Alleged imposition threatens Kogi APC
For the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State perennial crisis is a style it has to live with. After winning the Governorship election in 2015 in questionable circumstances, the dispute was resolved at the Supreme Court, which endorsed Yahaya Bello’s tenure.
Not long after the next battle was for the soul of the party, as two parallel state executives emerged, one loyal to Bello and the other led by the erstwhile chairman Hardy Ametuo. During the recent Congresses at ward, Local Government and State levels Governor Bello’s faction had its way as it was recognized by the National Secretariat.
The new issue is the allegation of imposition of candidates for the 2019 elections. Even though Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC have denied the allegations their body language is indicative that they have concluded on those to field for the elections. For instance, Bello recently assured party members that he will not impose candidates. However the Governor’s Special Adviser, on Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG), Arc Mumuni Okara, said recently at a coronation ceremony in Adavi that the Governor had endorsed Alhaji Oseni Yakubu for Kogi Central senatorial district, senator Smart Adeyemi, Kogi West and Jibrin Isah Echocho for Kogi East.
Okara described the endorsements as the first step towards achieving party primary without rancour. He said similar arrangements had also been put in place in other elective positions across the state. “What we have done is to reduce tension and create an enabling environment for all. It is not everybody that can occupy one position. It is just one person. I assure other contestants to be patient as there are other positions apart from the one they are interested in,” he stressed. Natasha Akpoti who was earlier touted to be the Governor’s preferred candidate for the Central Senatorial district was said to have been dropped after which she dumped the APC for the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Echocho, who was said to have been anointed for Kogi East is now facing another challenge from Yahaya Audu, younger brother to the late Prince Abubakar Audu. He has since rolled out his campaign as it is believed that the senate seat for Kogi East has been reserved for him to compensate the Audu family. For now Echocho seems flustered.
In Kogi West, the alleged imposition of Senator Smart Adeyemi, a two-term senator is causing another trouble. Smart was sent home in 2015 for daring to upturn the rotational arrangement in his district. Now that he has left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the APC, the leadership is doing everything possible to ensure he is fielded. That is being stiffly resisted; a body known as Lokoja/Kogi APC Progressives has thrown its weight behind the Adams Oshiomhole-led leadership, insisting on direct primaries to pick the party’s candidates, ahead of coming general elections.
Addressing newsmen in Lokoja, the spokesman of the group, Mallam Ahmed Bakasonmatsi pointed out that direct primaries remained the best option in nominating candidates of the party, as it would afford the aspirants opportunity to test their popularity. He warned those trying to impose candidates to have a rethink, describing the ongoing attempt to impose Senator Smart Adeyemi on the people of the western axis as an exercise in futility.
He explained that Senator Tunde Ogbeha from Lokoja-Kogi Federal Constituency spent eight years at the National Assembly, after which he declined to go for another term, saying justice and fairness demand that the position should move to Yagba Federal Constituency, after Senator Adeyemi from Kabba/Ijumu Federal Constituency equally spent eight years in office.
Bakasonmatsi urged Yahaya Bello to intervene and save the party from implosion.
Another group, Concerned Okun Youth Forum has threatened to leave APC should Smart Adeyemi be imposed by Bello on Kogi west. National chairman of the group, Comrade Omosona Olakunle called on the party to urgently intervene. According to him, the said endorsement of Senator Adeyemi was already generating disquiet amongst stakeholders and supporters of the party in the district, hence the need for urgent intervention before the party begins to witness mass defections.
Also, APC youths in Yagbaland protested against moves to impose ‘anointed’ candidate on the Senatorial district. They called on the party leadership to adopt the direct primary to guarantee fair play and ensure the emergence of credible candidates.
Group leader Owa David, who lamented that the people of Yagba have been marginalised in the last 12 years and barred from producing a representative at the National Assembly, called on the party to uphold the existing zoning formula to ensure a candidate from Yagba becomes the party’s candidate for the 2019 election.
The State Secretary of the party Onoja Emmanuel Joshua said the party is transparent and runs an open door policy in its dealings, adding it would not take any action that will tarnish its image.
Governor Yahaya Bello also assured members and aspirants for elective positions on the APC platform hat he has no ‘anointed’ candidate ahead of the party primaries.
“I have never anointed any aspirant for any position. Forms are on sale; any party members willing to contest elective positions should purchase their forms. The party will create a level playing ground for all the aspirants so that we can achieve our set objectives,” he said then.
However, the situation on ground points at the possibility of imposition as the party commences the primaries.