By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Twenty governorship aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State have kicked against the adoption of indirect primary by the Governor Yahaya Bello faction of the party ahead of the party’s primary in August in the state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had recently fixed November 16, 2019 for the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The aspirants who came together under the auspices of APC Kogi Stakeholders Forum said that the party in the state was divided and warned that APC would have to be extremely careful so that the party does not lose Kogi State to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The leader of the forum and one of the APC leaders in the state, Senator Alex Kadri, while addressing a press conference in Abuja, called on the national leadership of the party to do the needful by setting up an independent caretaker committee to run the activities of the party in Kogi state until after the election.
He stated: “As we are preparing for the gubernatorial primaries, we want it known that we, the leaders of the APC in the state, as well as the 20 aspirants of our party are opposed to the Yahaya Bello contrived method of doing primaries, because we are told that he gathered his appointees at Lokoja over the weekend and they endorsed indirect primaries.
“We will not accept indirect primaries for the selection of a gubernatorial candidate for our party. We will not allow Yahaya to gather his political appointees in a room for them to say they are adopting indirect primaries. That means they are the same people who will go to the direct primaries to vote. The insult on Kogi people is too much, we want to stop it.
“He cannot be a judge of himself, this is irresponsible. We are saying that the primaries for Kogi state must be direct primaries, where all the members of the party from all the local government will choose who they want to be their candidate. We don’t want it to be thrown to the executive in a way that Yahaya Bello will corner all the people to Lokoja and they will nominate him as the sole candidate.
“So, since there are factions in the party how will the party conduct the primaries. We believe that our faction and Yahaya Bello’s faction cannot conduct a free and fair primary. Therefore, we are appealing to the national Secretariat of our party to do the needful to set up an independent caretaker committee to go and run the party in Kogi state until after the election have finished,” he added.
The forum noted that the national leadership of APC ought to listen to the majority of the people, adding that those people complaining are the original voters who brought success to the APC in Kogi state; “Yahaya bello was not one of us and we don’t want the house that we built to be completely destroyed by somebody’s misbehaviour.”
The forum said it had petitioned the National Working Committee of the party over the factionalisation of the party in the state, which led to the setting up the of the Tony Momoh committee.
Kadri stressed that Momoh’s committee wrote a report which was not complementary to the governor, alleging that neither the party nor the governor did anything about it.
According to him, “We cried again and for a second time, the party invited us again to appear before another reconciliation committee headed this time by General Garba, we appeared there again. That day I shed tears; why is APC paying us with unkind behaviour despite all the efforts that we made in taking Kogi out of the grips of the PDP? Why are we all now pushed outside.”
The forum insisted that it intention was not to destroy the party in Kogi state, adding that the faction of the party went to court because it wants the right thing to be done, but stated that if the right thing is not done, the forum would coinrinue its protest either to the national party Secretariat or to the court.
The aspirants who attended the meeting include; Prince Mustapha Audu, Dr. Timi Diche, Alhaji Aliyu Zakari Jiya, Alhaji Yusuf Ali, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi, Alhaji Idris Usman, Engr. Sunday Edibo, Alhaji Mohammed Ali, Gen. Patrick Akpa, Alhaji Yakubu Mohammed, Mr. Gowon Egbunu, Alhaji Yahaya Audu.
Others include, Prince Yahaya Sani, Admiral Jibril Usman, Dr. Aminu Audu, Prof. Seidu Mohammed Oga, Engr. Kasim Ali, Dr. Haruna Sheu, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Audu, and Prince Shaibu Sani.