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Why Kogi Electorates Are Excited Over Faleke’s Nomination



The sudden and astonishing entrance of Hon. James Abiodun Faleke (JAF) into Kogi State politics with his emergence as the running-mate to Prince Abubakar Audu on the platform of the APC seems to have altered the calculations and permutations in the political calculus of the state.  The Ekinrin-Adde born prince who cut his teeth politically in Lagos State, where he served for seven years as local government chairman and was thereafter elected to the House of Representatives in 2011 and reelected early this year has really confounded political pundits with his emergence.

Hon. James Faleke

Before his emergence, there has been the quest and strident clamour for power shift in Kogi State due to the marginalization of the other two zones by the Eastern axis of the state which has produced all elected governors of the state since its creation in 1991. However, mixed reactions have trailed his emergence with some seeing it as a good development and others like the political god-fathers in his party regarding him as a usurper especially some of the aspirants who contested in the APC primary who felt they should have been picked and have been the most vociferous in the antagonism witnessed so far. Of note, we reliably gathered is Chief Clarence Obafemi; a former speaker of the state house of assembly and former acting governor who based on an alleged understanding was assured of his selection as the running mate. Some even accused Chief Obafemi of been used as the spoiler to divide the votes of his fellow aspirants of Okun extraction to pave way for Audu’s victory. This postulation seems to have been erroneous after all. Other aspirants who were hopeful of been running mates but not considered have since moved on to actualize their ambitions on the platforms of other parties and this has tainted the claim by most of them that their motive is for power shift. Because the general consensus now in the state is that while the quest and clamour for power shift is legitimate and reasonable, the events of the past few weeks have shown that most of the apostles of power shift are just using it to achieve personal set objectives. From all indications, the power shift struggle will continue towards actualization come 2019.

Observers have noted that politicians in the state have started the scheming for 2019 despite the outstanding issues of 2015. Sentiments have been brandied about his status as a Kogi indigene in ‘diaspora’ and his being the key Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu intends to use to make an inroad into the North Central. But what majority seem to agree on is that, Hon. Faleke’s ability and capability is not in doubt. In terms of experience, Hon. Faleke has it in abundance which will come in handy especially in a state that has witnessed uninterrupted deficient leadership in the past twelve years.

For Hon. Faleke to have been elected twice to govern a local government area and twice also to the House of Reps in the largely cosmopolitan Lagos State is a testimony to his astuteness and administrative acumen. He was also President Buhari’s campaign Organisation Director General for Lagos State in the last election; an indication of his esteem in his party.

People we spoke to are of the view that with his emergence, the quest for power shift in Kogi State has been given a boost since he is from the marginalized zone that has severally attempted but serially failed over the years to effect power shift in Kogi State. The dismal performance of all the five aspirants from his senatorial district in the last APC primary has underlined the lack of unity among the Okun people and his emergence will in the opinion of many who spoke with Firstweekly magazine, be a rallying force for unity and a catalyst to the efforts at restoring the glory of a people so endowed in human capital but sadly relegated to the background over the years in the politics of the state due greed, clannishness and wrangling among its people and leaders.

For the first time in a while, the people of Kogi State are hopeful of a new dawn away from the retrogression that Kogi State has been grappling with. It is now clear that the entry of Hon. Faleke into the politics of Kogi State has changed the workings of political forces and his emergence as Prince Audu’s running mate as confounding and astounding as it is to everyone; supporters and detractors alike, is the signal of better days ahead in the economic and socio-political life of this hugely endowed but acutely impoverished state that has been bedeviled with callous, inept and deficient leadership for more than a decade. That Kogi State is in need of rescue to restore it to the path of peace, progress and development is not an argument neither is the ability and capability of the Audu-Faleke to make this happen in doubt. Hon. Faleke has joined the noble list of politicians who had tutelage in Lagos and have proceeded to contribute immensely to the upliftment of their respective states.

Majority of the people in the state, are hopeful that Hon. Faleke will infect his home-state with the virus of excellence Lagos State is renowned for. If the tumultuous welcome Hon. Faleke was treated to at the border town of Iyamoye on September, 17th 2015 is anything to go by, then the victory of the APC in Kogi State might have been sealed in the forthcoming governorship election in Kogi State.