The All Progressives Congress, APC, have reportedly picked Yahaya Bello to replace the late Prince Abubakar Audu as its candidate for the December 5 supplementary election in Kogi state, The Nation reports.
Bello will be replacing Audu who gave up the ghost shortly after the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, declared the November 21 governorship election in the state inconclusive.
While quoting some sources, the newspaper said the party considered the candidature of Mohammed, Audu’s son as “risky” because the state governor, Idris Wada, who doubles as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, might challenge the decision in court.
The sources were quoted as saying, “We love the Audus but we cannot take such a big risk. If Wada and PDP go to court, they will win against Mohammed Audu.”
“Our leaders were guided by section 141 of the electoral act. If we choose him, the entire election will be voided.
“The section says: ‘An election tribunal or court shall not under any circumstance declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all the stages of such election,” the sources added.
It was learnt that Mohammed enjoys a strong support base as can be seen after his nomination by the APC in Kogi east as 11 lawmakers from the state house of assembly pitched their tent with him, while threatening to impeach any governor that emerges other than him.
According to the same report, the party opted for Bello because of the support he enjoys from some people in the presidency and for the fact he came second in the party’s primary.
The report said, “Our leaders met and after consultations reached a conclusion on the choice of Yahaya Bello from Kogi central as the party’s governorship candidate to substitute the late Prince Abubakar Audu.”
“The leaders arrived at the conclusion because Bello was second to Audu at the validly conducted governorship primaries of the party.
The Nation further stated that the party's national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun while explaining the choice of Bello as its flag bearer said, instead of running into crisis with fresh primaries, the party opted to return to the result of the previous primaries which was witnessed by INEC.
It said, “A letter, signed by the national chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on the choice of Bello has been submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday.
“They also argued that the choice of Bello will ensure power shift in the state and since the Ebiras were behind Audu, it won’t be difficult to foster understanding between Kogi east and Kogi central senatorial districts.
“Do not forget that Kogi East had already produced the minister from the state.
“Another important factor is that some of the 91 polling units where elections were cancelled are in Kogi central, and it will be easier to mobilise the electorate in the district to get the required votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Governor Idris Wada.”
It also stated that the running mate to the late Audu, James Faleke, was retained as the deputy governorship candidate.
The newspaper was quoted as saying Faleke, who has asked INEC to declare him as winner of the November 21 governorship poll in the state was not considered for the party’s because “some presidency forces” opposed him.
“There was also some conspiracy behind the refusal of the ticket for Faleke. Some presidency forces stamped their feet that he must not be allowed to step into Audu’s shoes because of internal power struggles in APC,”
“I won’t give you names but the forces were more powerful than Oyegun and other NWC members.
“Our leaders bought into the idea that Faleke is strange to the politics of the state, having had most of his political career in Lagos. They felt it is better for him to learn the ropes in the state before becoming a governor,” the Nation said.
Another source, according to the report noted that Faleke is currently being pressured to reject the idea of him deputising Bello but he is yet to decide on that.
“There are many options open to Faleke but the people of Kogi West want him to withdraw from the race. If Yahaya Bello gets the ticket, he might be reduced to a dummy deputy governor,” another source told the newspaper.
“Unless Faleke can fight his cause in court and claim his mandate, he will be frustrated as a deputy governor. If he quits, the party will have justification for bringing Mohammed Audu and Kogi West will be politically alienated,” the report alleged.