As the time for the November 16 governorship election campaigns in Kogi State closes in , the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) looks formidable as a result of the mending of fences among its once fractious ranks. The party at the beginning of the tenure of incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello was enmeshed in a crisis after the sudden demise of Prince Abubakar Audu. The sudden change in the internal configuration of the party did not go down well with some stakeholders, particularly those who were in the kitchen cabinet of Abubakar Audu or what was known as the Audu/Faleke camp.
The ensuing crisis even saw the dissolution of the Hadi Ametuo- led state executive council and its replacement by a council loyal to the governor and led by Hon. Abdullahi Bello.
At the height of the non-payment of salaries controversy it was speculated that the national leadership of the APC was not in support of the governor’s re-election bid and that he was making subtle moves to defect to the Labour Party. But as the party inched closer to its August 28 primary election, it began to emerge that disgruntled stakeholders in the party were becoming more amenable to the overtures of the governor.
The primary proper was another show of force and unity as it was rancor-free, in what seemed like a consensus among the grassroots of the party that Governor Bello indisputably deserved a second term as he won with a wide margin of 3,127 votes from a total of 3,596 delegates.
This was followed by a post primary reconciliation within the party in which aspirants who had sought the party’s ticket resolved to support the governor as the candidate of the party at the poll.
Since then the floodgates of goodwill for the governor’s re-election had been opened as other aggrieved and defected members began making their way back to the fold. Just last month, the Speaker of Kogi State House Assembly, Hon. Mathew Kolawole, formally received some of the defecting members of PDP and other parties into the APC in Okun land. The defectors were led by Mr Nathaniel Taiwo, a former chairman of Kabba-Bunu Local Council and former member of the state House of Assembly. Similarly, early this month, in Omala, members of the PDP led by a former chairman of the LGA, Alih Ajuh defected to the APC. The defecting band was composed of youths and women leaders from across the wards in the local government in a ceremony held in Abejukolo.
Even Hon James Falaeke, who was the deputy gubernatorial candidate of the party in the 2015 election and one of the main leaders of the Audu Falake camp, and was once in court with Governor Yahaya Bello over the decision of the party leadership to give the first runner up of the primary that produce Audu Abubakar as the candidate of the APC in 2015, is back and solidly backing the party and governor Bello’s re-election quest.
Speaking on the newly found love and unification within the party, Mr Falaeke said: “Following the decision of the leadership of Audu/Faleke group to work with Governor Bello as loyal party men and women, I on behalf of the group, met with the governor to chart the way forward and build a strong and united APC before the November gubernatorial election”.
Mr. Babatunde Irukera, who is the first runner-up in the party’s primary also called on his supporters to vote for the governor at the coming poll. He said he is a national leader and a great believer in the party and will not support any action that will derail the victory of the party in the coming governorship election.
Professor Mohammed Seidu Ogah, former Director General of The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), has since rest his case and has joined the wagon of those who believe APC deserves to continue and consolidate on its governance agenda for the state. Also Vice Admiral Usman Jibril said, “I have not directed my supporters to any PDP candidate. I remain APC loyalist”.
Speaking on Governor Bello’s return bid, APC national leader, Bola Tinubu who was initially rumored to be against giving the ticket to the incumbent, has this to say: “If you don’t have complaints in politics, then there is no democracy so we only pay attention to the noise in the market because we have so many apples, oranges and various fruits of different characters but there is one that is constant. This is a market of many branches and this is the broom; they will come together as a bunch to sweep clean all the debris of the past, that is it, we are going to win”.
What is clear now is that the APC in Kogi State is for the first time since the demise of Prince Abubakar Audu, one united and coherent house with a rich variety of talents and competent individuals with vast political support and electoral value.
Dr Tom Ohikere, secretary, media and publicity committee, Kogi State APC governorship Campaign Council