Will Supreme Court’s Verdict End Kogi APC Crisis?

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The recent verdict of the Supreme Court of Nigeria which affirmed Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello as the duly elected governor of Kogi State must have laid to rest the lingering tussle over who occupies the number one seat in the state.
The seven-man panel of justices headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta had in its unanimous judgement delivered on Sept. 20, dismissed the appeals separately filed by Mr James Abiodun Faleke, running mate to late Prince Abubakar Audu and that of former governor Idris Wada against Alhaji Yahaya Bello for lacking merit.

Also dismissed by the justices are the appeals filed by the African Democratic Party (ADP) and the Labour Party (LP).

The panel said reasons for the dismissal of the appeals will be given on September 30.
With the lingering legal battle over the Kogi governorship now over, the governor can now heave a sigh of relief and concentrate  on the real governance of the state.
But in the meantime, for the governor to have a smooth-sailing administration, according to pundits, he must kick start a genuine process of reconciliation with all party members and key stakeholders that were aggrieved in the aftermath of the November 21, 2015 governorship election.
Perhaps, one of the greatest challenges before Bello is that of reconciling with the Audu/Faleke camp which has hitherto been working at cross purposes with the present administration since it assumed power on January 27.
Observers said that the infighting within the party perhaps, stemmed majorly from the fact that key political players from the Audu/Faleke group who worked assiduously for the success of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 21, 2015 election are yet to be part of the present cabinet as constituted by Governor Bello.
Hence, political actors and stakeholders are proposing that Governor Bello would need to take some drastic steps in the weeks ahead by way of minor cabinet reshuffle to accommodate members from the other divides in his government for peace to reign in the APC family.
Besides, Bello is also advised on the need to urgently resolve issues with all the aggrieved executive members/key stakeholders of the APC in the state and work alongside with the party structure to ensure harmonious relationship between his government and the party on which wings, he rode to power.
Commenting on the verdict, Director General of the Prince Abubakar Audu Campaign Organisation, Mr Dan Isah, said though the Audu/Faleke group did not get the desired justice at the Supreme Court; the group would however be ready to embrace any “genuine” reconciliatory moves from Governor Bello.
“We have no regret whatsoever challenging the decision of INEC who declared the election inconclusive in the first instance because the election was actually concluded.
“To them, they have gotten justice, but to us, I want to say Justice has not been done but who are we to question the authority of the Supreme Court, though we still await the reasons why our case was dismissed.
“And as we continue to wait for their reasons, we are doing our consultations at various levels with leaders of our party. And we want to say that until we put our heads together and come up with a unanimous decision on the way forward, we will not be able to say what our intentions and plans are for now.”
On the issue of reconciliation, he said: “It is our prayer that such reconciliation comes quickly with a very genuine intention because survival of the party is so paramount to us and we wouldn’t want a situation that we will quickly kill the party that we nurtured to maturity all because of internal fracas.
“There are rooms for genuine reconciliation. Our doors are opened for genuine reconciliation because we are not interested in jeopardizing the future of our party.
“We have told our supporters at the grassroots level to remain calm, law abiding and await our decisions as we continue to consult with our leaders at the national level”, he said.
On his part an APC stalwart and member of Board of Trustees (BOT) in the state, Chief Clarence Olafemi, said with the verdict of the Supreme Court, there is need for all aggrieved parties to close ranks in the spirit of sportsmanship.
“I have said we politicians should start emulating the footballers; if you are going to play in the European league final, it is going to be a do or die affair, you will put in all your strength and the moment the last whistle goes, the other opponent must exchange hands with you and everybody will go and prepare for the next league.
“Both the loser and the winner must embrace themselves. That does not stop you from going to prepare for the 2019 election. But don’t destroy each other to the extent that you don’t see face to face again, that is not my kind of politics.
“So whether it is Yahaya, Faleke or Wada, they should see Kogi as their state and should not destroy it. But on the other hand, if you say don’t fight, go and warn the other person too not to provoke fight.
“Governor Bello should see himself as the father of Kogi. Forget about his age, he is the father of the state as affirmed by the Supreme Court. If your enemies are many, cut out of them and make as your friends and I say, the best governor that has done that was former Governor Ibrahim Idris”, he said.
Olafemi advised Bello to as much as possible ensure he runs an all inclusive government as that would enable him enjoy wider loyalty and less rancour during his tenure.
“Loyalty is a matter of interest. But If you continue to keep them outside and allow them to grow outside, one day, you will go and face them. That was the major and fundamental difference between Wada and Ibro. Wada kept too many important politicians that mattered outside and was not relating with them; by the time it dawned on him that he needed them, it was too late. I hope my son (Bello) will learn from that,” he said.
In same vein, the State Secretary of the AAPC, Bar. Tom Adejoh, said the governor as the leader of the party, should make all efforts to unite members of the party and carry them along for the success of his administration.
“The solution is not far-fetched; he needs the party to succeed. He is automatically the leader of the party. He should bring all heads together as one family so he can move the state forward.
“Now, there is no question of I am from this faction or the other faction; what is is on ground now is that he needs to move along with everybody in the party.
“My candid advice is that by the time he embraces party’s patronage, everything will fall in place. Even the appointments are dynamic, they are not static, somebody who has been appointed can be dropped. There can be a minor cabinet reshuffle to inject some other persons into the system to keep the relationship going,” Adejoh said.
On his part, the Media Director of the Audu/Faleke group, Mr Duro Meseko, said what the people of Kogi needed now was good governance, adding that the governor should focus on that.
He said its doors were open for reconciliation, adding that, “APC is still remains APC and we are not saying that we don’t want reconciliation. We are not against reconciliation but such should be done on certain terms. It is welcome provided it is done on fair ground.”
Meanwhile, Governor Bello has expressed his determination to build bridges of reconciliation with his opponents and all aggrieved stakeholders for smooth governance in the state.
Bello, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Mallam Abdulmalik Abdulkarim, said he had already extended the olive branch and urged all aggrieved stakeholders to reciprocate the gestures aimed at building bonds of fraternity.
He said all that transpired before now was ‘mere misunderstanding amongst brothers’ which he noted, should be put behind in the overall interest of good governance and development of the state.
“In spite of the media hype over the struggles, governor Yahaya Bello is not unmindful of the fact that Hon. Abiodun Faleke remains his brother and a stakeholder in the business of carrying Kogi state from the shackle of underdevelopment to a developed state.
“He has also called on the aggrieved members of his party, the All Progressives Congress to bury their hatchets and join hands with him. He has also extended same to other party stalwarts in the state. He has also said that his government will remain blind to ethnic and religious differences,” he said.
He said the governor was determined to bring on board as many Kogi people that would be willing to offer useful ideas and contributions in actualizing his ‘new direction’ blueprint for the state irrespective of their political, religious or ethnic backgrounds.
“He has thrown the gates of the Government House open to all and sundry; everybody should take this advantage to join hands with us so that the five thematic areas of the new direction blueprint can become a reality. The governance is so large and there are enough rooms for everybody to play a part.
“I must also appreciate the spontaneous response of the former governor of the state, Capt. Idris Wada, who has pledged to support this government. I think we are in the right course and I’m expecting others to join suit”, he said.
He assured the people of Kogi of rapid development in all facets of the state’s life as the governor settles down for the “real business of governance”, urging them to lend their unalloyed supports to the administration.

Credits: Itodo Daniel Sule | Daily Trust

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