•INEC rules out replacements of candidates
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
In spite of the efforts by the former Senate President, Abubakar Saraki-led five-man national reconciliation committee inaugurated by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to reconcile aggrieved governorship aspirants in Kogi and Bayelsa states, two major aspirants in the two states are still reluctant to do away with their cases in court.
This was coming as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said the dates for replacements or changes or withdrawal of candidates had passed.
INEC’s Director of Voters and Public Education, Oluwole Izzi, added that constitutionally, no political parties would be allowed to make any change as the time stipulated for such had passed.
He said: “No, there would be no substitution of validly nominated candidate except through death.”
Another national commissioner who did not want to be quoted advised the major parties not to play a role that could lead to the reinventing of the situations in Rivers and Zamfara states in the last general election.
The national commissioner said: “If it is proven in court that the delegates that voted validated the process and the court bullies the processes that lead to emergence of the governorship candidate, then the commission will obey the court orders as was in the case of Rivers and Zamfara states.”
The two major contenders, who are still in court against the PDP candidates, are the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe and Abubakar Idris.
Alaibe has gone to court against Bayelsa State PDP governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri, while Idris has gone to court against his brother-in-law, Musa Wada.
Despite the efforts of the former senate president to reconcile all aggrieved aspirants, the duo of Alaibe and Idris are said to be reluctant to withdraw their court cases against the respective candidates in the two states.
THISDAY gathered that the national reconciliation committee has made appreciable contacts with the aggrieved aspirants in Bayelsa State, but the committee met some brick blocks in the camps of Alaibe and the deputy governor, John Jonah, due to the underhand pressure of alleged victimisation against him by Governor Seriake Dickson.
A source close to the camps of Alaibe and Jonah said though the Saraki committee had made contacts with them, a decision has not been reached.
Specifically, the source added that Alaibe remains much undecided as he recently authorised that the suit he filed against the PDP governorship candidate be transferred from Federal High Court in Yenagoa to the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The source explained that if the national reconciliation committee has made the desired progress with Alaibe, he would not be asking for the transfer of the suit from Yenagoa to Abuja.
Moreover, the source noted that Alaibe is very determined, adding that if Diri is charged before the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal and eventually convicted, the former NDDC managing director, who came second at the gubernatorial primary, stood the chance of becoming the ticket holder.
An aide to Alaibe told THISDAY that his principal did not have intention to withdraw his suit against Diri, describing the report that Alaibe wanted to withdraw his suit as “mere propaganda.”
On the progress made on reconciliation with the deputy governor, a source said it’s already too late as Jonah who controls his political structure as well as his younger brother has allegedly joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) last week.
The matter was said to be very complex as issues relating to the crisis that led to the removal of the former Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly was unconnected with his refusal to be part of the plot to impeach the deputy governor.
In summary, the source said of the Saraki-led committee “is neither here nor there. Former President Goodluck Jonathan has no influence in the state as his senatorial constituency is under APC. Moreover, he is not in the country and has refused to intervene to avoid humiliation.”
In Kogi State, a source said appreciable success has been made through the efforts of the Saraki committee and the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar. Before the Saraki committee, the former vice president had invited all the aggrieved aspirants to Dubai and this has yielded great efforts.
So far, the source said all the aspirants have been reconciled with the candidate, Musa Wada, except his in-law, who is the son of the former governor, Ibrahim Idris.
Pressure, the source said, has continued to mount on the former governor popularly called Ibro to coerce his son, Abubakar, to withdraw his court case against his brother in-law.
The source added: “This is more of a family problem and we are expecting their father who was a former governor to put his house in order.”
Meanwhile, the candidacy of Wada as the PDP governorship flag bearer for the Kogi State November 16 election has received a boost as 10 former governorship aspirants under the PDP led by former governor of the state, Capt. Idris Wada, unanimously adopted Wada and pledged to work for his victory at the poll.
Kogi State PDP former aspirants under the umbrella of Kogi PDP 2019 G-12 declared that they have resolved to accept the decision of the Chairman of the Governorship Primary Election Committee, Governor Ahmed Fintiri of Adamawa State which announced Wada as the party’s gubernatorial candidate.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on their behalf, Alhaji Mohammed Shaibu, the former aspirants said they had reviewed the circumstances that led to Wada’s emergence and decided to close ranks and work with him for the total victory of the party at the poll.
“As members of the Kogi PDP 2019 G-12, the urgent need for intra-party cohesion and unity of purpose at this critical moment is recognised.
“It is for this reason that the candidacy of Musa Wada is considered worthy of undivided support as the task to #RebuildKogi starts in earnest.
“Considering the reconciliation efforts of Musa Wada and his preparedness to actively partner with 2019 PDP aspirants in Kogi State, the Kogi PDP 2019 G-12 without reservation accepts him as a partner in progress in the liberation struggle and also accepts to work with him in the overall interest of the PDP and Kogi State,” the former aspirants added.
Consequently, they directed leaders and coordinators of various political structures of individual aspirants who make up the G-12 members to make themselves available “as willing ambassadors of the PDP across the state and grassroots’ mobilisers for Musa Wada.”
Ten of the former aspirants signed the documents but two were absent.