Palpable tension has enveloped the camps of most of the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship aspirants amidst intense lobby ahead of today’s governorship primaries.
The national leadership of the party had about two weeks ago, cleared the first executive governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu and 27 others for the party’s governorship ticket.
Others aspirants cleared for the race are Alhaji Yahaya Bello Adoza; Senator Alex Usman Kadiri; Hussein Idris Kashim; Alh. Sanusi Abubakar Aliyu (Gamji); Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane; Sani Halilu Shuaibu; Suleman Baba Ali; AVM Saliu Atawodi; Muhammad Abdullahi; Senator Nuruddeen Abatemi Usman; the only female contestant, Princess Hadiza Ibrahim; Yakubu Mohammed, a former acting governor of the state, Hon. Clarence Olafemi; and Suleiman Ejeh Abutu.
Also cleared for the primaries are Sunday Ejibo; Otunba Suleman Lanre Ipinmisho; Dr. Tim Nda Diche; Habeeb Abdullahi Yakeen; Rotimi Yakub Obadofin; Babatunde Irukera; Ocholi Enojoh James; Aliyu Zakari Jiya; Olushola George Olumoroti; and Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo.
Since the contest for the APC ticket began there have been accusations and counter accusations from the camps of the aspirants.
Prince Audu, who is the leader of APC in Kogi State, had earlier alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the State is sponsoring about 15 aspirants with N10 million each so as to act as spoilers for him at the party’s primary election scheduled for today.
He, however, declared that the plot to stop him from picking the APC ticket does not intimidate him and described most of the aspirants as “inexperienced school leavers.”
According to Audu, “For me, there is no single storm. That is the gimmick of the PDP. They joined our party last week and by Monday, they were at the secretariat to pick the form.
“I was made to understand that the PDP gave N10 million each to about 15 aspirants that you saw at the secretariat picking form. It is not the question of picking form, are they on ground?” he asked.
“They were asked to come and constitute themselves as spoilers. Some of them are there to carry out the bid of the PDP. But as far as we are concerned, even if they are 100, it would have been better for the party because the more the merrier.”
Allegation of PDP’s interference in the APC primaries is connected to the fact that almost 70 per cent of the aspirants were members of the PDP at one point or the other.
However, Nigerian Pilot Saturday gathered that the PDP defectors have not been able to reach a compromise to step down for anyone of their own that will eventually slug it out with Prince Audu who is the leading contender to the ticket.
Conversely, the former two-time governor of the state himself was accused by members of the party of buying up APC membership cards, especially in areas his opponents are believed to have strong followership.
A former House of Representatives aspirant in Yagba Federal Constituency of Kogi State, Comrade Taiwo Otitolaye, made the allegation and alleged that Audu has been, “inviting Kogi APC delegates to his Lokoja residence and collecting their Party membership cards under monetary influence.”
Otitolaye said in a statement that Audu has been inviting delegates in batches under the guise of holding party meetings.
According to him, the motive is to coerce the delegates to vote for him during the gubernatorial primaries and called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as well as security agencies to avert the looming derailment of democracy by Audu.
The statement also urged the anti-graft agencies especially, the ICPC and EFCC “to be on guard.”
Otitolaye’s statement said, “Facts available to us is that former Governor Abubakar Audu is inviting Kogi APC delegates to his Lokoja residence and collecting their Party membership cards under monetary influence.
“The delegates are being invited in batches under the pretext of holding party meeting. Let us inform and sensitise all delegates in our neighbourhood of the undemocratic and ignoble exigencies of Audu and his collaborators.
“Their aim is to coerce voters to vote him during the August 29 Governorship Primary in Kogi State or disenfranchise those who refuse to do his bidding. Their plan is to distort delegates list by issuing fake membership cards. We call on APC National Office, INEC, Security agencies, party adherents to rise to this diabolic derailment of democratic process. ICPC, EFFCC and other anti-graft agencies are enjoined to be on guard.”
Prince Audu’s camp has since denied the allegation and challenged his traducers to provide any evidence to verify their claims.