Kogi West: Dino, Smart in final showdown

Posted by Boluwaji Obahopo | 30 November 2019 | 1,136 times

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•Dino Melaye and Smart Adeyemi

The concluding part of Kogi West senatorial election will be held today. Two brothers – Senators Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP both from Ijumu Local Council of the state are in a tug-of-war for the Senate seat. T

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared the November 16 Kogi West senatorial re-run inconclusive. Though 15 parties were slated for the race, the contest was a two-horse race between Adeyemi and Melaye. The returning officer, Prof. Olayide Lawal, who made the declaration at the end of collation, said his decision for supplementary was due to votes cancellation in 53 polling units with 46,767 registered voters.

The already collated results show that Senator Adeyemi polling 80,118 votes while Senator Melaye trailed behind with 59,548 votes. The returning officer, however, said a winner cannot be declared because of “Margin of Lead Principle” as reflected in the senatorial district where the leading candidate has a margin of 20,570; which is lower than the 46,767 registered voters.

However, political pundits are of the view that Melaye may just be between the devil and the deep blue sea. Some are already taunting him that he will soon join Senator Godswil Akpabio in the streets of Abuja as he (Melaye) previously jested about the former Akwa Ibom State governor.

To win the election, Melaye has to secure more than 21,000 votes from the available 30,730 with Adeyemi getting less than 500 votes in tomorrow’s election.

Second term jinx

Melaye was a member of House of Representatives (Kabba/Ijumu Federal Constituency from 2007 to 2011) on the platform of the PDP. His failure to secure the PDP ticket for a second term, which was against the rotation arrangement in the area, made him defect to All Nigeria People’s Party ANPP where he secured the ticket.

He, however, lost the general election to Tajudeen Yusuf of PDP. Melaye remained in the ANPP, which later merged with other parties to form the APC in 2014. He won the ticket of the West Senatorial seat preparatory to the 2015 general election. Melaye defeated Adeyemi who was seeking a third term. Adeyemi was anointed to be the winner of the poll, but the Buhari tsunami gave Melaye, who had already lost the five local government areas in his native Okun land with over 10,000 margin and was in a distant third position, an edge over PDP’s candidate; as votes from Lokoja/Kogi council areas handed him a surprise victory.

Melaye, alongside other Senators of APC mid-last year defected to PDP. He picked the ticket of the party to run for the same senatorial seat against Adeyemi who had also switched side to APC. Melaye was declared winner, but his victory and hope of breaking a second term jinx in any political position was short lived when Adeyemi’s suit at the tribunal scaled through and another election was ordered due to over voting, mutilation of result sheets, manipulation and other electoral misdeeds. The Appeal court concurred with the lower court.

Melaye is currently fighting the political battle of his life. Although he survived a recall some had predicted an easy win for him in the rerun election. He had boasted that even if the election was held 10 times, he would defeat Adeyemi as many times He referred to Adeyemi as his political wife. But the reverse was the case. Melaye won only two LGAs with a combined margin of 2,400 and lost Lokoja and Kogi LGAs which in the two previous elections gave him a great lead.

Melaye’s troubles

Melaye’s troubles are multifaceted. PDP lost so many strong members in the zone before the last election; the elites who were favourable to PDP in the February general election changed direction to APC; and the business class with the likes of Jide Omokore and Tunde Ayeni who put resources together for him in previous elections, seems to abandoned him in the last election.

Melaye and his party, PDP cried foul, alleging irregularities, widespread violence and intimidation in the rerun. He has called for the cancellation of the results and petitioned INEC with video evidence of the alleged irregularities. His party also indicated its readiness to boycott the the supplementary poll. Adeyemi immediately fired them a salvo that their statement cannot be trusted, saying it’s full of deceit.

Three days later, Melaye made a U-turn saying he would participate in the supplementary. He hinged his decision on the fact that if he failed to see the election to the end, he won’t be able to challenge it in court.

Possible outcome

Melaye statement of just participating in the supplementary for Tribunal’s sake has been viewed from a defeatist angle, and considering the margin of lead, Senator Adeyemi would most likely carry the day.

The last election was the highest turnout in the history of the state with 30 percent voters turnout. The supplementary would hold in seven LGAs, 20 wards and 53 polling units, with 46, 127 registered voters. One of the factors that may work against Melaye is the number of permanent voter cards (PVCs) collected in the 53 polling units which according to INEC data stands at 30,730.

“The projection of 30 percent voters coming out to vote means at most 15,000 voters may turn out for the exercise. Even if they all voted for Dino, with a margin of lead of over 20,000 by Adeyemi, it’s doubtful if Melaye can catch up,” says Mr. Abdullahi Sanni, a political analyst.

Voters apathy

The outcome of the last governorship election has already robbed the state of any enthusiasm of voting. Majority of the people are already scared of coming out for the election considering the violence and intimidation which characterized the November 16 election leading to loss of lives and bodily harm to some persons. “I can tell you that the turnout will be very low. People are already scared. Nobody will risk his life for any politician. Even if the people come out, the situation may not be any different,” Mr. Sanni quipped.

Parties’ involvement

While the APC are still moving round calling on people to come out and vote, the PDP seems to have left Dino to his fate. The biblical allusion – “To your tenth oh Israel “ seems to be steering him in the face. Aside the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, apparently coming from the same district with Melaye – who has been vocal over his issues, other leaders have maintained silence.

The Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Matthew Kolawole, said the party needs only 12 hours prompting to deliver on the supplementary. He also said with the margin of lead Adeyemi already enjoys it will be a straight win for the APC. He charged the people to come out in their numbers to vote for APC candidate, Adeyemi.  (Saturday Vanguard)

Source: News Express

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