The Kogi West Elders Forum (KWEF) has adopted Mr Leke Abejide of African Democratic Party (ADC) as their consensus candidate for the Nov. 11, Kogi Governorship Election.
The forum made this position known in a communiqué of the endorsement signed by its Chairman, retired Maj.-Gen. David Jemibewon, and read by the Secretary, Dr Tunde Arosanyin, on Monday in Abuja.
The forum, however, said it was not unaware of the pending case at the Supreme Court instituted by one of their sons, Sen. Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressive Congress (APC) against the party’s primaries.
They said the forum could revisit the endorsement should the case favours Adeyemi to be able to carry everyone along.
Reading the communique, Arosanyin said it had become necessary to elucidate the approach of KWEF and how the forum had interceded to endorse a consensus candidate for the West Senatorial District in the forthcoming governorship election.
He said the forum had hitherto, agitated for power to rotate to the west since 2019, adding that the agitation was considered legitimate, reasonable, fair and in the interest of peace, equity, and justice in the state.
This, according to him, is because the district has 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 secretary said the elders had worked with other groups like the Okun Development Association (ODA) and Okun Think Thank (OTT) with similar objectives and reinvigorated the mechanism for the demand immediately after INEC released the timetable for the election in early 2023.
According to him, 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.
“The forum consulted further with other stakeholders, especially the prominent political actors in the various parties.
“The Forum and its affiliate groups subsequently visited the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His Excellency President 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,” he said.
Arosanyin said the forum had also engaged with all aspirants before and after the primaries from the zone including those that won and those lost as well as politicians from other districts..
He said the engagement continued at the post-primary elections when it was apparent that there were three frontline candidates in the West: Sen. Dino Melaiye (PDP), Olayinka Braimoh (AA) and Leke Abejide (ADC).
According to him, the three candidates 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.
“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; acceptability by all the three senatorial districts; spread and reach of campaigns; political experience; political appeal and popularity and internal party cohesion amongst others.
“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.
“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 the West Senatorial District was Hon. Elder Leke Abejide of the ADC.
“Therefore, the forum endorses Hon Leke Abejide of the ADC as the consensus candidate for Kogi West Senatorial District in the November 2023 election.
“We hereby solicit for the support and cooperation of everyone in pushing through to victory the consensus candidate in the Nov. 11 election in the saint of equity, fairness and justice,” he said.
The forum called on Central and Eastern Senatorial Districts and in particular, the other two candidates from the Western Senatorial District to support Abejide so as to remain heroes at the end of success. (NAN)