Kogi Polls: Faleke kicks as APC confirms Bello as guber candidate

Yahaya Bello sworn in as Kogi governor

Yahaya Bello sworn in as Kogi governor

James Faleke
James Faleke

The All Progressives Congress, APC on Monday evening finally announced Yahaya Bello as its replacement for Abubakar Audu, its candidate in the Kogi State gubernatorial poll held on Saturday, 21 November.

Audu died shortly after the result of the polls was announced as ‘inconclusive’ in Lokoja, the state capital. He was leading his closest challenger, Idris Wada who is also the incumbent governor of the state by 41,000-vote lead before his death.

But the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had insisted the election in 91 polling units must be conducted to declare the winner.

INEC then asked APC to nominate another candidate for the supplementary election to conclude the process.

But the death of Audu has thrown up a constitutional crises, with the deceased’s running mate, James Faleke claiming to be the right inheritors of the votes while APC seemed to have settled for Bello who finished second in the APC gubernatorial primaries.

According to the electoral umpire, there were 49,000 registered voters in the areas, more than the margin of victory of the APC candidate.

But analysts have argued that the Commission insistence on the supplementary polls is wrong as the number of voters qualified to vote with permanent voters card, is about 25,000, less than the 41,000 votes Audu had piled up to lead Wada in the 21 November election.

Yahaya Bello picked to succeed Audu as APC governorship candidate in Kogi
Yahaya Bello picked to succeed Audu as APC governorship candidate in Kogi

Based on this premise, Faleke had argued that the election has been concluded and he should be declared the winner since his principal is dead in accordance to Electoral Act.

The deputy governorship candidate had since last week wrote two letters to INEC and the leadership of APC asking to be nominated as the replacement for Audu. But reports over the weekend indicated that the leadership of APC had already submitted the name of Bello as a replacement for Audu to INEC.

Supporters of Faleke and Bello clashed at the Wuse, Abuja headquarters of APC on Monday as they waited for the party’s decision.

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After the meeting attended by Faleke and Bello and other heavyweights of the party including the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, the National Working Committee of the APC unveiled Bello, popularly known as Fair Plus as the replacement for the late Prince Abubakar Audu.

The choice of Bello as replacement for Audu was announced by Chief John Odigie Oyegun, the national chairman of APC who also urged party leaders and stakeholders to accept the decision of the party leadership and ensure the party become victorious in Saturday’s supplementary poll.

He also announced Faleke who was the running mate to late Audu in the inconclusive election as Audu deputy.

According to the APC National Chairman, Bello was chosen to ensure conformity to the nation’s electoral laws and to ensure unity and fairness in the party.

While Bello promised to ensure reconciliation of the aggrieved parties, Faleke said he will go to court to challenge the decision of APC .

Faleke also said he will not be part of the supplementary election scheduled to take place on December. “We met for more than two hours, but we discovered that the meeting was a mere briefing,” he said.

“The party told us that they have nominated Alhaji Yahaya Bello as the substitute Kogi governorship candidate. But we told them that, that was not acceptable.

“I have submitted a letter to the party that I will not be paired with Yahaya Bello because, I am governor-elect. “I will not be part of the election, and because I have pulled out it will be null and void. “We are going to challenge the decision of the party in court. I am not a deputy governor to anybody. They party took the decision and just invited us.”

INEC had earlier confirmed that APC leadership had submitted the Bello as replacement candidate. Nick Dazang, the INEC Deputy Director of Publicity said on Monday that APC has already sent the name of Bello as replacement for Audu in the supplementary election.

“They have sent the name of their replacement candidate, the second runner-up in their primaries, that is Yahaya Bello, to the commission,” Dazang said.

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