Kogi APC’s search for peace after supreme court’s verdict
Stakeholders seek cabinet reshuffle, all-inclusive government
Having survived all the legal fireworks that emanated from the stroke of luck that threw itself on his laps when he least expected, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State may now work with a fresh pair of eyes to reconcile his party the APC.
The saying that a chain may not be stronger than its weakest links is a reminder that no member of the party should be wished away at this crucial time because sooner or later their support would be needed.
The circumstances surrounding the emergence of Bello, which were unusual, gave room for many of the party members to be fictionalized. The problem actually started after late leader of the APC Prince Abubakar Audu died whilst he was yet to be declared Governor.
The APC had settled for the first runner up in the primary as replacement for the late Prince Audu who died while the election was yet to be concluded after due consultations on the legal implications.
But that decision did not go down well with the running mate of the late candidate, James Abiodun Faleke and his supporters and he turned down the offer to be running mate.
The Governor was faced with the stiffest of opposition within the party to the extent that some members of the State executive of the party passed vote of no confidence on him haven accused him of selecting 98% of his cabinet members from the PDP.
Subsequently three distinct factions of the APC emerged in Kogi – the Audu/Faleke’s faction, the Senator Dino Melaye’s faction and the governor’s faction.
Ever since, the APC chairman and some others have been in ‘Diasporas’ with the optimism that the Supreme Court would sound the dearth knell on the governor’s victory. But Bello was victorious at the Supreme Court.
With the legal tussles over, it was learnt that the State executive members of the party have been employing every available means to reach out to the Governor. Leaders of the party are rooting for genuine reconciliation so that most of them that have been left out might be accommodated.
Perhaps, one of the greatest challenges before Bello is that of reconciling with the Audu/Faleke camp which has hitherto been working at cross purposes with the present administration since it assumed power on January 27.
However political analysts are quick to remind the Governor of the need to take a critical look at the role of key political players from the Audu/Faleke group who worked assiduously for the success of the APC in the November 21, 2015 election.
They argued that with the cases over, he needed to settle down to use appointments as compensation for many of the aggrieved people who spent their time and resources to ensure the victory for APC.
It is envisaged that there would be a minor cabinet reshuffle to accommodate members from the other groups in his government for them to have some sense of belonging.
Just like the Supreme Court pronounced that votes belong to the party some of the stakeholders are also contending that Bello should urgently resolve issues with all the aggrieved executive members and stakeholders of the APC in the state; work with the party structure for harmony between his government and the party on whose back, he rode to power.
Commenting on the issue, Director General of the Prince Abubakar Audu Campaign Organisation, Mr. Dan Isah, said, “It is our prayer that such reconciliation comes quickly with a very genuine intention because survival of the party is so paramount to us and we wouldn’t want a situation that will kill the party that we nurtured to maturity all because of internal fracas.”
According to the Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Imam Ahmed Umar, “The party became divided along interest lines; first group pitched their tent with Honorable Faleke who was the running mate to the late leader, the second group who had to obey party supremacy where I also belong pitched its tents with the party’s choice.”
“The APC chose the first runner up in the primary, Alhaji Yahaya Bello after superior legal advise from senior lawyers and of course it paid off.” The speaker said the differences in the party were not crises but natural phenomenon.
“The hope is that now that the case at the Supreme Court is done with there is going to be reconciliation and indeed the Governor would have the necessary support of the party to assist him in translating his blueprint to success.”
He admitted that the divergent interests and group within the party impacted negatively on the party’s fortunes and warned that if it continued, it would be embarrassing.
However, Umar expressed the hope that very soon there will be light at the end of the tunnel.On his part, an APC stalwart and member of Board of Trustees (BOT) in the state, Chief Clarence Olafemi, said since the Supreme Court is the final place of arbitration, the next move should be to solidify the party. He stressed that though it was unfortunate that the party became fragmented after the death of the initial governorship candidate, concerted efforts should be made to unite the warring factions now.
In particular, he wants the governor to look into genuine cases of complaints about marginalisation and make amends in the interest of the party, adding: “What should be paramount now is that everybody should sheathe their swords and re-strategise for the next election.
Furthermore, he said: “Mediation can come from many sources, but the most identifiable source is the national. They should set up a reconciliation committee. Let people like me, who have not been so conspicuously on one side or the other, be able to come in, I have my friends and admirers, who are complaining. I belong to the government by virtue of being a party man, so I still relate with both.
“We should not waste time, because the consequences of delay is that it will make some people irreversibly opposed to this government, and what it means is that they will continue to fight the government and weaken the party because the governor will continue to fight back and at the end of the day, the consequences will not be good for any side.”
Similarly, former Senator that represented Kogi West Senatorial district, Smart Adeyemi advised Bello to bring everybody on board and give all the senatorial districts a sense of belonging in the affairs of the state.
Adeyemi said: “The judicial interpretation has more or less helped to settle the quarrel between ‘two brothers of same parent.’ And it is worthy of note to appreciate the level of understanding and sense of maturity displayed by the duo (Bello and Faleke) in the outcome of the Supreme Court verdict.”
Also, the State Secretary of the APC, Mr. Tom Adejoh, said the governor as the leader of the party, should make all efforts to unite members of the party and carry them along for the success of his administration.
“The solution is not far-fetched; he needs the party to succeed. He is automatically the leader of the party. He should bring all heads together as one family so he can move the state forward. There is no question of I am from this faction or the other faction; what is on ground now is that he needs to move along with everybody in the party.
“My candid advice is that by the time he embraces party’s patronage, everything will fall in place. Even the appointments are dynamic, they are not static, and somebody who has been appointed can be dropped. There can be a minor cabinet reshuffle to inject some other persons into the system to keep the relationship going,” Adejoh said.
Speaking on the issue, Bello said he was determined to build bridges of reconciliation with his opponents and all aggrieved stakeholders for smooth governance in the state.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Mallam Abdulmalik Abdulkarim, indicated he has already extended the olive branch and urged all aggrieved stakeholders to reciprocate the gesture aimed at building bonds of fraternity.
He said all that transpired before now were “mere misunderstanding amongst brothers” which he noted, should be put behind in the overall interest of good governance and development of the state.