In Kogi APC, it’s a long walk to reconciliation
The crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State that has factionalized the ruling party, started with the high politicking that followed the sudden demise of its candidate in the November 21, 2015 governorship election, Prince Abubakar Audu, and led to the emergence of incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello.
In one faction are those who worked for Audu and his running mate, James Abiodun Faleke, who was prevented by the leadership of the party to step into his late principal’s shoes and in the other, supporters of Bello, who now occupy several positions in government.
After the gladiators scaled several hurdles of litigations that terminated at the Supreme Court, the expectation was that the aggrieved members would sheath their swords and accept genuine reconciliation.
But this hope of reconciliation is being threatened by the insistence of Faleke, who lost his case at the apex court, that there must be justice before any truce can be reached. Faleke is angry with his party over what he called “the injustice perpetrated by the party in the replacement for Audu.”
Faleke, a member of the House of Representatives where he is representing Lagos, who spoke in Ogonicha, Ofu local council area of Kogi, during the first anniversary of Audu’s death, said he had never been involved in any reconciliation process with the leadership of the party for the same reason.
According to him, “There can never be any reconciliation in a situation where somebody works from first day to the last day of the month and another person collects his salary. What can only be the basis for reconciliation is for the salary to be returned, that is the only reconciliation. We are prepared to go hungry for the next four years, but I can tell you that God sparing our lives, the song will change surely.”
He said everybody within and outside the party knows that the lingering crisis was the outcome of the faulty manner with which the national secretariat of the APC handled the party after the demise of Audu.
“The way the issue of Kogi was handled was least expected for a political party. I have heard that one of the leaders said that APC was just a gathering of some people and not yet a political party.”
He said nothing seems to be moving in the right direction one year after the death of Audu and that it has taken the state more than seven to eight months to do screening and pay salary adding that those that had been screened have not collected salary since January.
According to him, “What happened to us during the case and when we lost our leader one year ago and all the battles we went through in the legal process, have shown that we are not in a party yet. You know the APC was formed by all of us and it is not an animal farm, it belongs to everybody. It is when they realize that that this party can move forward. If our people get paid, if our people are empowered and entrenched, I am sure the songs will change. But as it is now, it is bad song.”
In his reaction, the Director General on Media and Publicity to the Kogi State Governor, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo challenged Faleke to prove that he is committed to peace and stability in the state adding that making inflammatory statements that could affect the peaceful coexistence of the people smacks of a bad loser. He reminded Faleke that after the apex court delivered judgment in favour of Bello, the governor called on all his opponents to join forces with him in moving the state forward.
According to him, “It is unfortunate for any leader to say he is not given to reconciliation and unity in the party. Those words have given Faleke away as the one causing crisis in the party. Even the governor is subject to party supremacy as it is unwise to destroy the ladder that has taken you to the top. Governor Bello will continue to pursue peace with all men, but not at the expense of his administration’s commitment to repositioning the state and taking it to enviable heights.
“Leaders owe the society a lot of responsibilities. Leaders must beware of statements that are capable of throwing the society into turmoil and followers of the late Audu must imbibe his spirit of love for Kogi. The late Audu stood by the people after losing the 2003, 2007 and 2011 polls. He didn’t incite the people against the government just because he lost. Statesmanship is a class that no money can buy.
“To make such divisive statements on a day the legendary statesman was being remembered is unfortunate and unfair to the spirit of the late political icon. There are better ways to remember the late Prince Abubakar Audu.”
But there appears a light at the end of the tunnel of crisis if the submission of Alhaji Mahmoud Muhammed Abubakar, who was the Director-General of Senator Dino Melaye campaign organisation during the election, is anything to go by.
He disclosed that a committee in place for fence mending has been put in place to reconcile the Melaye, Faleke and Bello factions for a more united APC in the state. He said the party became factionalized because those that worked were not compensated while those who were in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are the ones benefitting.
While he agreed that the development can cause disarray in the party, Abubakar was however averse to Falake’s hardliner posture saying, “If he said so he has forgotten that power belongs to God and he gives to whom he wishes and takes it away from who he wishes.”
But a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Clarence Olafemi said Audu’s death was the cause of the problems the party is facing adding, “If Audu were to be alive, he would have accommodated a greater part of those who worked for him.”
He said some people really worked for APC in the herculean task of defeating a sitting governor adding that they actually went the extra mile to have 240, 000 votes before the death of Audu.
“What remain that made the election inconclusive was 6000 votes. Of course some of us worked from the beginning to the end. The present governor was just brought in by the party. Whether rightly or wrongly he is the governor today as confirmed by the Supreme Court.
“I think the mindset of the governor was the problem. He wanted to compensate the people that worked for him during his primary or those he thinks he can trust. But I differed with him on that because he is supposed to engage all the party members.”
He however sounded a note of caution to all stakeholders in the party saying, “Our problem is how to manage the success we have now. If we can correct it, the time is not late but to refuse to correct it may sound the dearth knell in the next election.”