Kotonkarafei Fed Constituency: APC, PDP others in battle -Royale — Nigerian Pilot News
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Kotonkarafei Fed Constituency: APC, PDP others in battle -Royale

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As political gladiators battle one another for yet to be declared bye- election for replacement of late House of Representatives deputy majority leader’s seat, Jubril Buba, the scramble of who takes over heats up and  knows no bounds, writes Kogi Bureau Chief, Labaran Tijani

Political gladiators are back on their beat once again despite the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not officially flagged off any election or made announcements to that effect. But as it is there appears that there is an election battle ground in the Lokoja /Kogi Federal constituency in Kogi state. Regrettably this is so as the unexpected demise of Hon. Buba Jubril, the Deputy Majority leader of the House of Representatives, representing the Federal constituency in the state has opened a window of opportunity for some constituents to jostle for the vacant position at the green chamber.  As the aspirants keep increasing steadily, the political current of the constituency has gathered enough tide to the surprise of pundits.

The by-election of the constituency will be interesting to political watchers, within and outside the state. It remains a litmus test for all. That accounted for why the aspirants are not leaving any stone unturned in their bid to win the exalted position, for keep.  Coming at the heels of the much celebrated botched recall of Senator Dino Melaye in the senatorial district, it will surely be a war of supremacy and consolidation among the political gladiators, critics of the present administration and the new political generation managers led by Alhaji Yahaya Bello in the state.

Already, the All Progressive Congress (APC) led state government under the leadership of Alhaji Yahaya Bello has allegedly thrown its weight behind one Haruna Isah who is currently a special adviser in the present administration. This tacit declaration of the state government has therefore opened the battle of wits and guts among the contenders to the vacant position at the National Assembly.

Leading the pack of aspirants is the former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Honorable Immam Umar, representing Lokoja 1 in the state House of Assembly. The former speaker who fell out with Governor Yahaya Bello over matters bothering on the bungled recall of Senator Dino Melaye recently and his perceived soft spot for a suspended member of the House of Assembly, Comrade Friday Sani, representing Igala Mela/Odolu constituency, who was grinding an axe with the state government then has declared his intention to replace the late lawmaker. Although the former speaker is still a member of APC and who is canvassing for support from those that matter in the constituency, it may not be feasible for him to get the ticket of his party, as one Haruna Isah is said to have gotten the nod of the Bello led administration to fly the flag of the party in the said election. However indications are rife that he may decamp to another party to actualize his dream.

Also listed among the hot contenders is late Jubril’s strong ally of ages, Honorable Mabo Muhammad Kassim, who is currently a senior legislative Assistant to the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.  Kassim who belongs to late  Buba Umar Jibril’s political family was a onetime chairman of Lokoja Local Government. Like Immam, the former speaker, Hon. Kassim may not get the ticket of the APC, since a candidate has been allegedly anointed for that purpose by the present administration. His strength lies in the structure of his late boss, Honorable  Jubril and his good deeds of  old in the axis. He too may have to leave the party to contest the by-election.

The alleged accredited APC candidate,  Haruna Isah has not rested on his oars in his bid to convince the constituents to vote for him in order to  complete the remaining months of the late Jubril’s tenure at the National Assembly.  Hon. Isah, a veteran politician from the area appears to be a man to beat as he has the government of the day solidly behind his ambition.

At an outing in kotonkarfe last week where he was introduced by the government to the party stakeholders from Kogi local government, it became obvious that the present administration has interest in him, despite its frequent denials.

While he maintained that the bye-election is not about him but Kogi LGA, he said that the people should not allow mischief makers to pitch them against his ambition, assuring them of effective representation if given the mandate to represent them.

Whereas Governor, Yahaya Bello has continually reiterated his stand to the stakeholders that he does not have a candidate for Lokoja-Koton Federal Constituency by-election, he said the clarification is to disabuse the minds of certain persons that are claiming that the governor already had a candidate for the said election.

Speaking through the Chief of Staff to the state government,  Hon. Edward Onoja,  the governor said it’s only candidates who will deliver their polling units and Wards in the  yet to be rescheduled bye-election to replace late Buba Jibril, that stand the chance of picking the party’s ticket in 2019 from Kogi LGA axis.

He therefore urged those aspiring for the 2019 representatives seat  from kotokarfei end of the federal constituency to work for Hon. Haruna Isah, the party’s flag bearer for the yet to be rescheduled House of Reps bye-election, claiming that it’s  the precursor to Kogi LGA getting the ticket in 2019 House of Representatives from the party.

As the in-fighting within APC  which drew its strength  from the foundation of the present administration appears to be eroding  in the said contest, the People Democratic Party,  PDP have been fixing it’s weak links to wrestle that position from the control of the rival APC on whose platform late Jubril got the mandate years back.

Already in a shadow party primary election, recently in Lokoja , Engineer Bashir Abubakar Gegu beat the rest aspirants to carry the party flag to contest the by- election.  The opposition held that the recent futile attempt to recall Senator Dino Melaye of the west senatorial district of the state has proven that the present administration has lost touch with the people and as such the party is sure of victory in the forthcoming by-election in the state. Besides, Senator Dino Melaye’s   recall saga,  which has created an impression of a weak ruling party in the state,  the PDP party stalwarts , like Senator Tunde Ogbeha, Musa Ahmadu, the former Secretary to the state government and others from the flank are said to still be wielding enough influence that can return the party to its glorious days .

Also with all the APC aspirants coming from Lokoja local government axis ,  and the only PDP candidate from the second council that constituted the Federal constituency, the PDP candidate may have a brighter chance, as his council voters may give him en masse votes to coast home victory.

The Nigerian Pilot Weekend, however, gathered that Engineer Zacheaus Jonathan and four others have finalized their plan to be among the contenders for the position. Engineer Jonathan, a grass root politician from Agbaja-Lokoja is said to be viewing the slot but would run on the platform of African Democratic Congress (ADC).

However,  as the political engineering to fill the vacant position is gathering steam in the flank of the state , the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the body is still waiting for formal communication on the existing vacancy for the constituency at the green chamber of the national Assembly

According to the state Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC), Professor James Apam, the body has not been informed of the death of Hon. Jubril at the National Assembly,  adding that the commission is ready to conduct the by-election to the Federal constituency once  his seat has been declared vacant by the authority at the National Assembly.

In the same vein, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, the INEC national chairman said that the commission had five bye-elections to conduct, to fill the existing vacancies, but it’s still awaiting official communication from the National Assembly to declare the seats vacant.

The INEC Boss said while the law compelled the commission to conduct bye-elections within stipulated time, it was the presiding officers of the National Assembly or State House of Assemblies that could declare any seat vacant.

“We don’t have any power to declare the seat of any lawmaker vacant. The moment the returning officers make announcement declaring a candidate winner, only the court of law can reverse it.

“We cannot declare vacancy and conduct bye-election unless there is a formal communication from the presiding officers of that Assembly.

“So this is not a matter under the control of the commission.’’, he expressed.

The late federal lawmaker, Hon. Buba Jubril, the deputy majority leader in the House of Representatives, representing Lokoja/kogi constituency died few months ago after a brief illness in his Abuja home. Until his death, he remained  a committed party member  and  grass roots leader in that  flank of the state.

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