By Gabriel Agbonika, a public commentator writes from Keffi, Nasarawa state
Captain Idris Ichalla Wada, a former pilot with the defunct Nigerian Airways and a private cargo airline operator for over two decades, is the governor of Kogi State in the past one year.
His entry into the political arena almost two years ago has made him to experience overwhelming challenges that could have forced any other person to give up in frustration but probably because he has a focused mind or sheer strong will to succeed, he did not allow those challenges to intimidate him or break his spirit of resilience.
For this reason, his supporters and admirers believe strongly that the one year of his administration must be commended and even needs to be celebrated, at least, for surviving all the great odds against him without showing the signs of pressure or stress. One may ask, what are the challenges that he has surmounted?
It will be recalled that in September 2011, shortly after Capt. Wada joined the governorship race at the prompting of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, the then governor of the state, some prominent individuals within PDP in the state vehemently opposed him. Captain Wada’s opponents considered him "a stranger coming into the party to pick the nomination ticket in order to reap the fruits he did not plant."
The opponents, including Isah Jibrin (Echocho), Abdulrazaq Kutepa, AVM Saliu Atawodi, Clarence Olufemi and others, did everything within their powers to frustrate his emergence. Their motive for opposing him vehemently was not entirely altruistic but solely for selfish reasons as could be seen later in their reactions to non existent issues said to be confronting the state. At the end of the day, Captain Wada won the party nomination and also went ahead to win the state election.
His success was made possible through the reconciliation process initiated by the then governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris shortly after the hotly contested nomination exercise. According to Mr. Tunde Olusule in the Nation newspapers of 7/12/2011, part of the outcome of the peace process was the agreement which allowed Alhaji Abulrazaq Kutepa’s camp to produce Deputy Governor to Captain Wada while the camp of Isah Jibrin (Echocho) was to be compensated with a federal appointment earmarked for Kogi State.
But Isah Jibrin turned down the offer, refused to recognize Captain Wada’s nomination and as well as reject the demand to withdraw his court case against the party and has remained hostile to Capt Wada since then.
Meanwhile, prior to the December 3, 2011 election, there was a wrong impression within and outside the state that Captain Wada was not a match to Abubakar Audu of ACN. The impression was largely because he was seen as a new comer to the state political game, more especially as he has little funds for the campaigns just as there was internal division within PDP.
Therefore, ACN miscalculated in the choice of Abubakar Audu as its candidate, forgetting that his earlier defeats in the 2003, 2007 and 2008 elections were due mainly to his exaggerated popularity and exclusive tendencies. Indeed, ACN and Audu’s supporters overrated the capacity of Audu’s propaganda, believing that it was enough factor to win an election. The election came and Audu was thrashed with a wide margin.
The fact of the matter is that Abubakar Audu has overstayed his political acceptance in Kogi State. His woeful defeat in the December 2011 election served as the final warning for political contest in the state.
On the other hand, despite his woeful defeat in the December 3, 2011 election, Alhaji Audu went to Court almost immediately to challenge the victory of Captain Wada. The case has since been dismissed for lack of merit. Thus, Captain Wada, even without stepping into office, was confronted with two separate court cases coming from two desperate and over ambitious politicians aimed solely to frustrate his taking over power in the State.
Indeed, the first court case against this newly elected governor was the one which was instituted by Alhaji Isah Jibrin (Echocho) demanding that as the winner of PDP’s defunct primary election of January 9, 2011 election, he should still be declared the rightful person to fly the flag of the party in the 3/12/2011 election.
A court of Appeal in Abuja later threw out Jibrin’s case and uphold the High Court judgment in respect of Captain Wada’s legally conducted nomination exercise.
Clearly, the two cases instituted against Capt. Wada’s election have one thing in common: to create unnecessary delay and irrelevant spending of money for the incoming government thereby slowing down the pace of development in the state.