- Senator-Elect, KOGI Central, NATASHA AKPOTI-UDUAGHAN
The Senator-elect of Kogi Central, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, surely is still in a joyous mood. She must still be basking in the euphoria of her victory at the Appeal Court in Abuja which declared her the duly elected candidate of the Kogi Central Senatorial election held in March 2023. It certainly was not an easy victory for the beautiful Kogi Senator. Before, during and after the elections, in which the APC candidate, Abubakar Ohere, had earlier been declared winner, Natasha has been through the stormiest of weather. She was harrassed severally by the opposition, her life was threatened and an assasination attempt was targeted against her, but she was able to overcome all of these and emerge the legitimate winner of the election after a gruelling court session at the Court of Appeal. And now, the much relieved and elated Natasha has opened up on her ordeal during those 3 very difficult moments.
During an interview with Channels television, she alleged that Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, of a plot to harm her during the senatorial election that took place in March. She recounted her ordeal..
“I heard guns; I had his henchmen shoot at my vehicle; I have video evidence of that,” she said.
“It was the immediate past; they were adorned in APC shirts and one of them was someone I am very familiar with; he was actually the returning officer for Okehi Local Government. He led the group of ten men to shoot at me, I have the video captured in that.”
Akpoti-Uduaghan expressed concerns regarding the governor’s recent statement where he acknowledged her victory as the duly elected candidate for Kogi Central.
She criticised the governor’s remarks, highlighting the inconsistency of endangering people’s lives and labeling it as the ‘beauty of democracy.’
“He said this is the beauty of politics; this is not the beauty of politics. You don’t endanger people, you don’t set out to kill people, you don’t destroy properties, and you don’t frustrate the electoral process just because you want your candidate to win and call it ‘the beauty of democracy’,” she said.
Akpoti-Uduaghan additionally alleged that the governor deliberately disrupted essential routes within the state to impede the seamless progress of the election.
“Apart from that, the governor actually thwarts roads. The governor, a day before the election, cut five – he dug gullies, cutting five roads. That was just to prevent the election from taking place, probably endangering my life,” she added.
“It was a day to the election but thank God we had the payloaders and I went all night, we had to cover the gullies so that the election could take place.”
Despite the threats and challenges she faced, Akpoti-Uduaghan maintained she had to demonstrate her resilience to ensure that she did not portray an image of vulnerability for women involved in or aspiring to engage in political leadership.
“A lot went on that we couldn’t even put before the media because I didn’t want it to seem as if I was every day, crying for help. I needed to show strength; I didn’t want to discourage other women like me from entering politics and thinking, ‘Oh, it’s too violent, it’s too volatile’,” she maintained.
“I had to show strength; that was why I did not tell every part of this story; it was so much more than the world knows.”
As of the time of this report, Governor Bello’s team is yet to comment on the matter.
She also spoke about her victory, saying despite an earlier verdict affirming her election, she was unsure if the judgment would be upheld.
“I am twice lucky. Up until I was declared the winner, I wasn’t absolutely sure that I was going to have the appellate court grant me victory because, this is Nigeria, anything can happen,” she said.
“I really praise the judiciary for having the courage to stand forth through the event that took place, by going through the documents diligently and affirming me as the winner. I want to bring the best innovation in leadership closer to the people.”
The Senator-elect also singled out the First Lady, Her Excellency Remi Tinubu, for praise for her uprightness and sense of fair play and justice. She alleged that the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, met with the First Lady, Senator Remi Tinubu, begging her to talk to Justices of the Appeal Court in other to help turn the now delivered judgment against her.
According to Natasha, who appeared on Arise Television’s news program, News Night anchored by Ngozi Alaegbu and Suleiman Aledeh, said that though she wasn’t very sure of the information but it is alleged that Governor Yahaya Bello met with the first lady, Her Excellency, Remi Tinubu and begged her to help talk to the justice but the first lady refused vehemently.
And, according to her, the First Lady was said to have refused Yahaya Bello’s request, saying that she wasn’t happy with the number of women in the National Assembly and would want more women to be there, so, helping him to stop a woman from going into the senate was out of place for her.
Natasha thereafter, appreciated the First Lady, for standing up for what is right and doing what is right.
Let us tell you about this extremely brilliant lady whom many women have begun to see as a rallying point in realising their political aqspirations. Natasha Hadiza Akpoti is a Nigerian barrister, social entrepreneur, and politician. She is the founder of Builders Hub Impact Investment Program (BHIIP). She gained media attention in 2019 after running for the post of Kogi Central Senatorial District (SDP) seat under Social Democratic Party in the year 2019. She also contested in the 2019 Kogi State gubernatorial election which took place on the 16th of November 2019.
Natasha Akpoti was born on December 9th, 1979, at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Ilorin, Kwara State. She is the second of four children, and the only daughter of a Nigerian father and a Ukrainian mother. Her Mum, Mrs Ludmila Kravchenk hails from Rakitna in the region of Chernivtsi while her Dad is a native of Obeiba-Ihima, Okehi Local Governments Area of Kogi State. Natasha spent her early years in Ihima, Okene Local Government but the family had to relocate after she lost her father, Dr Jimoh Abdul Akpoti in 1998.
Natasha had her primary education at Christ the King Nursery and Primary School Okene. During her days at the school, she served as the Social Prefect. Thereafter, she proceeded to Government Girls Unity Secondary School Oboroke, Kogi State and Federal Government College Idoani, Ondo State for her junior secondary and senior secondary education respectively. Prior to her graduation from FGC in 1997, she served as the Head Girl.
She further gained admission in 2000 to study at the prestigious University of Abuja, graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Laws degree. She immediately proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in Abuja, after which she was called to the bar in 2005. In 2011, Natasha Akpoti proceeded to the University of Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom, from where she obtained her Master of Laws degree in 2012. She also holds a Master of Business Administration in Oil & Gas Management from the same institution.
Natasha Akpoti started her career as a legal practitioner with Fola Akinrinsola & Co., Lagos before moving on to work with other law firms including Afe Babalola & Co., Abuja and Awa U Kalu & Co., Abuja. In 2015, she founded Builders Hub Impact Investment Program (BHIIP), an organization that provides affordable housing solutions for low-income earners in Nigeria.
– WALE LAWAL