In a significant development in Nigerian politics, on October 31, 2023, the Appeal Court rendered a verdict declaring Barr Natasha Akpoti Oduaga as the authentic winner of the Kogi Central senatorial election held earlier this year.
This decision has far-reaching implications for the political landscape of Kogi State.
The election, which had initially seen Abubakar Ohere of the All Progressives Congress (APC) declared as the winner, was marred by allegations of manipulation orchestrated by Governor Yahaya Bello and some corrupt Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff to favor Ohere.
However, Barr Natasha Akpoti Oduaga’s relentless determination and legal battles, from the Tribunal to the Appeal Court, have now resulted in the restoration of her mandate.
Public Affairs Analyst Sani Michael Omakoji (SMO) of OurWorldGist offers an insightful analysis of the implications of this landmark judgment as the Kogi State gears up for the gubernatorial election on November 11, 2023.
SMO describes the Appeal Court’s judgment as “the end of an era” for Governor Yahaya Bello, who was perceived to exert influence over INEC and the judiciary during President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
This influence according to him appears to be waning under President Ahmed Bola Asiwaju Tinubu’s government.
The momentum appears to be shifting in Kogi State politics, indicating that popular and widely accepted candidates stand a better chance of victory.
Governor Yahaya Bello’s tenure has been criticized for low-performance, and his ability to secure support, even at the local level, is questioned.
In the past, Governor Bello allegedly benefited from a compromised system, using tactics such as violence and thuggery to secure his positions.
The political climate and events in Kogi State, under President Tinubu’s influence, signal a change from the status quo.
Barr Natasha Akpoti Oduaga’s victory in the senatorial election has further exposed Governor Yahaya Bello’s lack of popularity.
It raises questions about his ability to market a candidate successfully in the upcoming Kogi gubernatorial election scheduled for November 11, 2023.
In conclusion, when thuggery, INEC compromises, Governor Bello’s previous connections with the presidency, and past dramatic episodes, such as the helicopter incident, are removed from the equation, it becomes evident that Bello’s candidate, Ahmed Usman Ododo, may face significant challenges in the forthcoming election.
This Appeal Court verdict has set the stage for a potentially transformative political landscape in Kogi State as it heads into the pivotal November 11, 2023, gubernatorial election.