Monday, 30 November 2015

Breaking News: Crisis Rocks APC Over Kogi Election Impasse

The All Progressives Congress, APC, was last night tethering towards a major crisis over the strong positions of major stakeholders on resolving the problems arising from the death of its candidate in the Kogi State governorship election, Prince Abubakar Audu.

The crisis in the party, it was learnt, was also quietly seeping into the presidency with senior presidency officials taking different positions on the issue.

At the centre of the crisis, as exclusively reported by Vanguard last Friday, was the decision of the party acting in concert with associates of President Muhammadu Buhari to present Alhaji Yahaya Bello who came second in the APC governorship primaries as the new candidate of the party. The party had also pencilled James Faleke, who was Audu’s running mate in the penultimate weekend election, as also running mate to Bello.

However, Faleke, who had earlier through his lawyer, Wole Olanikpekun written the party to lay his claim to the mandate of the late Audu, at the weekend, further stoked tempers with his formal decision to reject his nomination as Bello’s running mate.

In a letter to the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Faleke flatly rejected his nomination as running mate to Bello, who he accused of betraying the party in its time of need.

Against the background of the death of Audu, party officials acting in concert with associates of President Buhari, it was learnt, had pencilled down Bello as the new candidate upon his second place finishing in the party primaries with Faleke as running mate. Under the plans, Mohammed Audu, son of the late candidate was also being proposed as Secretary to the State Government to assuage the camp of the late Audu.

However, the plans were seriously being undermined, last night, with reports that Faleke was set to go to court with three Senior Advocates of Nigeria, including one from Kogi State enlisted to push his case at a Federal High Court today.

The party, last night was nonetheless, pushing ahead with Bello. Bello, who according to sources, had been told by party officials not to leave Abuja was, last night, invited to present himself at the party secretariat this morning for his unveiling as the new APC candidate in Kogi State.

Reflective of his new status, security around Bello has been raised with military, police and Department of State Service operatives giving him all round security.

Despite the antagonisms towards him, Bello has been reaching out by telephone to leading stakeholders. Among those he is believed to have reached were Faleke and Chief Clarence Olafemi, who is one of the staunch pillars behind Faleke. Vanguard could not confirm the details of their discussion. Bello has reached Prof. Isaiah Daniel, the director general of the Abubakar Audu Campaign Organisation seeking his support.

His efforts nonetheless, those pushing for Faleke argued that Bello distanced himself from the party immediately he lost the party primaries. It was being said last night that he did not present himself at the two rallies attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbanjo at Lokoja and Okene.

INEC gives APC tomorrow deadline

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, meanwhile yesterday affirmed that the APC has until tomorrow to substitute the late Audu.

The commission had earlier refuted claims that it gave a deadline to the party to forward the name of its new candidate.

However, Deputy Director in charge of Publicity at the commission, Nick Dazang told Vanguard, last night, that the party has till December 1, to submit the name of its candidate. He was however, silent on whether INEC would retain the late Audu’s name on the ballot paper should the party fail to do the needful before the deadline.

“APC has been requested to submit a candidate before or on December 1, 2015”, he said, directing further enquiries to the party.

In his letter to Odigie-Oyegun rejecting his nomination as running mate to Bello, Faleke also asserted the fact that the APC lost in Bello’s polling unit and ward, points he projected to reflect his claim that Bello worked against the party during the elections.

Faleke rejects APC offer

In the letter to the national chairman dated November 27, 2015 which was also copied to INEC and the APC national secretary, Faleke said:

RE: My purported nomination as Deputy Governor

Information at my disposal from the National Secretariat of our party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and my telephone conversation with your good self, confirmed to me that the party had issued INEC form and submitted my name as running mate to Alhaji Yahaya Bello in the forthcoming unusual and strange governorship elections scheduled for December 5, 2015, covering 91 polling units in Kogi State, to elect a “supplementary governor.”

Mr. Chairman, you may recall that an election was conducted on November 21, 2015 in which I was running mate to the late Prince Audu Abubakar. I, therefore, remain fully committed to that joint ticket which received the blessings of the party leadership including your good self evident from your attendance at the campaign rallies to ensure total victory for our great party through which the people of Kogi State massively and overwhelmingly voted for us.

Following the demise of my principal after the announcement of results from the polling units, wards, local government areas and the state, our party had the highest number of votes of 240,867 against PDP’s 199,514 thus creating a difference of 41,353 votes between the two leading parties. On the strength of this, I hereby state clearly that I remain the Governor-elect of Kogi State on the platform of our great party.

Please take this letter as confirmation to disassociate myself from this unusual and strange supplementary nomination of my humble self as running mate to Alhaji Yahaya Bello. This also serves as a notice of rejection of the purported illegal nomination of myself as running mate to Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

I wish to put it on record that I was neither consulted nor informed by anybody before my name was submitted as running mate to a man who has since the conduct of the primaries, abandoned the party, took the party to court, worked for PDP thereby causing our party to lose his polling units with 88 votes to his ally party, the PDP’s 116, repeating same feat at the ward level with APC scoring 1,146 to PDP’s 2,058.

While it is true that the said Alhaji Yahaya Bello participated in our primaries, it is trite that party primaries are conducted to produce a candidate and once a candidate is produced, the congress being an ad hoc tool of the party for that purpose should automatically extinguish.

It is clear from this injustice, that our party is on the path of rewarding disloyalty and discouraging loyalty through this act of impunity for which we all fought the PDP.

It may also interest you Mr. Chairman, that the said Alhaji Yahaya Bello since the conduct of the primaries had been aloof from the party activities as it is on record that he did not attend a single meeting or campaign rally of the party.

Mr Chairman, I am sure that it is neither in your interest nor that of the party in particular and the public in general to lord an illegality on the people of Kogi State.

Please take note that I am not interested in surrendering the mandate of the people of Kogi State bestowed on the Audu/Faleke joint ticket at the Nov 21 polls as I remain the Governor-elect.

Sir, I believe in the leadership of our great party to resolve this in the shortest possible time, failure upon which I shall be forced to seek redress in the Court of law.

In the same vein, APC youths from Kogi East continued their protest against Bello, yesterday.

Some of the youths attacked dignitaries at the 8th day prayer for the late Prince Audu at Ogbonicha on Sunday.

Senator Ahmadu Ali, a former National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party and Senator Nicholas Ugbane who represented the Kogi East Senatorial Zone between 2003 and 2011 were among the victims of the attack. Their vehicles were allegedly vandalized by the rampaging youths who were heard chanting songs in support of Mohammed Audu, son of the late Prince Abubakar Audu.

The youths threatened to disrupt the December 5 supplementary poll unless Mohammed Audu is fielded by the All Progressives Congress as replacement for his father.