Kogi Impasse: Plots and counter plots

01122015C Yahaya BelloFROM a seamless electioneering campaign to an acrimonious polls and now a season of inconclusiveness: inconclusive death, inconclusive election and inconclusive replacement, the brouhaha generated by the Kogi polls is fast turning into a national problem.

With increasing political intensity, the warring factions are poised to push things to the wires in their bid to be crowned the next Lord of the Lugard House, Lokoja.

The sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate in the early hours of Sunday, November 22, 2015, has thrown the state into a frenzy, power play and resurgence of ethnic and religious hostilities.

With the APC given the opportunity to replace its candidate, renewed hostilities were ignited as the winner of the APC ticket has a 98 percent chance of winning the governorship. APC requires just 4500 of the 49,000 votes up for grab in the supplementary polls.

The stakes are very high with the likes of Mohammed Audu, Isah Jibrin Echocho, Yahaya Bello and Abiodun Faleke as  contenders .

However, it emerged on Friday that Yahaya Bello has been favoured by the National Working Committee of the party (NWC) and the presidency. Other aspirants to the APC throne vacated by Audu on account of death are hell bent on giving Yahaya Bello a run for his money.

Yahaya Bello, a business magnate of international repute was one of the frontrunners for the party’s governorship ticket ahead of the August 29, 2015 primaries. Analysts are of the opinion that Yahaya Bello would have won the primaries but for the lack of unity among the contenders from Kogi Central.

Bello fought for the ticket with all his might and was on the verge of nipping it before the National Legal Adviser of the party advised against stripping the late Audu of the ticket.

Nonetheless, proponents of the Faleke candidacy are coming up with cogent issues. To them, Faleke held a joint ticket with the late politician and by logic and law, the sole beneficiary of the votes casted on November 21. They argued that no other candidate would have the legal propriety to the votes casted in favour of the Audu/Faleke ticket.

With the expected declaration of Yahaya Bello as the party’s candidate, hostilities may take the battle to the law courts as Faleke is poised for a showdown with the NWC of his party.

Taking the issue to the legal wires may test the cohesion of the APC as the party may be forced to wield the big harmer against the politician known as him.

Smart as he is, Faleke has succeeded in striking a chord of interest with the political dynasty of the late Prince Abubakar Audu. He was said to have succeeded in wooing Mohammed Audu, son of the late politician to his side. Inside sources told Vanguard that Faleke has already penciled down Mohammed as his running mate.

But whether Kogi East people are in tandem with Mohammed Audu’s “pact” with Faleke is left to be seen. Kogi East has prided itself as the power base of the state, having ruled the state from inception.

It is on record that every elected governor of the state since 1992 had been an Igala man. Both the Okun and the Ebira have been settling for the positions of the deputy governor and House of Assembly speaker.

The looming shift of power base from the East to the Central and West is believed to be generating ripples among leaders of Kogi East.

If Yahaya Bello sails through as governor, he would be the first governor outside of Kogi East. With Faleke being projected as his deputy and the Speaker also from the same local council, Kogi East may have to put up with an unusual power scenario for four years, a situation that is not going down well with the people of Igala extraction.

The angst of the East is understandable. They have been in power for 23 years and had the opportunity to extend it by another four years before fate truncated the dream.

Having secured the governorship tickets of both  APC and People’s Democratic Party, PDP, the Igala had thought that it was only a matter of time before one of their own takes over at the Lugard House in January 2015.

But with the death of Prince Abubakar Audu with an almost unassailable lead for the APC and the decision of the APC hierarchy to go with the candidature of Bello, it has become a twist of fortune for the Eastern fortress.

Political arithmetic

With the political arithmetic failing the East, political leaders in the zone are already working on a number of options, including but not limited to legal actions.

A political leader from Kogi East who craved anonymity said the Igala are coalescing under the Igala Unity Umbrella.

“The situation on ground now is beyond political parties. We are looking at how to maintain and protect the Igala political interest. APC has failed us. They should have replaced the late Prince Abubakar Audu with another Igala man. Replacing him with an Ebira or Okun man is like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“We are still meeting to fine-tune our strategies. Even if we give all our votes to Wada, he may still not win as the APC only requires 5000 votes to win the election. We are boxed into a trap of uncertainties but we won’t give up.

“The only option left to us now is for Wada to boycott the supplementary poll sif he cannot stop the conduct by INEC, and challenge the results in court. He should demand to be declared governor because no candidate can inherit the votes of the dead”.

The juxtaposition of the variables and the dynamics of the Kogi scenario show a long hug with controversies, acrimonies and ethnic tensions, even after Saturday’s supplementary election.

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