BY Daniel Onimisi Ib(CEO Kogifirstmedia)
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Meet the outsider gubernatorial candidate targeting young voters with her “#I Believe Kogi Will Work Again” charm, ReviveAjaokuta activist vow to challenge power.
Gubernatorial candidate Natasha H. Akpoti on the campaign trail.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Natasha, now 35, is running to be Kogi State next governor. She is among the scores of outsiders in what is currently a crowded 51-horse race.
For any of these candidates, governing Kogi State will be a daunting task.
But Natasha believes the responsibility goes even beyond the states borders.
“We’re doing it not just for you but for the future of our unborn children,” she says.
“If Kogi gets it right, then we will believe our children will make it right.”
In the 16 November gubernatorial election, it is widely accepted that the only two candidates with a realistic route to victory are Gov.Yahaya Bello and Engr.Musa Wada, Despite both being unpopular in different ways, the two men in their 40s have the political and financial backing of the ruling All Progress Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) respectively.
In Kogi big money elections, the chance of a third party causing an upset against these behemoths is negligible.
Nonetheless, Natasha, backed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP), is determined to “spice up” what she sees as a “tasteless” political environment. She argues that Kogi desperately needs change, starting from the top.
“We haven’t had leaders who know what they’re doing and it’s because our leaders are a product of godfathers, greediness,” she says.
“They are a product of a compromised political system that has destroyed any opportunity ’s challenges.
These range from a faltering economy to weak infrastructure to multiple security threats.
“Kogi needs a leader who can stand their ground against these ragtag issues,”
she says referring to this latter issue, which includes the issues of Non-payments of salaries, poor infrastructural developments and more.
“There’s no big deal about them and, with the right leadership, you can crush these issues it start from you the leader, how honest are you.”
This might seem like hubris, but Natasha maintains she is no newcomer to tackling such issues.
Kogi is in need of: principled leadership to tackle multifarious problems.”
“I was being accused of trying to work against my people”
In a way, Natasha is used to resisting repression, both economic and political.
We all saw what happened in the previous senatorial election in kogi central, I believe all those accusing her of such all witness how the election was.
How she was maltreated and humiliated by the so called Brother.
So we are out on our own with our vision to reposition kogi state in which we believe we will get it right in due time.
“All these combined together just made me want to change society since I was conscious enough to do so,” she says.
“To lead people, you have to know how they are feeling and doing, before convincing them to go and vote for you,” she says.
“That is why leaders don’t like educated people; it’s easy to lead people who are ignorant.”
But we are here for you.
Believe in what we have to offer.
And we believe on what you have to render.
Because we all have a roll to play.
I Daniel Onimisi Ib, A Believer of Natasha Akpoti Manifesto, agrees.
Like many of the other young activists that make up the majority of Natasha Akpoti team, I was inspired by the events of the early-Revive Ajaokuta/Builders Hub and NAIL as well as by the candidate’s charisma.
“I was invited to like her facebook page,”. “I remember seeing someone saying ‘I can die for Natasha.” on my view what distinguishes Natasha from other candidates is her audacity to “tackle the corrupt estate of the established politicians” and her quest to “redistribute state wealth in a manner that is beneficial to more Kogites”.
“We need to start having some faith that there are people who stand in the light no matter how difficult; history is about these iconoclasts and deviants, Some people insist on lighting the candles. Natasha is one of them.”
Not everyone shares such a favourable view, however.
All gubernatorial candidates have their fierce supporters and passionate detractors.
But for Natasha’s campaign, and those of the other outsider candidates, the main uphill battle in the 2019 elections is simply to be seen and heard.
More broadly though, Natasha has learnt not to rely on coverage from the mainstream media. She has taken more readily to social media channels. This is particularly effective given the group she is targeting most heavily: young people.
The SDP slogan “Economic and Social Justice” connotes a restoration of power to a long marginalised but increasingly politicised demographic.
Meanwhile, Natasha’s Revive Ajaokuta and record of challenging power appeal to many youth voters. Her progressive policies in championing solar energy, increasing teaching of coding, and legalising cannabis also resonate with this group.
It is a smart political strategy to target this demographic in a state where 60% of its population is aged below 25.
But Natasha is not the only one tapping into their widespread concerns.
Other outsiders such as Engr.Musa Wada and others are also presenting themselves similarly.
Just some days ago, news where on air that Natasha Akpoti has step down.
Then some kogites hit my inbox to ask and I told them our Amazon has not step down and she is not going to step down and will not step down.
It remains to be seen how Natasha will respond and whether she will be prepared to defer to another candidate.
She insists that “extraordinary situations demand extraordinary leaders”, and it is unclear whether she believes such a figure exists elsewhere within the 51-strong field.
Either way, Natasha has charted a remarkable journey from her previous outing and the Revive Ajaokuta, and at the previous senatorial election, regardless of the number of votes she picks up on 16 November, she has already seasoned the 2019 gubernatorial race with something a little different.
Referring to “SPICER-HEAT”, an acronym for her party’s ten-point agenda – spanning from security and power to tourism – Natasha breaks into a smile as she says: “If we have a chance, we’d spice up kogi state and heat it up at the same time.”
Daniel Onimisi Ford