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Kogi aspirants kick, insist on open, transparent primaries

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Senator Hope Uzodimma

Dissatisfied by their disqualification for the November 16, 2019 gubernatorial election by the All Progressives Congress (APC), a coalition of the 12 aggrieved aspirants has faulted the party’s decision, insisting on inclusive, direct and transparent primaries. Spokesperson of the coalition, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, yesterday told journalists that they were unjustly disqualified to pave way for Governor Yahaya Bello to emerge unopposed as standard-bearer of the party.

This is just as a former president of the National Association of Kogi State Students, (NAKOSS), Suleiman Mazai Farouq, said the Bello administration has carried out reforms in the state to warrant reelection.

However, the disqualified aspirants called on Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to reverse their exclusion by the screening committee, led by Senator Hope Uzodinma, and allow the entire 16 aspirants that picked the N22.5 million worth nomination and expression of interest forms to vie for the ticket.

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While warning APC against the repeat of a similar mistake it made in Zamfara and Rivers States, the coalition insisted that unless all 16 aspirants took part in the August 29, 2019 primaries, the party stands the risk of losing the state to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They recalled that the entire screening process left them with no other option than to head to court to seek redress if the party insists on going ahead with the primaries without them.

According to the coalition, “The entire conduct of the screening exercise, the manner, irregularities and apparent inconsistencies and falsehood associated with the exercise is egregious and intended to railroad aspirants. The purported report that has been published specifically made allegations against aspirants that are unsubstantiated, misleading and entirely inaccurate.

“The party has a process for screening, parameters for screening, and appellate process in the party’s constitution. There is absolutely no evidence that the party followed any known or acceptable process in the screening or appellate process, whether in accordance with the constitution or rules, or ethos of the party or any such association.

“There are credible allegations that the only cleared aspirants in addition to Governor Yahaya Bello (incumbent) are lackeys/cronies of the governor, whose nominations were purchased by the governor, and who have no evidence of campaigns or intention to contest the forthcoming elections.”

The APC gubernatorial aspirants further stated, “It is sinister that all these things are occurring barely three days to the primary elections. Under the circumstances, aspirants who sacrificed and committed significant resources, including obtaining N22.5 million nomination forms and campaigning across the state are constrained to seek redress under any prevailing laws and to the fullest extent of such laws.

“Such remedies include pre-emptive action in the coming hours that could prevent the APC from conducting the primaries slated for Thursday August 29, 2019. While aspirants recognize the magnitude of, and unintended consequences of outcomes associated with pursuing the enforcement of their rights, the brazenness and impunity characterizing the conduct and handling of the Kogi screening exercise make it inevitable that aspirants proceed in a manner that reserves their rights under law.”

Farouq commended the leadership style of the Special Adviser for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abubakar Ohere, saying that the local councils in the state have witnessed growth and development under his watch. He said the free hand given to the administrators of the 21 councils and the transparent manner he has handled the affairs of councils is worthy of commendation.

Farouq, who is also the immediate past Chairman of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), added that in line with the vision of the New Direction Government of Governor Yahaya Bello, Ohere has remained an advocate of a functional local government system in the state.

He noted that prior to Bello’s administration, “Our people were particularly concerned about the ineptitude of administrators at that tier of government. The aim of creating local governments in our country has been defeated severally. In other climes, the local governments were developed with concrete innovations to make the people at the grassroots have a feel of development.

“The Bello administration, in its desire and yearning to make the local governments in Kogi State virile and working based on the new direction policy of this administration, appointment of a round peg in a round hole in the person of Ohere to bring in the needed innovations and build the needed institutions to make this wish happen and become a reality.”

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