Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has unveiled his preferred successor, but it is not Edward Onoja, his strong ally, who served as Chief of Staff and became Deputy Governor after the impeachment of Simon Achuba in 2019.
Onoja was elected alongside Bello for a second term that would end later this year.
Many eyes were on the deputy governor who declared interest in the coveted seat.
But according to party sources, the governor has settled for Usman Ododo, a former Auditor-General of the state.
The governor reportedly announced his preference for Ododo at a stakeholders’ meeting which held at the party’s secretariat in Lokoja, the state capital, on Thursday.
Sources told Daily Trust that Bello made his intention known at the meeting which held on the eve of the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primary in the state.
Aside from Onoja, Mohammed Abdulkareem Asuku, Chief of Staff to the Governor Yahaya Bello; David Adebanji Jimoh; a former Commissioner, Asiwaju Ashiru Idris; and Okala Yakubu, were among those who indicated interest to succeed Bello.
But sources at the stakeholders’ meeting told Daily Trust that they have all stepped down for Bello’s anointed candidate.
Shortly after the decision was taken at the meeting, which was ongoing when our correspondent left the secretariat, Onoja and Asuku posted cryptic messages on social media.
“To God be the glory for life and divine health. My appreciation to my leader, HE Alhaji Yahaya Bello and all my supporters for your love and prayers. Let love , patience and perseverance lead. I Am forever grateful,” Onoja wrote.
On his part, Asuku posted, “Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah !!Alhamdulillah !!!
All praises and adoration are due to the most high God the greater of the entire universe and the sustainer of same who have safeguard my life and that of my immediate family and well wishers to witness this moment in my life. I sincerely appreciate His Excellency, my benefactor, for all that Allah have been using him to do in my life.
“As such, I hereby submit myself publicly to the decision taken today and I will forever live to remain loyal and dedicated to the decision of my party as I enjoin all my well wishers to work with us for our great party APC to become victorious in the November 11th General Election.”
A source said before Bello unveiled his anointed candidate, the other aspirants sensed that he had settled for Ododo.
The governor reportedly told all the aspirants to write withdrawal letters, but only Ododo did not write the letter, according to a party chieftain.
Another source said the present senator representing Kogi East, Jibrin Isah, has been penciled down to deputise Ododo, but there are plans to eventually make Onoja run alongside Ododo, a situation similar to what obtained in Kaduna State, where Governor Nasir El-Rufai told Hadiza Balarabe, his deputy, to forgo her governorship ambition and run with Senator Uba Sani, his anointed candidate.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the APC governorship primary Election committee, Zamfara state Governor, Mohammed Bello Matawale, has other aspirants who have not withdrawn from the race were free to participate in the primary election.