• INEC: No replacement for Audu yet

barely FOUR days to the conduct of Kogi State governorship bye-election, the state is still embroiled in anxiety and apprehension over the choice of who replaces the late governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Prince Abubakar Audu, who died shortly before the announcement of the inconclusive election, as contenders to the ticket of the ruling party flex muscles. The scenario is even becoming more complicated with the National Working Committee of the party unable to resolve on the issue.
Although unconfirmed reports said the aspirant who came second to late Prince Audu during the party primaries, Alhaji Mohammed Bello had been adopted as replacement, this has been rejected by the stakeholders, some of whom yesterday took to the streets of major towns and villages in the Kogi East senatorial district, protesting and barricading the ever busy Ajaokuta-Itobe highway, while demanding the intervention of the national headquarters of the party over the imbroglio.
According to one of the protesters, Mr Omatiga, “We are all players in this game of politics. Right from the moment Yahaya Bello lost the party primary he abandoned the party and started working against the party interest. The state and the national leadership of the party are aware of his role that nearly derailed the party victory at the polls. Because of his ant-party posture, APC could not even hold party rally in his Adavi Local Government Area of the state. I stand to be corrected”, he said warning that any attempt to impose any candidate on APC will spell death knell for the party.
Nigerian Pilot also learnt reliably that while the protesters are upbeat that they will have their way in who replaces the late Prince Audu, APC leadership and chieftains are said have relocated to Abuja to trade their interest over the rumoured choice of Yahaya Bello to replace late Audu as party governorship candidate.
But Dr Tom Ohikere, head of Audu/Faleke media organisation insisted that the national body of the party should treat the matter of Audu’s replacement with decency and dispatch, and in tandem with the constitution of the party and country. He said if the party goes ahead with the plan to replace Audu with Alhaji Bello, then the party should be heading for the rock during the bye-election. He advised the party not to toy with the corporate existence of the major ethnic groups in the state which dates back to Kwararafa and Kabba province of the colonial epoch.
Equally, feelers indicate that the lawmakers from the state are spoiling for war over the rumoured choice of the party, even as reports emerged yesterday that most of the northern state governors are more disposed to the Faleke/Audu interest rather than the said choice of the party.
Meanwhile, a competent source in INEC has said no substitute for late Audu has been forwarded to the commission, stressing that those who speculate about Alhaji Mohammed Bello being asked to replace Audu were expressing the pigment of their own imagination.
As at press time, the Adeleke faction was still insistent that no candidate should be fielded for any bye-election but that INEC should go ahead and declare Audu’s deputy in the November 21 poll winner in the yet to be concluded election.

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