Kogi: The race of intrigues
By Kingsley Fanwo
How candidates emerged
The nomination of the APC candidate for the election was not without the usual political desperation. The late Prince Abubakar Audu came into the contest with a princely veteran status. But the generation that greatly craved for change and end to ethnic tension in the state, chose to go with Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
Smart as he was, the late Audu went back to his board to draw out a strategy that knocked others out of the contest. He set the aspirants against one another and emerged from the dust of confusion and straight jacket politics of the state.
Shortly after his emergence which sparked protest, the People’s Democratic Party also came with its own version of uncertainty. The party leaders were fixated on the confused spot of who to choose between an incumbent governor and Alhaji Isah Jibrin Echocho. The likes of Senator Smart Adeyemi and initially, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris were said to be rooting for Echocho.
However, Wada emerged from the ashes of intense political horse-trading and concessions.
Ashes of the primaries
Dissatisfied with the APC primaries outcome, Bello and other lobby groups raised alarm over some infringements against the party guidelines and constitution. Audu’s Board of Trustees membership status to the point of primary was said to have offended the letters of the party’s laws. A panel was set up to investigate the infraction.
The panel which was headed by Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, recommended the disqualification of Prince Abubakar Audu. But some powerful influences within the party halted the implementation of the report.
Also, at its primaries, PDP lost the boat. Alh. Isah Jibrin Echocho, one of the most respected Igala leaders, abandoned the party for the APC. That action jolted the PDP in Kogi East.
The choice of Faleke as running mate to the late Prince Abubakar Audu also created crisis within the leadership of the APC. It was believed that most of the leaders saw Faleke as a Lagos politician who had never supported the party in the state.
Further down the road are candidates who were in the race with little or no chance of winning. Some of them are Dr. Philip Salawu of the Labour Party, Mr. Emmanuel Enesi Ozigi of the PPA and others.
The campaign colours
As the electioneering commenced, the parties hit the road to woo voters.
The PDP and APC were the heaviest spenders as billions of naira were sunk into the campaign. Also, the campaign recorded a few disturbances across the state.
Election day drama
The November 21, 2015 governorship election would go down history as a historic.
The APC was able to win in all the three senatorial districts, clinching the main strongholds of the rival PDP. It became obvious that the party was about to cruise home to victory but the history changed.
Inconclusive polls and Audu’s death
Within 24 hours, a series of events occurred in quick succession to alter the destiny of the state. Skirmishes in some areas made the polls inconclusive as the number of votes in the affected areas was higher than the margin between the two leading parties.
INEC decided to fix a date for a supplementary poll. Then, the big masquerade died. The death of Audu threw the state into legal pandemonium as the party would have to replace its fallen candidate.
At the end of day, APC decided to go for the candidate who was runner-up to the late Audu. Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello was made to replace Audu.
And Faleke kicked, and is still kicking
The choice of Bello as the replacement for late Prince Audu sparked protest in the camp of the latter’s running mate, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke. To Faleke, he was the rightful owner of the votes cast for the Audu/Faleke ticket.
Also, the candidate of the PDP Capt Idris Wada also claimed to be the candidate with “the highest votes alive”.
The Kogi scenario turned every Nigerian into law officers. However, efforts at stopping the conduct of the supplementary poll was aborted by a Federal High Court in Abuja, which asked all parties to pursue their cases at the tribunal.
Bello won the supplementary poll
Analysts are of the opinion that Bello’s victory at the supplementary poll was a departure from the ethnic politics of the state. In the supplementary poll, the Kogi East people for the first time, cast their votes for a non-Igala to be governor.
With the victory of APC, Yahaya Bello was declared Governor-elect, with Faleke retained as his Deputy.
While Faleke has consistently denied running a joint ticket with Bello, he has curiously approached the Elections Petitions Tribunal to set aside the victory of Bello and declare him the governor of the state.
While the world is keen on the outcome of the titanic horn-locking at the tribunal, attention has been shifted to the inauguration of the new government on Wednesday, January 27, 2016.