the gubernatorial level from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lead the pack with 28 Aspirants jostling for its sole ticket. The winner of the APC primaries would get to square off against the Candidate of the PDP whom many believe to be the Incumbent governor captain Idris Wada. Social commentators have blamed poor leadership for the under development and under utilisation of the states solid mineral resources.
A few of the contestants are well known to political watchers across Nigeria, while a large number are relatively unknown. Here are the brief profiles of the major Aspirants
Air Vice Marshall Saliu Atawodi
Air Vice Marshall Saliu Atawodi was born on the 4th of July 1952 at Idah General Hospital in Idah Local Government Area of Kogi State. He had his primary education at Ajaka/Idah and later attended the Nigerian Military School, Zaria from 1967-1971. Thereafter he joined the Nigerian Defense Academy in 1972 as a member of Regular Cadet Course 12. He was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer on 14 December 1974. Due to his commitment and dedication to duty, Air Vice Marshal Atawodi was awarded the National Honor, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2005.Since his retirement from the military in 2008, he has founded his own company, Touchstone Nigeria Limited, an IT and Security Company paving the way for new technology and fresh ideas in the industry.
As a respected statesman and an avid politician in his state, he has been recognized as an influential member in his party. He was appointed as the Kogi Ambassador for Oral Health, a mission to ensure that ample knowledge on the issue of oral healthcare is made available for those in the rural and urban areas.
Prince Rotimi Yaqub Obadofin
Prince Rotimi Yaqub Obadofin is a native of Ayegunle-Gbedde in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, Obadofin had his Primary education both in Ogidi-Ijumu and Ayegunle Gbedde but never had the opportunity of secondary school education.
At first, he learnt stenography and later became a Newspaper Vendor in Lokoja. He gained admission into ATC* Ilorin Kwara state, where he specialised in Irrigation. Thereafter, he attended the then Kwara State College of Technology (now Kwara State Polytechnic) from where he studied Engineering and obtained the Ordinary National Diploma Certificate.
The former Student Union President of the Kwara Polytechnic and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Senate President believes he has what it takes to become governor of Kogi state acknowledging his strategies as wining the Osun election for APC. He has been a member of AD, DPA, AC,ACN and now APC making crucial sacrifices for his various parties and contesting the 2007 Kogi gubernatorial election under the DPA.
Colonel Ahmed Usman
Colonel Ahmed Usman was a Nigerian Military Administrator of Ondo State (Sep 1994 – Aug 1996) and then of Oyo State (Aug 1996 – Aug 1998) during the military regime of General Sani Abacha. The controversial Ex-Milad said that he joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) because it has articulated programmes to move the nation forward. He contested for the 2011 PDP gubernatorial primaries but lost to the present governor Capt. Idris Wada and he is currently seeking the ticket of the AP
Hajia Hadiza Ibrahim
The only female aspirant affirmed her interest in the race for lugard house by saying ”as you can see I am one out of the three, the only woman among the men. And the change that the APC is looking for is a real change. If you look at the Kogi state from the inception of the state I am not condemning the governors, they have tried but their best is not good enough. And for that reason and because of the perturbing issues, there are a lot to do and I feel like as a woman, mother and a wife ,it is time for real change to move Kogi state forward”
Mrs Ibrahim who claimed to have gotten massive support from the citizens in Kogi State for her Governorship ambition maintained that no amount of threat from any quarters would distract her from her mission for the contest.
Dr Tim Nda Diche
Dr Tim Nda Diche is from Bassa LGA and of the Igala ethnic Group which is the majority tribe in kogi State. A businessman who joined politics in 2005 as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He has since defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) after losing the Federal house of reps primaries for Dekina/Bassa. He believes that the state must look into other avenues to see how it can fund projects and create wealth for its people. To him Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR) is very important.
The state is blessed with solid minerals, agriculture and other advantages many states do not have in an interview with Leadership newspaper, the aspirant said the current administration in the state has lost focus and needed a change in leadership.
Senator Alex Kadiri
Dr Alex Kadiri was born in 1942, he had his secondary school education at the prestigious government secondary school Okene and his tertiary education at Nigeria’s Premier University University of Ibadan. He is chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State, Dr Alex Kadiri, who represented Kogi East Senatorial District at the National Assembly between 1999 and 2003 under the platform of the APP(ANPP) them later defecting to the PDP in 2002.
The former university Don is no doubt a household name in Kogi State and one of the top political leaders in the state. The veteran politician believes the Okun and the Ebira people have been grossly marginalized by successive governments in the state.
Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman
Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman was born on May 6, 1971 to the late Alhaji Umar Abatemi-Usman, one-time deputy governor of old Kwara State and Hajia Safiya Abatemi-Usman, Deen, as he is fondly called by family and friends, attended St. Louis Nursery and Primary School in Kano between 1975 and 1982 where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. He proceeded to Government Secondary School, Ilorin (GSS Ilorin) in 1982 to obtain his Secondary School Certificate.
He holds a B.Eng in Agricultural Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife and Master’s degree (Thesis stage) in Water (Hydro and hydraulic) Engineering from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.
Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman represented Kogi Central Senatorial district in the 2011-2015 political dispensation in which he was the youngest Senator in the Upper Chamber of the current National Assembly. He was a special assistant the Dimeji Bankole speaker of the House of representative before resigning to become a senator. He believes that he is the right man for the Job
George-Olumoroti, Olusola(OGO) a trained Mechanical Engineer was born in Kabba, Kabba/Bunu LGA of Kogi State. He attended St. Andrew’s Primary School, Egbeda-Kabba where he obtains the first School Leaving Certificate; and later proceeded to St. Barnabas Secondary School, Kabba for his WAEC examination where he made eight (8) credits in science subjects at a single sitting in 1984 with some distinctions, and received the 1984 Best Graduating Student Award in Geography.
He attended Ondo State Polytechnic (now Rufus Giwa Polytechnic), Owo for his Ordinary National Diploma (OND) programme in Mechanical Engineering where he graduated in 1988 winning the institution’s prize for the Best Graduating Student in ND Mechanical Engineering.
A recipient of the Federal Government Scholarship Award for 1988/89 Session for being the most outstanding student during the 1988/89 HND1 academic year. An alumnus of Lagos Business School and the University of Calabar, whose watchword has always been justice, integrity and accountability served in many leadership positions in his sojourn through life.
He was a one time President of the Yoruba Community, Eket Akwa Ibom State between 2001 and 2003. A defender of the right of the masses; he became the Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) Mobil Producing Nigeria Branch. An alumnus of Lagos Business School and the University of Calabar, whose watchword has always been justice, integrity and accountability served in many leadership positions in his sojourn through life which he believes is enough to make him governor of Kogi state
Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba
The man, Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba was born on March 9, 1960 in Oboroke-Ihima, Okehi LGA of Kogi State. the University of Ibadan graduate of theatre arts did his Youth call at Radio Nigeria, Ikoyi –Lagos in 1982/83. He joined The Guardian newspaper as one of its pioneer reporters in 1983. He rose to the position of News Editor before travelling out in 1989 for graduate studies. He bagged Master of Arts degree in Journalism from New York University, New York, USA Dr. Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba is playwright, foremost journalist, and media arts teacher at the University of Abuja, Nigeria, former star reporter of The Guardian and informed commentator, playwright, consummate PR practitioner and drama/communication teacher. The one time senior special assistant on media to Ex-Vice president Atiku Abubakar is also an award winning author who was nominated for the 2010 Nigerian Liquiefied Natural Gas award for literature.
Dr. Onukaba became Adjunct Professor of Mass Communication at the School of New Resources. College of New Rochelle, New York in 1997. Onukaba got to the peak of his journalistic career in August 1999 when he was appointed Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the then ailing Daily Times of Nigeria PLC. Earlier in 2001, the then Governor Abubakar Audu of Kogi State honoured him as one of the distinguished citizens of the state. Onukaba has received numerous other awards for his decency, integrity, creativity and kindness.
The well versed author has also biographed President Olusegun Obasanjo in the book..: “In the Eye of Time”, “Atiku Abubakar”- a biography of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. “Born to Run” – a biography of Late Dele Giwa, co-authored by him and Dele Olojede. Some of his plays include, Her Majesty’s Visit, A Resting Place, Tower of Burden, The Virginity Flee, The Lone Ranger, Bargain Hunting, and Soommalliyya. His play, “The Killing Swamp” was one of the three finalists for the 2010 NLNG Literature Award.
Onukaba is one man that believes his good will be all that is needed for victory at his Party’s Primary and Election proper. He believes he is prepared to govern Kogi State come 2016
Ocholi James (SAN)
On the 26th of November 1960 the baby Ocholi was born to the couple, Mr. and Mrs. James Momoh Odoh at Idah in Benue state (Present day Kogi state)
In 1978 the young Ocholi lost his father shortly after graduation from High School. As a result, he became the family’s breadwinner even when he was not old enough to marry. He secured a scholarship from the then Benue state government and this enabled him to go through and graduate as a lawyer from University of Jos in 1985. He finished from the Nigerian Law School in 1986 and he was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 1986.
In a keenly but fairly contested process in 2006 he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN) and he is currently the National Secretary of The Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International in Nigeria. He is also A Notary Public of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Pro-chancellor and chairman of Council of the Salem University, Lokoja, and currently the chairman of Disciplinary Committee of Nigeria Bar Association, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and the principal partner of the law firm of Ocholi James & Associates. He had contested against Capt Idris Wada for the PDP gubernatorial ticket in 2011 but lost out. He would be staging a comeback in 2015 this time for the APC gubernatorial ticket
Babatunde Irukera is a partner with SimmonsCooper Partners and has over 20 years of transactional/commercial litigation experience. His experience includes over 10 years in the United States engaging is complex commercial litigation and settlements including several jury trials and significant appellate work. A colleague of Professor Yemi Osinbajo at Simmons and coopers law firm and good friends with Babatunde Raji Fashola, he is regarded as one Nigeria’s best corporate lawyers with his staggering achievements and worldwide recognitions.
It remains to be seen if the APC bigwigs who he moves about it inclusive of the present vice president would tilt the ticket to his favour.
Alhaji Yahaya Bello
Alhaji Yahaya Bello was born on the 18th June 1975 in Agassa, okene Local Govt area of Kogi State. He stated his early education in 1984 in LGEA Primary Sch. Agassa in okene. His quest for qualitative education saw him changing schools five times until he finally settled for Government Secondary School, Suleja-Niger State.He immediately enrolled for ‘A’ level exams in Kaduna State Polytechnic Zaria in 1995 and proceeded to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University ABU Zaria in 1996 to study Accounting and graduated in 1999.
Alhaji Yahaya Bello working career started in 2001 when he was posted to Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) for his NYSC mandatory service to his fatherland. His business/investment clout in these sectors helped facilitate job opportunities for a number of unemployed graduates and youth particularly Kogi State indigines, Alhaji Yahaya Bello can also been considered a public spirited individual and a philanthropist per excellence.
Alhaji Yahaya Bello said his desire to be the state governor was anchored on his firm belief that Kogi State should be “free from the grip of a cabal who has over the years conspired to limit the state. Today, we are commencing an historic journey, a journey to liberate ourselves” in an interview with The Punch. The Buhari campaign organisation is rooting for him with its staunch members and strategist leading his campaign and his aspirations are helped by the fact that the Ebira people have never ruled the state and are seriously clamouring for the office of the governor. He is regarded as the Dark horse of the race.
Prince Abubakar Audu
Prince Abubakar Audu, was born on 27 October 1947, to the family of his Royal Highness, the late Pa Audu Oyidi, Orego Atta of Igala Land and the paramount rule of Ogbonicha-Alloma in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State. He started his education career at the then N.A. Junior Primary School, Alloma, and later N.A Senior School Ankpa, from where he proceeded to Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha. He later transferred to the Jos Commercial College where he obtained both the GCE O and A level.
The First executive Governor of the state is again angling to become governor for a third time (second term). He was removed alongside other governors after Maj General Sanni Abacha got a court order declaring the ING illegal. His first term (1992-1993) is not recognised by the Nigerian judicial system or the 1999 constitution.
A man of many controversies, he is easily the most popular of all aspirants and frontrunner to pick the APC ticket. He has been arrested at various times by the EFCC and charged to court on various occasions, despite that he has been the only consistent politician and has gracefully stayed to the opposition since 2003. He is regarded widely as the best governor Kogi state has ever had with the establishment of various state establishments being the hallmark of his achievements.
Adavize Alao is an ICT expert and Political blogger