Kogi West 2023: Yagba Hunts For The Elusive Prize

Asiwaju Ashiru, Sunday Karimi, Sam Aro, Senator Sam Adeyemi

Since 1999, Kogi West has always been a hotbed of intense democratic attrition between the major political gladiators. The Senatorial District is made up of the Okun people, Lokoja and Kogi/ Koto people. 

Okun is made up of five Local Government Areas of Kabba/ Bunu, Ijumu, Mopamuro, Yagba East and Yagba West. Of the five Okun Local Government Areas, three are in Yagba. 

Curiously, Yagba has been the only Federal Constituency that has not produced a Senator since 1999. While some will hinge this failure on their low population, others will argue that they have consistently lost the Senate as a result of their division and the political inconsistency of their leaders. 

In 1999, Senator Tunde Ogbeha emerged as the first Senator of the district in the current political era. He served for two terms between 1999 and 2007. The Lokoja born Senator was succeeded by Sen. Smart Adeyemi who served for two-terms and sought a third term in 2015. 

He however lost to Senator Dino Melaye of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as at then, majorly as a result of the progressive tsunami of the year, led by President Muhammadu Buhari. Both Adeyemi and Melaye are from Ijumu Local Government Area. Adeyemi, a former National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) was again elected in 2019 after a hotly contested race between him and Sen. Dino Melaye. By the time Sen. Smart Adeyemi will be completing his third term in 2023, Ijumu LGA would have done 16 years in the Senate. 

Political pundits in Kogi West seem to all agree that 2023 will be a Yagba year in the Senate to represent Kogi West. But the question is: Has Yagba learnt her lessons? In 2019, Yagba was said to be well positioned to produce the Senator to represent the District with Mr. Toyin Akanle and Alh. Tajudeen Bisimilahi as the frontrunners. It was believed that the leadership of the APC felt Kogi should give a shot at the Senate Presidency, hence, the need to present an experienced Senator. That was what gave Adeyemi the advantage then. He however lost the election to Melaye and only reclaimed it through a rerun after Melaye’s victory was nullified. 

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, some of the prominent politcians to watch out for from the senatorial district are: 

Hon. Asiwaju Idris Asiru 

Hon. Asiru is the current Commissioner of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning. The Isanlu-born former banker is believed to be a frontline aspirant for the Kogi West Senatorial seat. 

He is a philanthropist and his supporters are believed to be working hard for his emergence. 

The sticking point however is that the Commissioner has consistently lost elections in his Ward and Local Government Area. 

Being an exit term for Governor Yahaya Bello, the Governor might want to field a proven and experienced winner, especially as the Governor is believed to be gunning for the Presidency. 

Hon. Sunday Karimi 

Hon. Sunday Karimi is a Water Engineer and a two-term member of the Federal House of Representatives. He first won his election on the platform of the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria. He lost on two occasions on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party before defecting to the then (ACN) to win. He later went back to PDP to win reelection. 

He was tipped to win the PDP senatorial ticket for the 2019 election before the party traded the ticket for the decamping of the Saraki Group, which gave the ticket to Melaye. 

Angered by what he termed injustice at the time, Karimi defected to the APC to work for the emergence of all APC candidates. A proven grassroots politician, Karimi has a good number of projects and empowerment to his name in Yagba Federal Constituency. 

Apart from being rooted in APC, pundits believe the candidature of Karimi will unsettle the PDP as he still enjoys cult followership among members of the opposition party. 

The ruling APC knows Karimi has lost and won elections, therefore highly experienced. 

Hon Sam Aro 

Aro represented Yagba Federal Constituency in the Green Chambers between 2007 and 2011. He however lost his bid for reelection to Hon. Sunday Karimi in 2011. 

He again lost his shot at the Senate on the platform of Accord Party in 2015 and also his Deputy Governorship bid in 2019. It is believed that the oil magnate has lost his foot soldiers across the Senatorial District to the All Progressives Congress. 

However, analysts are tipping him to be the flag bearer of the PDP in the election. Like Karimi, Aro hails from Yagba West. 

Alh. Taludeen Bisimilahi 

Bisimilahi is a young business magnate with interests in oil and gas as well as construction. He contested for the Senatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress inn2019 but lost to the incumbent, Sen. Smart Adeyemi. 

He is believed to dusting his gloves ahead of the 2023 Senatorial battle. But unlike his late father, the young Bisimilahi is considered a political greenhorn who may not be able to rattle the political establishments in the District. 

Other political leaders tipped to gun for the Senate are Hon. James Abiodun Faleke and Hon. Leke Abejide. Both of them are current members of the House of Representatives. 

While Faleke is representing a Constituency in Lagos, he is politically and legally qualified to vie for the Kogi West seat. He is a native of Ekinrin Adde in Ijumu LGA. 

On his part, Hon. Leke Abejide is a member of the House of Representatives. He won on the platform of the African Democratic Congress, ADC. 

As the 2023 general elections approach, analysts believe that Kogi West Senatorial seat is considered one of the hotbed to watch out for. 

Source: Daily Independent

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