APC IN TROUBLES OVER KOGI GUBERNATORIAL SLOT9 min read
Audu’s running mate, James Abiodun Faleke, who is said to have been asked to be running mate to Bello reportedly turned down the offer on Friday. “He will be in court on Monday to challenge the illegality,” one of his key backers told Saturday Tribune on Friday on condition of anonymity.
The development has put paid to the planned primary by the national leadership of the party to pick a replacement for the late Audu who led in the poll, before his death early Sunday morning while the result was being collated.
Controversies had since dogged the move by the party to replace him.
Bello was said to have received wholesale endorsement from the presidency.
On Friday, Saturday Tribune’s check revealed that Bello had been issued the nomination form as the party’s new candidate.
The nomination form is likely for submission on Monday.
His announcement as the party’s flag-bearer is also due any moment from now.
While a source said he could be announced today (Saturday), another disclosed it would be Monday.
Audu’s running mate and claimant to the contentious mandate, Faleke, was picked by the party as Bello’s running mate.
The planned fresh ticket of Bello and Faleke has, however, run into a hitch, with Faleke reportedly rejecting the deputy slot, according to Saturday Tribune findings.
Faleke reportedly told the party leadership that he already had a mandate as governor-elect and agreeing to run with Bello would amount to surrendering his mandate.
Saturday Tribune also learnt that Faleke is almost certain to go to court on Monday through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN).
Legal analyses of the conundrum thrown up by the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare the election inconclusive are said to be seen by Faleke’s backers to be in his favour Faleke, a development which has reportedly put the party leadership in a quandary.
Checks with the top echelon of the party revealed that the presidency’s decision to back Bello was more political than legal which many party leaders feared could jeopardize APC’s chances at the poll and in court.
All legal pieces of advice reportedly sought by the party are said to be in favour of Faleke being promoted on the ticket, but the party leadership was said to have succumbed to higher pressure.
With Faleke reportedly rejecting running with Bello, the national leadership of the party is said to have almost run out of ideas on how to arrest the burgeoning crisis.
One of the legal analyses pointed out that the idea of over 49,000 votes being outstanding in the election as declared by INEC would not fly, because places where the electorate refused to use Card Readers and subsequently refused to vote, cannot be covered by the provision of the Electoral Act on repeat poll.
The Electoral Act, according to the analyses, only prescribes repeat poll where there are over-voting.
Violence-related cancellations are also said not to be covered by the repeat provisions.
According to the legal position, “INEC can’t cancel elections like it did in Kogi. Does it mean that if the same people that refused to vote because they were mandated to use Card Readers, still refuse to use the machines on Saturday, the election would be postponed again? All that is needed is for the court to declare that INEC has no such power to cancel the elections the way it did and the original winner would be declared, which in this case, is the APC and whoever remains on its ticket,” a party leader who believes in Faleke’s cause told Saturday Tribune on Friday.
Pick Audu’s son or we’ll impeach your choice in two minutes, APC lawmakers warn party
The crisis deepened at another level as the House of Assembly members elected on the platform of the APC in the state declared that the party should replace late Prince Audu with his son, Mohammad Audu, threatening to impeach whoever the party picked aside from Mohammad.
A group of protesters equally stormed the APC national secretariat, demanding that Faleke should automatically step in as the flagbearer of the party in the supplementary election.
But lawmakers from the APC who briefed newsmen at the party’s national secretariat on Friday vowed to support Audu’s son or nobody, even as they threatened to impeach whoever the party presents apart from the late Audu’s son.
Addressing newsmen after meeting with the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, leader of the delegation, Honourable Momoh Rabiu, said: “Based on our discussion, we have taken a decision and taken our resolution to the national chairman. We are overwhelmed by the response from them, but we are still waiting for a safe landing so that Kogi will not be doomed.
“We told the national chairman that on no account should anybody be smuggled in to occupy that position which we worked for in conjunction with the late Audu without whom, there will be no APC in Kogi State.
“We present to the national leadership, Prince Mohammed Audu to replace his late father. It is not because he is the first son, but try him, he is very intelligent and equal to the task. With him, we will have the Kogi State of our dream.
“We also resolved and we will appreciate if the leadership will understand that we came to complain to them with pains and tell them our position because of the commitment of our leader and we don’t want Kogi to be left in the hands of the PDP any longer.
“We are the legislators and have told the national chairman our position that in any case anybody is smuggled in contrary to what we presented to them, we know the best way to remove him. It is not a threat, but we told them that we have no intention of washing our dirty linen in public. Removing somebody is just a two-minute job for us as lawmakers in the state. We want the change we worked for and we want Kogi to be part of the moving train.
“We are the electorate and we know why we are here. There will be no solution to this problem without giving us a listening ear. Prince Audu was the man who went through a primary before nominating Faleke as his deputy. We are not asking Faleke to stay away from the ticket. We equally worked with him during the campaigns. What we are saying is that it should be Mohammed Audu/Faleke ticket. The two of them must work together,” he stated.
Gladiators shift base to Abuja
UNEASY calm, however, pervaded the camps of APC gladiators in Kogi State on Friday as the battle for the party’s governorship ticket shifted to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
This is just as the stakeholders have maintained their positions on the issue with none of the camps appearing set to shift ground.
Also, students across the state have asked INEC to rescind its decision to hold a supplementary election in the state next Saturday.
Checks by Saturday Tribune on Friday showed that top members of the party in the state have shifted their base to Abuja as NWC of the party met to take a decision on the issue.
Loyalists of the late Audu, appeared opposed to the conduct of a fresh primary to choose a new candidate for the party.
The group, on Thursday, argued that the son of the deceased, Mohammed, should be given the ticket with James Faleke retained as the deputy governorship candidate.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune, on Friday, the chairman of the APC in Kogi East zone, Isa Daniel, said the group had not changed its stand on the issue.
He said the party should unanimously adopt the junior Audu to replace his father and conclude the governorship election.
Daniel, who also served as the Director General of the Audu/Faleke Campaign Organisation, however, said they were awaiting the decision of the national leadership of the party on the issue.
Also speaking, the state secretary of the party, Salaam Adejo, said nothing could be done unless the national secretariat of the party gave a direction.
He said members and leaders of the party in the state were waiting for the outcome of the meeting of the NWC of the party to know the next line of action.
Findings showed that four camps have emerged in the state in the party’s imbroglio with one of the camps pushing for the replacement of Audu with his son through a consensus arrangement while vanother is backing Bello.
Another group is pushing for an automatic choice of Faleke to complete the election, while the last group is advocating a fresh primary.
However, youths and student unions in the state have called on INEC to refrain from its stand on the election and announce a winner immediately.
The groups, which frowned at the decision of the electoral body to declare the election inconclusive, criticised the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, over the call for Audu’s substitution.
Spokesperson for the groups, Obanibi Michael, said in Lokoja that the failure of INEC and the APC to retrace their steps could lead to anarchy in the state.
“While we appreciate the transparency in the conduct of the just-concluded election, we, express our dissatisfaction on INEC declaring the election inconclusive. The election was an already established victory for the joint ticket of Audu/Faleke of the All Progressives Congress, which we the youth voted for overwhelmingly.
“We, therefore, call on INEC to forget about its proposed supplementary election and declare the APC as winner and in turn make Faleke the governor-elect,” Michael said.
Okun people want Faleke as Kogi APC candidate
Also, the Okun people of Kogi state, under the aegis of Okun Peoples Front (OPF) have demanded that Faleke, should replace Audu as the party’s governorship flag bearer.
The people, in statement given to the media in Ilorin, Kwara State, said that Faleke should be made the governorship candidate of the APC and consequently continue with the mandate jointly given to him and Audu.
The OPF, in the statement signed by its president, Ben Ayo Abereoran and secretary, Anthony Odana while noting that there had been divergent legal opinions on the matter, argued that “the nearest solution will be for the running mate, Faleke to continue with the mandate and become the candidate of the party.”
The group noted that Audu and Faleke together invested huge resources and energy to canvass for votes and submitted that it would be unjust for someone else to reap the fruit of their labour.
The Okun people objected to a fresh primary of the APC that may produce another candidate and also faulted the agitation that Audu’s son be made to take over as the party’s governorship candidate.
It stated: “In fact, the reason why the Kogi West Senatorial District voted en masse for APC is because of charismatic nature of Hon. Faleke. The steam, the drive and the enormous resources he deployed during the election were great. How come the suggestion in some quarters that Audu’s son should be made to step into the mandate of his father? Is it hereditary?
“Even the suggestion of the APC to conduct another primary is faulty. Is it fair for somebody to reap where he has not sowed?”
The OPF enjoined the APC not to support what it alleged was the agenda of the Igala people to perpetually dominate the governance of the state, cautioning that it would be sad if the party allowed or collaborated with “some reactionary elements to plot against the Okun to become the governor of Kogi State.”
The group declared: “Okun people will never accept to continue to be in servitude and to be subjugated under any tribe. Enough is enough! Okun people will resist any move that will deny Hon. Faleke this God-given opportunity to be the next governor of Kogi State.”
It explained that the issue involved was beyond Faleke as an individual and that it was that “Okun nation must rule as the other tribes have the right to rule.”
It said that Igala people had been ruling since the inception of the state without considering shifting of power to the Okun, Ebira and other ethnic groups in the state.
The group called for the support of all stakeholders to the cause to ensure that Faleke was not deprived the opportunity of emerging the next governor of the state.