#KogiDecides: Bello, Faleke and APC’s Worsening Dilemma

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While the people of Kogi State are preparing for the coming of a new government following the defeat of incumbent Governor Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), with most of the attention focused on the governor-elect, Yayaha Bello, the party is facing a crisis of its own, and pundits say it could prove far more chaotic than many people imagined.




Observers of the politics of the state say the APC dilemma in Kogi, which started with the sudden death of its original gubernatorial candidate, the late Abubakar Audu, on the eve of what many insist was an election victory, and escalated with the refusal of Audu’s running mate, James Faleke, to accept the party’s choice, Yahaya Bello, as the replacement for Audu, is worsening.



According to party sources, there are palpable fears within the party at all levels that the ongoing crisis is capable of not only robbing the APC of its victory in Kogi State, but also capable of denting the image of the party and its leadership across the country.




James Shuaib is the Kogi State Chairman of the Movement for Democracy and Justice (MDJ). The rights activist-turned politician says right from the moment Audu died, APC chieftains in the state started working at cross purposes.


He emphasized the possibility of a fifth columnist in the entire saga. According to him, it will be unfortunate if the victorious party and its chieftains allow selfishness and unnecessary bickering to rob them of their hard earned victory in the state.




“There are many issues that portend danger for the party. Unless the party finds a way of putting its house in order as soon as possible, I can assure you that the APC stand a very serious risk of losing the state to the PDP.




While the PDP is busy compiling legal document that can help its case at the tribunal, the victorious party is busy exposing itself daily. With the Bello and Faleke camps daily issuing damaging releases about one another, somebody somewhere within the hierarchy of the party should have told them they are arming the PDP to defeat them in the courts,” he said.



The issues

Shuaib, like many other pundits, has been calling attention to actions of APC chieftains in Kogi that are capable of working against the interest of the party at the tribunal. The APC national leadership, he cautioned, should stop pretending that all is well when in actual fact a lot is currently wrong, and can only become worse.



“Don’t forget that Faleke vowed not to “trade off or compromise his mandate as the governor-elect of Kogi State.” And in line with that resolve, he wrote both the national leadership of his party and the INEC, refusing to run on the same ticket with Bello in the supplementary election.



Technically, it can be argued that APC had no deputy governorship candidate in that election. Although this is strongly debatable, it is not a good omen for Bello and his party, especially as the PDP will clutch at any straw to regain its control of the state,” he said.



Faleke had, few days before the supplementary election, written INEC, demanding the removal of his name as the running mate to Alhaji Yahaya Bello in election. He also wrote to the leadership of his party, making the same demand. Since then, he has refused to associate with the Bello/Faleke ticket in spite of insistence by INEC that he remained the running mate.



Another analyst, Baba Abdul Ocholi, an Abuja based legal luminary, says Faleke’s refusal to be the running mate to the new candidate, Yahaya Bello, in the governorship supplementary election has put his party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in a quandary.




“It is not an issue that should be treated with kids’ glove. We are in a democracy and the rule of law is paramount. The electoral law is very clear about all these things. But I think there is still time for the party to put its house in order over this particular matter and avoid the repercussion. Faleke must stop saying he didn’t contest the election with Bello. It is dangerous for his party,” he said.




Another issue of concern to analysts is the recent claims and counter claims amongst the warring APC camps over Bello’s Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC). “It is surprising that members of the same party can disagree to the point of hurting the chances of their party this much,” Ocholi said.




The Audu/Faleke Campaign Organisation has, during the week, alleged that the governor-elect does not possess the Permanent Voter Card. In a statement, the Director of Publicity of the group, Duro Meseko, alleged that Bello was “now running around to induce the Independent National Electoral Commission to obtain backdated PVC.”




“We have it on good authority that Yahaya Bello, who was fielded as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Party (APC) in the December 5 supplementary poll, is not a registered voter and this is our prayer in the petition we filed against his nomination by our party as a replacement for the late flag bearer, Prince Abubakar Audu.



“We heard that the supplementary governor-elect whose name was not on the Permanent Voter Register has been trying to lobby INEC officials to smuggle his name into the register for the purpose of his defence at the Kogi Governorship Election Petitions’ Tribunal,” he alleged.




While the camp of the governor-elect is yet to respond to the allegation, the defeated PDP in the state, according to sources, is already discussing the possibility of adding the allegation to its claims before the tribunal in its bid to reclaim the state.



“Like I said, the PDP will hang on to any claim in its fight against the APC. That explains why it is tactless of the APC for its chieftains to be saying so much against one another,” he said



APC’s position


Betraying signs that the party is actually bothered about the current scenario in the confluence state, National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, recently said the party might finally consider the option of replacing its deputy governor-elect in Kogi State, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, if all the reconciliatory moves fail.



But he was very quick to add that consultations to resolve the crisis and bring everybody back on board were still going on. He added that on the decision taken to replace Audu with Bello by the party, the APC was ready to face any legal hurdle.



He said in the choice of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the party adopted a simple commonsensical solution which it can easily defend legally should the need arise.



“We have thought the process through and we have won the election in Kogi. Those aggrieved, it is for them to call to question whatever they feel aggrieved about. We will meet them on those grounds. For us in the APC, Kogi is a settled issue, if you want to go to the tribunal, we’ll meet you there, if you want to go to court, we’ll meet you there,” he said.





Credit: The Nation

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