There were indications last night that leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were still divided over the choice of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as the party’s candidate for next Saturday’s supplementary governorship election in Kogi State.
While the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and a group loyal to him in the party are insisting that Yahaya Bello’s name be withdrawn for Hon James Faleke (late Prince Abubakar Audu’s running mate) following the submission of Bello’s name by the party last Friday to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), other party chieftains have kicked against this saying Bello’s choice and subsequent nomination be maintained.
This is coming just as the INEC has given the APC until tomorrow to present a replacement for its late governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, for the Kogi supplementary election.
LEADERSHIP had on Saturday reported that Bello who came second during the party’s governorship primaries on August 29, 2015 was chosen by the party to replace the late Audu after the demise of the governorship candidate, following INEC’s declaration of the Kogi governorship poll inconclusive.
It was gathered last night that although Bello had been nominated and his name submitted to INEC late Friday evening, some powerful stakeholders in the APC want his name replaced with that of late Audu’s running mate, Hon. James Faleke.
It was learnt that the bid by the party to present Bello as its new candidate reached a stalemate yesterday when leader of the party and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu was said to have insisted that it was either Faleke or no one else stepped into the late Audu’s shoes.
A reliable source in the party told LEADERSHIP that when it became glaring that Tinubu and other stakeholders angling for Faleke would not budge an inch, the national chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun told them that with their fixed position, the development indicates that the APC might end up not having any candidate for the Kogi supplementary governorship election slated for this Saturday.
The source, a senior party official, who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, told LEADERSHIP last night that if care was not taken, the party may yield to the pressure by the stakeholders who are insisting on Faleke’s candidacy because of the allegation against Bello that he is a mole in the APC working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said, “The argument being canvassed now is that it should not be Bello because he allegedly worked against the late Audu’s bid to become governor. There is so much pressure on us to withdraw Bello’s candidacy in view of the crisis that the choice has generated as well as the fierce protest it is causing in Kogi State.
“Right now, we are at a crossroad because nothing has divided the party like the choice of governorship candidate for the Kogi supplementary poll. Our only saving grace is that INEC has given the party till Tuesday (tomorrow) to take a final stand on the matter.
“As we speak, national leader of the party, Asiwaju Tinubu and his group are insisting on the withdrawal of Yahaya Bello, while another group supporting Bello are also kicking that Bello’s nomination remained. The chairman is presently confused and threatening to withdraw Bello’s name and Falake’s thereby leaving the party without any candidate,” our source said.
The party stakeholders insisting on Faleke’s candidacy are contending that he deserves it because he was everywhere with the late Audu campaigning vigorously for the election, and that it would be unfair to deny him what he laboured for and favour someone who was even working against the APC candidate and the party’s interest.
INEC gives tomorrow as deadline
Meanwhile, INEC has given APC Tuesday (tomorrow) deadline to present a replacement for its late governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, for the Kogi State supplementary election on December 5.
This was disclosed by INEC’s director of voter education and publicity, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi.
He also said he is unaware that a replacement has been submitted by the APC over the weekend.
INEC had last Tuesday granted the APC permission to fill the vacancy created by the death of Audu, same day it declared that the supplementary governorship election will hold on December 5.
The commission, while acknowledging that the party has officially written to it over the demise of its governorship candidate, notified the 22 political other parties that participated in the November 21 election of the date for the supplementary poll.
When asked if the APC has submitted a replacement ahead of the supplementary election, Osaze-Uzzi said, “I am not aware”.
He however disclosed that Tuesday was the deadline given to the APC to submit its replacement for its late candidate.
Kogi: Okun elders support Bello for APC ticket
Members of the Okun Elders Forum in Kogi State have declared their support for Alhaji Yahaya Bello as their preferred candidate to fill the vacuum created by the death of the APC governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, in the yet to be concluded governorship election in the state.
The forum’s spokesman, Chief Funsho Atale, in a statement in Ibadan yesterday, made available to newsmen, hinged their position on the need to move the state forward and in tandem with democratic principles.
“The elders took the position in the interest of the party, Kogi State and Okunland,” he said.
He added that based on these, the elders decided to throw their weight behind Yahaya Bello as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC,” their statement read.
The elders, including Chief P. S. Alabi, Chief (Hon) Remi Ogga and Engr. Dele Abu, urged the leadership of the APC to align various interest groups to rally support for the candidature of Yahaya Bello and ensure victory for the party during the remaining election slated for 5th December, so as to move the state forward.
The elders noted that this is not the best time for political horse trading as all hands must be on deck to get Kogi State back to the path of growth and development.
Ahmadu Ali escapes lynching at Audu’s funeral prayers
Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, Senator Ahmadu Ali, yesterday at the eighth-day prayer for the late political gladiator, Prince Abubakar Audu, escaped death by the whiskers at Ogbonicha, Ofu local government area of Kogi State.
Senator Ahmadu Ali was among those who had been pencilled down as one of the enemies of progress in Igala kingdom.
The former PDP chairman was chased and stoned by irate youths suspected to be supporters of the APC who were said to be piqued by Senator Ali’s several comments on the podium during PDP campaigns.
Despite the advice of Mohammed Abubakar Audu, Ahmadu Ali and Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane had their jeeps vadalised and clothes torn as the youths could not control their anger against these personalities who fall on the list of enemies of Igalaland.
Mohammed Abubakar had told the irate youths to sheathe their swords, stating that it was not in the interest of the dead political gladiator.
Prominent among those who graced the eighth-day prayer at Ogbonicha, Ofu local government of Kogi State were the governor of Niger State, Sani Bello, deputy governor of Kogi State, Yomi Awoniyi, Sheik Shehu Ishiaka, Hon Rabiu Alfa of Kogi House of Assembly, and Suleiman Adam, chief imam of Ankpa who urged the people to accept Audu’s death.