- Son, Mohammed not policitally strong enough – APC
- Party intensifies search
The decision of the All Progressives Congress, APC to go for fresh primaries to replace the Late Prince Abubakar Audu as its candidate must have been informed by the insistence of the Igala, the dominant ethnic group in Kogi State that only one of their own would be acceptable if the party has any intention of emerging victorious in the election.
Though the election is still enmeshed in serious controversies, the APC whose candidate died before the election could be concluded had indicated its readiness to go for fresh party primaries to find a suitable replacement for the former candidate.
However, this may not come easy as some prominent Igala people are insisting on the party still fielding another candidate from Kogi East.
Kogi State, in the North Central of Nigeria is made up of three predominating ethnic stocks; the Igala, occupying Kogi East, the Ebira occupying Kogi Central and the Okun/Yoruba ethnic stock occupying Kogi West.
Since the creation of the state in 1991, the Igala, the dominant of the other two have been producing the governors of the state. This explained why there was heightened agitation prior to the last election by the people of the West and Central for power to shift. This did not actually materialize as the two main contenders in the inconclusive election:
Governor Idris Wada and the late Prince Abubakar Audu are both from Igala ethnic stock.
However, with the sudden demise of Audu, some schools of thought started agitating for his running mate, Hon James Faleke from Okun/Yoruba axis to take over the ticket. Some others also started agitating for the runner up in the primary election that threw up Audu, Yahaya Bello from the Ebira ethnic stock to take over the ticket.
Expectedly, these suggestions have not gone down well with the Igala who still want to hold on tight to the reins of power in the state. Rather than buy into the idea of replacing Audu with either his running mate or the runner up in the last APC primaries, there are those suggesting that Prince Mohammed Audu, the son of the late Audu be used to substitute him.
But some APC chieftains have rejected this suggestion saying that Mohammed Audu does not command the political clout and followership of his late father to be used to replace him. These, APC chiefs believe that handing over the ticket to the young Audu would be committing a political suicide as many chieftains of the party would see the move as patriarchal and therefore may distance themselves from the party.
“Some elders in the party who toiled for the near victory of the party in this election will feel so aggrieved and justifiably so, if we make the mistake of using the younger Audu to replace the older Audu. Naturally people will feel alienated and this is not in the interest of the party and the victory almost in sight. So to some of us, this is not even an option as it will engender bad blood and heighten acrimony,” an APC chieftain confided in Nigerian Pilot.
With almost a stalemated position, the APC’s headache is even two fold; finding a suitable replacement for Audu and convincing the courts to which the PDP is headed that Audu’s votes should be transferred to whoever would be his replacement.
But some names have started making the rounds and some politicians have started making efforts to position themselves. Such names as James Ocholi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the current junior minister in charge of Labour and Productivity, Jibrin Isa Echocho, a new defector from the PDP, Yahaya Bello, the runner up to Late Audu are said to be in the forefront to capitalise on the sad end of Prince Audu.